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Spooky San Diego Weekend Arts Events: Halloween Theater, Día De Los Muertos, Wearable Art And Dead Man’s Party

Poe readings, Shakespeare at SDMA, Teros Gallery’s outdoor event, virtual fashion at OMA, spooky organ music, an Oingo Boingo cover band, a community ofrenda and much more.

An ofrenda by Mariah Romero is pictured in an undated photograph. Romero will...

Credit: Courtesy You Belong Here

Above: An ofrenda by Mariah Romero is pictured in an undated photograph. Romero will design an altar for You Belong Here this weekend.

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Our picks for this creepiest of weekends: Edgar Allen Poe readings, Shakespeare at SDMA, Teros Gallery's outdoor event, virtual fashion at OMA, spooky organ music, an Oingo Boingo cover band, ... Read more →

Aired: October 30, 2020 | Transcript

Halloween is one of the few holidays that isn't particularly about family togetherness or traveling to see distant relatives. In some ways, it's more about mixing up with strangers, in the best and worst ways, and that's top of the off-limits list in a pandemic (here's the county's actual off-limits list in PDF form).

Strangers aside, Halloween is for mysteries and the unexplainable stories of ghosts, terror and monsters (real and imagined). It's for dark sidewalks and (yes) masks. It's for fear, courage and bravado and the blurry line between them all. And in our border region, our spooky celebrations are intrinsically linked with the Mexican celebration, Día De Los Muertos, which honors loved ones lost and the generations before with beautiful altars.

So don your finest masks, light a candle and take in a little ghostly art.

And, for some clarity on what is and is not recommended for Halloween during COVID, as well as how some San Diegans are coping, check out this KPBS news story.

Community Ofrenda For Día De Los Muertos At You Belong Here

Visual art, Folk art

Artist Mariah Romero has installed a community ofrenda at City Heights' You Belong Here art space. It's viewable from the outside 24 hours a day, and there are three short periods of time for indoor visits. Friday afternoon, and Saturday and Sunday morning, they'll let four people into the space at a time (masks required) to visit the altar for twenty minute sessions. Día De Los Muertos is a traditional celebration in Mexico that pays respects to lost loved ones and the spirits of ancestors, and features vivid altars (ofrendas), offerings, the decorating of burial sites, candles, decorated skulls and flowers. The installation will stay up through Monday for exterior viewing.

Details: Friday from 12-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon, and outdoor viewings through Monday. 3619 El Cajon Blvd, City Heights. Free.

Poe Fest

Literature, Theatre

Most years, by the time I remember to go to events like Poe Fest, I've missed it. This year, though, everything is still streaming on demand through Nov 1. I highly recommend a spooky night spent with a candle in your jack-o-lantern, listening to some dramatic readings of gothic stories by Edgar Allan Poe and his contemporaries. Stories are grouped into six bundles — each including at least one Poe — and you can pay for one at $13, or buy the entire series for $50. My favorite of the mix: Poe's "A Dream Within A Dream" paired with Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1892 short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." What is more terrifying than the inside of someone's mind? Asking for me.

Details: Now through Sunday. Online. $13-50.

Trick R' Teros

Visual art, Photography, Books, Music

Looking for something to do in-person, outdoors on Halloween? Support the tiny-yet-mighty Teros Gallery on the corner of Swift and University near North Park. In the small garden next to the gallery, there'll be a live projection of Marina Grize's work, tabling by Burn All Books, music performances (including D.Wrex), live silkscreen printing and art on display. You can drive up, hang on the sidewalk or in the garden (masks are required and distancing guidelines will be followed) and buy some indie art.

Details: Saturday from 5 - 9 p.m. 3888 Swift Ave, North Park/City Heights. Free.

Photo by Julia Dixon Evans

Alejandra Frank and Carmela Prudencio of Teros Gallery are pictured on Feb. 8, 2020.

Spooky Virtual SDMA+ San Diego Shakespeare Society

Literature, Theater, Visual arts

For a special installation of the San Diego Museum of Art's SDMA+ collaboration series, actors from the San Diego Shakespeare Society (regulars at the museum) will bring a Halloween performance right to your home. They're pairing art from the walls of the museum with the creepiest of fine literature and poetry — think "I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain" by Emily Dickinson (best title award for the week) paired with Nancy Lorenz's "Flying Apsaras." Plus, there'll be selections from Shakespeare's spookiest scenes, like the dagger scene and the "out, out, damn spot" scenes from "Macbeth," "Othello," ("and what's he then that says I play the villain?") and "The Tempest" ("Be not afeared!").

I'm often left wanting more with these quick, virtual SDMA+ offerings — as beautiful as they are. But this one looks packed to the gills to make it worth a dark-hearted tune in.

Details: Saturday at 6 p.m. Online. Free.

Night of the Living Art

Visual art, Style

Oceanside Museum of Art presents a virtual take on an off-the-wall couture night with a wearable art fashion show. The livestream is hosted by San Diego Fashion Week director Gwen Bates and Jan Arnold, cofounder of the locally based nail polish company CND — you may remember the exhibition OMA opened last October with CND called "Tiny Canvases: The Art of Nails." For this Halloween night pairing of style and art, you can vote for (and even bid on) your favorite wearable art pieces or submit a song request to the DJ for the after party.

Details: Saturday at 6 p.m. Online. $25.

Photo credit: Courtesy OMA

Oceanside Museum of Art's "Night of the Living Art" pairs couture with art in a virtual fashion show on Oct. 31, 2020.

Historias Tenebrosas Presents: 'The Displaced'


Amigos del REP, the San Diego REP-affiliated Latinx theater group, presents a virtual version of their annual "Historias Tenebrosas," or spooky stories offering. Each year they put together programming that showcases the differences and crossover with Halloween and Día De Los Muertos, and for the online performance, they'll do a reading of Isaac Gomez's new play, "The Displaced." Set in a post-gentrified Chicago neighborhood, it's a timely, dark, theatrical take on the classic "let's explore the attic in our new-old house" trope.

Details: Streams on demand Friday through Monday. Online. Donation-based.

Dead Man's Party Livestream


What good is Halloween without Oingo Boingo? Well, Dead Man's Party is a cover-band, but they're a good one, and the eight-piece band (with a three-piece horn section!) will take the Belly Up stage Saturday night to livestream right to your homebound Halloween celebrations. This is part of the Belly Up's ongoing "Virtual Tour" series, and proceeds support the venue and the artists who regularly share the stage.

Details: Saturday at 8 p.m. Online. $20 (or $99 for all 10 shows in the Virtual Tour series).

Spreckels Organ Pavilion Halloween Webcast


Tune in to the weekly Sunday afternoon organ webcast to catch San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez perform some spooky organ music, and I'm guessing there'll be a fog machine. These webcasts have been a nice constant during the pandemic. These performances are not live, and are recorded under a shroud of mystery (ooh, secrets are extra spooky!) to avoid crowds gathering to sneak a peek. More trivia: did you know that the Spreckels organ in Balboa Park is the world's largest outdoor musical instrument?

Details: Sunday at 2 p.m. Online. Free.

Photo credit: Courtesy Spreckels Organ Pavilion

San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez, will perform some spooky standards in a Halloween-themed webcast on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.

For more arts events, visit the KPBS/Arts calendar and be sure to sign up for the weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter. Plus, find more Halloween events in our special listing here.

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Julia Dixon Evans
Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

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