Culture Report: What Arts Can Teach Scientists, and Vice-Versa
Where to celebrate Dia De Los Muertos and other spooky events, a book that forces readers to examine their gaze and more from our new Culture Report scribe in this week’s digest of the region’s arts and culture news.
This year, UC San Diego’s Institute of Arts and Humanities received its largest-ever National Endowment for the Humanities award. The $750,000 matching grant will help fund the 2-year-old institute’s new home, which broke ground this past June. UCSD is one of the first institutions to receive this particular funding.
“They’re going to use our proposal as a model for others in the future,” said Cristina Della Coletta, dean of UCSD’s Division of Arts and Humanities, which encompasses the institute.
It’s hard to discuss the arts at UCSD without also questioning what it means for arts to exist in a science-centric institution, but Della Coletta wants to overcome that “either/or” assumption. Rather than pitting science against the arts, she hopes the institute will help UCSD to “educate the whole individual.”
“The arts and humanities have a lot to offer the sciences,” Della Coletta said. “We need more humanists.”
The new building will be the first endeavor in UCSD history to bring all the humanities together, and the hope is to not only proliferate a more cohesive curricula and collaboration among the faculty, but also stronger public programming. And with it, a unified approach to receiving funding.
It’s paying off so far.
Luis Alvarez, director of the Institute of Arts and Humanities and a professor of history, used additional UC funding to develop a new oral storytelling initiative, The Race and Oral History Project, dedicated to preserving San Diego’s diverse stories.
Launched this spring, the project engages undergrads from diverse communities in San Diego to document — and learn from — their oral histories. Working with community partners like Casa Familiar in San Ysidro, The New Children’s Museum, CHE’LU and United Women of East Africa, students learn technologies and skills required to collaborate, converse and record stories, archiving them online.
“Libraries are often driven to collect, preserve and disseminate forms of knowledge that are deemed ‘authoritative’ or ‘significant’ by institutional decision makers,” said Erin Glass, UCSD’s digital scholarship librarian who assists with the race and oral history project. “It’s an exciting example of the value of participatory, community-based archives that highlight perspectives often excluded by institutions.”
While culture thrives on San Diego’s university campuses, few community members bother to drive and park there, so it’s harder to engage the larger community. The Institute of Arts and Humanities aims to change that. “We’ve really tried to mark IAH as an institute that can put UCSD out in the communities of San Diego,” said Alvarez, “and bring those communities to UC San Diego in ways in which they may not always have done, historically.”
In addition to the race and oral history project, the institute is presenting these community programs in the fall:
- An Oct. 24 film screening and discussion: “Singing Our Way to Freedom,” with Paul Espinoza, on Chunky Sanchez and the music of San Diego’s Chicano civil rights movement
- A Nov. 14 discussion: “Beyond the Wall: The Aftermath of Deportation in Mexico,” featuring members of Otros Dreams in Accion
Psychological Art, a Spooky Events Guide and More News for the Culture Crowd
If you panicked when you heard Kinsee Morlan abandoned left the Culture Report, rest assured: So did I. I’ve used this space regularly as a consumer and an artist, and while covering the arts for CityBeat. (But mostly to stalk Kinsee, let’s be honest.) At least for the near future, I’ll help you weed through what’s going on in town. Because I love art, I love San Diego and I really, really love making lists.
- Vi Khi Nao reads Wednesday at SDSU. Nao’s newest book, “Sheep Machine,” forces readers to examine their gaze and reality. “I am a backdrop against another backdrop,” says Nao’s narrator.
- UCSD’s “Inheritance,” an original opera opening this week, chronicles the strange life and even stranger home of Sarah Winchester (yes, that Winchester).
- A Ship in the Woods and MCASD present EXIT PARTY Homegrown: Being Here with You / Estando aquí contigo, on Thursday.
- Check in on San Diego Opera’s new staff additions since their 2014 near-collapse. (CityBeat)
- Texture abounds in the aptly named “Texturas,” a new pop-up exhibit by Becky Guttin at Vanguard Culture, opening Friday.
- The annual Filipino American Arts & Cultural Festival of San Diego (aka FilAmFest) takes place Saturday. (KPBS)
- SDMA just celebrated the opening of “Beyond Reason,” Belfast-born sculptor Tim Shaw’s first full exhibition in the United States. The museum describes the installations as “psychologically charged.” (Times of San Diego)
Spooky Events! A Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos Guide
The spooky season can feel like an unseasonably hot mess of options, and I’m here to walk you through the countless Halloween and Dia de los Muertos events in town.
First, check out some of the guides already available online. San Diego Tourism Authority has two separate landing pages: one for Halloween events, plus a brief roundup of Dia de los Muertos events. KPBS has a special section on its calendar. For something sorted by neighborhoods, try this one from Patch San Diego.
Generally Spooky Events
Here are my creepy highlights, selected mostly based on whether they’re worth applying sunscreen in October:
- At the parkwide Halloween Family Day at Balboa Park on Saturday, don’t miss the “Thriller” flash mob in the Plaza de Panama (even if you only know that one zombie move), and the doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village.
- On Friday, SDMA partners with the Shakespeare Society for Spooky ArtStops, showcasing their ghastliest pieces alongside readings of Edgar Allan Poe and more.
- Space4Art’s “A Nightmare on 16th Street” features visual art, performances, tarot and more, on Friday.
- I Eat People III is a monster art show for kids at the Mission Valley Library, opening Saturday. You’ve never truly been spooked out until you’ve been spooked out by a little kid. (CityBeat)
- In Barrio Logan, La Bodega Gallery hosts its 6th annual Skull Art Show on Saturday.
- For the over-21 set, a bunch of local musicians will band together (ha, literally) to present a Halloween night of Nick Cave covers at Whistle Stop on Oct. 31.
- And longtime San Diego darlings Pinback and Buckfast Superbee perform at The Lafayette on Saturday. (San Diego Reader)
Dia De Los Muertos Events
There’s an abundance of Dia de los Muertos events in this fine region, and I like the sound of these:
- North Park Day of the Dead Festival (Saturday)
- City Heights Dia De Los Muertos Festival (Saturday)
- Sherman Heights Procesión De Muertos (Nov. 2)
- Traditional Dia De Los Muertos Festival at Border X in Barrio Logan (Sunday)
- A four-day long feature at the Natural History Museum in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate and the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT), including an altar to extinct species
Food, Beer and Booze News
- CityBeat’s “Best Of San Diego” issue is out. Check out staff (and reader) faves, from pizza to tacos to … politicians.
- A mobile cocktail hamlet takes residence literally inside a giant suitcase in Loews Coronado’s Bellhop Bar, now through mid-January 2019. (SanDiegoVille)
- My Yard Live announced plans in San Marcos for a major entertainment and brewpub venue. (West Coaster)
- The computer shop next to North Park’s Subterranean Coffee Boutique has been acquired by Subterranean, with plans for an expansion. (Uptown News)
- The massive Modern Times vegan restaurant in Encinitas is finally open, and if you’re missing that “Kinsee Report” component where you can get a sense of the cultural happenings that will shape my weekend, this restaurant news is all you need to know for the Julia Report. (Eater)