Thursday, February 3, 2011
As Museum Month kicks off in February, we'll talk about current exhibits and learn about the Tet Lunar New Year.
As Museum Month kicks off in February, we'll talk about current exhibits and learn about the Tet Lunar New Year.
Kelly Bennett is the arts editor at Voice of San Diego.com. Her blog is called Behind the Scene.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Visual arts on display? San Diego run the gamut from eighteenth century British master, Gainsburrough, to a treasure trove of 20th century photographs of San Diego's back community. In addition to the art, there's music and Asian new year festivities on today's weekend preview. Joining me to ring in the events are my guests, Kelly Bennett is the arts editor at voice of San Diego. Her blog is called behind the scene. Kelly, good morning.
BENNETT: Good morning, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Enrique Limon is San Diego City beat's man about town, and editor for the website el Zunke show.com.
LIMON: Thank you. Thanks for the invite.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So museum month started February first. What, Enrique, are the perks of museum month?
LIMON: Well, the best perk of course of expanding one's horizons. Sometimes we don't allow ourselves to Blake from the routine and soak up an art exhibit or 2 or 40. And museum month gives us the perfect opportunity to do so.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So what exactly -- do you have to get a pass of some day?
LIMON: Yes, [check] its barer and up to three guests discounted admission in 40 San Diego County museums.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And any day of the week?
LIMON: Any day of the week, yeah, yeah, you're good.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do all the museums participate?
LIMON: Pretty much. [check] the Tijuana estuary visitor city, the Wailey house and the Oceanside museum of art. So not living close to Balboa park is no execute not to soak it all in.
CAVANAUGH: And These Days [check] 40 museums around the county will have half priced admission throughout February, and to see the list, [check] culture lust blog at KPBS.org. Speaking of museums, Kelly, San Diego museum of art has a couple of exhibits featuring two British artists of tell us about them.
BENNETT: This is Thomas gains burro, a British master from the 1700s. And hour Hodgkin. And he is in the later 20th have been is. So these two British painters have been -- have had exhibits hung sort of right next to each other in the museum of art right now separated by a couple hundred years, but museum curators were finding some interesting things.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Separated by more than a couple hundred years.
BENNETT: That's true, that's true. A few hundred I suppose.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: No, but I mean, the thing is, the quality, the art is very, very different. Tell us about that.
BENNETT: It's incredibly different of so gains burro was known for -- and the 11 paintings that are at the museum of art right now are women who were considered modern in their time. It was kind of a daring series for him to paint both in the people he chose, the women he chose, actors and performers and that kind of thing, but also in the way he depicted them. I read something that he depicted them almost like there was a secret between the painter and the person sitting for the portrait. Of so you kind of -- for the time, it's a kind of a sly, almost a flirty kind of thing. So it's an interesting thing to check out, and then Hodgkins' stuff is completely different than that. It's very expressive, abstract, colorful, and not sort of the figurative painting [check].
THE COURT: He created the blue boy that a lot of people know, that old master work. But there are things that the museum cure indicators have found between those two very different artists.
BENNETT: The paining, the style of sort of lush, juicy paint that these strokes are not sort of fine, that they're very expressive and emotional, in both -- across both artists, that's one of the things that they found. Obviously they're both British too.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, uh-huh.
BENNETT: And in both case, it's the first time that the museum of art in San Diego has had their works showed. Also the Hodgkins' show, I think this is the first time [check] it's a chance to kind of check out one new thing that San Diego owns as well as some of these other things that are not usually here.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Besides the brush working the Hodgkin work is extremely colorful isn't it.
BENNETT: Yeah. And I read also I heard a little bit about Hodgkin that one of the things he wants to do is take emotion in time, sort of a meal spent with someone, or an event or something, and then recreate that with these colorful impressionistic, almost, ideas. And so some of his paintings are titled, you know, after a dinner that he spent with someone or a time he visited a certain place. But when you actually look at it, it's not a figurative representation of that -- a picture of the house where he was.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right, right.
BENNETT: It's the feeling, it's representing that feeling that he remembers from that place, which is so interesting.
MC: The exhibits, Thomas Gainsborough, and the modern woman, and Howard Hodgkin, time and place, are both on view in relationship to one another at the San Diego museum of art in Balboa park. Enrique Limon, there's a Morrissey and the Smiths tribute tonight.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us about it.
LIMON: It's called all things rad. And it promises a night of -- classic ska, and of course of course the legend himself, more see and the Smiths end quote.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I love that, all things rad.
LIMON: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Morrissey and the Smiths have been around, you know, people like me know about them. But can you give us a quick refresher?
LIMON: Hey, people like me know about them too. [check] in the 1980s thanks to their mix of melodic bliss, and sort of lyrical vulnerability if you will. They broke you know in 1987, and funny enough, they actually never had a single chart.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Real estate. I didn't know that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: [check] there's a certain quality to their music, I wonder if you can describe it to us.
LIMON: Oh, you betcha. It's poppy, catchy, and just plain blissful. And Mexicans love it. So don't ask me why, it's just sort of an infallible truth. And I once heard ask a Mexican columnist trying to explain it [check] and he described more see as sort of a modern day troubadour, [check] regress to the Noteno and ranchero songs of generations past that are engrained in our psyche. But don't ask me, I eat at Taco bell.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, man. I had never thought of the Smiths that way. It's fabulous. So let's listen to a song it's called half I person from their album louder than bombs.
(Audio Recording Played).
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: They were great. The Smiths, though, that was the Smiths' half a person from their album, louder than bombs. Now, all things rad is putting on this show. Who are they?
LIMON: Well, actually just the name of the event is all things rad.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay.
LIMON: Because more see is just so plain rad, of course it's such a fitting name, the show is actually being presented by's mercantile company, which is a boutique in Northpark, and burgeoning local fashion line, iron situations control.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh, I see. So that's the name of the program, and that's the sponsor, and the event is tonight. More see and the Smiths tribute night. It's tonight at the el Dorado bar at 11th and Broadway. We move on to a different type of music, the La Jolla symphony and chorus are having a couple concerts, Kelly. Why is it being call aid concert of contrasts?
BENNETT: There's a few interesting reasons why. Within some of the music itself, there's a deb sue ballet that they're going to play tonight called Jeus, in French, games. [check] if you take the music of Debussy, and they're also going to play some of the nocturnes which most people would recognize as one of deb Debussy's most well known, I think it's three movements works, they're going to play two contemporary pieces of music. One of them is the U.S. premiere of Iannis Xenakis, metastasis. And one the other one is the world premiere of a contemporary composer from New York, fill Klein. So this oh, industry is really interesting because it's made up of volunteer musicians who have day jobs. I think they're concert masters, somebody was telling me is some kind of medical professional. I want to say, like, surgeon or something, but I might be messing that up. But it's really interesting because you get all these people who, you know, during the day are doing something else or are not professionally making their -- all of their living in music, and yet they're able to play in this symphony together. And it's also a great mix of sort of classical stuff that you would recognize as being maybe decades or centuries old, and this sort of experimental, edgy, pushing the boundary type stuff.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm wondering, is this a sort of a departure for the La Jolla symphony? This widely eclectic program tonight?
BENNETT: Not as far as I've known them. [check] teaches at UCSD, he's very widely respected as basically changing the entire game for what it means to be a classical drummer, a classical percussionist, to take a beat and experiment with it in different ways. As far as I've known them, they're always interested in, the last concert I went to, they paired up a piece of classical music with a video artist who was actually tying these rights and images to what the orchestra was playing. So this idea that it's kind of a chance for experimentation, for modern ideas isn't new for the La Jolla symphony and chorus.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, Kelly, you are a musician, you're a violinist with the band, tree ring.
BENNETT: Thank fist are the plug.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And I'm wondering if you could maybe describe this music a little bit more for us beyond the concept of experimental.
BENNETT: Yeah, Xenakis was a I'm actually not sure if he's still living but is an architect as well. So it's a really interesting thing that he sees his music kind of visually, you almost hear the construction. And so there's a lot of dissonance, a lot of almost what a sort of a layman would look at an orchestra and say, I wonder if everybody played at once, what it would sound like. Sort of whatever they wanted to play. So there's that kind of element. And then Phil Klein is really well known for this request project he does and that has become this cult thing all around the world called unsilent night where people show up with cassette players with boom boxes he gives them a tape that's a completely different sound from the next person, and they all carry these boom boxes down the block, I'm not sure what his piece. It's called a dream and its opposite, and that's what's premiering this weekend, I'm not sure what this piece involves or is about, I know it's featuring a local trio called real quiet.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.
BENNETT: But I don't know if it has any of those elements of unsilent night. But it's really beyond the boundaries of when you think of a Beethoven symphony or something.
BENNETT: It's sort of the traditional orchestra set up with completely untraditional ideas.
THE COURT: And this will be a preconcert lecture to sort of get you prepared.
BENNETT: That's the best thing you can ever to. I love going to the preconcert let the record reflects at any of these things because you get a little bit more context and a lot bit more understanding of what I'm about to hear.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So the La Jolla symphony and chorus, they'll be performing at the Mandaville [check] Saturday and Sunday. Now, here's the name of a show, venom us relations through [check] vapors. Works by Miguel Godoy.
LIMON: [check] aerosol medium and who after quickly getting over the local graffiti scene, decided to take his craft to a whole new level.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So, the aerosol, obviously we know is a splay paint ca, right?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But what does it mean to be an aerosol artist.
LIMON: Well, that he works exclusively with aerosol. We've all seen a certain degree, classic or urban landscape offerings [check] but with a sensibility all his own, Godoy really steps it up a notch [check] and a cobra, using that, the can as a snake, it rattles, hiss and spits venom. It's intense.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It is. There -- I've seen some of his artwork up on his space and so forth.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It seems really rather dramatic and aggressive.
LIMON: Yes, some of the stuff, I moon, you would swear is straight out of [check] it's that jarring and that's sublime, really.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now does he have aspirations for this form of art in general beyond his aerosol work?
LIMON: He's hooked on it so to speak, he says that he became addicted to the medium at age 13 [check] with both the virgin Mary and Satan, and pushing him to get in touch with his meso American roots so I'm guessing he listens to more see.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I can understand where the aerosol vapors comes in on this title now.
LIMON: Oh, yeah.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The show is at thumbprint gallery. Can you tell us eight-bit about the gallery.
LIMON: Sure, [check] because not only are they shining a light on a stable of under ground artists that wouldn't have a wall space anywhere else in the city normally, but they're also leaving pretension at the door by constantly staging shows that are raising hoe brow to newer heights.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, is Miguel going to be at this.
LIMON: He sure is, and it's [check] collective shows?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. I see. So venomous relation -- I'm sorry, venomous revolutions through [check] is on display Friday night at thumbprint gallery in Northpark. And we go on to another aspect of the arts, sculpture, Allison Saar will be the resident artist at lux art institute this month. Kelly, who is Allison Saar?
BENNETT: Allison Saar is a sculptor from Los Angeles, her parents were both very well established and known in the art scene, her mom was a well known African American artist and her dad was a conservationist, and she is, like you said, the resident artist. Soap lux does this neat thing every few month where is they actually bring in an artist to live on their campus for about a month and work on a piece that people can come and see the artist actually working on while she's doing it. Of.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Now, does -- she works on a rather large scale doesn't she?
BENNETT: Yeah, a lot of her work is very human figurative. So it's sculpted forms, you know, and it's life sized. So one of the -- one of the pieces that is with her, because they also put up art that they've already done. And one of the pieces that is with her is this human woman hanging from her ankles. And if you look at -- we've got a photograph that's about to go up on our website about Allison, and if you look at this picture, it's just very interesting to see obviously the artist, a real life artist standing there, but then you see this life sized form right next to, and it's kind of an interesting thing that happens to your vision as you contemplate that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what materials is she known for work where?
BENNETT: Well, she's working with -- for this residence, what she's here for, she's using a chainsaw which is one.
LIMON: Nice. Maybe she's been whiffing the aerosol too.
BENNETT: Right, exactly. And then and there she's using wood and copper to make a sculpture that I think is supposed to be about six feet. So we're not talking about a tiny little painting here. We're talking about a big effort.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, we certainly are. Tell us a lot bit more about how people can sort of watch the artist work at the lux art institution because I guess you don't want the people to be an annoyance in some way. But how does that work?
BENNETT: Right. Well, especially with this case, she's got her chainsaw, so you're gonna have to speak up.
LIMON: Sounds like a party.
BENNETT: If you have any questions. But in this -- in her art, she references a lot of really neat African and I think South American and different cultural stories and infuses those into her sculptures. So the stories or the questions that I have for an artist are always why did you decide to add very sort of exaggerated almost cartoonish tears to this person? What is she crying about? You can ask an artist that while the artist is sitting right there. And I really love the chance to ask about those stories so if people go to see her working they can not only just observe hear working but ask, well, why are you making this? And why did you cut that wood this and why are kind of sculpting the cop or this way? Helping, you know, as we understand how artists make decisions, we better understand what they've made.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're right. That is a wonderful opportunity. Allison Saar begins her residence at lux art institute in Encinitas today and will be there through March 5th. Her work will stay on exhibit through March 6th. It's a Tet lunar new year.
LIMON: Oh, yeah.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It tell us more.
LIMON: Well, I'm a stickler for the holidays, new year's being my favorite, this is about the only neat when rocking boat, the tiara, and drinking straight from the [check] which is actually Vietnamese new year which announce the beginning of spring in the lunar calendar.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And so where will it be held here in San Diego.
LIMON: It's gonna happen this weekend this Saturday and Sunday at the hoofer high parking lot.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So what will it entail?
LIMON: Well, it won't be as debaucherous as a normal December 31st for me. But it will be a great family friend day [check] and killer Vietnamese food.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us about that.
LIMON: Well, there's traditionally certain dishes for the holiday, including ban chang, which is a special cake made with [check] and its sweeter counterpart, ban ye. [check] because what can I say? I love getting pho, especially on the weekends.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, indeed. Of so tell us a lot bit more about the little Saigon foundation. I would imagine that they're behind this celebration this weekend?
LIMON: They sure are. It's a local nonprofit dedicated to engage in the economic revitalization, enhancement of social justice and promotion of cultural diversity of the Vietnamese community here in San Diego.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. Sounds really great. And delicious.
LIMON: Oh, yeah.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me tell everybody, little Saigon's Tet lunar new year celebration is this Saturday from ten AM to 9:00 PM at the Hoover high school parking lot. And to round things out, tell us a story, because there's a story behind this event, Kelly, the San Diego [check] exhibiting the photographs of a local photographer who passed away, his name is Norman Baynard. Baynard. Tell us about him.
BENNETT: He was a commercial photographer between the '40s and '70s. And when he passed boy, his son gave thousands of these photographs, images or negatives to the San Diego history center, and it's been about 20 years that they have had them in their collection but haven't been able to do anything with them. They got some funding, and now they're bringing out 500 of the most interesting photos that Norman Baynard took in Logan Heights. And so he was a commercial photographer, you know, you commission him to take a portrait of your kids or to come to your baptismal or to maybe take a picture of a product for sale in your store or something. But so he wasn't trying to be a social document Aryan, but just from the, you know, just by taking photographs over 40 years in a particular neighborhood, you wind up being a huge piece of that neighborhood's history. And a huge piece of San Diego's black history. And so the history center is really trying to pull up this collection and say, look, we've got these stories, we want to know more with the stories that these photographs represent.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It's fascinating too, because I read your article on voice of San Diego about this collection, and you say this documents San Diego's black community in a way that other communities in California don't have. Don't have this resource.
BENNETT: Right. A lot of people, I think, when they think of U.S. history, U.S. black history, San Diego's not rising to the top of their list.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.
BENNETT: And yet we do have a very interesting black history here. There was -- there were a couple of researchers and scholars actually at the history center, I think it was last week or maybe the week before, analyzing and assessing this collection. And one of the things they told me was that a lot of people think about the migration from south to north but this was a second big migration. And the fact that cars show up in a lot of these photographs, the fact that there is sort of the family unit, the nuclear family unit standing in front of a car, standing in front of a house, represents this idea of being settled, of having found a home, found a place, finding sort of a suburbanish neighborhood and owning a car, being mobile, and so there's all sorts of things that if you just look at this and say, oh, a photograph of a birthday party, you're not capturing the fact that this is part of San Diego's history from the 1940s 1950s.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It has a huge significance, yeah. And finally, Kelly, the San Diego history center is actually asking for help in the community in identifying some of these photographs, the people in the photographs right.
BENNETT: Right, so Norman Baynard, he just cares about [check] is the name of the person who paid for it. So the history center is hoping that people can come and look and say oh, that's my uncle. That's my brother. That's my sister.
LIMON: Where's Waldo style.
BENNETT: Exactly. So they're having open houses every Tuesday to do that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The San Diego history center in Balboa park invites visitors to come and identify subjects in the photos every Tuesday in February, which gets us right back to museum month, which we started out on.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to thank you, Kelly Bennett, thank you, Enrique Limon, so much.
LIMON: Thank you for the invite.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And if you would like to comment please go on-line, KPBS.org/These Days.