Culture Report: The Secret Life and Times of Balboa Park
Circus cats, the Kitchenistas of National City, a call for public art in San Ysidro and more in our weekly roundup of arts and culture news.
What happens when music goes beyond entertainment? At VOSD’s next Meeting of the Minds event, we’ll explore the power music can have on our lives; how it can transport you to another continent, change the trajectory of a child’s future and spark controversy about social justice. Steve Poltz, Brandon “Tiny Doo” Duncan, Carol Williams and others will share their stories.
Strange and fascinating things have happened inside Balboa Park since it first opened in 1915. And strange and fascinating things continue to happen there, but not all of it is in public view.
Local artist Kate Clark is zeroing in on some of the public park’s more obscure history and shining a light on a few of its lesser-known sites for Parkeology, an art project that takes shape as a series of public events followed with videos and podcasts documenting the events.
The first Parkeology event took attendees into the underbelly of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Some of the volunteers who craft the intricate train scenes there took folks on an intimate behind-the-scenes tour, revealing details like the miniature cemetery, which includes the real names of museum volunteers who’ve passed away.
The video documenting the first Parkeology event was just released. In it, you’ll see shots of marionettes in the likeness of Clark and longtime Balboa Park ranger Kim Duclo, who told Clark he wasn’t quite comfortable enough to do the interviews on-camera (hence the puppets). The two talk about the train museum and its lovable quirks.
Next up, Clark will be at the Museum of Man from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday for an event that brings a piece of the institution’s history to life. The Museum of Man opened in 1915 with an exhibition called “The Story of Man Through the Ages.” A big part of the show was face casts, or sculptures made by putting plaster on people’s faces to capture their features. The casts were collected by Ales Hrdlicka, a physical anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution. Most of the casts remain in the museum’s collection and while they’ve been cleaned up and exhibited at least once, the collection mostly sits in storage because of its complicated history (some of Hrdlicka’s methods of collecting artifacts have since come under scrutiny) and changing views of racial categorization.
Bits and pieces of the controversial history will be available at Clark’s event Sunday, but mostly it’s a chance for people to observe the face-casting experience (folks who register for the event will be entered into a lottery and 30 chosen at random will get their own faces cast). Attendees will also see the resulting sculptures as they get officially documented and entered into the museum’s collection as a temporary loan.
“They’ll get to see a part of themselves being transformed into an artifact,” Clark said.
Clark said one of her goals for the series is to create more intimate, less pretentious connections between people, the park and its museums.
“In part, the project is a way of saying, actually, people have used this public space in radical ways for a long time and so can you,” Clark said. “My hope is that through projects like this, we can sort of relate to this space, Balboa Park or basically any urban park, in ways that make us feel like it belongs to us.”
• Freelance writer Susan Myrland penned an in-depth piece on Clark’s Parkeology project for the U-T.
You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.
All Eyes on Ol’ Bucky, a Call for Public Art in San Ysidro and Other Arts and Culture News
• “R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe,” the one-man play originally staged in 2000 and brought back this year for San Diego REP’s 40th anniversary season, is getting lots of attention from local theater writers. KPBS shines some light on the playwright and all the work that went into researching the ideas of the famed architect, theorist and inventor. San Diego Story says if you see the show and really let ol’ Bucky’s ideas sink in, you’re likely to “come away full of awe and wonder.” The U-T calls the play an “idea-packed, neuron-stirring show.”
• Liberty Public Market opened its doors Monday. Eater San Diego takes an in-depth look at the new 25,000-square-foot food superstore and highlights several of the vendors setting up shop there. The site also has the latest on COIN HAUS, an arcade and beer joint opening in La Mesa this summer, and a luxury cinema opening in Liberty Station.
• “The Kitchenistas of National City” documentary was part of this year’s San Diego Latino Film Festival lineup. The film follows the women enrolled in an ongoing healthy cooking course at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City. The program has created waves in the community, helping women there cook healthier food. National City has some of the highest diabetes rates in San Diego County in recent years.
• Tijuana and Los Angeles both have rivers that have been encased in cement. Tijuana architect Rene Peralta, who’s also the director of an architecture master’s program at San Diego’s Woodbury University, and local urban planner Jim Bliesner have been touting an idea to cover the miles of concrete covering the Tijuana River channel in solar panels that could power thousands of nearby homes. The Los Angles Times says its an idea that could translate well in L.A.
• San Diego’s Commission for Arts and Culture is looking for an artist or artist team to create a new site-specific public artwork for the San Ysidro Branch Library. (Twitter)
• KPBS has more on Comic-Con’s plans for its new television channel.
• ICYMI: FOX is in the middle of shooting a pilot in San Diego. The show’s described as a “one-hour baseball drama, which follows a young female pitcher who defies the odds when she becomes the first woman to play in the major leagues for the San Diego Padres.” (auditionsfree.com)
• It isn’t scheduled to officially open until May, but San Diego CityBeat’s Seth Combs has the first look at A Ship in the Woods’ new digs in Escondido. The arts organization, which formally staged most of its shows in a house in Del Mar, was behind the ambitious show at Cabrillo National Monument last fall.
• Over 100 local bands sent their demos to music writers at San Diego CityBeat. The writers then slammed or praised the music. Here’s an excerpt from one of the micro music reviews:
“It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a self-described ‘Nordic Werewolf Horror Punk’ band whose members all wear wolf masks (get it?) while they play,” wrote Scott McDonald.
• VOSD members went to Tijuana a few weeks ago to check out some of the art and culture there. We finally got around to posting a few photos of the trip on Facebook.
• Remember the San Diego Opera’s outreach efforts I told you about a few months ago? Welp, the opera’s new director is finally hitting the road, embarking on a “listening tour’ that’ll take him to four locations across the county where he’ll ask community members what direction the opera should take. (U-T)
• San Diego art broker and gallery owner Alexander Salazar collects art made by prisoners. Here’s the fascinating backstory. (U-T)
• Folks are already getting excited about Wesley Sam-Bruce’s upcoming collaborative installation opening at The New Children’s Museum in June. (play-scapes.com)
• A new exhibit themed on the immigrant experience in the United States is showing at San Diego Mesa College’s art gallery through April 13. (U-T)
• Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar pulled material from the U.S.-Mexico border fence and used it to build a giant ladder. (creativetimesreports.org)
• Meet Bill Lawrence, the new executive director at the San Diego History Center, and get to know more about the institution’s biggest-ever exhibition that recently opened, “The Lore Behind the Roar: 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo.”
• Do Ho Suh is the artist behind the “Fallen Star” installation on top of a building on UC San Diego’s campus. Suh’s work is currently on view in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, so the U-T interviewed the artist. My predecessor Kelly Bennett covered the tricky installation of Suh’s art piece back in 2011. Suh himself will be in San Diego April 5 for the premiere of his new documentary “Fallen Star: Finding Home,” which is screening on campus.
Get Cultured: Things to Do in San Diego This Week
• On Saturday, Monarch Arredon Contemporary gallery in La Jolla will be the backdrop for a new performance art piece by Tijuana visual artist Hugo Crosthwaite, violinist Marilu Salinas and dancer Theresa Magario. The work explores migration and movement.
• If you’ve got a fancy car, or you just like looking at Lamborghinis, you may want to check out this Cars and Coffee event in La Jolla.
• Jamaican singer-songwriter Brushy One-String and other global music will be at Copley Symphony Hall Saturday night.
• Nine jazz ladies perform at Dizzy’s Friday night because Women’s History Month ain’t over yet.
• The Old Globe is opening a brand-new musical based on the short story “Rain” by Somerset Maugham. Previews start this week.
• An exhibition of 28 sculptures by Arthur Putnam is opening at the San Diego Museum of Art.
• Margaret Griffith bends, twists and shapes metal and paper like nobody’s business. A show of her large-scale sculptures is opening at Lux Art Institute in Encinitas.
• Another nod to Women’s History Month, this multimedia dance event features an all-female crew.
• Indie Apocalypse is a podcast about the “struggles of being an independent filmmaker in Southern California.” The group is hosting The Night of 1000 Burritos, a screening of indie films made by San Diegans over the last year.
• Cycling 22 miles across San Diego is fun, especially when you have stops at breweries fueling the ride.
• North Park’s farmers market has been spruced up and is relaunching this Thursday.
• Still have green grass in your yard? Drought-shaming aside, you’re invited to scope out water-friendly alternatives at the Water Conservation Garden’s first-ever Water-Wise Home Garden Tour.
• The San Diego Art Institute’s curator-in-residence has pieced together a “multi-sensory, multimedia” exhibition opening this week. And over at SDAI’s project space at Horton Plaza BYOB (Bring Your Own Beamer), an international series of one-night exhibitions that invite artists to explore the art of projection in an immersive environment, is going down Friday night.
• Oakland-based artist Madeleine Tonzi is featured in a solo show in this new gallery.
• “Paper Cities” is an experimental play that uses puppets, film, text and sound to tell a story. See it Friday at the Coyote Gulch, a new outdoor theater on Euclid Avenue.
• Bread & Salt in Logan Heights will host a show of art and performances by Max Daily and Marcel Zooey.
• Theater troupe fruitlessmoon theatreworks presents Samuel Beckett’s absurdest masterpiece “Waiting for Godot.”
• Artists will be hanging out at Prospect Bar in La Jolla Friday night.
• Drink wine and try your hand at painting.
• Yup, there’s another beer festival in San Diego this week.
• This Barrio Logan gallery continues to host edgy contemporary art shows.
• Local hackers, take note.
• The new Niche store is a collaboration between two locally owned shops, South Park’s PROGRESS and JUNC.LIFE boutiques.
• San Diego Women’s Film Festival continues this week with a screening of a skateboarding documentary.
• Cats that play music and do circus stunts are coming to town. Seriously.
• Perhaps you’ve seen the billboards and posters plastered all over town? Chinese dance company Shen Yun is here.
• The Digital Art Guild opens a show at the gallery at City College this week.
• Bunnies are big this week. Two of my favorite Easter happenings are going down in Santee and San Carlos. San Carlos is a bit old-school and they don’t have anything online, but its spring festival and egg hunt is happening at 10 a.m. Saturday at the San Carlos recreation center. Belmont Park is also hosting a few Easter egg hunts.