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Culture Report: San Diego Author's Magnum Opus Is a Book About Books

Nightstands as art, San Diego loses an icon, anti-stadium art and more in our weekly roundup of San Diego arts and culture news.

Famed author Henry Miller wrote about many of the books that influenced him in “The Books in My Life.” San Diego writer and poet Jimmy Jazz liked that concept, but he wanted to take it a big step further by writing about every single book he’s ever read since he was a young adult.

“There was this whole buzz about how books are dead and no one reads books anymore,” Jazz said.

He said he thought his book could help prove otherwise.

It took him six years, but Jazz’s “The Book of Books” is finally finished. He’ll be reading selections from it at a book release party Saturday at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park. Other San Diego writers like Kimberly Dark, Rich Ferguson, Gill Sotu and Ted Washington will be reading selections from Jazz’s new book, too.

“The Book of Books” starts with George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” which Jazz read in … 1984. From there, he writes about how books like “McTeague” by Frank Norris, “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac and “Ask the Dust” by John Fante shaped his life.

But the 627-page book, which Jazz published himself through an online print-on-demand service, goes beyond a simple recitation of the books he’s read, and includes stories about his personal life, snippets about the people who’ve given him books over the years and more.

“When my family wanted to go vegan, we got a book about how to do that,” Jazz said. “And when my daughter had a health problem, we got a book to try to figure it out. So books really have touched every part of my life.”

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What a Nightstand Says About the Gal Sleeping Next to it

Nearly a half dozen, mostly women artists from San Diego have created nightstands meant to embody a real or imagined woman who might’ve slept next to it.

The resulting exhibition, “Night Stand: Bedside Imaginings by the Feminist Image Group,” opens at the Women’s Museum of California on Friday.

Photo courtesy of Jeanne Dunn

Photo courtesy of Jeanne Dunn

The Feminist Image Group is a coalition of women artists who’ve been organizing group shows at throughout San Diego for years. For “Night Stand,” member artists including Grace Gray-Adams, Prudence Horne, Lynn Susholtz, Kathleen Mitchell and Cindy Zimmerman have thought of women like photographer and war correspondent Lee Miller, artist Georgia O’Keeffe, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and others and created shrine-like installations that look like nightstands filled with objects they might have collected. Some artists’ nightstands are more like self portraits, and one veers outside the parameters of the show and honors Bruce Lee, who’s obviously not a woman but was a fun person to imagine what he might keep near his bedside.

“It’s not too solemn, this show,” said Zimmerman, who helped organize and curate the exhibition. “It’s not too solemn at all.”

The show was inspired by artist Judy Chicago’s well-known feminist work “The Dinner Party,” an installation featuring 39 place settings meant to represent real and fictional women. It’ll be on view through Nov. 27.

Remembering Chicano Musician Ramon ‘Chunky’ Sanchez

Ramón “Chunky” Sanchez died on Friday. News of the Chicano musician’s death spread quickly, inspiring online memorials and other tributes to the man who help found Chicano Park and became an outspoken activist and supporter of the Chicano movement.

On Tuesday, the National Endowment for the Arts released a statement about Sanchez’s death, calling him “a cultural icon and leader of the Chicano community.” Sanchez was a 2013 recipient of the organization’s National Heritage Fellowship, one of the nation’s highest honors in the folk and traditional arts.

Photo by  Vito DiStefano

Photo by Vito DiStefano

One family friend launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Sanchez’s family. Another friend and fan, filmmaker Paul Espinosa, recently ended a crowdfunding campaign with Media Arts Center San Diego that raised about $40,000 for a documentary about Sanchez’s life. Espinosa said he expects the film, “Singing my Way to Freedom,” to be done next spring.

“San Diego has lost a genuine icon in our community,” Espinosa said.

Anti-Convadium Art, San Diego Junior Theatre Drama Continues and More Arts and Culture News

• San Diego muralist Mario Torero was the lead artist on this new Barrio Logan mural opposing Measure C, the Chargers’ proposal for a new downtown convadium. Torero had help from students in his class on art and activism, or artivism as he calls it, that he’s teaching at the Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights. Torero is a member of the No Downtown Stadium coalition, and works with another group that opposes the convadium, Barrios Against Stadiums, or BASTA. BASTA is opening an exhibition in Barrio Logan Saturday featuring more art with the same anti-convadium messages.

• San Diego Junior Theatre’s Board of Trustees released a statement last week hoping to quell speculation about the firing of two longtime staffers, artistic director Rayme Sciaroni and production manager Tony Cucuzzella. The board said the decision to let the longtime staffers go was not related to an incident involving the organization’s executive director, James Saba, and a girl during rehearsals for a production of “Goodnight Moon.” Saba had put his hands on the girl’s shoulders, and parents who found out about the incident have been saying it’s the reason for the firings. The board’s statement, though, stops short of saying exactly why the two longtime staffers were let go, citing legal reasons.

I told you a bit about the concerns related to leadership shakeup at Junior Theatre in a past Culture Report. This week, the U-T’s James Hebert covers the unfolding drama, and on Thursday there’s a town hall event meant to serve as an open forum for parents, alumni and others to speak up about how they feel about the situation.

The Art San Diego Contemporary Art Show is happening this week, and the event includes “art labs” focusing on immigration, deportation and racial violence. (CityBeat)

This CityBeat columnist is not a fan of your Día de los Muertos Halloween costume.

• The Old Globe’s “Globe for All” program has a new director. The initiative takes Old Globe plays into theater-starved communities across San Diego. (U-T)

• Wowza. A design shop in Tijuana made its way into The New York Times. And so did lots of cool cross-border art.

Food, Beer and Booze News

• One of San Diego’s most popular brewers is parting ways with Monkey Paw. (West Coaster)

 San Diego Beer Week starts Friday.

 Bands made up of chefs will battle it out at Music Box next week. (Eater SD)

 San Diego Mag IDs the best chilaquiles, coffee, food trucks and more in Baja.

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