Jacobs Center Bids Farewell to Artist-in-Residence Gill Sotu

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The halls of the third floor of the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center have often been filled with faint music and inspirational words coming from the office of Gill Sotu, our artist-in-residence. It always brought a level of joy to our day-to-day operations here at the Jacobs Center, leading those of us who sat in nearby offices to stop by and see what he was working on. The music and poetry that he shared with us, and later with the community through one of his many projects, filled our space with creativity that reflects our vibrant neighborhood.

Our staff and the community have been inspired by Gill’s immense talent during his two-year tenure at the Jacobs Center, which comes to an end this week. Gill leaves behind countless memories and an indelible mark of artful imagination. Gill has been instrumental in advancing the Jacobs Center’s ability to bring arts to the community, activating spaces through innovative cultural programming.

Our first introduction to Gill’s talent was at our Town Hall series launch on February 26, 2015, where he performed an original piece on building community and encouraging engagement. The audience immediately responded with cheers. We saw then the power his words would have in inspiring residents to participate in the revitalization of their neighborhood.

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Gill Sotu performing at the Town Hall series launch

Since then, Gill has led numerous exciting and fascinating projects. His play H.E.R.O.E.S. delved into a dystopian future where sacrificing your life could save your family from poverty, which drives one father to the extreme. It was a fascinating exploration into issues many people from disadvantaged communities face. As he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “You can use the arts to inform the community about issues pertinent to them. Having someone like an artist-in-residence facilitate that direct connection to the people is invaluable.”

He brought that same level of insight into Ordinary Magic, an ambitious spoken word opera he wrote and directed. The play started as a concept he shared via a TEDx talk he gave last year, about finding beauty everywhere, even in the mundane. It evolved into a powerful play featuring original songs, a renowned opera singer, spoken word artists, a six-piece band, and seven actors telling an important story about finding your dreams and forgiving your past.

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Gill Sotu performing in “Ordinary Magic”

It’s not only theater that Gill crafted during his time at the Jacobs Center. He produced, organized, hosted, and performed at two Poets & Painters Spoken Word, Music & Graffiti Arts Festivals – a unique annual event he created to build a space for urban artists to share their talents. Hundreds have attended the festival in its two years, bringing a fun and lively energy to Market Creek Amphitheater.

Along with these exciting and innovative projects, Gill lent his voice and original poetry to two Jacobs Centers videos, including our San Diego Press Club Award-winning video highlighting Writerz Blok’s collaboration with the Museum of Man. Gill also served as an MC and DJ at numerous events, and produced several of our PRISM events celebrating San Diego graffiti art, music, and culture.

During his time here, we’ve seen Gill grow artistically and in spirit. He has also grown in his family, becoming a father to a beautiful son. While we’ll miss his infectious smile and the inventiveness of his ideas, we’re positive Gill is going to do huge things in San Diego and beyond. His talent knows no bounds, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed providing a platform for it here in the Diamond. Thank you, Gill, for all you’ve created and shared with us!