San Diego Int’l Airport

Airport residencies: next big thing?

Brisbane orchestra

Courtesy Brisbane Airport

Airport residencies by cultural arts groups seems to be the next big thing.

Australia’s Brisbane Airport (BNE) just announced that a team from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) will be the newest Artist-in-Residence and will present six ‘pop-up’ performances in the international and domestic terminals, with three of these performances taking place before the end of the year.

Brisbane Airport started their Artist-in-Residence program last year and first up was Robert Brownhall, who created a series of works featuring different views of the airport.

Here in the United States, airport artist-in-residence programs are happening too. This year, the Fern Street Circus is in residence at San Diego International Airport, so keep an eye out for an unusual number of Bozos.


Courtesy SAN Airport

Bozos invade San Diego Int’l Airport


My At the Airport column for USA TODAY this month is all about the bozos -and the jugglers, plate spinners, musicians and other circus characters – that have moved into San Diego International as part of the airport’s new performing arts residency program.

“It’s not our usual venue,” said Fern Street Circus co-director John Highkin, co-director of San Diego’s Fern Street Circus – but when the call went out seeking applicants for the residency “we were intrigued with the idea of the airport as a community space and a place where circuses don’t usually happen.”

With monthly performances and weekly in-airport rehearsals and regular, unannounced interactions with passengers before and after security, the circus performers are proving that airports are a great place for circuses to happen.

But like a wire-walking act, choosing the right type of passenger interaction for an airport circus performer can be a delicate balance.

“We recognize that people come to airports with various frames of mind,” said Highkin. People travel for various reasons — some of them sad— and there’s the hectic phase of checking bags and getting through the checkpoints and, once past security, “the opportunity to be still.”

Pre-security, said Highkin, “we’ve figured out the most appropriate thing is for us to be playful and surprise passengers, but then let them move on.”

There are also plenty of rules and procedural issues a circus in residence at an airport has to go through and keep in mind.

Circus troupe members have to be fingerprinted, photographed (without clown make-up … ) and go through background checks and security training in order to be badged to enter secure areas of the airport and circus props must be thoroughly scrutinized by the TSA.

And no matter how impressive it looks, at the airport jugglers aren’t permitted to use fire, swords, cleavers or other sharp objects pre- or post-security.

During its residency, the Fern Street Circus is not only interacting with passengers at SAN Airport unannounced, it is holding weekly workshops and in-airport rehearsals.

Monthly performances of the circus’s new airport-centric work are scheduled for August 19, September 15 and – the grand finale – October 15.

Check the SAN Airport website for times and locations.

And don’t be surprised if you encounter more bozos than usual at San Diego International Airport.

Fresh art at San Diego Int’l Airport

San DIego Airport entry points

Globe sculptures by Ron Miriello, made from found items and recycled materials – are part of the exhibition at SAN Airport.

A new exhibition at San Diego International Airport titled “Point of Entry” explores the geographic, cultural, and social intricacies of borders – both real and perceived – with sculpture, photography, works of paper and personal artifacts.

The year-long exhibition features 14 distinct installations displayed throughout the airport by 14 different artists and organizations.

Here are few more samples:


SAN Point of Entry AJA

Portraits by The AjA Project, sharing stories from the immigrant & refugee communities of San Diego


Another globe sculpture by Ron Miriello

Find out more at the art and performance program at San Diego International Airport here.

Travel Tidbits from San Diego & Albany Airports

Here are some airport-related travel tidbits to start off the week.


Courtesy San Diego Int’l Airport.

San Diego International is the latest airport to add lactation rooms for nursing mothers.

SAN’s 3 nursing rooms are located post-security: two in Terminal 1 and one in Terminal 2 – and include a hand washing station, electrical outlets, comfortable seating, artwork, a children’s seat and soft lighting.

ALB Airport art

Sitting Pretty, John McQueen, mixed media, 2011

There’s also a new art exhibit at Albany International Airport in New York.

The work of eight artists who blur and cross the lines between “folk” and “fine” art is featured in “Folk Modern.”

“…[T]the wall between them has been crumbling for some time, and inhabitants of both sides have been finding much common ground. This exhibition brings together individuals whose work occupies a territory in which qualities at once traditional and innovative ancestral and personal are seen to coexist and thrive.”

Pipedream, Giselle Potter, Collage and gouache on paper, 2010

Pipedream, Giselle Potter, Collage and gouache on paper, 2010

Opening day: San Diego Int’l Airport expanded Terminal 2

The expanded Terminal 2 at San Diego International Airport (SAN) becomes operational today – August 13, 2013 – offering travelers a faster, smoother and far more amenity-rich trip from the curb to their flights.

San Diego lobby photo T2

Dubbed “The Green Build” in reference to it’s focus on the environment, the transformed Terminal 2 is opening on schedule and, at $907 million, $45 million under budget with all the latest in sustainable features, including solar panels, reflective roofs and parking spaces with chargers for up to 40 electric vehicles.

“We’ve added a lot of new features that business travelers, especially, will appreciate” said airport spokeswoman Katie Jones, “including separate arrival and departure roadways and 27 curbside self-service check-in kiosks under a canopy out front.”

SAN does not yet participate in the TSA’s PreCheck program offering expedited passage through security, but with a possible 12 lanes (up from 6) at the checkpoint, “there will be shorter lines everywhere,” she said.

Inside the terminal, travelers will find 10 new gates, $6 million worth of fresh art and at least 800 new seats equipped with cup holders, power outlets and USB ports.

San Diego Airport new seats

Club lounges for United and Delta Air Lines, each with a view of the airfield, are a floor above Sunset Cove, the greatly expanded concessions area. For those traveling with their pets, there’s also an indoor pet-relief area with faux grass and a red hydrant by Gate 46.

Dining options include Saffron, Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar, Seaside Stack Shack, Stone Brewing Co., Phil’s BBQ and the first Jack in the Box to open in an airport. New service and retail outlets include branches of the Be Relax Spa and Warwick’s of La Jolla, a locally-owned bookstore.

United Airlines, which was operating out of Terminal 1, has moved its operations over to Terminal 2, but unfortunately, passengers flying on airlines that currently use the Commuter Terminal or Terminal 1 (Alaska Airlines/Horizon Airlines and Southwest) won’t have access to the new Terminal 2 amenities.

“But those terminals will be getting some upgrades and new concessions as well,” said Jones.