Skip to main content

Weekend Preview: La Posada, Vend Arts, theNAT’s Living Lab

You had me at flesh-eating bugs

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

You had me at flesh-eating bugs. Dermestid beetles are part of the San Diego Natural History Museum's new exhibit Living Lab. The beetles are used to clean specimens by eating all the dead flesh off the bones.

KPBS Midday Edition Segments podcast branding

This weekend try a little cultural and biodiversity by sampling events from Centro Cultural De La Raza, Little Italy and the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Aired: December 13, 2019 | Transcript

This weekend try a little cultural and bio diversity by sampling events from Centro Cultural de la Raza, Little Italy and the San Diego Natural History Museum.

La Posada

On Saturday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., tap into the giving spirit of the season by attending Centro Cultural de la Raza’s La Posada. It is the Centro's final fundraiser of the year as they continue to revitalize the space. Located on the edge of Balboa Park, the Centro's mission is to create, preserve, promote and educate about Chicano, Mexicano, Latino and indigenous art and culture.

Photo credit: Vend Arts

The second edition of Vend Arts features affordable art in a vending machine at Porto Vista Hotel.

Vend Arts

Then venture to Little Italy for the second edition of Vend Arts, an art exhibition space that showcases affordable art in a vending machine at Porto Vista Hotel. That’s right you can buy and collect 4- by 6-inch art from this unique vending machine now through April 5, 2020.

The 1805 Gallery curated work from 35 artists who examine spatial environments that humans and nonhumans inhabit, articulating personal experiences in a rapidly developing world. The exhibit is designed to showcase emerging artists to a wider audience.

In the press release for the event 1805 Gallery, director Lauren Siry said, “For those who have walked into an art gallery feeling intimidated, the vending machine exhibition format offers an informal platform and introduction to museum-quality works of art.”

Exhibiting artists include: Ry Beloin, Sarah Bricke, Francesco Carucci, Angela Curzon, Remi Dalton, Helena Faitelson, Ashley Fenderson, Michelle Fleck, Eleanor Greer, Joanne Geroe, Chitra Gopala, Ivy Guild, Katie Howard , Lamia Khorshid, Jessica Newman, Margaux Robles, Lauren Siry, Gordon Sluder, Cheryl Sorg, Gabriel Stockton, Wayne Swanson, Natasha Teymourian, Michaela Jean Upp and Jacquelene Cristina Verna.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

A rosy boa constrictor is just one of the animals on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum's Living Lab.

Living Lab

Now for the bio part of the diversity.

The San Diego Natural History Museum occasionally has live animals on display, but its latest exhibition, Living Lab, is unique in the number of live specimens on view and all are from the museum's own collection. Living Lab is a reminder that the museum is not just a place for school kids to come and learn about nature but that it's a place where research takes place behind the scenes of what the public sees.

"We've got an entire division of researchers and almost every sort of biological discipline that you can think of," said Michael Wall, curator of entomology and vice president of science and conservation. "We have all these collections as well right now I think we're up to about 8 million specimens behind the scenes and what we do with those collections is that they truly represent our natural history. They are vouchers for our natural history and so we do research on change over time. We can actually look at climate change through these collections because we can actually see what life was like a long time ago versus how it is now. And so we're storing these collections or preserving these collections for posterity and for the future but also actively using them now for a variety of things and really trying to focus on biodiversity and conservation. That's really how we see our role moving forward."

At the exhibit you can encounter more than two dozen different living species of reptiles, amphibians, insects and spiders. Wall and the museum hope that seeing these creatures up close and personal will create empathy.

"These are things that maybe people might not have a lot of love for unless they're the special kind of person like me that really loves the creepy crawlies and the slithering slimies," Wall said. "But they're all from our region and many of them are things that you could possibly find in your backyard. The idea is to familiarize people with their six-legged friends and four-legged friends that are doing some important things in our ecosystems but that we might not necessarily fully understand."

Visitors to the Living Lab might get to see a rattlesnake being fed or observe bees (that are able to enter and exit their museum enclosure through a tube to the outside) in a honeycomb bringing in pollen. There are also flesh-eating bugs at work in one showcase. Dermestid beetles work hard for the museum by cleaning skeletal specimens down to the bone.

Living Lab pairs nicely with the museum's photographic exhibit Insects Face to Face, where you can enjoy close up photography of the amazing diversity of the insect world. Living Lab is scheduled to run through at least Sept. 1, 2020.


Cinema Junkie podcast branding

Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando.

So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place

Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.