“Sweet Spot” by artists Shawn Causey and Mark Daniell / Photo courtesy of Wonderspaces

Wonderspaces” is being billed as a “pop-up museum of extraordinary experiences” – think carnival, but with artists and art installations instead of carnies and Ferris wheels.

The new, family-friendly art event will set up inside a big white tent in Mission Valley from June 2 through the end of July. For $24, folks can wander through the tent and see virtual reality movies, full-room art installations and sculptures meant to play with perception. After its San Diego run, the show will head on a cross-country tour.

That’s the idea anyway, but first the founders have to figure out if it’ll actually work.

Wonderspaces introduces a new, somewhat risky business model for showing art. Big upfront costs are involved with staging large pop-up art exhibitions, but if enough people buy tickets, organizers and artists could eventually turn a nice profit.

The event is the brainchild of Jason Shin and Patrick Charles, two former Marines who spent the last year working to create an art experience that’s accessible, family-friendly and appealing to a wide swath of people.

“We’re hoping this exhibition achieves a new form of art entertainment,” Shin said. “Why can’t this be a different model where the artists are being financially compensated in addition to getting their names out there?”

Shin said he and Charles are paying all the upfront costs and that the artists will be paid something akin to a licensing fee every month their work is on the tour.

The lineup of artists featured in the show includes Karina Smigla-Bobinski, Shawn Causey, Mark Daniell, Davis McCarty, Michael Murphy, Adam Belt and other international creators known for multimedia installations.

Belt, the only San Diego artist in the show, is building on a piece called “A Religious Experience” that he once showed at La Jolla’s Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. It’s an installation that uses rays of light to explore the connections between the cosmos and spirituality.

Photo courtesy of Wonderspaces
Photo courtesy of Wonderspaces

“It’s about the parallels between astronomy, religion and wonder,” Belt said.

Like most of the works in the show, Belt said his is meant to give viewers an immersive, maybe even mind-blowing experience that goes beyond average art viewing.

Shin said he thinks the type of work selected for the show is accessible and interesting enough to attract people from inside and outside the art world.

“We don’t come from the traditional art background,” he said. “I think that works to our benefit.”

Shin said San Diego’s size, demographics, nice weather and other factors led the organizers to use the city as a “Wonderspaces” test case. The event space is already built, now Shin and his partner are crossing their fingers and hoping that enough people show up to make the show financially viable.

“We just see these extraordinary experiences the artists have created and feel like there is a demand for sharing these kind of experiences with your family or friends,” Shin said. “I mean, that’s the question we’re asking, but we believe very much that this will work.”

You’re reading the Culture Report, Voice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news. Sign up here to get the weekly report delivered to your inbox. 

A New Space 4 Art

East Village is gentrifying.

As real estate prices continue to rise, most of the former art district’s creative spaces have been chased out.

Space 4 Art, an arts venue on 15th Street that houses galleries, art studios and an outdoor stage is one of the last vestiges of art in the East Village, but it too is moving. The building it’s in was sold.

The venue’s permanent location in Sherman Heights is now officially under construction, and on Friday, people can get a sneak peak of the new digs. (NBC 7)

Photo by Kinsee Morlan
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Bob Leathers, one of Space 4 Art’s founders, said Friday’s event is meant to show San Diegans how serious they are about building long-term, affordable housing, work and performance spaces for artists.

“This is the first public event at our permanent home site, and it will stand as proof that we’re not going to give up,” he said in a press release. “We will have a permanent facility on Market Street with 50 artists living and working on-site as well as art galleries, performance spaces, and classrooms.”

More Noise About the Thwarted Binational Concert

The composer behind this Saturday’s Dresden Symphony Orchestra performance in Playas de Tijuana had strong words for Border Patrol and park officials who denied access to the U.S. side of the fence for what was supposed to be a binational concert protesting the proposed border wall.

“I didn’t expect the U.S. authorities to ban it,” Markus Rindt told the website Deutsche Welle. “This is an artistic installation; it is not first and foremost a political demonstration. Of course it deals with politics, but it is a peaceful concert. It’s important to highlight that artists can apparently no longer freely express themselves in the U.S.”

Photo by Roberto Salas
Photo by Roberto Salas

Rindt noted that the long-running binational son jarocho music festival and other events happen on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and called the security and environmental concerns cited by U.S. officials who denied his group access to the border park “just an excuse.”

• Speaking of art events at the border, there’s an interesting one happening Wednesday night.

How to Have an Event-Filled Summer, Jimmy Buffett Musical Delivers and Other Arts and Culture News

• CityBeat has more on San Diego artist Andrea Chung’s new solo show that I told you about last week.

• The Union-Tribune rounded up this summer’s most promising arts and culture events. KPBS previewed the summer’s biggest upcoming movies and pulled together a list of outdoor movie events.

• Joaquin Junco Jr. is a local cartoonist who champions Chicano rights and takes on hot-button political issues. (The Sun)

• “Top Gun” will return with a sequel, but no one’s sure yet whether the movie crew will return to San Diego. (KPBS)

• The U-T’s Pam Kragen calls InnerMission’s staging of “Gidion’s Knot” a “heart-pounding, suspenseful 90-minute journey” through a woman’s grief, fury and regret.

• Diversionary Theatre’s new managing director is Jenny Case.

• The Quartyard pop-up park is throwing a farewell party as it prepares to close and re-open about a block away.

• Good news, theater fans: La Jolla Playhouse’s massively hyped new Jimmy Buffett musical delivers. This pun-packed U-T review is fun to read.

• Artist Regan Russell’s work shows off his technical skills, but is playful and funny, too. (CityBeat)

• Two local curators continue organizing shows that celebrate a single color at a time.

• Five local artists were commissioned to paint murals on an apartment building in Cortez Hills. Y’all can see the art during a public tour Saturday night. Using cool art to sell real estate is, of course, nothing new.

• San Diego painter Michael Carini has a big solo show opening up at Arts District Liberty Station on Friday. I profiled the artist, who struggles with Tourette syndrome, years ago for CityBeat.

• The big Art Around Adams event is happening Saturday.

• The San Diego Architectural Foundation is gearing up for its event next Tuesday that’s meant to spur constructive conversations about the built environment.

• The San Diego County Fair opens this week.

Food, Beer and Booze News

• A new pizza joint in East Village will serve up training for people experiencing homelessness alongside slices of pie. (U-T)

• Celebrate female brewers this weekend.

• San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson is the latest journo to make a trip out to Jason Mraz’s farm in Oceanside.

• San Diegans don’t like eating burgers, according to a new poll. (U-T)

• Eater has more on the new public market-style venue in North Park.

Still confused about why so many local craft brewers are vehemently opposed to the new 10 Barrel Brewing Co. that just opened in East Village? This new video will clear things up. 

• There’s a new wine festival happening in Balboa Park this week.

• A new whiskey tasting room and distillery opened in Vista. (Reader)

Kinsee Morlan is 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 Report. She also managed VOSD’s podcasts and covered...

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.