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Just when we thought San Diego was about to become a cultural institution graveyard, we get word that one of the landmarks we were so worried about losing has been saved. Yay! We did it! Damn the man! Save the Ken-pire! Except “the man” was actually quite helpful in this instance. Thank you for that, man.

After tireless work behind the scenes by supporters, Landmark Cinemas and the Berkun Family Trust, which owns the Ken’s building, an agreement was reached and the Ken will remain a landmark in San Diego and a Landmark Theatre. It really seems like no one wanted to let the theater go, which made all the difference in the world.

Landmark issued a statement that ensured the Ken would be around for “many years to come.” I attended the midnight showing of “The Big Lebowski” on Saturday, and the room was electric. At one point, a man I recognized as Murrugun the Mystic, who performs as a sword swallower (yeah, you don’t forget the face of a dude who shoves frickin’ swords down his throat), approached the microphone.

He told the crowd he’d been attending movies at the Ken for more than 40 years and was so happy to see it remain in his life. The crowd exploded in cheers. It was a lovely moment.

While there are still some threats to our cultural landscape, it feels pretty wonderful to have one win.

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

Gym Standard, Tijuana Sculptures and More Visual Art Bites

• El Cajon Boulevard’s Gym Standard has become one of the most interesting spots in town to view exciting local art, discover great writers, find cool ‘zines and walk out with a fresh pair of sneakers. Learn all about the shop and its owners in CityBeat’s profile. Also, they’re having this awesome literary event there.

• A large-scale sculpture is in the works on the U.S.-Tijuana border by one of Mexico’s most celebrated contemporary artists. In my dreams, it’s just a big sign that says, “A Huevo.” (U-T)

• Tijuana’s homeless deportees are captured by photographer David Maug in heartbreakingly poignant manner. (CityBeat)

• Forty emerging artists are getting RAW.

• Illustrator Steve Breen’s drawings are every weirdo kid’s ultimate awesome freak show dream. (U-T)

• The San Diego Museum of Art has a new deputy director of curatorial arts.

Opera Update, Acting Chops and More Music and Performance Nuggets

• Members of the San Diego Opera Association, for those who have donated $100 or more to the institution, voted to reverse the decision to close down the nearly five-decade-old institution. That vote is basically just a suggestion. But still! Keep fighting, guys! (U-T)

• With the threat of closure still in the air, the San Diego Opera’s acting president, Carol Lazier, has talked about wanting to pop a molly of 21st-century radness into what some have called a stuffy and inaccessible institution in the hopes it will thrive with new audiences. I’m all for a revamped version of “La Bohème” that takes place, say, at the OB wall and all the characters are gutterpunks with bandana-clad pit bulls. But I put my foot down at flashmobs. Flashmobs are as dead as Gwyneth Paltrow’s ability to metabolize hot dogs. (U-T)

• Ian Campbell and the opera are, like, so dunzo. (U-T)

• Check out this look at director Annie Hinton and her work staging New Village Arts’ “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Interesting tidbit: She likes making the actors fight. (Reader)

Get some local world flavor at the Museum of Making Music. So sabroso! (Snorkl)

The Reader wants to help all you hip cats get jazzy this week.

• The opera’s fate might be up in the air, but there are still plenty of options for enjoying classical music involving people belting out high notes. Stirring Songs for Voices and Instruments is part of San Diego New Music and gives people the chance to hear contemporary composers in a hip setting. Check it out May 6 at the La Jolla Athenaeum.

• Convivio Society has been keeping opera going strong throughout this mess and will continue on Friday with an evening of jazz and opera in Little Italy.

One Day in San Diego, Workers Film Festival and More Cultural Crumbles

• A look at a very cool local cinematographer and the One Day in San Diego Project, courtesy of KPBS.

• Celebrate the heavy-lifting folks who are the backbone of this country at the Workers Film Festival. (Reader)

• Tired of hearing people talk about “True Detective”? Too bad. Here are novels with echoes of the detective show. (CityBeat)

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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