It’s time to retire the 2018 year-end lists and ring in the new year with (that’s right) some other lists. We sat down some of our favorite arts editors and writers and asked them what we should be paying attention to in the New Year.
Nina Garin, KPBS arts editor and producer
“When there’s a lot of chaos around me, I go into comfort mode. It’s why I keep binge watching ‘Gilmore Girls,’” Garin said. And comfort mode for her is (beyond “Gilmore Girls”) the classics. Here’s what Garin is looking forward to in 2019:
- The Old Globe brings back “Romeo and Juliet”  to its summer festival stage, but this time, it’s directed by Barry Edelstein, the Globe’s artistic director. “I’ve never met a person who knows so much about Shakespeare and all the nuances,” Garin said of Edelstein. “He was basically the spokesperson for when we had the Shakespeare Folio in town. … and that’s kind of when I saw his Shakespeare brain at work,” she said. “I just love how simple he made it feel, and how relatable.”
- “Moonlight Amphitheater is doing ‘West Side Story ,’ which I have actually never seen as a live musical. I’ve only seen the movie,” she said. “And Moonlight Amphitheater always does really good shows. And this one’s hard to do. You have to have really good dancers and really good singers.”
Moonlight Amphitheater / Photo by Ken Jacques
- “California Ballet  is redoing its ‘Nutcracker’ for 2019,” Garin said. “They’re the ones that do it at the Civic Theatre. When you think of ‘The Nutcracker’ in San Diego, you’re most likely thinking of theirs. And it’s basically been the same for a long time, and it’s a good one, but now that they have Jared Nelson as their new artistic director – he took over this year – he said he was going to change it up.”
Jim Daichendt, Union-Tribune art critic
Daichendt is new on the scene as an art critic for the U-T.
- “Overall, I’ve been very impressed with what’s happened with installations down at Liberty Station,” Daichendt said, specifically citing Hugo Crosthwaite’s temporary murals , and the Lissa Corona/Marina Grize piece . “I don’t know what’s next for them. They had a slate of six installations,” he said. “And they’ve had smaller ones along the way. And it just feels like they’ve upped their game down there. It’s such a tough place to show work, because it’s not built for it, because the generic, rigid architecture doesn’t lend itself very well to it.”
- “Over at the Lux, I always look at who’s coming, and Courtney Mattison is one of the artists that’s up next,” Daichendt said. “What I like about Lux is they’re supposed to make work in residence there.” Mattison’s three-dimensional relief-style work, dealing with sea life, seems a natural fit for the Encinitas institution. “My hope is that it’ll be something quite powerful and something that’ll connect locally, which is what is so powerful about an artist residency.”
- Also on Daichendt’s radar is Dave Adey’s upcoming exhibition at Quint Gallery, “There Be Dragons, ” which opens Jan. 12. “It’s about guns,” he said. “It’s specifically about part of the AR-15, they call it the lower, it’s the piece that makes the gun. It has a serial number. But you can digitally print these pieces from schematics online, and the whole show is a commentary on that.”
Seth Combs, CityBeat editor
Combs is looking forward to reuniting with an iconic museum.
- “I think the Museum of Contemporary Art – the original location in La Jolla – is going to finally be done and reopened,” he said.
- He anticipates the work of Melissa Walter, who has an upcoming installation at ICE Gallery (at Bread and Salt). “Her work with NASA and her merging of the scientific realm with the artistic is just very interesting to me,” Combs said. “You can look at her pieces on their own and feel genuinely amazed and perplexed. You know there’s just something about them in their intricacy that’s kind of bewildering.” Walter, along with a cast of volunteers, created tens of thousands of pyramids. The end result remains a mystery for now. “There’s this level of anticipation,” Combs said.
- Yasmine Kasem, an Egyptian-American artist doing graduate work at UCSD, first caught Combs’ attention in 2017 . “I think she mentioned that [her hometown] was the birthplace of the KKK – so, she’s had a very interesting upbringing.” Of her prior work, Combs said: “I found it very haunting.” On Jan. 24, she’ll open a new show at 1805 Gallery called “Every Fragment a Prayer .”
Susanna Peredo Swap, Vanguard Culture founder/editor
“I think that the organizations to look out for next year are the ones that are attempting a more collaborative approach to programming,” said Peredo Swap. “The one trait that I found across all creative industries is that San Diego arts groups tended to work in silos and rarely reached out to collaborate, even within the same industries! There is much strength in collaboration, including a sharing of resources.” The collabs she’s watching:
- “Space 4 Art  as they launch their year-long initiative to partner with local arts groups to bring attention to their fundraiser for a permanent home,” she said.
- “San Diego Art Institute recently announced a partnership with UCSD’s Qualcomm Institute  to bring innovative new art-meets-tech experiences to its audiences,” Peredo Swap said. “I’m curious to see how that develops.”
- “The San Diego Symphony has also been offering uniquely San Diegan programming, namely the commission of a new work ‘Brazos de Niebla’ about immigration,” she said. “In addition, their communitywide Hearing the Future Festival  in January will offer tremendous visibility to a wide range of local music and arts orgs through partnered programming.” The festival kicks off Jan. 9.
A Very Casbah Weekend, Cats and More News for the Culture Crowd
- I recently counted all solo museum shows in San Diego to see how women stacked up . My sixth grade son (!) even pointed out that Oceanside Museum of Art had the same number of solo women shows as all of Balboa Park combined. We discuss on the latest VOSD Podcast .
- On Friday, Liberty Station’s monthly Friday Night Liberty includes a preview performance of San Diego Dance Theater’s  latest, “Janus III.”
- The Casbah celebrates 30 years in 2019, and there are plenty  of  retrospectives  on the venue. Hot Snakes is up first on Friday (I loved this Hot Snakes vs. Drive Like Jehu shakedown in CityBeat). Then Chinchilla plays Saturday, a mid-‘90s (are you ready for this description?) all-female “heavy, introspective math rock” band . And new local darlings Forest Grove and Blood Ponies play with T.S.O.L . on Sunday night. What a weekend in midtown!
- SDNHM hosts a Nat Talk on Tuesday about cats. “The Science of a Happy Cat”  features Dr. Mikel Delgado, who co-wrote the book “Total Cat Mojo”  with Animal Planet’s Jackson Galaxy. Leash your cat and bring her along (just kidding, please don’t).
Food, Beer, Booze and Cannabis News
- San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson queried  chefs, bartenders and restaurateurs about minimum wage.
- Beer people talk about the best new breweries in San Diego this year . (West Coaster)
- Matthew Shapiro, a San Diego lawyer who specializes in cannabis, sheds some light on the potential legal future of cannabis delivery  services, along with insights from local dispensaries. (CityBeat)
Two New Sections!
While I’ve been on this beat, I’ve been toying with adding a few new sections: A list of what’s inspiring me, locally and beyond, plus a reminder of shows closing soon. With kids/work/Twitter, it’s hard to get to all the opening nights I want to attend, so here’s my ode to the underrated fine art of procrastination:
- SDAI’s Rising Tide  closes on Sunday, Jan. 6.
- Rachel Mica Weiss ends her solo show at Lux Art Institute  on Jan. 12.
- And Faiya Fredman’s exhibit at OMA  closes on Jan. 13. Fredman, at 93, is still producing “jaw-dropping”  steel works, and this show features 70 of her pieces from the last 20 years. (La Jolla Light)
What’s Inspiring Me Right Now
- Sometimes it feels like there’s an overabundance of complaining to be done about San Diego’s culture scene, but I felt a lot of pride reading this this U-T report  of 2018’s greatest art hits.
- I saw The Havnauts at Soda Bar last week and am now binge-listening to their EP, “Go For It!”  One of several projects fronted by Shelbi Bennett (also of The Midnight Pine), this band involves a lot of cute stage decor, pink sequins and (best of all) distilling Bennett’s amazing vocal stylings into the coolest punk.
- The New Yorker recently published a new Joy Williams short story, “Chaunt,”  and I am making my way through it. There’s also an audio recording of the master herself. Think of it like a podcast, except 21 minutes later you’ll basically have an MFA. If you’re into opening lines: “The building was called the Dove. Or Dove. She’s out there at Dove, people might say if they wanted to bother. It was eleven stories with a multitude of single rooms, very much like a dovecote, or, as everyone eventually suggested, a columbarium.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post misidentified Yasmine Kasem’s background.