Culture Report: Making Art Out of Math and Science - Voice of San Diego

Arts/Culture

Culture Report: Making Art Out of Math and Science

Exploring California’s car culture, there’s no shortage of festivals this weekend and more in our weekly digest of the region’s arts and culture news.

Artist Kelsey Brookes turns math and science into art. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Creativity can thrive in confines. Kelsey Brookes’ paintings and sculptures are proof.

The North Park artist never just lets himself fill a blank canvas with whatever he wants. Instead, the former microbiologist sets strict scientific or mathematical parameters. Within those restrictions is where his art and creativity comes in.

For the past year, Brookes has been exploring using both mathematical and scientific bases to create three-dimensional work – before, he’d been limiting it to just math or science, not both at the same time. The results of his experimentation will be on view in a show opening at Quint Gallery on Saturday.

The painter started his newest work with Fibonacci numbers, or a series in which each number is the sum of the two numbers that come before it. He turned those series into measurements (the number 1, for instance, would equal a one-inch line), then put those measurements onto canvases to create spirals, ripples and other shapes informed by Fibonacci numbers.

Then Brookes got the idea to start using the number sequences to create three-dimensional forms, or sculptures. And on top of those 3D forms, he began employing a tactic he’s been using for years – basing his paintings on molecular line diagrams. You’ve seen the diagrams in science books. They’re simple line drawings of hexagons and zigzags meant to map the atomic structure of molecules. He uses the atoms as central points in his paintings, encircling them over and over again in a painstaking process that takes days.

kelsey brookes art
Kelsey Brookes’ “Small Pox (Helical)” sculpture will be on view at Quint Gallery / Photo courtesy of Quint Gallery

Two recent videos he made describe his processes in-depth.

“I like to think of it as a colorful and kinetic representation of the tiniest pieces of our universe and of ourselves,” Brookes says in the video.

But even for those who don’t fully understand – or don’t care – about the math and science behind Brookes’ art, the work he creates is simply fun to look at. It’s widely appreciated for its meticulousness and meditative aesthetics. “Psychedelic” is a term that often comes to mind when taking in his twisting lines of bright color.

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

Rent and Revenues in Balboa Park

There’s a backlog of maintenance needs in Balboa Park.

balboa park
Balboa Park has an estimated $300 million in repair needs. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

The city park’s crumbling infrastructure is part of what motivated City Heights lawyer John Stump to ask Voice of San Diego, via our People’s Reporter series, in which we let readers tell us what to look into next, to compile a list of what Balboa Park institutions make and what they pay in rent.

Stump told me he thinks the nonprofits that make the most money should help by paying rent, money that could be reinvested in Balboa Park’s pricey upkeep.

It’s no secret that the city subsidizes most of the nonprofits’ rent in Balboa Park. The deal exists, in part, because the nonprofits provide cultural and educational services for residents and attract tourists, too. Balboa Park is one of the city’s biggest attractions and economic drivers.

Plus, the subsidized rents come with a big caveat – in lieu of rent, the nonprofits cover the buildings’ maintenance costs and pay utilities. Many of the nonprofits have invested heavily in their city-owned buildings over the years.

There’s a healthy debate over the Balboa Park subsidies playing out on my Facebook page. Let me know what you think by weighing in there or emailing me.

Unmasking Public Artists and More News for the Culture Crowd

  • “Star Trek” alum George Takei is in town for this year’s GI Film Festival. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego artist Christopher Puzio recently completed two public art pieces for the new Intercontinental Hotel at the intersection of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway.
chris puzio public art
“Groundswell” by Chris Puzio / Photo by Elena Kulikova
  • Cars are a big part of the California lifestyle. A new exhibition at the La Jolla Historical Society explores San Diegans’ complicated relationships with their cars. (CityBeat)
  • An exhibition opening Saturday at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido explores public art and the San Diego artists who create it. Exhibiting artists are members of Public Address, a group that includes Wick Alexander, Doris Bittar, Robin Brailsford, Diane Gage, Gerda Govine Ituarte, Luis Ituarte, Debby Kline, Larry Kline, Anne Mudge, Ruth Wallen and others. (Times-Advocate)
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego announced upcoming programs and events related to its big new “Being Here with You/ Estando aquí contigo: 42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana” exhibition.
  • The Union-Tribune’s theater critic says Diversionary Theatre’s “Bull in a China Shop” is a “fast-and-furious” and “sharply acted” play about a lesbian couple who lived openly at a time when most stayed in the closet.
  • Organizers of the nonprofit Denver Comic Con will change the name of their event to Denver Pop Culture Con. The move comes after a ruling in favor of Comic-Con International’s trademark claim of the term “comic con.” (The Know)
  • KPBS made a video postcard featuring Walter Meyer of Lambda Archives in a walking tour of Hillcrest and the neighborhood’s LGBTQ history.
  • The city’s Commission for Arts and Culture is running on a skeleton staff. Civic art project managers Whitney Roux and J Noland both left the commission and the city still hasn’t named a new director.
  • A collection of paintings created in San Diego in the 1990s by Japanese artist Satoshi Akiyama was thought to have been lost. The paintings were found, and are now on view at San Diego’s Design Consignment Gallery. The opening was last week, but there are more public events related to the paintings coming up.
  • Circulate San Diego, a nonprofit that works to improve mobility and transportation in the region, released a comic book to help kids understand and get interested in street safety. (StreetsBlog)

The Kinsee Report: Here’s Where I Want to Be This Week

  • The Adams Avenue Street Fair is one of the few street fairs I still enjoy. The older I get, the less willing I am to deal with crowds and the less excited I am about eating fair food (indigestion is a thing now!). But there’s always at least a few bands I discover for the first time at the two-day music festival that’s happening this weekend. Plus, Adams Avenue is adorable.
adams ave street fair
The Adams Avenue Street Fair / Photo by Michael Klayman
  • I know I just said I don’t like going to street fairs anymore, but dragging my kids to La Mesa’a Oktoberfest has become an annual tradition. You can feed the littles pretzels bigger than their heads and drink yourself some gigantic beers, too.
  • And if that’s not enough fest for you, the annual Cabrillo Festival is happening this weekend, too. Who doesn’t like a side of history with their community celebration?

Food, Cannabis, Beer and Booze News

  • I’ve thought about putting a magnifying glass in my purse so I can read the impossibly small print of modern menus – I’m definitely not admitting defeat and buying reading glasses anytime soon. Glad I’m not alone on this. (San Diego Magazine)
  • Pumpkin spice haters can just stop reading now. Let those of us who truly love the fall-inspired flavor enjoy this pointed defense of pumpkin. (CityBeat)
pumpkin spice is best
Image via Shutterstock
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