Carly Ealey art san diego
Artist Carly Ealey will be leading ArtWalk attendees in a community mural-making project. / Photo by Javier Luna

Mission Federal ArtWalk has been around for nearly 35 years, but organizers of the annual art fair are still experimenting.

ArtWalk is happening between Ash and Grape streets in Little Italy from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29. This year, alongside about 350 tents filled with local, national and international artists showing their work, the fair is cranking up its interactive and participatory elements.

Organizers have also added a live spoken word and poetry event for the first time, plus an experimental tent called The Space, which will host an avant-garde fashion show, a ceviche competition, a textile installation and more art and experiences curated by the arts nonprofit Vanguard Culture.

“The ultimate goal is still to get people to buy art,” said ArtWalk director Sandi Cottrell. “But having it as a fun, interactive experience encourages people to come down who may not be art collectors or interested in purchasing art. These things keep the festival feeling alive.”

Artist Carly Ealey, who just finished a new large-scale mural in Imperial Beach, was tapped by local art store Artist & Craftsman Supply to help out in its interactive ArtWalk booth. Ealey will be leading attendees in a community mural-making project.

“It’ll be almost like a giant coloring book for visitors to come and fill in,” Ealey said.

Gill Sotu, a rising star in San Diego’s spoken-word scene, curated the “ArtTalk” spoken word element of ArtWalk. The live poetry starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and local artists including Sotu, Kendrick Dial, Karla Cordero and Amen Ra will be performing.

Little Italy’s long-awaited Piazza della Famiglia is now open. ArtWalk will be the first big event to activate the expansive new pedestrian plaza with artists creating chalk drawings. Cottrell said when the Little Italy Association canceled its long-running Little Italy FESTA, an event that made chalk art one of its central themes, ArtWalk wanted to make sure the tradition continued in San Diego. In September, the nonprofit will be launching ArtWalk Carlsbad, its first North County endeavor, and a big part of that event will be chalk art.

“San Diego doesn’t really have a chalk art festival anymore, so we’re picking that back up,” she said. “And we’ve had so many requests to do something in North County, so we’re finally doing it.”

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

SDSU Choir Professor ‘Wields Power Ungraciously’

Patrick Walders, director of choral studies at San Diego State University, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a Title IX investigation . The investigation, which VOSD obtained, found the professor had a sexual relationship with one of his students. There’s a California State University policy barring professors from engaging in relationships with students they oversee.

San Diego State University
The San Diego State University campus / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Over the past several months, I talked to former coworkers and students of Walders who came forward to share stories of how they say he wields his influence in inappropriate ways.

Walders is an influential figure in the choir world. Most recently, he got a job with the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus. After the VOSD story was published, though, the group placed Walders on administrative leave, according to its executive director.

Flowers Interpreting Art, the City’s New ‘Placemaking’ Policy and More Arts and Culture News

• The City Council unanimously approved a local law last week with the aim of encouraging “placemaking” efforts, like painting murals, building small urban parks and other improvement projects. The city reduced permitting costs and made other tweaks, making it easier for people to navigate the process and get these type of projects done. The ordinance means it will also be simpler to build parklets, or small pedestrian plazas. But city officials still need to amend the city code related to pedestrian plaza design before we might start seeing more parklets popping up.

san diego parklet
A parklet outside Caffe Calabria in North Park. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Floral artists will interpret paintings and sculptures in flower arrangements on view at the San Diego Museum of Art’s annual “Art Alive” event. (Coronado Eagle & Journal)

• The eighth annual San Diego Asian Film Festival’s Spring Showcase is underway, and women filmmakers dominate the lineup. (KPBS)

• La Jolla Playhouse’s longtime general manager Debby Buchholz is now the theater company’s managing director. She’s the first woman to serve in that role. (Union-Tribune)

• The Jacobs Center is inviting community members to an event Tuesday evening featuring the artists behind the center’s public art project along Chollas Creek.

A new art gallery is opening in North Park.

• The San Diego Women’s Chorus is performing an ambitious show Sunday at Lincoln High School that includes songs about refugees, Native Americans, anti-war protestors, a trans man discovering who he is, civil rights and more.

• Contemporary arts group SPACETIME is screening two films by artist Bruce Nauman and presenting a dance performance directed by Justin Morrison.

• Lots of local bands competed to be featured in NPR’s beloved Tiny Desk concert series. None of them were able to beat out Naia Izumi, a musician from Georgia. (KPBS)

This week, the New West Electro-Acoustic Music Organization, better known as NWEAMO, is putting on its annual festival showcasing experimental electro-acoustic musicians and composers from around the globe.

• San Diego Musical Theatre’s “South Pacific” show opens this week. (NBC 7)

Young arts advocates have organized a summit in National City focused on diversity, inclusion and other issues in the arts world.

• The Lonely Planet travel site was impressed by the San Diego International Airport’s performing arts residency program. Currently, performers from Astraeus Aerial Dance Theatre can be spotted at the airport from time to time.

• The San Diego Opera was commissioned by an organization that provides services to families and others affected by Alzheimer’s and memory impairment diseases to use its set design skills to create a miniature town square meant to resemble downtown San Diego circa 1953 to 1961. (Union-Tribune)

• Adams Avenue Unplugged is a free musical event happening Saturday at various venues along a two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue in University Heights, Normal Heights and Kensington. This year’s lineup includes Veronica May, Sara Petite, grampadrew and other San Diego musicians.

• Christine Marie Frey is a 16-year-old San Diegan who’s releasing her first book and music album exploring teenage depression and ways to overcome it. She’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore on Saturday, which happens to be Independent Bookstore Day.

• CityBeat arts columnist Rachel Michelle Fernandes writes this week about the importance of curating diverse shows featuring diverse artists who explore diverse subject matters. She says “Museum of Photographic Arts and Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego are demonstrating what is hopefully a new dawn in curatorial decisions and programming citywide.”

The Circus Collective of San Diego is performing in City Heights this week.

• Artist and UC San Diego professor Ruben Ortiz-Torres was recently honored at the 44th annual Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards. Here’s a video about him and his cross-border art that often focuses on culture in Mexico and Southern California.

• The San Diego Natural History Museum is inviting San Diegans to help with something called a “BioBlitz,” a 24-hour effort to document as many species of wild plants and animals in Balboa Park as possible.

This young local collective puts on art shows at skate parks and roller skating rinks. They’ve got a show at Skate San Diego on Saturday. (Daily Aztec)

• Rafael Payare, the new music director at the San Diego Symphony, will introduce himself to the community at a private event on Monday. The symphony will be live-streaming the event on Facebook.

• Lemon Grove is home to some new murals. (Union-Tribune)

• Cellist and composer Tina Guo, a San Diego Civic Youth Orchestra alum, will be performing at the California Center for the Arts Escondido alongside with current members of the Youth Orchestra.

• It’s your last chance to see an exhibition of local fashion students’ garments inspired by the History Center’s collections.

Food, Cannabis, Beer and Booze News

• Vegan food is still somewhat hard to come by in San Diego, but Bagby Beer in Oceanside has recently rolled out several dishes sans animal products. (Union-Tribune)

• Liberty Call Distilling in Spring Valley is turning 4.

• Here’s your weekly beer fest alert. There’s also a chocolate festival on Sunday.

• If you didn’t know about this annual fried chicken and champagne dinner tradition in San Diego, now you do.

Eat at any of these restaurants this week and part of the proceeds will support HIV/AIDS programs at The San Diego LGBT Center.

• CityBeat staffers picked out their favorite books, apps, shows and other cultural tidbits centered on cannabis. Also, here’s a good reminder from CityBeat to know your limits when it comes to ingesting marijuana.

Here’s proof that carne asada fries – invented in San Diego and a true local staple – need not be messed with. (Reader)

Photo courtesy of Liberty Call Distilling

• Here’s a new map of all the legal cannabis dispensaries in San Diego County. (10News)

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at with arts and culture news and tips. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link. Subscribe to Voice of San Diego podcasts

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...

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