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Culture Lust Weekend: Balloons at NCM, Cabaret at The Casbah, and Quantum Physics

Above: Balloon artist Jason Hackenworth demonstrates one of his wearable sculptures (6-pack not included).

It's Valentine's Day this weekend, the greatest co-opting and marketing of a saint (or saints) in the history of man - just ask Hallmark and Tiffany & Co.! I know, I know, someone sounds just a tad cynical. You know what doesn't make me cynical? Culture lusting(!) and there's plenty of it to go around this weekend. Check out the events below - and for some more Valentine's Day ideas, look to Meredith's fantastic list of options in and around San Diego (Palm Springs anyone?).

ART

First things first. Before you begin to tick off all of the (awesome) events below, know this: free balloon animals at the New Children’s Museum this weekend! And we ain’t talking awkward hats. Balloon sculptor and artist-in-residence Jason Hackenworth will be in the gallery starting today, and you’ll be able to watch one of his whimsical installations come to life as he composes a creature called “Agartha,” inspired by Journey to the Center of the Earth. Hackenworth will also give workshops that allow museum-goers to get hands on with his creations from 1:30-2:30, Feb. 11-16, including DIY tutorials on wearable balloon sculptures!

Some of Rembrandt’s most luminous works have yet to grace public gallery space. This weekend, head to the Timken Museum of Art to view 14 from a private collection, including a few of his most famous religious renderings, such as “La Petite Tomb” and “Christ et Emmaus,” in Rembrandt's Recession: Passion and Prints in the Dutch Golden Age. For a richer glance at the maestro, hurry to the museum by 12:30 today and listen to some history from John Marciari, Curator of European Art & Head of the Provenance Research at The San Diego Museum of Art.

Few places on (or should we say above) earth are as psychologically soothing as the boundless blue of the celestial sphere, which is exactly where Danish artist Simone Aaberg Kaern draws inspiration for her premiere exhibit on the west coast, “Seize the Sky.” Featuring video gleaned from Kaern’s 14-year survey of the heavens, the exhibit is meant to be a metaphor for a world without political borders and individual freedom in flight. It debuts at SDSU’s Art Gallery this weekend.

Valentine’s Day doldrums? Get over ‘em and celebrate ladies night at the super-trendy Che Café this Saturday night with the estrogen-infused “Girls! Girls! Girls!” which features 17 artists’ take on what it means to be female in this mad, mod world, including live music from Divine Blue Kore and A Book about Elephants, a DJ, poetry readings and more.

Speaking of the spoken word, brush off the Moleskine – the Museum of the Living Artist will host its quarterly 3 for $300 poetry/prose/visual art slam next Wednesday. Extra points will be doled out to performers who opt to bring art from home that embodies their piece, or they can choose a canvass from the gallery wall for inspiration. The winner will take home $150, so we recommend some weekend waxing philosophical.

THEATER

A subversive, self-described hobo cabaret will invade the Casbah this Saturday, and we couldn’t be more excited. Don’t misjudge their multiple piercings, moustaches, and leather jackets - the “Hobohemians” of the Yard Dog Road Show aren’t your usual hipster fair (get it?). Expect knife swallowing, burlesque, and a whole lot of what the club is famed for - rock-n-roll.

A mystery masterwork is in Coronado this weekend as the Lamb’s Players take on J.B. Priestley’s “An Inspector Calls.” Touting the theater’s stellar resident ensemble, including recent S.D. Critic’s Choice Award winner Colleen Kollar Smith, the play focuses on a detective’s visit to a seemingly innocuous home in the English countryside – whose residents soon reveal themselves to be not so blameless in driving a young woman to suicide. Recent Shiley Lifetime Achievement Award (Patte) winners Robert and Deborah Gilmour Smyth direct.

La Bohème may have drawn its curtains for the season, but don’t fret, opera fans – Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco rolls into town next week, and you can get a behind-the-scenes scoop from the singers and production team tonight at the production’s Artist Roundtable, which will be held at 5:30 in the Beverly Sills Salon of the Civic Center.

Playwright Nona Roberts penned “The Marriage Bed” with the passing of London’s 2005 civil partnership law in mind, and though the tale involves a lesbian couple’s quandary of tying the knot, its message of the gravitas of commitment is universal. Accompanying the Diversionary Theatre's production of the piece (its West Coast premiere) will be Bela Dornan’s 142 Days of Equality, a photographic glimpse at same-sex couples who were able to wed during the brief period it was legal in CA.

FILM

Anthony Hopkins, Dustin Hoffman, and Toni Colette are all debuting new films in the coming weeks, though you may not have heard of them (yet). Head to the San Diego Jewish Film Fest to catch upcoming indies from the stars such as “Mary & Max,” “Where I Stand: The Hank Greenspun Story” and “Against the Tide.” More events planned include director Q&A’s, mixers and the Joyce Forum, which features works from on-the-verge filmmakers around the globe.

MUSIC

Masterfully finger-picking and foot-tapping his way through the folk/roots scene since 1970, Chris Smither will strum tunes from his latest and 11th album, “Time Stands Still,” this Friday at AMSD Concerts. The album includes Smither’s takes on classics from Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler, as well as some moody acoustics of his own.

57-year-old Joe Waters has erected a musical instrument out of the 25th street overpass and employed the noises of buzzing wasps and running rivers for his compositions. He’s also a music professor at SDSU, and will present the symphonic syntheses he and his quartet, Swarmius, have concocted at UCSD’s The Loft this Saturday.

Few artists rival the romantic repertoire of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and Dizzy’s will honor that this Sunday with a Valentine’s night tribute. Not into slow jams? Visit Friday for jazz explorations from Jaime Valle & his Quintet; Saturday brings frenetic guitar riffs from Nathan James and Chris Clarke and the Plow Draggers.

BOOKS

Not a master on the time-space continuum, but still find it fascinating? Renowned theoretical physicist Sean Carroll is famed for translating science speak into something more peon-friendly, and he’ll be signing and discussing his latest work, “"From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time" tonight at Book Works in Del Mar. To the DeLorean!

She’s currently an artist-in-residence at Stanford University, but award-winning playwright, poet and essayist Cherrie L. Moraga will stop by SDSU tonight to discuss her Modern Day Malinches: Teaching and Translating Chicana Consciousness. You can also get your copy of her border-spanning classic “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color” hand-signed after the discussion.

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