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San Diego Arts And Artists Go Digital During Coronavirus Closures

The La Jolla Playhouse's Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre is pictured in this undated photo.
Courtesy of La Jolla Playhouse
The La Jolla Playhouse's Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre is pictured in this undated photo.

Local artists and organizations are live streaming and turning to digital platforms to share their work, but still need our help to weather coronavirus

San Diego artists, art museums, galleries and performing arts groups are finding ways to still share their art while traditional spaces and gatherings are canceled.

In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, most of us have to spend most of our time at home. But after days of binging on Netflix, or napping, or cleaning, staying home can get old. That’s why many people are trying to incorporate the arts into their home lives. In Italy, people who were told to stay indoors played instruments from their balconies. Celebrities like Josh Gad, the actor who voices Olaf in "Frozen," are creating online videos reading books for kids. And there are more innovative ideas springing up from local arts organizations to help you enjoy your time at home.

Art Museums

Some local art museums are taking a page from other famous museums like the Guggenheim and the Uffizi by offering virtual online tours and videos. Many already had virtual tours, apps and online exhibitions in place before the coronavirus uprooted museum-going as we knew it.

The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) website has the MOPAConnects video series and online exhibitions. Check out the latest, Celebrating Five Women Artists, because not many of us can name five women photographic artists. It features work by Suda Kay House, Flor Garduño and more.

The San Diego Museum of Art has a "While We're Closed" corner of its website, with links to its video archives. You can watch many of their gallery talks, and the vibrant SDMA+ performance series showcases like ballet in the rotunda, chamber music in the exhibition halls, and even the San Diego Youth Symphony performing in front of the art. And the SDMA app — designed not only for an interactive experience when you're in the museum but also for at-home browsing and learning — lets you explore each collection piece-by-piece.

Similarly, the Timken Museum of Art app lets you take a virtual tour, including their brand new exhibition, "Captivating Women."

Lux Art Institute is enacting "open hours" where you reserve a time spot to tour their exhibitions in very small groups of 10. The tour includes new work from fiber artist Michelle Montjoy. She's even live-posting the installation, live-streaming her opening reception artist talk and will offer drive-up viewings and fun performance art in front of Lux’s massive front windows.

Many smaller local galleries like Sparks Gallery, The Studio Door, Bread and Salt and Thumbprint have online exhibition catalogs you can browse.

Live Performances

Performances at the La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe and most other theaters have been postponed. But many performing arts groups are still trying to produce work and share it with their audiences.

Locally, PGK Dance Project will broadcast what was supposed to be this weekend's performance, "Holding Tight" as on-demand video.

Wednesday night, The New Narrative's Daring Stories — a really great storytelling show — is doing a live stream of their regular monthly show. The theme is (fittingly) "Riding Out The Storm," and there's often an open mic component too. The New Narrative has moved all of its programming online, including workshops and discussions.

To stay connected with new music while shows and festivals are being canceled, check out the latest episode of NPR's All Songs Considered podcast's latest episode: "What We'll Miss At SXSW This Year."

And in the broader performing arts world, check out the Social Distancing Festival. It's a roundup of global streaming events — with user submissions and highlights from curators — from operas to story slams to theater.

And Classical FM has put together a list of symphonies and orchestras broadcasting scheduled live performances to empty symphony halls, or the orchestras that have opened up their performance video archives for free.

Public Libraries

While they're closed to the public, San Diego County Libraries are still here for you, with instant digital library cards and online lending. You can access e-books through their app, Libby. It's really easy to use for adults or kids. I signed up for a new county library card and was reading Michelle Obama's memoir within minutes!

Local Bookstores

Many local bookstores like The Book Catapult, Warwick's La Jolla and Run For Cover are still open and busily processing orders for all the stuck-at-home bookworms — be sure to call and ask for curbside pick up or for a custom recommendation from a lonely bookseller. Warwick's will also broadcast their daily storytimes on Instagram live at 11 a.m.

Arts Resources For Kids

Because schools are closed, kids are at home right now. There are plenty of art options to stream digitally. Artist and author Austin Kleon shows us how to make a zine from a single sheet of paper, and Twitch streams nonstop Bob Ross paint-alongs.

KPBS has been broadcasting PBS Learning Media programming throughout the day, and there's also digital archives of art lessons with a ton of content for grades K-12 (or adults!). Find dance videos and lessons, art history, painting lessons, music theory and more. Here's one on stomp rhythms.

Support Artists

The arts are trying to support us during this time, so if you're able, return the favor and support the arts. Many organizations and venues are having to lay off their staff or reduce their hours, many of whom are often artists themselves. Some things you can do: Hire local musicians and artists to do video conference private lessons; buy art, books and music or buy merch from your favorite venues — finally get that world famous Casbah hoodie.

To discuss how to engage with or support the arts in San Diego during this shutdown, join the conversation in the KPBS/Arts Facebook group.