Immigration is usually a hot-button issue, especially when you live in a border city. Murrieta turned the heat way up last week when protesters confronted a bus filled with undocumented immigrants.

Protesters waved American flags, chanted “USA!” and held placards with not-so-welcoming words written on them. In the end, the bus was forced to turn around and take its occupants, who were mostly children accompanied by one or both parents, to a border patrol facility in San Diego. That initial showdown has sparked conversations on immigration and racism in the region and country as a whole, and several repeat performances.

In a lovelier form of protest, members of the San Diego Symphony performed alongside the Orquesta de Baja California from across the border fence at Border Field State Park as a tribute to migrant children affected by the incident. 10 News reported the event was part of the symphony’s “Your Song, Your Story” program, which brings free performances to underserved communities. While the small concert wasn’t intended to be a vehicle for political activism, it spread messages of love and respect following the Murrieta incident. Watch compelling video here.

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

The Front Gets Cut, Cool Openings and More Visual Art News

• The hits to the local art scene just won’t stop. San Ysidro art center and gallery The Front at Casa Familiar saw major budget cuts that led to the departure of two instrumental employees. (CityBeat)

• The iceman cometh again. North Park’s Ice Gallery found a new home in Barrio Logan. CityBeat talks to the artists behind the gallery about its new home and first exhibition, opening Friday.

Miki Iwasaki’s installation at the New Children’s Museum gives kids a huge, kinetic “wind vessell.” (U-T)

• Feel like having a good cry? Then read the U-T’s story about the Lafayette Elementary mural dedicated to a fifth-grade student who passed away last year. It’s a heart-wrencher.

Plan your entire month of awesome art shows with the help of Pacific magazine. Highlights include James Drake’s ambitious illustrative exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla, Wonka Gallery’s exploration into paranoia, mind control and other matters of the conspiracy-driven mind, and lewd wire art by Spenser Little at La Bodega.

• Space 4 Art was awarded a grant from the San Diego Foundation’s Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement and Synergy Art Foundation.

• Timken Museum of Art John Wilson dropped his position as executive director of the museum after six years on the job. (Times of San Diego)

• Does a night featuring performance, storytelling, poetry, sound design, interactive video and live music sound right up your alley? Then check out “Collide/Escape,” an experimental group art show happening Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. at Canvas Gallery.

• They say the ones who paint together stay together, right? Well, that seems to be the case with Selina Calvo and Enrique Lugo (aka Chikle), two well-known Chicano artists who also happen to be married. Check out their first dual art show Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Chicano Art Gallery.

• Eric Wixon has an eye for faces, creating compelling portraits of whimsical, abstract characters in a continuous line. His latest collection of 15 pieces (plus 25 custom-made hats) will be on view and on sale at “Why the Long Face,” opening at Visual this Saturday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Juicy Zhao, Border Symphonies and More Music and Performance Pieces

• The La Jolla Playhouse’s “The Orphan of Zhao” is a “juicy” exploration into Chinese history, according to its star BD Wong, who you may remember from “Law & Order: SVU.” The U-T talked to Wong and others about the riveting play.

• The San Diego Symphony got a helping hand from Oscar-winning composer Bill Conti for “Your Song, Your Story: A Musical Tapestry of and for San Diego,” a series funded by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation. Read all about the ambitious concert series, which features songs, performances, stories and more from hundreds of community members, in the U-T.

AMSDconcerts’ stages its final concert Saturday after 11 years of live music. (U-T)

• Blythe Barton Dance teamed up with Zaquia Mahler Salinas to create a concert inspired by jazz, blues and the human spirit. Nobody leaves without dancing the blues.

• NU Bee is a comedic solo dance performance that probably doesn’t include a piece inspired by the creepy dancing Marlins kid. It’s an autobiographical piece by Chard Gonzalez revolving around his return home after a long absence. (Snorkl)

• Remember when the San Diego Opera was going to close down because it had no money? The city gave the opera an extra $100,000 to continue operations. (KPBS)

• Hopefully now that the opera is swimming in coinage, it’ll add some more modern shows to its calendar. If not, Opera NEO is down to take the art form in a more alternative and affordable direction. Its summer season includes operas, cabarets and free public performances. (Times of San Diego)

• Come and get your theater reviews! “Pageant” is a gender-bender (U-T) and “Nocturnicon” is a bloody, acrobatic dazzler (KPBS).

A Tribute to Graham Downes, Balboa Park Centennial Sets a Date and More Culture Crumbles

CityBeat pays respect to late architect Graham Downes, showcasing the impact his work left on the urban San Diego landscape.

• The kids in City Heights are getting a totally sick skate park, man. (Voice of San Diego)

• The Balboa Park Centennial finally set a date. Expect to “Spring into the Past” April 11-12 next year. (U-T)

• While Tijuana dominates when it comes to food, fun and culture, people are often surprised to hear our southern sister also houses some of the finest architecture in the region. Get familiar with some of the beautifully designed buildings at AIA San Diego’s Architecture & Design Day Trip to TJ this Saturday.

• The San Diego Natural History Museum is dropping a cool $9 million on a new permanent exhibition focused on San Diego’s ecological past, present and future. (U-T)

• Author Layla Fiske won the Geisel Award for her very first foray into novel writing, “The Fig Orchard.” (U-T)

• Need to get out of the office? Don’t even have an office? Makers Quarter offers an open, beer-friendly, pet-friendly work space every Wednesday for BYOW (Bring Your Own Work Day). From 1 to 5 p.m. you can get some work done in a fun, outdoor setting. Just keep your pants on, freelancers.

• The San Diego Museum of Art kicks off its awesome Film in the Garden series Monday with a screening of the 1941 matador drama “Blood and Sand,” starring Rita Hayworth and Tyrone Power. Pack a picnic, or buy drinks from the museum and enjoy an evening of summertime goodness. The film starts at 8 p.m.

• MCASD’s popular nighttime art and music mash-up Thursday Night Thing (TNT) returns this week with a party to celebrate its latest exhibition, “James Drake: Anatomy of Drawing and Space.” Enjoy cocktails, artmaking, food from the Tortally Tasty truck and live music from Stone Horse and Gunner Gunner.

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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