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Arts and culture highlights by Engagement Editor Kinsee Morlan (Tuesdays)
Art installations all over Cabrillo National Monument, new SDAI’s director’s hate mail collection, the zonkey origin story and more in our weekly cultural roundup.
On Saturday, breathtaking views won’t be the only thing visitors to Cabrillo National Monument will be taking in. From 4 to 11 p.m., A Ship in the Woods, the nonprofit arts and culture organization known for hosting experimental exhibitions in domestic and other non-traditional settings, will fill the park with site-specific artworks, installations and music.
Cabrillo has had a solid artist-in-residence program since 2011, but park ranger Tavio Del Rio said with the National Park Service’s centennial approaching next year, every park in the system has been challenged by higher-ups to reach younger visitors and make national parks and monuments more relevant to the communities they’re in over the next 100 years.
“Washington has really challenged the parks to really kind of reinvent ourselves,” Del Rio said. “‘Convergence’ is a great example of that. … We’re starting our efforts off with a big bang.”
A Ship in the Woods curator Lianne Mueller has been piecing the project together for months. She started small, but the vastness of Cabrillo National Monument led her to reach out to include well-known artists from across the nation.
“It’s a project I thought every artist would be excited about,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity to interact with such a prominent and beautiful place in San Diego.”
Mueller gave artists like Lael Corbin, Andrea Chung, Hugo Crosthwaite, Brian Dick, Becky Guttin, Keenan Hartsten, Neil Kendricks and Jason Xavier Lane access to both the park and its rangers, historians, scientists and other experts from the Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy.
“They led them around the park, they told them all kinds of stories, they inspired artists,” she said.
Projects that’ve sprung out of the collaboration between the park and the artists include a tree filled with wind chimes by Harrell Fletcher, a light installation by Simon Wilkinson, video projections on the lighthouse, interactive works, a rock garden installation, experimental sound pieces inside old military bunkers on the site, dance performances and more (the full schedule of events happening opening night is here, and includes musical performances music by Pall Jenkins and The Donkeys).
The opening will cost $15 and much of the work will remain on view at the park through Nov. 29.
“It’s been a humongous undertaking,” Mueller said. “But it’s about public access. Anybody can know who these great artists are now.”
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
“I’ve been to college stadiums better than this. I don’t blame the Chargers for wanting to move. Blow this place up. It’s useless!”
That’s a quote from a one-star review of Qualcomm Stadium on Yelp. It’s a sentiment that’s been echoed by the Chargers, city leaders and sports reporters, one who famously called it “a terrible stadium” that was arguably the worst in the NFL.
But “The Q” is actually highly regarded in certain circles. Late last week, I took a tour led by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Frank Hope Jr., the principal of the firm that designed the stadium, helped lead the group of about two dozen design industry folks through Qualcomm’s innards. Most oohed and awed at certain architectural feats, like the iconic twisting concrete pedestrians ramps.
Hope said after reading all the headlines about the Chargers and their search for a new, improved home, he expected the place to be in a lot worse shape.
“It looks fine to me,” he said.
When Ginger Shulick Porcella took her post as executive director of the San Diego Art Institute in early 2014, she quickly started making small changes to the way the 75-year-old organization operated. Small changes led to bigger changes, which resulted in lots of excited buzz over the revitalized space and its edgy new leader from New York City.
But change ain’t always easy. Earlier this year, a group of SDAI former members tried to get the city to say Porcella’s inclusion of artists from outside of San Diego was a violation of the institute’s lease. The city disagreed, and Porcella continues to rework SDAI’s programming, making it more of a respected contemporary art gallery and education center. (Formerly, it was largely viewed as a pay-to-play gallery where artists paid annual fees and earned their way onto the walls by submitting work to juried shows.)
Porcella said attendance numbers have doubled and SDAI is getting more grants than ever before.
She does, however, still receive a steady stream of anonymous hate mail. Sometimes, it’s a handwritten letter about how the “laid back San Diego vibe has left SDAI.” Other times, it’s just hateful things like this:
Porcella hangs the hate letters up by her desk.
“I’ve dealt with this before,” she said. “I’ve actually dealt with this just about every place I’ve worked. When you’re hired to change an organization, obviously people are going to be upset. In New York, I got real death threats. People are pretty passive aggressive here; the best they can do is send unsigned letters.”
In January, Porcella will make one more big change: There will no longer be artist memberships at SDAI. Instead, there will only be a $50 general membership, more like the membership programs you find at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art of the San Diego Art Museum.
Porcella said she will honor the member artist shows that had already been promised before she took the helm, but after that, it will be a mix of curated exhibitions and themed open-call shows. She said most members are aware of the impending change and “have been cool with it,” but she’s also prepared for an influx of hate mail.
“I think the problem is that a lot of people confuse mission and programs,” she said. “Our mission is to show and support local artists, but how we achieve that mission can be done any way the board and I see fit.”
Local San Diego State professor, cultural critic and author William Nericcio is known for his work examining the stereotyping of Latin American culture. Most memorably, he travels around with his “MEXtasy” exhibition, a collection of racist artifacts from American mass culture, plus art by Mexican-Americans and other cultural ephemera.
Now, Nericcio and others are working to turn “MEXtasy” into a television show. They’ve shot the pilot episode, made a slick trailer and have been shopping it around to big networks for the last few months. Nericcio is the host, and he describes the new show as “Anthony Bourdain meets lucha libre or something.”
“It’s basically a travel show, but it’s focused on intellectual culture,” he said. “We find the funky amazing Latinos living and working in each city we visit – you know, the performing artists, musicians, professors, dancers and painters. The whole idea is to immerse the American public, which is used to Honey Boo Boo and ‘Duck Dynasty’ and that sort of thing, to the intelligence and creativity of the Latino community.”‘
Local nonprofits Casa Familiar and the Border Public Arts Committee are screening a sneak peak of ‘MEXtasy’ at an event at The Front in San Ysidro on Friday. They’ll also be showing an episode of “Bordertown,” a new animated television series set to air on Fox in January.
• Carolina A. Miranda continues her series on Tijuana art and culture by reflecting on the famed Tijuana “zonkey” (donkey painted with zebra stripes). Spoiler alert: The stripes made the donkeys show up better in the black-and-white and sepia-toned photos of the time. (Los Angeles Times)
• Once uninviting Encinitas alleyways are getting prettied up. (Encinitas Advocate)
• Local scribe Nathan Young is launching a new storytelling event. The New Narrative kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bread & Salt in Logan Heights. The theme is “community” and speakers include Bucky Montero, Xavier Leonard and Barry Pollard.
• When San Diego Eater mentioned the new restaurant pop-up in South Park, Empanadas y Beer, the article briefly mentioned that artist Joshua Krause will be heading up a new art venture in the space, too. I asked Krause about his plans, and he said he’ll be curating shows in the space every six to eight weeks. He’ll also be hosting live “Noshua with Joshua” conversations with artists in the shows or other local creatives. The first event is tomorrow.
• The U-T’s James Chute dives into Minor White’s concept of visual literacy. White’s work is showing in an exhibition at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park through Jan. 31.
• The San Diego International Airport is building a new rental car center that’ll house all of the major rental car companies. Two artists and one arts collective will be adding new public art to the structure: Amy Landesberg, Christian Moeller and Ueberall International LLC. A few renderings of the proposed work are pictured on a project fact sheet.
• Tijuana artist Daniel Ruanova’s “The Mexican Labor Agreement” sculpture is an eye-catching centerpiece of chef Javier Plascencia’s new Bracero Cocina de Raíz restaurant. (CityBeat)
• San Diego Beer Week is in full swing, and events run through Sunday.
• Venture Galactic, an interactive theatrical production, is this weekend at the RAW Space in the Spreckles building downtown.
• Noel-Baza Fine Art hosts a pop-up show inside Art Produce Gallery in North Park. The exhibition, featuring paintings by Kim Reasor, opens this week.
• Ladybug Art Center in Kensington is celebrating its grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
• Lowrider car culture will be celebrated at the Vista Public Library this week.
• On Thursday, the La Jolla Music Society presents a performance by The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
• Downtown’s Sparks Gallery opens a group show featuring San Diego artists who explore subconscious thoughts, dreamlike scenes and surreal visions this Saturday.
• So Say We All and San Diego’s Downtown Central Library present a storytelling showcase on the theme “I Fought the Law.”
• SILO’s Craft Beer + Bites: Beer Week edition is Thursday.
• The Storytellers of San Diego will present their 25th annual “Tellabration” event this weekend.
• Chard Gonzalez Dance Theatre’s Danza Fantasma is Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. The dance performance combines traditions from Dia De Los Muertos, Medieval danse macabre and New Orleans jazz funeral.
• San Diego State Opera presents Henry Purcell’s “Dido & Aeneas” on Friday and Saturday nights.
• The Ken Cinema’s week of classics starts this Friday.
• The San Diego Film Consortium’s Fall Film Festival is Friday through Sunday in Mission Valley.
• Check out the annual art auction Friday night at obr Architecture in North Park.
• Scott Zagar’s “Dark Passage” opens Friday at Glashaus in Barrio Logan.
• The Hausmann String Quartet and the San Diego State Writers’ Collaborative will perform Friday night at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Artwork from the Matthew and Iris Strauss collection will also be on display.
• The play “H.E.R.O.E.S.,” or Humans Electing Repose Optimizing Earth’s Sustainability, will show at the Jacobs Center Friday and Saturday.
• Dan Camp’s “Constellations and Other Devices,” featuring five large-scale oil paintings, opens this Friday at 7 p.m. at The Brokers Building Gallery.
• The Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing is hosting a pop-up shop for buyers to purchase designs from the school’s alumni at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
• The Barrio Art Crawl is happening Saturday.
• “Prints on Wood,” a group show at ArtHatch, opens Saturday.
• The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library’s “Recent Acquisitions” show opens Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The collection will feature work acquired since 2011 and will be on display through Dec. 29.
• San Diego Bay’s Wine and Food Festival is this week.
• San Diego Opera welcomes back soprano Patricia Racette.
• Malashock Dance is hosting a night of interactive dance and karaoke.
• Some community folks have pieced together the first-ever San Diego Homebrew Festival and Competition.
• Charles Moxon’s show opens at Lux Art Institute Friday.
• “James Hubbell: California Wildfire Watercolors” is on view at the San Diego Museum of Art through February.
• Moxie Theatre opens “The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence” this week.
• This weekend’s “Youth in Arts” event offers free dance and theater workshops for kids.
• Santa has no respect for Thanksgiving. He’ll be setting up at Seaport Village for photos starting this week.
• Spend Veterans Day at the USS Midway.