When Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres stepped in as executive director of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum in August, one of her first orders of business was to find out what people really wanted from the 21-year-old institution. For the entire month of September, she enticed people to the museum with various offers and free admission in exchange for filling out a survey.

“We found that people really wanted a more dynamic museum that explored in-depth themes and things that tied to everyday life,” Beres said.

Beres said she thinks “Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age,” the exhibition opening at the museum this week, is exactly what people said they wanted. The show uses rare artifacts and historical film footage to explore the history and importance of Chinese technology and information technology. Rare Chinese typewriters, word processors and other objects and multimedia displays will help explain how innovative inventions found ways to quickly input the Chinese language, which has more than 70,000 unique characters and no alphabet. The technology in some of the old machines eventually led to the handy predictive text or autocomplete feature used by smartphones today.

“Radical Machines” was curated by Stanford historian Tom Mullaney, who holds the world’s largest collection of Chinese typewriters. It debuts in San Diego Jan. 21 and will be on view through April 16 before heading off on an international tour.

Beres is in her 30s – young for an executive director of a historical museum –  and she took the reins from the museum’s longtime founding director. She said she hopes to bring new energy to the museum and reach a bigger, more diverse crowd with “Radical Machines” and upcoming exhibitions and events. She said she realizes the museum’s reach has fallen short in years past, and that she’ll be working to expand awareness and get people talking about what her institution is doing.

“We are a Chinese-themed museum, but we really believe that what we’re doing is for everyone,” she said. “For me, this is a really exciting moment because it shows off a new direction for our museum, which is to make it as accessible to the public as possible and to increase our footprint in San Diego.”

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Chicano Park Earns Historic Landmark Status

Last week, 24 sites across the country were designated as National Historic Landmarks by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park was one of them.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson

The U-T talked to Manny Galaviz, a volunteer with the Chicano Park steering committee who submitted an application to have the park named a National Historic Landmark. Galaviz said the designation is unique:

“The inclusion of Chicano Park as a National Historic Landmark is important because today less than 8 percent of the 2,500 National Historic Landmarks represent ethnic and minority groups,” said Galaviz. “This does not indicate that ethnic minorities have not contributed to the making of the United States; rather it is reflective on the limited access these groups have had towards claiming, conserving, and preserving their social history.”

KPBS also gathered reactions from City Councilman David Alvarez, whose district includes Barrio Logan, Rep. Juan Vargas, who introduced the bill that helped the park earn its status, and a few of the artists who helped paint the colorful murals that fill the park. It also checked in on the status of the proposed Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center.

Last year, I was the first to report on the efforts to open a museum that could help communicate the history and significance of the park to its thousands of annual visitors. The people behind the push for the new museum are also the centerpiece of this episode of Culturecast.

Chicano Park was founded in 1970, when hundreds of protesters stood in front of bulldozers and stopped a California Highway Patrol station from being built there.

North Park Landlord Wants to Preserve the Arts, San Diego Artists Get Nasty and Other Arts and Culture News

Last week, I launched Season 2 of Culturecast, Voice of San Diego’s podcast exploring arts and culture in the region. I took my microphone and recorder inside one of the San Diego Soundbooth installations I told you about in last week’s Culture Report. Expect more, quicker episodes this season. Get yourself subscribed so you don’t miss any.

Border reporter Sandra Dibble has the scoop on a collective of Japanese artists who’ve built a wooden treehouse in Tijuana overlooking the U.S.-Mexico border. (U-T)

This North Park landlord has been offered millions for his building, but he told KPBS he isn’t interested in selling because he wants to keep the arts in the neighborhood. His current tenant is Queen Bee’s Art & Cultural Center, which hosts gallery exhibitions, concerts, dance classes and more.

• The U-T’s George Varga talks to San Diego jazz musician Gilbert Castellanos about the “Jazz @ The Jacobs” concert series he curates for the San Diego Symphony.

Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan has a big new mural on its backside by San Diego artist Michael James Armstrong.

• Remember last May when the University of California, San Diego was threatening to convert its decades-old art gallery into a classroom? The university reversed course, but CityBeat checks in on the gallery and finds that the long-term outlook for thespace doesn’t look good. There’s a show opening in the University Art Gallery this week, btw.

• This graffiti artist was not happy about Chargers owner Dean Spanos’ decision to move to Los Angeles. And this local artist thought the loss of the Chargers might amount to more money being available to support San Diego’s arts and culture institutions. If the mayor’s State of the City address last week is any indication, though, that’s likely not going to happen. Mayor Kevin Faulconer didn’t mention the words “art” or “culture” once in this year’s speech.

• The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is launching a new series of casual talks with some of the region’s best artists. The first one is happening Tuesday night at a theater in La Jolla and features a talk with Los Angeles artist Kori Newkir.

• The long-running Poetry & Art event series at the San Diego Art Institute just launched a new website and it’s a good resource for finding out more information about San Diego poets.

• “Nasty Women” art exhibitions have been happening across the country since Donald Trump won the presidency. The shows protest the threat many believe Trump represents to women’s rights, and most of the shows raise funds for Planned Parenthood. San Diego is hosting a “Nasty Women” show of its own and CityBeat talked to its organizers. The exhibition opens at Helmuth Projects in Bankers Hill from 2 to 8 p.m Saturday, the same day as the Women’s March, and closes Jan. 28.

• This year’s San Diego Music Awards nominees have been announced.

Pacific Magazine talks to the owner of Spark Gallery in the Gaslamp about the sculpture exhibition showing there.

If you’ve ever considered running off to join the circus, you may want to read this piece by the U-T first.

KPBS launched a new documentary series that explores aging like a boss.

• The painting depicting a police officer as a wild boar that Rep. Duncan Hunter took down without asking has been put back up, taken back down and put back up again several times over the past few weeks. Paul McLeod of BuzzFeed News followed the story until the saga finally ended Jan. 13 when it was taken down for good.

• Hershey Felder solo show “Our Great Tchaikovsky” has become the highest-grossing show in San Diego Rep’s 41-year history. (U-T)

• This local artist’s painting of herself being yelled at by President-elect Donald Trump is getting lots of attention.

• Little Fish Comic Book Studio used to be located in Ocean Beach; now it’s on El Cajon Boulevard.

• Cannon Art Gallery’s lauded annual juried show is opening this week.

Food, Beer and Booze News

• The U-T has a rundown of restaurants opening in coming months.

• A lot of restaurants tout their menu as serving “farm-to-table” food, but that’s not always true. A local restaurant owner did some simple sleuthing and made a list of local eateries that actually do get their food from local farms. (San Diego Magazine)

• Eater San Diego made a list of 10 new restaurants to try during San Diego Restaurant Week, which is happening now through Jan. 22.

Blind Lady Ale House is turning 8, which has given it cause to celebrate.

Four Filipino chefs are joining forces on Jan. 26 for a special dinner experience called “Filipino Flavor.” (U-T)

• There are big changes happening at Green Flash Brewing, which owns Alpine Beer Company. The Full Pint is following the story and slowly adding more information about layoffs at the brewery.

Kinsee Morlan is the engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at kinsee@vosd.org. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link.

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture...

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