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Arts & Culture

San Diego Weekend Arts Events: SDMA+, Swish Projects, 'Taxilandia' And 'From Ashes'

San Diego artist Amel Janae opens "Like Honey," a new solo exhibition at Swish Projects on Jan. 23, 2021.
Danielle Higgins and Kaidan Pascua
San Diego artist Amel Janae opens "Like Honey," a new solo exhibition at Swish Projects on Jan. 23, 2021.

Our weekend arts and culture picks include a new Digital WOW production, Amel Janae's solo exhibition, a group show at Thumbprint, and Icelandic contemporary music paired with Ana de Alvear's art.

Our weekend arts and culture picks include a new Digital WOW production, Amel Janae’s solo exhibition, a group show at Thumbprint, and Icelandic contemporary music paired with Ana de Alvear’s art.

It didn't escape me how intrinsic art was to the inauguration events. Let's start with the talented young poet Amanda Gorman, whose books, which won't be published until September, were quickly the numbers 1 and 2 bestsellers on Amazon. (But maybe preorder from your local indie instead.)

And I loved the internet nerding out over which paintings and statues Biden swapped out in the Oval Office, all the music from Gaga to bugles to "Rent." And yes, even the Bernie photoshops (speaking of fine art).

It's powerful to see art and performance be at the front of this ceremonial moment and the surrounding discourse, and to remember that this is how civilizations do ceremonies. No, of course art is not everything, but it's there, it runs deep, and so many of us were ready for it.

So ride that art and culture rush as long as you can, and here’s how to immerse yourself right here in San Diego this weekend. Check out Icelandic contemporary strings music paired with hyperrealistic drawing, Amel Janae at Swish Projects, a neighborhood-site-specific Digital WOW production and a group show at Thumbprint.

SDMA+ Art Of Elan: 'Identities'

Visual Art, Music

Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's work will be featured in the Art of Elan and SDMA+ pairing on Jan. 22, 2021.
Courtesy of Art of Elan
Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir's work will be featured in the Art of Elan and SDMA+ pairing on Jan. 22, 2021.

I love these pairings of artworks from San Diego Museum of Art and the performing arts, and this virtual event with Art of Elan is a chance to watch the different formats converse with each other. This particular event pairs Spanish multidisciplinary artist Ana de Alvear with musicians performing “Spectra” for violin, viola, and cello by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir.

Ana de Alvear was part of the Axline Lecture last fall, if you were lucky enough to catch that. She's based in Madrid, and her contemporary, photorealistic drawing works are equal parts finely crafted and absolutely unsettling. Thorvaldsdottir's composition is a gorgeous and haunting piece, contrasting tense, lilting sparseness with some lush patches that are much fuller than seems possible for just three instruments. The Art of Elan musicians are Andrew Hayhurst on cello, Travis Maril on viola and Kate Hatmaker on violin, and the short video was filmed safely on-site at the museum.

Details: Friday at 7 p.m. and streaming thereafter. Online via the SDMA YouTube channel. Free.

Amel Janae: 'Like Honey'

Visual Art

Amel Janae's installation, "Like Honey," opens at Swish Projects Jan. 23, 2021.
Danielle Higgins and Kaidan Pascua
Amel Janae's installation, "Like Honey," opens at Swish Projects Jan. 23, 2021.

San Diego emerging artist Amel Janae will open a solo exhibition at Swish Projects in North Park this Saturday. Janae's work is hyper-focused on the human body. She's known for her paintings on mirrors — delightfully pointed in terms of self-reflection — but this show is a departure from the mirror and glass format. "Like Honey" uses suspended, sheer fabrics to try another approach of introspection through immersion.

The exhibition is viewable by appointment during Swish Projects business hours — and to be honest, a solo viewing sounds just about right for this work. And they use an appointment system online, which makes everything easier. I imagine this will be worth peeking in from the sidewalk, too, if you're not ready for indoor viewings.

Details: Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. by appointment only, beginning Saturday Jan. 23 through Feb. 21. 2903 El Cajon Blvd., Unit 2, North Park. Free.

'Taxilandia' Salon: Joy Yvonne Jones

Theater, Photography, Storytelling

Playwright and actor Joy Yvonne Jones leads the "Taxilandia" salon series on Jan. 23, 2021.
Courtesy of the La Jolla Playhouse
Playwright and actor Joy Yvonne Jones leads the "Taxilandia" salon series on Jan. 23, 2021.

This salon is part of an offering in the La Jolla Playhouse Digital WOW series, modeled from a project by the Brooklyn-based Oye Group's Modesto Flako Jiminez. It's site-specific, and a "play-within-a-tour" of a city. The program is in three parts, and the first phase is the salon series with regional artists, and future phases will depend on being able to gather in person again. "Taxilandia" is immersive — as immersive as possible in our COVID reality — and strongly neighborhood based, digging into themes of gentrification and what it means to belong or claim a place. In the La Jolla Playhouse's production, you'll experience a neighborhood in San Diego through photography and a guided tour. First up is actor and playwright Joy Yvonne Jones, who will share the Carlsbad/Oceanside area with us on Saturday. (And don't miss Thursday Jan. 28's installment, featuring 2021 California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellowship recipient Khalil Bleux and his Southeast San Diego neighborhood.)

Details: Saturday at 1 p.m. Online. Free, but reservations are required.

More theater: The Old Globe's Powers New Voices Festival takes place Thursday through Sunday. You can read more about the works and the playwrights involved in the festival in our feature story here.

'From Ashes' Group Exhibition

Visual Art

Thumbprint Gallery has a knack for interesting and well-stocked group shows. "From Ashes," their latest, kicks off the new year with a focus on beginnings and restarts with a dash of the macabre. This exhibition features work from eight artists, and just based on some previews online I'm really curious to check out an oil diptych by Micah Mariah, work by Jessica Justus and Paolo Gasper's portraiture, to name a few. The La Jolla gallery is open for masks-required viewings on Saturday afternoons, or by appointment.

Details: Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment, now through Feb. 6. 920 Kline Street #104, La Jolla. Free.

More visual art: This is your last weekend to check out the Manny Farber painting, "From The Mid-Eighties" at Quint ONE. The installation closes Thursday, Jan. 28 as they prepare for a brand new Kim MacConnell work.

For more arts events, visit the KPBS/Arts calendar, or sign up for the weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter.