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The financial pinch in the years after the recession is prompting arts organizations to strategize new ways of balancing their artistic vision with what they can afford.
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego shared some strategies with the U-T San Diego. After a hit to fundraising, museum director Hugh Davies says the museum is pulling out pieces from its own collection more often, compared to bringing in pieces or traveling shows from elsewhere. It’s switching shows out less frequently. And it’s combining efforts with other groups. This fall, the museum will team up with the San Diego Museum of Art and the Timken Museum to put on “Behold America,” a three-museum survey of American art from each organization’s permanent collection.
“We’ve used just about every trick we know to get our budget down,” Davies said.
Against a similar backdrop, there’s a clash between the musicians’ union and local classical music organization Orchestra Nova. As KPBS arts reporter Angela Carone details, the impasse comes over money and artistic approach.
Artistic director Jung-Ho Pak wants the musicians to emote onstage, to be perhaps as expressive as Lady Gaga. “He thinks that audiences really connect to seeing that kind of emotion,” Carone said in a roundtable discussion later in the week. And he “ties the financial sustainability of Orchestra Nova and the livelihood of the classical performance industry to this new performance approach.”
But the musicians, like violinist Andrea Altona, aren’t sure. While she and other musicians’ union members have tried Pak’s ideas before, she worries that “musicians may not be chosen for their artistry but based on how they look on stage. … We as a union try to protect people from such arbitrary decisions.”
You’re reading the Arts Report, our weekly compilation of the region’s arts and culture news.
• Rafael Lopez is the artist behind this year’s poster for the National Book Festival, and an official campaign poster for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Lopez splits his time between downtown San Diego and a town in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende. (Washington Post)
• San Diego artist Neil Shigley says it’s easy to look for differences between ourselves and others. Shigley’s large portraits of people who live on San Diego streets are on display through the beginning of next month at Southwestern College.
Harder is finding common ground with people who are homeless.
“If we look for something in a person that makes us alike, that opens doors for peace and love,” he tells CityBeat.
• Derrick Cartwright, who directed the San Diego Museum of Art from 2004 to 2009, is back in town, this time to direct the galleries at the University of San Diego. (U-T San Diego)
• San Diego-based bassist Mark Dresser tells the San Diego Reader about his busy few weeks — gigs in Copenhagen, Iceland, Tijuana, New York City, Baltimore, Boston and Connecticut. Dresser is back this week for the first week of school at UC San Diego, where he teaches.
And he’ll be playing this weekend in the Carlsbad Music Festival with Wu Man, a renowned musician who plays the pipa, a four-stringed Chinese instrument. You can see video snippets of the festival’s performers here.
• A film Andy Warhol made in La Jolla in 1968 will be released again after 40 years. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City will screen the film, called “San Diego Surf,” in January.
• Artist Spenser Little makes sculptures from wire — if you were at the Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair, you may’ve seen Little’s spotlighted piece outside, casting shadows on the wall. (I tweeted a photograph I took on my phone.) He doesn’t always find his materials this way, but a profile in CityBeat describes the line Little walks as a street artist.
“Little says that one of his favorite methods is to find a barbed-wire fence, and without disconnecting or cutting anything, unravel an area where he can then sculpt a character,” writes Amy Granite. “He was doing that at a San Luis Obispo farm when a man pulled a gun on him and said, ‘Your sculpture won’t hold back my cows.’ ”
• Unless they look over the park from the aerial tram, visitors to the San Diego Zoo might not realize how close their favorite animal exhibits are to the theaters and museums populating the Prado in Balboa Park. A plan last decade hoped to better connect the institutions, but it hasn’t yet been realized. Learn more about the zoo’s vision for what could be in our latest look at controversies and land use decisions in San Diego’s central park.
• The San Diego Film Festival is next week and this year is expanding from one venue — the Gaslamp’s Reading Theater — to two. Some films will screen at the Sherwood Auditorium at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. (Variety)
• A new building housing engineers and artists at UC San Diego opened on Friday. Science fiction writer David Brin, a UCSD alum, spoke and dreamed aloud of what putting the disciplines under one roof might lead to:
“The joyful blending of breakthrough technology with artistic sensibility,” he said, “… extravagant imagination merging with utilitarian vision, leading, it is hoped, to spaces and tools and devices and projects and inventions… as well as wonderful frivolities… that people not only find useful but love to use, amid a growing prosperity that’s perfectly compatible with a sustainable Earth.”
• The Ken Cinema scheduled a film series in honor of its own centennial. Only hitch is the cinema doesn’t appear to be that old. (U-T San Diego)
• Ten dancers have descended on Lemon Grove’s Civic Center Park to rehearse for next weekend’s Trolley Dances, the 14-year tradition run by San Diego Dance Theater. The event happens over two weekends starting Sept. 29.
• The new musical “Allegiance,” centered on the Japanese American internment, has its opening night at The Old Globe tomorrow, and the show’s been all over national arts news. Playing one of the lead roles, Tony-award-winning actor Lea Salonga writes that the people involved in the production are exhausted and excited (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
NPR spoke with creator George Takei about his family’s life, their personal experience in the internment.
“I see Allegiance as my legacy project,” the Star Trek star told NPR. “The story is very important to me and it’s been my mission in life to raise Americans’ awareness of that shameful chapter of American history.”
Why a musical? Composer/lyricist Jay Kuo commented to the Associated Press that songs help express complex emotions, “especially in a culture that prides steadfastness and stoicism.”
“Asian-Americans don’t really speak an emotional language,” he told the AP. “Music gives us that permission.”
A couple of connected exhibits in Balboa Park feature art, photographs and artifacts from the internment, like Wendy Maruyama’s “Tag Project,” which we featured earlier this year.
In an interview with KPBS last week, Linda Canada, president of the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, said it’s surprising to her how many people she meets have never heard about the thousands of Japanese-Americans who were removed from their homes and moved to camps in the 1940s.
“It’s a pretty shameful aspect of our history,” she said.
• A bread-baker slips into the kitchen at North Park restaurant El Take It Easy before the place opens to make about a dozen loaves at a time, which she delivers to friends and customers by bicycle. She can’t grow her operation yet, but the Reader’s Ian Pike promises to keep us posted. For now, he’s excited about the creative space-sharing:
“Perhaps the most intriguing part of Kyla’s operation is that she’s sharing space with El Take it Easy and using the space and equipment which sits dormant for half of every day when the restaurant is closed,” he writes.
• Literary group San Diego Writers, Ink is teaming up next week with the Mingei International Museum for a night of readings, jazz and food.
• A handful of notable, local, contemporary artists will exhibit new work inside Pods, the portable storage containers, in conjunction with “Fall for the Arts” festival in Liberty Station, opening Oct. 5.
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