ArtWalk, Adams Avenue Roots Festival And Air Guitar
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Neighborhood arts festivals, gorgeous glass sculptures, Norah Jones and air guitars, it's time again for the Weekend Preview. I’d like to welcome my guests. Keli Dailey is an arts writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune. Keli, good morning.
KELI DAILEY (Arts Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune): Hi, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: And Chris Cantore is the founder of Cantore Creative, and the host of NBC's SoundDiego. Chris, good morning.
CHRIS CANTORE (Founder, Cantore Creative): Good morning, and I know what’s coming.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Well, okay, since you bring it up, let’s go right there. You have an iPad.
CANTORE: Yes, I – I guess I’m that guy, right?
CAVANAUGH: You are that guy.
CANTORE: I’m that guy.
CAVANAUGH: You’re the test subject. This is really amazing.
CANTORE: Early adapter.
CAVANAUGH: So just tell us really quickly, how helpful is it to have a computer that small at your beck and call?
CANTORE: It’s tremendous but, again, I’m that guy. When Apple releases something, I have to be the first to get it. I’ve been that way since the eighties with the Apple 2E and here I am today, yes, with the iPad. And it’s wonderful. I love it. I mean, everything you hear’s true. It’s a giant iPhone or iPod Touch, excuse me.
CANTORE: But I’ve been able to integrate it in my daily life and it’s fantastic.
CAVANAUGH: Well, I want it desperately now.
CANTORE: I’ll let you play with it. You can hold it at some point.
CAVANAUGH: All rightie. Well, let us move on. The rain should’ve moved out of San Diego in time for the outdoor activities on the docket this weekend. Let’s start with a couple of open air events and, Keli, the annual ArtWalk is this weekend in Little Italy. It’s free. Give people a sense of what they’ll see when they go.
DAILEY: Well, this is the granddaddy of SoCal fine art festivals. And like a grandpa, it’s spreading and getting more distinguished every year. And it’s got big backing, Mission Federal, Whole Foods will be there. It also has some artists who appear in celebrity collections. So if you trust the tastes of Queen Latifah and Santana, Little Italy this weekend is a place you should buy some art. Yeah, I know some art snobs who will say that, you know, selling work in tents that look like skinny pool cabanas is no way to treat art, but the organizers have called this an event like Art for the People and it’s a great way for artists to get seen. It’s a two-day festival that covers 16 city blocks.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, it’s big now.
DAILEY: Yeah, it’s huge. 120,000 people are expected over the two days. And they’ll see 300 painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelers and, you know what, the prices can be from cheap, like to $75.00, to obscene. I was told something sold for the hundreds of thousands…
CAVANAUGH: At ArtWalk?
DAILEY: At ArtWalk, can you believe that? Six figures. So outdoors, you can buy something really expensive that probably should’ve been in air-conditioning. But anyway I’m sure the artists will also be there for meet and greets, and I’m sure they’d be happy to help you find something to complement your Asian contemporary décor, too.
CAVANAUGH: Now one of the artists you’re excited about seeing is Thomas Barbey. Tell us about his work.
DAILEY: You know, ArtWalk’s going to get all kinds of mainstream love this weekend for being family friendly, and here’s an artist with a little bit of edge. You don’t expect to see something like this Vegas artist who makes black and white photo montages kind of like Magritte, surrealistic…
DAILEY: …prints. But he uses trickery in the darkroom and he’s got this one photo. I saw it near the cash register at Hob Nob Hill café. It’s called “Tourist Trap,” and it has this giant banyan tree, it’s like 50 stories tall, and it has people swarming around its roots like they’re sightseeing. And it looks like it could be real. He told me that he wishes he was an oil painter, though, because people wouldn’t ask him how he creates his artwork.
CAVANAUGH: That’s exactly right. He’s probably exactly right. There’s an artist from Del Mar and – who’ll also be featured. Her name is Diane Uke?
DAILEY: Yeah, Diane’s an acrylic painter and she makes works that are just so serene. They’ve got the stain aged look, and she uses veils and veils of transparent organic feeling colors, russet reds and ecrus, and her paintings are wonderful. I really like them. It took her a lifetime to get to be a professional artist, she was telling me, because her parents thought art was frivolous.
CAVANAUGH: Ah, well…
DAILEY: And she became an accountant. And so she’s just now getting back to art, and she’s got some great stuff. I say in today’s Night and Day that you should visit her with your credit card in hand and pick up one of her paintings for around $150.00.
CAVANAUGH: Now I know ArtWalk, you’re going to be able to buy food but there’s also a lot of music at the festival. And, Chris, you are an emcee there.
CANTORE: Yeah, on Sunday I’m going to be out. I’ve been going out for last 20 years or so. It’s one of my favorite events here in San Diego. And the group came to me and asked if I would like to be involved, so Sunday I’m going to be out there with Josh Damigo, singer/songwriter, the Anthology house band. They’re going to have dozens and dozens of artists. It’s a tremendous event. Love it.
CAVANAUGH: Any suggestions for parking, Keli?
DAILEY: You know, Little Italy is like 45 blocks.
DAILEY: And you might have to scour every one for a parking space. So they’re suggesting that you take the trolley to the Cedar Street and Beech stop, park at the County Administration building, there’s pay lots. But, you know what, meters are free on Sundays and that’s when I like to check things out south of Hillcrest.
CAVANAUGH: All right. ArtWalk takes place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from noon to six in Little Italy. Another outdoors event, the Adams Avenue Roots Festival, it takes place this weekend in Kensington and Normal Heights. And, Chris, we’ll get to the music but first give us a sense of the scope of this festival.
CANTORE: Sure, it’s the 37th annual Roots Fest on Adams. They actually just renamed it this year. And they’re expecting about 50,000 people with over 40 live music performances, street vendors with arts and crafts. They’re going to be doing a preview of the Taste of Adams as well as something I’m really excited about, the Adams Avenue Farmers Market, finally up and running.
CAVANAUGH: Oh. Oh, wow.
CANTORE: Yeah, they’re going to start that in May but they’re doing a preview out at the Roots Fest with that. Then you have a beer garden, very kid friendly carnival rides, and then back to the music. Tremendous artists performing live.
CAVANAUGH: So who are some of the headliners?
CANTORE: Candye Kane?
CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah.
CANTORE: She’s fantastic. Gregory Page, just a prolific artist.
CANTORE: My dear friend, Mr. Steve Poltz. You have Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek. She’s a fiddle player. John Doe from X, Glen Phillips from Toad the Wet Sprocket. A lot of great acts.
CAVANAUGH: Is there an act that people may not know about but that you especially want to recommend?
CANTORE: Big fan of this group locally, the Styletones, who they play Saturday at 3:15. They’re a resident band, a house band, over at Bar Pink in North Park. And Styletones, raw soul, super group, fronted by Steve Harris. They’re high energy, awesome funk and soul.
CAVANAUGH: Well, let’s hear fiddle player and singer/songwriter Sara Watkins, who’ll be performing this weekend. This is her song “Long, Hot Summer Days.”
(audio of Sara Watkins performing “Long, Hot Summer Days”)
CAVANAUGH: That is fun. Sara Watkins with “Long, Hot Summer Days.” And we’re talking about the Adams Avenue Roots Fest. Keli, what do you like about this?
DAILEY: Well, I’m from Texas, and I hear there’s going to be cowboys and carnival rides. So I’ll show up.
CAVANAUGH: Sign me up.
CANTORE: Yeah. Yeeha!
CAVANAUGH: How much – Chris, how much does the festival cost?
CANTORE: Completely free…
CANTORE: …like every good fest should be.
CAVANAUGH: Any parking tips for this one?
CANTORE: It’s kind of a free for – it’s – because it’s in the Normal Heights, Kensington area…
CANTORE: …it’s kind of wherever you can find a spot. But I did want to bring up a website and a service by the name of sdpark2park.com, which is a shuttle service based out of North Park and basically it’s five dollars to and from Adams throughout the entire fest.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay.
CANTORE: So that’s sdpark2park.com and then they have regular programs as well. Just shuttle services around town.
CAVANAUGH: So if you just wear yourself out, you can use that.
CANTORE: There you go, just jump on a shuttle.
CAVANAUGH: The Adams Avenue Roots Fest takes place Saturday and Sunday on Adams Avenue. Keli, there’s an art show sponsored by the San Diego Art Prize. It’s featuring some local emerging artists. Remind us first what the San Diego Art Prize is.
DAILEY: Well, this is a part culture quest for fresh work and partly a salute to the old big guns in the art scene here in San Diego. And it’s organized by the San Diego Visual Arts Network, which is a great website, always tells you what’s coming up in the art scene. It says basically, this prize says, you know what’s important in a visual arts scene? Recognition because working silently or noisily in the background is never good for nurturing an artist. It’s not a great payoff. And it’s the fourth year for this prize, and it gives cash and gallery exhibits to established and up and coming artists.
CAVANAUGH: Wow. Okay, so this show features 13 artists from San Diego. What kind of media do these artists work in?
DAILEY: You know, there’s this conceptual artist, Brian—and I’m going to slaughter his last name—Goeltzenleuchter.
DAILEY: You have to do it in character. He recently had a show at the Oceanside Museum of Art, which was a perfume interactive – it was crazy.
CAVANAUGH: Yes. Yes, we had him on the show.
DAILEY: No, you – Well, do you know how to say his name?
CAVANAUGH: No, I don’t.
DAILEY: Well, there you go. We just call him Brian G. around the office. Kind of like Kenny G but different. This guy – so he did this custom fragrance kind of exhibit. Wendell Kling does interactive sculpture. He teaches at Mesa. I saw him at a symposium about installation art, really cool. And, you know, other abstract artists and, of course, artists from the Quint Gallery represented by Ground Zero for contemporary artmaking here in San Diego basically.
CAVANAUGH: And I won – tell us about Project X because I believe that that is actually a fairly new gallery.
DAILEY: Yeah, it’s on South Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach and it’s a converted sawmill who says their most important feature is their built-in bar. And you have to walk up the drive from Cedros, so they’re kind of hidden kind of catty-corner from Belly Up, and it’s hipster central. I’ve been there for an exhibit. They only exhibit underexposed underground art with street cred and they say if you’re a traditional plein air master or a watercolor diva, we’re not the place for you.
CAVANAUGH: Aha. All right.
DAILEY: No watercolor divas.
CAVANAUGH: You’ve been warned.
CANTORE: I’m out.
CAVANAUGH: The opening reception of this show is Saturday from 7:00 to 10:00. It’s called “New Contemporaries Three” and it runs through May 22nd. Well, and, Chris, many of our listeners know Norah Jones. She’s playing, she’s coming here playing the Spreckels Theatre…
CAVANAUGH: …touring in support of a new album. Describe the popularity and the essence of Norah Jones.
CANTORE: Sure. She’s the daughter of a Indian sitar player. Perhaps you know Ravi Shankar…
CAVANAUGH: I’ve heard of him.
CANTORE: …yes, and concert promoter Sue Jones, and she has an affinity for classic jazz like Billie Holiday, Bill Evans, studied jazz piano in college, signed with the legendary jazz label Blue Note right out of college. She’s released, I think, four records to date, has sold 37 million records worldwide, and more than any other female jazz artist during the 2000s.
CAVANAUGH: Wow. Now the new album is called “The Fall.” What do you think of it, Chris?
CANTORE: It’s solid. Certainly not her best to date but I appreciate the fact that she is experimenting with new sounds and collaborators. She’s working with Ryan Adams as well as Beck’s drummer, and the producer of the record has produced Kings of Leon in the past as well as Modest Mouse.
CAVANAUGH: So overall, though, you sound like you’re a fan of hers.
CANTORE: Oh, absolutely. She’s an amazing talent, amazing voice. And I really appreciate, as a jazz artist, the risk that she takes, and she collaborates with a lot of people that come from like the alternative music world: Mike Patton, Faith No More, as well as – Who else did she collaborate with recently? Oh, the Foo Fighters.
CAVANAUGH: Ah, okay.
CANTORE: Worked on the Foo Fighters record.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s hear a title track from the album. This is Norah Jones with “It’s Gotta Be (sic).”
(audio of Norah Jones performing “It’s Gonna Be”)
CAVANAUGH: That’s Norah Jones, “It’s Gonna Be” from her new album “The Fall.” Keli, are you a fan of Norah Jones?
DAILEY: You know, I bought the CD at Starbucks for my mother.
DAILEY: We don’t like the same songs but she’s cross-gen listenable.
CAVANAUGH: All right. Certifiable. Now have either of you seen her in concert?
DAILEY: No, I haven’t.
CANTORE: Sadly, no.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, okay.
CANTORE: And I don’t have tickets for the Spreckels show but I couldn’t imagine a better place to see Norah Jones than the Spreckels Theatre.
CAVANAUGH: Because it’s like up close and personal?
CANTORE: Oh, it’s my favorite venue in town.
CANTORE: Hands down. I love the Spreckels.
CAVANAUGH: Norah Jones does play the Spreckels Theatre. That’s on Saturday night. Keli, this next recommendation is for a good cause, and that’s usually the kiss of death but…
DAILEY: You’re right.
CAVANAUGH: …tell us what’s happening with San Diego State’s Opera Theatre program.
DAILEY: Well, you know, it stopped grooming opera divas this semester. And, you know, the state budget cuts that have been…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah.
DAILEY: …pummeling publicly funded universities, you know, the enrollment caps, the class cuts, the student protests. Everyone has been watching the news, I hope.
DAILEY: But the School of Music and Dance shut down the one performance art that really understands tragedy.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, well, is this temporary or what?
DAILEY: Totally temporary, from what the director of the school said. It’s not a degree-giving major anyway but it did prep a lot of the Aztecs for professional roles with the San Diego Opera in the chorus, for leading roles at the Lyric Opera, and it’s really a – it’s been with the school since the sixties, so it’s a great loss if they were to shut it down completely.
CAVANAUGH: So the good cause is that this evening of opera is being staged money for the program at San Diego State. So who’s behind this?
DAILEY: Well, there’s a student group who are presenting “An Evening of Opera” this weekend, and they’re called SNATS. And if you go to snats.org you can find out what SNATS means. But this ambitious group decided to put on opera scenes and they got some small input from faculty, from the director of the opera theatre program, Kellie Evans- O’Connor, who also works with San Diego Opera. And they’re really proving that they’ve got the experience through this program to be professional opera performers or at least, you know, that they’re really committed to opera, that they would go through all the trouble as students to put on this show.
CAVANAUGH: Now, I mean, opera productions are notoriously expensive so how do they expect to do this fundraiser?
DAILEY: You know, they’ve gotten some assistance. They’ve done fundraisers. Soup Plantation, tonight is like giving them a portion of sales, the Soup Plantation in Mission Gorge. But they’re not out to spend money; they’re trying to make the opera program money so they’re going to have minimal props and minimal staging and there’s a lot of volunteers that came together to help these 18 students present works from Mozart to Handel to Leonard Bernstein, you know, he did “Candid.”
CAVANAUGH: Okay, well, the “Evening of Opera” takes place Friday and Saturday at the Smith Recital Hall on the campus of SDSU. You know, it breaks my heart but we’re going to have to speed through the U.S. Air Guitar Championships.
CANTORE: Oh, no worries. No, that was just kind of a fun little pick, the last two. Back to…
CAVANAUGH: It’s the San Diego Regional U.S. Air Guitar Championships.
CANTORE: Yes, this is a big deal at the Casbah.
CAVANAUGH: And so what is that like?
CANTORE: It’s – I pulled this off the website. Simply, it’s devoted to our nation’s unofficial pastime, out of the bedroom and putting it up on the world stage, and that’s just jamming out and playing air guitar. You pick your song. You’re given a quick window to get up there and perfom to a live crowd and you could advance to the world stage in Finland for the championship. It’s comedy. It’s – I actually emceed the event a couple of years ago and people get out there and they’re just serious about this. It’s the real deal.
CAVANAUGH: Now, is – Well, you’ve been there so, Chris…
CANTORE: Oh, yeah.
CAVANAUGH: …what does qualify as a winning air guitar performance?
CANTORE: You’re judged on technical merit, how long – how well you play along with the air guitar there, stage presence when it comes to engaging the crowd, and then your ‘royal airness’ they call it, how well you capture the art of air guitar.
CAVANAUGH: It’s kind of like drag for straight guys, right?
CAVANAUGH: Keli, if you were a judge, what would you be looking for?
DAILEY: Big metal hair.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
CANTORE: You’ll get that, and a lot of tight pants.
DAILEY: I’m there.
CANTORE: You’re there.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, you get a free trip to Finland if you win?
CANTORE: Yeah, and bragging rights. No, you don’t get – If you win tonight, you advance to…
CAVANAUGH: Oh, I see.
CANTORE: …the U.S. finals.
CAVANAUGH: I see. I see. Yeah.
CANTORE: It’s a long road in the world of air guitar.
CAVANAUGH: To Finland.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, the San Diego Regional leg of the U.S. Air Guitar Championships takes place this Friday night at the Casbah.
CANTORE: Good times.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, Keli, the Salk Institute, celebrating its 50th anniversary with an installation by famed artist Dale Chihuly. Tell us, for those of us who don’t know, who Dale Chihuly is.
DAILEY: Dale Chihuly is glass art. Like Google glass art and Chihuly’s the second result. Look on Wikipedia for studio glass and he’s there. It’s like he’s the only existing example of glass sculpture, like an artist that makes glass sculpture. And he’s in 200 museums worldwide. I just saw him at the San Francisco de Young Museum. We’ve got an interview with the Seattle artist in today’s Night and Day, reported appropriately by Erin Glass. And she describes his work as somewhere between botanical and abstract.
CAVANAUGH: What kind of pieces will be on view at this Salk exhibit?
DAILEY: There’s his 15-foot high installation at the Salk and more than a dozen handblown glass sculptures that are going to be outside in, you know, in beautiful La Jolla and capturing the bright light. Hopefully, this weekend we’ll get some sun back.
CAVANAUGH: Right. Now how can people see them? Are there tours going on?
DAILEY: Oddly enough, because this dude is so famous, his lecture and book signing and the tours of the installation are all sold out except for one extra tour that they just added for April 28th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. But this glass guy is hot property and, you know, his name just causes a rush.
CAVANAUGH: So he’s going to be there, here in San Diego.
DAILEY: He’ll be here, yeah. He’s going to be here this Sunday, I believe?
DAILEY: You could check the Salk Institute’s website, they…
CAVANAUGH: Okay, Chihuly at the Salk, it runs Saturday through April 28th. It’s at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. We have one minute to talk about Sprung Monkey. It plays 4th and B on Saturday night. Now, they’re from San Diego, aren’t they, Chris?
CANTORE: Yeah, a lot of members went to Patrick Henry High School. They’ve been around for 20 years. And it’s just great seeing a local band who had moderate success back in the nineties. They had a hit on the radio with “Get ‘em Outta Here” featured in movies. Their song “Party Like A Rock Star.”
CANTORE: So there’s been a whole nineties resurgence in rock as of late with like Faith No More getting back together at Coachella.
CANTORE: Sound Garden, Lollapalooza here locally. Sprung Monkey playing shows and kind of bringing back the nineties.
CAVANAUGH: What’s the live show like?
CANTORE: It’s a good time. Just a big party. Just San Diego, straightforward rock. Southern California rock.
CAVANAUGH: Hey, we did it in a minute. I’m so happy.
CANTORE: Hey, like that. I hit the pose.
CAVANAUGH: Sprung Monkey plays 4th and B on Saturday night. Keli Dailey, Chris Cantore, thank you so much for being here.
CANTORE: Thank you.
DAILEY: Thanks, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: Have a good weekend.
CANTORE: You, too.
CAVANAUGH: These Days is produced by Hank Crook, Angela Carone, Megan Burke, Pat Finn, and senior producer is Natalie Walsh. Production Manager is Kurt Kohnen, with technical assistance from Tim Felten. Our production assistants are Jordan Wicht and Rachel Ferguson. The These Days theme was composed and performed by Gilbert Costellanos and his band. I’m Maureen Cavanaugh, hoping you’ll enjoy the rest of the week. You’ve been listening to These Days on KPBS.