Good morning, and welcome to the U-T Arts & Culture Newsletter.
I’m David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all things essential in San Diego’s arts and culture this week.
As an artist who was born in Tijuana, grew up in the South Bay and now resides in downtown San Diego, Armando De La Torre has seen firsthand the diversity of our communities on both sides of the border. At the Space 4 Art artist-driven collective, where he’s a resident artist, he’s helping to engage with and shine a light on one of those communities that’s underserved.
Spring Tide: A Mini Pop-Up Festival is De La Torre’s project for the city of San Diego’s Park Social initiative. Happening on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Southcrest Recreation Center on Newton Avenue, the festival is a celebration of music, art, storytelling, puppetry and more. Admission is free.
Southcrest is part of the City Heights area and home to a large Latino population. “Getting to know it better, I’ve found it’s a wonderful little community that wants to be seen as part of a larger San Diego,” De La Torre said.
“Hopefully (after the festival) there will be a sense of community left behind, where (residents) think their park is their place to have other performances.”
De La Torre worked closely with Martha Zapata, director of Community Outreach for City Council District 9, to identify and research the Southcrest area, its history and its people. For De La Torre, it’s been not only a creative process but an educational one.
“My idea comes out of listening to what’s needed,” he said. “If I’m learning, I’m happy and I feel like I’m doing my job.”
Saturday is a significant day for another San Diego-based artist. Gail Roberts’ “Color Field” exhibition, seen last year at Quint Gallery in La Jolla, is opening at the Oceanside Museum of Art, where it will run through the end of November.
More than 130 paintings are in the show, all of them completed within the past five years. Each is a representation of something growing in Roberts’ own garden. Roberts has also researched the botanical history of each flower, the origins of which span six of the seven continents (obviously none from Antarctica).
READ MORE: Gail Roberts shows her true colors at Oceanside Museum of Art
It’s not hyperbole to say that this year’s La Jolla Music Society SummerFest is the biggest ever. That’s because the annual festival, which opens Friday at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, will for the first time offer four weeks of concerts instead of just three. Here is Union-Tribune pop music critic George Varga’s preview.
Among the highlights of opening week is Wednesday’s program “Under the Influence: Shakespeare’s World” at 7 p.m. The concert includes pieces in which The Bard’s words were composed into song, such as Henry Purcell’s “If Music be the Food of Love” (referencing “Twelfth Night”) and Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s “Suite from ‘Much Ado About Nothing.’”
READ MORE: La Jolla Music Society to expand SummerFest to four weeks and explore arresting theme: ‘Under the Influence’
San Diego’s Disco Riot’s first dance work ever, “Ex Nihilo,” choreographed by Zaquia Mahler Salinas with a sound score by Johnny Tarr, will be performed when the troupe appears as part of the FACT/SF Summer Dance Festival in San Francisco Aug. 5-7.
But first there’s a hometown gig. On Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Disco Riot will stage the piece at the City Heights Performance Annex on Fairmount Avenue. Admission is free. A donation of $25 ($12 for students and artists) is encouraged.
Sheryl Crow’s concert on Tuesday night has to be one of the highlights of the summer season at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. I haven’t seen her in person since 1994 at the bygone Street Scene festival downtown. She remains a beguiling performer onstage — and a highly underrated guitarist.
If you can’t make it to the Shell, this show is also accessible via livestream. It will also be rebroadcast for streamers on Aug. 7.
Whether you’re there in person or at home streaming, you’ll enjoy not only Crow but a superb opening act, bluesman Keb’ Mo. Limited seats remain for the Rady Shell concert so it’s nice to have the livestream as an option.
It’s been 77 years since the first Nazi concentration camps were liberated by Allied troops, exposing to the world the horrors of the Holocaust.
But for all of the camp photos, video footage, mass graves and survivor stories that opened the public’s eyes to the Germans’ systematic extermination of as many as 11 million Jews, Roma, homosexuals and others, one element was always missing from the story: The secret lives of the camps’ administrators, guards and office workers, who fled ahead of the approaching Allied forces and went into hiding.
“Here There Are Blueberries,” a world premiere play at La Jolla Playhouse, will offer a rare snapshot of these men and women who ran the Nazis’ most notorious death camp: Auschwitz in Poland, where as many as 1.1 million people — mostly Jews — were killed between 1940 and January 1945.
Co-written by playwrights Moises Kaufman and Amanda Gronich, “Here There Are Blueberries” is the true story of how a recently discovered photo album exposed the private lives of the German SS officers and staff who kept the brutal camp humming.
READ MORE: La Jolla Playhouse’s ‘Here There Are Blueberries’ to examine the secret lives of Holocaust perpetrators
CCAE Theatricals’ newest production, “Witnesses,” is a beautifully staged production that tugs at the heartstrings, says Union-Tribune Arts & Entertainment Editor Michael James Rocha. It’s just the latest in a series of solid productions from the 2-year-old theater company in Escondido.
READ MORE: Commentary: When art touches your heart, it’s magical. It’s happening in Escondido with CCAE Theatricals
University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:
“The Journey of the Little Blue Penguins”: Known for their big personalities and small stature, Little Blue Penguins have a new place to call home at the Birch Aquarium. Recently their populations have declined in some areas, and while Little Blues live roughly six years in the wild, they can live up to 25 years in protected environments. Birch Aquarium’s Jean Moffatt offers a firsthand account of how their new exhibit went from concept to reality, including a time-lapse video of the construction of the penguin habitat over the last nine months. Moffatt talks about how researchers study and care for the penguins, their efforts to establish a successful breeding colony, and their goal to responsibly support and sustain Little Blue Penguin populations with accredited zoos and aquariums.
“The State of the Pacific Ocean”: Spanning nearly 63 million square miles from California to China, the Pacific Ocean is by the far the largest of the world’s ocean basins. The Pacific contains more than half of the free water on the planet and is the deepest ocean on Earth. Much of the ocean is still waiting to be explored, but human activities like industrial fishing, deep-sea mining and fossil-fuel burning are changing it in significant ways. Scripps Institution of Oceanography professor Brice Semmens joins NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad and State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of Ocean, Fisheries and Polar Affairs Maxine Burkett to discuss the state of the Pacific Ocean and how we can work together to combat the growing effects of climate change.
“The Kumeyaay Nation in San Diego”: The Kumeyaay are native inhabitants of San Diego and Imperial counties and Baja California, Mexico. For thousands of years, the Kumeyaay people farmed the land and ocean, managed forest fires, manufactured pottery and basketry and engaged in commerce and trade. Stan Rodriguez, executive director of the Kumeyaay Community College, talks about the deep physical and spiritual connection the Kumeyaay people have to the Earth. Despite brutal religious, economic, political, and social hardships under European rule, Kumeyaay culture and traditions continue in the region to this day.
And finally: Top weekend events
Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, July 28 to Sunday, July 30.
Coddon is a freelance writer.