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Culture Lust Weekend: Plastic Fantastic, Josephine Baker, and La Bohème

Above: Allison Renshaw's "Pervette," mixed media. Renshaw is on of 43 artists selected for MCASD's "Here Not There: San Diego Now" exhibit.

I've been spending a lot of my time in prisons lately (last shoot is today!), so I plan to indulge in as much arts and culture as I can this weekend. Won't you join me? Here are some lusty options for you.

ART

It’s no secret that some SoCal denizens are, uh, aesthetically-enhanced (and obsessed), and it was exactly this world of silicone, sports cars and trophy wives that inspired artist Allison Renshaw’s latest exhibit, “Plastic Fantastic,” debuting this weekend at the Oceanside Museum of Art. The exhibit will analyze the contradictions and contrasts between S.D.’s natural and not-so-natural beauty in a series of dynamic mixed media abstractions that will make your head spin (in a good way, we promise).

February is Museum Month in San Diego, and the San Diego Museum Council which means with a pass you can get half-price admission at 39 participating museums. Passes are available at any San Diego Macy's retail stores and they allow half-price admission for you and three guests through the month of February. For a list of the museums participating, go here. If you haven’t headed to the Lux Art Institute already to observe Iva Gueorguieva at work, do so now – through the week of February 1, admission to the museum is only $5! Stay tuned each week for more announcements on exhibits not to be missed.

It’s the year of the Tiger (we’ll spare you any bad Woods one-liners), and to celebrate, MiraCosta College has a slew of events planned for Chinese New Year next month – head up to the Carlsbad Cole Library next Tuesday at 3:30 for free, kid-friendly Chinese lantern lessons, or buy your tickets now to meet with Good Luck Life author Rosemary Gong later next month. Also on the roster for February are free Qigong presentations, a film screening, and traditional Chinese lion dancing, so plan accordingly!

FILM

Believe it or not, the incandescent Josephine Baker was once a little-known silent film star. Her intro to the silver screen came in “Siren of the Tropics,” the tale of an island girl who falls in love with a city boy and follows him to the City of Lights. Scott Paulson and his Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra for Silent Films will provide the soundtrack for the flick on Tuesday at The Loft, who’s presenting it as part of their not-so-silent films series in a nod to Black History month – the orchestra will even include a cameo from special guest Gene Perry, an Afro-Latin Percussionist.

THEATER

Politics is already a performing art, and Obie Award-winning playwright and actress Nilaja Sun takes that quite literally in her one woman, one-night-only production of “No Child…” which you can catch this Saturday at the La Jolla Playhouse. A riff on Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” Sun takes on the personas of children, teachers, administrators and more to demonstrate the true value of education and the inequities in public schools. The event will benefit the playhouse’s real-life roster of ground-breaking education programs, and the 25 local teachers who made them happen will be honored as well.

Mimi and Rodolfo will reunite this Saturday as Puccini’s classic opera, La Bohème, takes the stage at the San Diego Opera. The production is only on offer through the end of the week, so book it now before another pair of star-crossed lovers – Romeo and Juliet – move in this March.

Listen to verses at a live reading from Indiana poet Emmanuel Ortiz’s “Brown unLike Me: Poems from the Second Layer of My Skin” this Saturday. Ortiz has presented his work everywhere from rallies to classrooms (and even a prison) so expect it to be especially soulful in Voz Alta’s intimate quarters.

More spoken word can be found at the Old Town Theatre’s “Write Out Loud” series, which will present “The Music in Me” this Monday, and this time, it’s extra lyrical – the presentation will feature music-themed essays and short stories read by some of S.D.’s boldest voices.

MUSIC

One of the original bands from the swing era, the Legendary Count Basie Orchestra, (AKA the “Swingiest Band in all the Land”) has performed with everyone from Ole Blue Eyes to Billie Holiday since their conception in 1936. Catch them live at Anthology this weekend in all of their dapper 18-member glory.

The avant-garde band with a cult following and a veteran career, The Residents will be in North Park this Friday at the Birch North Park Theatre for those in need of a dose of the experimental. Be warned, this is not the ‘hood’s usual hipster fare – expect plenty of other-worldliness, strange storytelling, special effects, and, obviously, a few eyeballs (see: their album cover).

At just 24, violinist David-Aaron Carpenter may be from the same generation that spawned the Jonas Brothers, but don’t let that dissuade you – Carpenter learned the strings at Julliard while still in high school and has since sold out international arenas, received a Presidential Gold Medal at Washington’s Kennedy Center, and became the first American and the youngest protégé for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative with mentor Pinchas Zukerman. See him live Sunday at The Neurosciences Institute as the La Jolla Music Society debuts its Discovery Series.

A fan of Grizzly Bear or Bon Iver? We recommend heading up to The Loft this Monday to catch The Bowerbirds perform a similar blend of delicately mellow tracks from their sophomore album, "Upper Air." Opening is earthy indie songstress Julie Doiron, who will strum a few from the charming "I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day."

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