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Culture Report: Chris Cate's Expanding Beer Belt

In the last month alone, the word “beer” has popped up on Councilman Chris Cate’s Twitter feed about a dozen times.

The guy barely looks old enough to be holding the IPA he was drinking when I met him at O’Brien’s Pub in Kearny Mesa last week to record an upcoming segment for the VOSD Podcast. But he quickly proved his growing craft beer chops.

As the City Council representative for District 6, which is home to 22 breweries – about two-thirds of San Diego’s total breweries – Cate has had to ween himself from wine and cuddle up close to local craft beer culture.

“I’m still new to beer,” he said. “Every time we visit a brewery, it’s really an educational experience for me.”

Cate’s saturated himself into the suds scene by recently wrapping a tour of all the nearly two dozen breweries in D6 (plus a few distilleries). At each stop, he asked brewers what he and the city can do to make San Diego as beer-friendly as possible.

While the city’s craft beer scene did experience some growing pains last year during a tasting-room boom, Cate said the land-use and permitting issues have since been cleared up and he didn’t hear any complaints from brewers about unnecessary roadblocks set up by the city. In fact, he said he thinks San Diego’s doing a pretty darn good job of taking care of its breweries.

“This is a thriving industry that generates over $600 million of economic impact and 5,000 jobs in the region, so we hope it’s here to stay and we’re going to be very protective of it,” he said.

Cate said some tax incentives like the ones given to Alesmith and Ballast Point expansion projects are available to local craft breweries, and a few statewide incentive programs are popping up, too. Part of his job is educating brewers about those opportunities. But the biggest role he sees his office playing, he said, is promotion. He wants to help brand D6 as San Diego’s “beer belt.”

That effort is kicking off with the Nov. 11 release of AleSmith District 6 Session Saison, a new beer brewed by AleSmith Brewing Co. – the first brewery to set up shop in D6 back in 1995.

San Diego Beer Week kicks off Friday. The 10-day festival, which is partly funded by a portion of the city’s tourism tax, features over 500 beer events at local breweries and beer bars and restaurants (CityBeat’s put together a nice little guide of the stuff not to miss if, like me, you freeze in the face of too many choices). Cate said the event’s proven to be a good investment by attracting a large number of outsiders to our city to drink its beer and spend money while they’re here.

Before Cate finished his beer at O’Briens, I made him promise me one thing: Look into how the city can make it easier for events like New Belgium Brewing Company’s Tour de Fat to set up all-ages beer gardens so we parents can partake in the city’s plethora of beer fests, too.

Cate wasn’t clear whether the issue was something he could help with since the state’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is the one making the rules.

I went ahead and took the first step for Cate by calling Paul Gruber, the operations manager for Tour de Fat. Gruber said while the rules are indeed set by the state, other municipalities in California have successfully been able to “make variances to the law where they see fit.” Tour de Fat in San Francisco, for instance, is a big family affair as the event is intended, he said.

He also said San Diego is the only city with rules that don’t allow kids into Tour de Fat.

So that’s a start, councilman. After tapping that first keg of District 6 Session Saison next week, you’ve got another beer-related task to add to your to-do list.

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

Striking a Balance Between Local and International Art

Art San Diego will turn the Balboa Park Activity Center into a bustling contemporary art market and gallery this week from Nov. 5-8.

I talked with Art San Diego founder Ann Berchtold about the fair, which has kept its key programs geared toward promoting local art even after it was acquired last year by outsiders Redwood Media Group, a company that operates art fairs across the world.

Photo courtesy of Art Produce
Image courtesy of Art Produce

“The spotlight on the local scene is what’s important to me and one of the reasons we started the show,” said Berchtold, who stayed on with Redwood Media Group as Art San Diego’s artistic director. “That’s something I conveyed to Redwood and they’ve embraced it.”

Redwood, in turn, has used its connections to bring more international artists and galleries to San Diego. So walking through the Balboa Park Activity Center this weekend, you’re just as likely to come across art from Cuba or Nigeria as you are art from Tijuana or North Park (the image above is by an artist who’s a member of FIG, a female arts collective being shown at Art San Diego by Art Produce).

Local arts programs at the fair include the Art Labs, which will include a special timeline exhibition detailing the last 10 years of San Diego Art Prize winners, and LaunchPad, which carves out a space for up-and-coming artists who are often from San Diego or Tijuana. This year’s LaunchPad artist is Brittany Segal, the subject of a recent profile piece by the Union-Tribune.

San Diego Asian Film Festival Brings in Some Big Names

Buzzfeed video producer and actor Eugene Lee Yang – otherwise known as Buzzfeed Asian guy  – is headed to San Diego.

Yang’s appearance is part of Pacific Arts Movement’s upcoming San Diego Asian Film Festival, which kicks off its 16th year this week.

Photo courtesy of Pacific Arts Movement
Photo courtesy of Pacific Arts Movement

PacArts is giving Buzzfeed an award this year for helping diversify the media landscape by putting Asian American content online.

Yang will be at UCSD on Friday to take part in a panel that’ll touch on changing demographics and the opportunities those changes are creating for filmmakers. Buzzfeed’s Mallory Wang and Abe Forman-Greenwald will also be on hand to talk about creating more diverse content and improving Asian-American representation in the media.

The San Diego Asian Film Festival, which runs from Nov. 5-14, includes all sorts of other films, panels and parties

– Amanda Rhoades

Something’s Missing from that New Fire Station in Mission Valley

This week, the city announced the opening of the first fire station built in San Diego since 2008. City policy requires 2 percent of the cost of construction for city projects like fire stations, libraries, pump stations and lifeguard stations be spent on public art projects, so why isn’t there any art at the new Mission Valley fire station?

Photo courtesy of the city of San Diego
Photo courtesy of the city of San Diego

There’s no art because the Mission Valley fire station went out to bid during the months former Mayor Jerry Sanders temporarily suspended the city’s public art program.

“The public art program was suspended for roughly 13 months, from 5/16/11 to 6/30/2012,” wrote a spokesperson for the city. “The original plans for the fire station included a park with public art next to the project, but the park was later removed from the final project footprint. After the public art program was reinstated, the design of the fire station was so far advanced that trying to incorporate a new piece of public art would have added to the timeline for an important public-safety project. As a result, no public art was included in the project.”

Meanwhile, the city just announced that its looking for artists to submit applications for the North University City Fire Station 50 Public Art Project.

Giving New Life to Ame Curtiss’ Photos

When I think of photography in San Diego, Ame Curtiss‘ cross-processed photos of train yards and urbanscapes are some of the first images that pop into my brain. Most memorably, she captured a lot of the disappearing architecture and changing skyline of downtown San Diego from 2003 to 2006. Back then, her work seemed to pop up everywhere – whether it was in the Grrrrrl Power all-female exhibitions that once traveled to various venues or in cafes and clothing shops around town.

As CityBeat tells her story, Curtiss died in 2012 of breast cancer, just a year after getting her MFA in photography from the International Center of Photography in New York.

Photo courtesy of Peter Halasz
Photo courtesy of Peter Halasz

The sad news of her death certainly made its way through the local art scene, but this week’s exhibition of Curtiss’ work is the first significant showing of her photography since her passing.

The show was organized by Curtiss’ friend, painter Peter Halasz, who said it took him some time to pore through the thousands of images Curtiss captured over the years. Halasz said he decided to narrow the focus of the show to feature the best photos she took during her time in New York, plus images from a year she spent in Joshua Tree. He told me in an email that Saturday’s exhibition, which includes a printed 90-page catalog, is just the beginning of his effort to get Curtiss’ photos back out in front of the world.

“The work is world-class and deserves to be seen,” he wrote.

Tijuana Culture, Michael James Armstrong’s Must-See Installation and More Artsy Bits

• Los Angeles Times reporter Carolina A. Miranda has been spending some time in the border region and writing about its unique culture. She’s covered artist Acamonchi, the TJ in China gallery in downtown Tijuana, eccentric street busker El Muertho and more.

• James F. Peck has been named the new executive director of the Oceanside Museum of Art. The museum’s former executive director, Daniel Foster, has moved on and is heading up the newly formed North County Arts Network. (U-T)

• You’ve only got a few more weeks to see Michael James Armstrong’s “Three Thousand Four Hundred Fifty Threads” installation. CityBeat’s Seth Combs describes the piece this way: “The white column combined with the sun hitting the skylight at just the correct angle makes that column appear to be raining light — like a glorious soft drizzle.”

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

• The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced this year’s winners of its annual awards show. (U-T)

• The Timken Museum of Art’s 50th anniversary present to itself is Francisco de Zurbaran’s painting, “Saint Francis in Meditation.” (U-T)

• The U-T’s James Chute thinks you need to see the San Diego Museum of Art’s monumental “Art of Music” exhibition, but he stopped short of calling the show a total success.

• Ion Theatre’s season packed with San Diego premieres kicks off this week. (U-T)

• The city of San Diego is looking for artists for a new public art project at Mission Trails Regional Park.

• The Carlsbad Art Wall could use some support.

Get Cultured: Where You Need to Be This Week

• The Animal Cracker Conspiracy’s Paper Cities” performance combines puppetry, film and live music. It’s happening at the City Heights Annex Thursday through Saturday.

Courtesy of the Animal Cracker Conspiracy
Photo courtesy of the Animal Cracker Conspiracy

On Friday, the New Americans Museum opens “Inscription: A Monumental Installation by Shinpei Takeda,” a 50-foot site-specific installation incorporating light and thread.

• Common Space” looks at community issues and local engagement. The art exhibition opens Friday at the new art gallery at City College.

•  Learn about Charles and Ray Eames at Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park on Thursday.

• The San Diego New Music series continues with a performance of Pierre Boulez’s “Le Marteau sans Maître” on Wednesday at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla.

• Drinking About Museums is happening at Panama 66 this Wednesday. The artsy networking group formed earlier this year and was inspired by the blog Thinking About Museums.

• Digital Art Guild’s “Looking Back, Looking Forward” group art exhibit opens Wednesday in Balboa Park.

• Be sure to check out the silent disco dance room at this week’s Culture and Cocktails: The Art of Music event at the San Diego Museum of Art. 

• The San Diego State University Downtown Gallery opens Presence Thursday night. The multimedia collection of international works from the Matthew and Iris Strauss Family explores the complexity and diversity of female identity.

• This month marks the 100th year since Joe Hill, a songwriter and prominent labor activist, was executed by firing squad in Salt Lake City. The Joe Hill 100 Roadshow, a touring performance commemorating Hill’s life and music, makes a stop in San Diego this week.

• Drink whiskey in Carlsbad.

• Internet superstar Marnie the Dog will be in San Diego this week.

• Friday Night Liberty, the monthly art walk from the NTC Arts and Culture District, is this week and will include an author signing at the new ComicKaze comic bookstore. 

• San Diego Beer Week kicks off on Friday, and that means the Brewer’s Guild Fest is this weekend. 

• Madeleine George’s play “Precious Little” tells the story of an expecting mother who receives troubling news and is comforted by two unlikely sources. The show ioebs Friday at the Diversionary Theatre.

• Jennifer Anne Bennett’s print exhibition “Monotypes” opens Saturday evening at Bay Park Press.

“United Nations,” a group art show curated by Matt Land, opens Saturday at the La Bodega Gallery

• See some of the city’s best tattoo artists’ work at Chicano Art Gallery on Saturday.

• Vintage Gothic burlesque circus. Need I say more?

• Enter your rad dog into this contest happening at Quartyard on Sunday.

• The Pancakes and Booze Art Show hits San Diego on Saturday. Yes, there will be pancakes, booze and work by dozens of artists.

• The Spreckles Organ Society is holding a free tribute concert for Kate Sessions, “The Mother of Balboa Park,” at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.

• Thorn St. Brewing in South Park is hosting a beer pairing with Nomad Donuts on Sunday at noon.

• The San Diego Vintage Flea Market is happening Sunday in North Park.

•  William Joyce will be at the Chula Vista library on Saturday.

• The annual University Heights Arts Open and Taste of University Heights event is happening Sunday.

• Planet Rooth Design Haus is hosting art exhibitions again.

• Donuts and beer. Yum.

• Reimagined: A Modern Renaissance Exhibition” opens Saturday.

• On Friday, the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park is holding a members-only opening reception for its two new exhibitions,  “The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White” and “Self/Reflection: 10th Annual Youth Exhibition.”

– Amanda Rhoades contributed to this event list. 

Kids Corner

• San Diego’s first-ever Mac N’ Cheese Festival is happening on Saturday at Waterfront Park.

• Old-timey fun will be had at the Fall Back Festival and Historic Children’s Street Faire happening Sunday.

• The Old Globe’s Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” opens Saturday.

Update: The Mac n’ Cheese Fest, while still delicious, isn’t for kids — it’s a 21-and-up event.

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