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Culture Report: Beauty and the Border

Commissioning artists to fancy up the new port of entry, plus expressing complex (and sometimes angry) feelings about ‘la linea’ in a new art series in North Park, theater in non-traditional spaces, everything you need to prep for fall art offerings and more in our weekly culture roundup.

The U.S.-Mexico border has always been a point of heated debate, especially now that the redesign of the San Ysidro Port of Entry is under way. Remember when a chunk of construction collapsed in 2011? Yeah, not great.

One of the complaints I’ve heard, and made, is that the new border is uninviting. The large concrete walls and steel bars give the impression you’re entering or exiting a fortress rather than a country rich with vibrant culture.

That’s why the U.S. General Services Administration’s $500,000 to commission artists to create new works be displayed at the border crossing is so exciting. It’s a chance to beautify the port of entry, create a more engaging crossing experience and hopefully boost tourism on both sides of la linea. Artist proposals are being accepted until Oct. 6.

The complexities of the border are at the center of another artistic endeavor this week: “The Fence/La Barda,” a bi-national, interactive and collaborative series kicking off Saturday at Art Produce Gallery in North Park.

The art installation, performance and lecture series was organized by the Feminist Image Group (FIG) and Tijuana’s Distrito Diez Gallery. A fence will divide the event space, forcing visitors to cross to each side to view works by Tijuana and San Diego art makers. Among the artists involved are Anna Stump, Bhavna Mehta, Lourdes Huerta and Panca.

“What happens –  to me at least – is that the aggravation of crossing the border takes away too much time and energy,” said participating Tijuana artist Jill Marie Holslin. “At the end of the day, I have little energy left to collaborate with other artists, and much less, any desire to return to that place – the border crossing – that makes me feel so angry and frustrated.

“I think that what’s important about our show is something very simple –  cultural exchange between our sister cities – but a simple thing that is made difficult by the clumsy border infrastructure. We will be bringing art and artists from Tijuana to San Diego, showing San Diego audiences the way Tijuana artists are engaging with the border context.”

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

Fall Arts, New Acquisitions and More Visual Art News

• In its fall arts issue, San Diego Magazine lists its top 20 picks for the season’s coming exhibitions, shows and cultural events. Among its favorites are the Old Globe’s production of “Bright Star,” Art Power’s dance series and “Dirty Dancing” at the Civic Theatre.

• San Diego Magazine also turns the lens on photographer Corey Jenkins.

• Panama 66, the new restaurant and bar opening in the courtyard of the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, features a beautifully intricate metal sculpture along the bar. CityBeat introduces readers to the sculptor.

• CityBeat also profiles prolific artist James Watts, who has two shows opening this week. Busy guy!

• The U-T’s James Chute gives his top choices for the visual art you can’t miss this fall.

• CityBeat talks to artist Ginger Louise, who’s been dealing with health issues that impeded her work. Luckily, she’s back at it and charging forward.

RIP Daniel Jackson, San Diego’s Underground History and More Music and Performance Bits

• Local jazz icon Daniel Jackson passed away Thursday after years of battling illness. It’s a loss in the local music scene, but his influence lives on. (KPBS)

• What’s going down in classical music this fall? Let the U-T guide you!

• The season’s dance offerings also look pretty great. (U-T)

• The duo that brought the world the music from “Frozen” will debut a musical at the La Jolla Playhouse next summer. (San Diego Magazine)

• A documentary highlighting San Diego’s underground music scene from 1986 through ‘96, with interviews and behind the music tales about band like No Knife, The Locust and Crash Worship, will screen early next month. Get to know your local rock gods, dudes. (CityBeat)

• The Birch North Park Theatre is under new ownership, with Casbah’s Tim Mays handling all bookings for the space. He’s been on a roll with some awesome concerts, including Rodriguez, and has some other rad shows in the pipeline (e.g., Lykke Li in September, John Waters’ Christmas Show in December). San Diego Magazine talks to Mays about changes in the venue and how the Red Hot Chili Peppers got him banned from the theater.

• We all know good theater doesn’t have to be staged in a traditional black box. Many local companies have stepped outside of traditional spaces for their shows. (San Diego Magazine)

• You won’t have to remove your shoes to board with the San Diego Symphony’s Passport Series. See what the organization has in store this fall in dance, music and even acrobatics. (San Diego Magazine)

• Get to know a bit about Barry Edelstein of the Old Globe Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse’s Christopher Ashley. (San Diego Magazine)

San Diego Opera Turns 50, Death Obsessions and More Culture Goodies

• Local author Amy Wallen is a little obsessed with death. She shares her fascination in a first-person article in CityBeat.

• After all the drama, the San Diego Opera’s 50th season kicked off last week  with a love song recital featuring Ailyn Perez and Stephen Costello. This season, we can look forward to stagings of “La Boheme,” “Don Giovanni,” “Nixon in China” and more. (KPBS)

• In the latest installment of my CityBeat column, There She Goz, I take a stab at relaxation by attending a reiki yoga class. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go great.

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