There’s a lot going on in Balboa Park right now, especially with the centennial coming next year. It has a few people wanting to maximize the impact of each park institution’s spaces.

Our own Kelly Bennett returns with a piece on Balboa Park’s San Diego Automotive Museum and the changes it might have to make in the future. After turning down the possibility of a merger with the Automotive Museum with the Air and Space Museum, some people – namely County Supervisor Ron Robert and hotelier Bill Evans – believe the Automotive Museum isn’t taking advantage of its space.

“We don’t expect every museum to be a great big museum with a worldwide following,” Roberts tells Voice of San Diego. “The idea of the automotive museum, I think, is a good one. I’m a little disappointed in the way this one operates.”

Fair enough. Then, Evans offered this harsh criticism:

“It’s basically a large empty building with a lot of cars that are placed unimaginatively. There’s no narrative that goes on. There are some special shows every once in a while. But it seems like it’s more a place where people are parking their cars and there’s no rhyme or reason.”

Ouch. No, really. Someone get the Automotive Museum some aloe for those burns.

Museum executive director Paula Brandes likes that the museum is small because it offers more freedom.

“Not every coffee shop is Starbucks,” she said. “It’s OK to be smaller.”

I agree. There’s nothing wrong with being small. Get a Ouija board and ask Napoleon yourself. Brandes says the museum is still growing into its “big-museum pants,” however, these criticisms add pressure to that growing process. In this city, it’s hard to imagine any institution with a space like that of the Automotive Museum getting away with its day-to-day operations without someone trying to capitalize on it eventually. It seems like they’ll have a battle ahead of them if they want to stay small.

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

Voz Alta Leaves Barrio Logan, The Gates of Heck and More Visual Art News

• While many galleries, art spaces and organizations are moving into Barrio Logan, longtime art and performance space Voz Alta is packing up and leaving the neighborhood. This comes as a surprise for those who have seen Voz Alta as a fundamental space in the arts and culture district.

We just need change,” Carlos Beltran, who co-runs the space with volunteers, told CityBeat. “And [making] rent has always been hard.”

Beltran plans to move the gallery to Tijuana or possibly another location in San Diego.

The Gates of Heck is a performance art piece inspired by a version of Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell,” Dante’s “Inferno,” comic book heroes and villains, punk music and more. It’s a visual and sonic mind-melter, and you should definitely check it out Friday at Canvas Gallery.

• Helmuth Gallery will be exhibiting a collection of sculptural objects and video installations by Matthew Bradley on Saturday for Sacred Geometry for a Profane Existence. His pieces explore conspiracy theories of sacred geometry. I’m not sure what that means either, but should be cool.

• Thumbprint Gallery returns with another installment of its local art conversation series, Art Speaks, at TPG2 this Thursday. Talk art with art makers and lovers. Try not to sound pretentious.

Last week I told you guys about A Ship in the Woods having its lease extended until August. It’s exciting news for anyone who loves the work done by the folks running the space. Celebrate that good news at the final installment of its HELM series, which brought interesting, exploratory installation art to the Del Mar art haven. For the last exhibition, opening Friday at 6 p.m., L.A.-based artist David Prince explores the idea of outdoor spaces through drawings, video and sculpture.

• A small spotlight on local surf photographer Aaron Chang. (San Diego Magazine)

• The Museum of Photographic Art’s latest exhibition,”Lynn G. Fayman: A Colorful Life,” is vibrant, abstract and beautiful to behold. Make sure to stop in soon to check it out.

Shen Yun, Art of Elan and More Music and Performance Nooks

• Enjoy dance with major eye-popping production value? Head out to California Center for the Arts for “Shen Yun,” a mega-production featuring more than 100 artists, 400 costumes and a Chinese and Western orchestra all telling the epic tales of China.

• Local classical-music-with-a-twist darlings Art of Elan perform an evening of music that reflects on death. Perfect for the dark, twisted emo kid that lives inside us all. It’s Tuesday night at San Diego Museum of Art, so call the babysitter now.

• Finest City Improv and the Max Fischer Players collaborate for the play “Gruesome Playground Injuries” by acclaimed writer and playwright Rajiv Joseph. It’s about two childhood friends who run into each other continuously throughout their lives, and exchange battle-scar stories. The play runs from March 1-23.

• UC San Diego professor and master percussionist Steve Schick presents a concert in which he will play cool instruments invented by composer/instrument build Paul Drescher. This one is for the mega music nerd. (Snorkl)

• Afro-pop, jazz and folk-rock sound like the genres represented on the most yuppified Starbucks compilation CD ever. However, on Wednesday, they’ll all come from one sweet, soulful lady, Fatoumata Diawara, in a way that is not annoying or embarrassing to enjoy. The West African singer will perform at UC San Diego.

Slappy Sunday, Bicycle Film Fest and More Culture Crannies

• Forget your troubles. Come on, get slappy! Last week’s CityBeat cover story of the skateboarding crew Slappy Sunday is pretty rad, especially if you were ever into skateboarding.

“There’ve been a lot of people who’ve come out,” Mikey Hottman, the 39-year-old artist and motorcycle mechanic credited with starting Slappy Sunday, tells CityBeat’s Kinsee Morlan. “Ex-pros who’ve retired from skateboarding have come out. It’s basically just about getting people to skateboard again.”

• The Bicycle Film Festival is coming to the Museum of Photographic Arts from Feb. 28 through March 1. Check out short films on bicycle culture at MoPA, and hang with other fixie-riding hipsters at events going on in collaboration with the fest. A full line-up of art, music and two-wheeled fun can be found here.

• Cute puppy alert! I repeat, CUTE. PUPPY. ALERT. (BuzzFeed)

• Noisiness in hospitals has an adverse affect on patients, so a professor from University of Arizona is teaming up with a UC San Diego music and sonic arts professor to fix it. Very fascinating stuff. (KPBS)

San Diego Magazine gives a tip of the hat to the best neighborhoods in the city. Grossly omitted from this list is my beloved Golden Hill. The issue slightly redeems itself by including a look back at the history of Golden Hill, so I will try to not hold the omission against the editors. Unrelated side note: Copies of San Diego Magazine make great dinner plates for delicious, piping hot Luigi’s pizza. (I kid!)

• A behind-the-scenes look at the DNA New Works Series. (KPBS)

• Have a hankering for Fat Tuesday revelry outside of downtown? Then head to North Park for beads, Southern grub and plenty of live Bayou-infused jams at Bacchus Night. Just do us all a favor and keep the flashing to yourself.

• A few years back, I used to walk past three cherry blossom trees on my way to work. Waking up early in the morning sucks big time (at least for me), but the smell of the beautiful flowers always made it worth it. Catch a whiff of this intoxicating flora, and enjoy awesome traditional Japanese activities, at the Cherry Blossom Festival, happening March 1.

• Do you read CityBeat’s The Floating Library? If you love books and reading at a level that people could described as LeVar Burton-ian, you should get acquainted with it. This time around, writer Jim Ruland talks about books inspired by William S. Burroughs.

• The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is hosting its first live music concert inside its Heikoff Giant Dome Theater, which has mind-blowing acoustics. The Fleet welcomes The Romeros, the renowned “Royal Family of the Guitar” on March 1.

• A handy guide from my friend and Turista Libre founder Derrik Chinn on living in Tijuana. Not mentioned in the guide: upon moving, you will automatically be required to support the Tijuana Xolos soccer team and own at least one piggy bank shaped like a Looney Tunes character. (San Diego Magazine)

• Like many of you guys, I love our city and I often take a quick snapshot with my cell phone when something is particularly eye-catching, beautiful, funny or weird. Since my lovely editors at VOSD let me make stupid jokes on the Culture Report, I’m assuming including a photo at the end of each report will be allowed as well.

To kick things off, here’s a creepy photo of a statue located in Presidio Park. I took this when I was ghost hunting with a juggalo at the park.

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Alex Zaragoza

Alex Zaragoza is a freelance writer covering arts and culture in San Diego and Tijuana. She also writes the column "There...

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