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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: 'La Jolla Reading Room,' California Fibers, Roman de Salvo, Mara Kaye, All Peoples Celebration and immersive takes on old masters

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Courtesy of California Fibers / California Center for the Art Escondido
Gail Fraser's "Waft," made of hand twine, wax linen, sisal, hemp, wire and ceramics, is on view in "Surface, Substance, Structure," Jan. 15 through Mar. 6, 2022.

This weekend in the arts: Bookish sound art at the Athenaeum, fiber art at CCAE, Roman de Salvo at Quint ONE, blues at Panama 66, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Michelangelo and Van Gogh get immersive.

California Fibers' Exhibit: Surface, Substance and Structure

Visual art

California Center for the Arts, Escondido just opened an exhibition of work by guild members from California Fibers, a southern California-based organization for fiber artists. The exhibition explores materials, and the ways in which material choices and availability dictate or shape creative choices or artistic ideas. Think: pine needles woven into a shoe set atop casters, conceptual knitting art, embroidered collage and plenty of sculptural installations. Participating artists include Gail Frasier, Aneesa Shami, Peggy Wiedemann, Charlotte Bird, Kathy Nida, Ben Cuevas and many more.

Details: Opens Saturday, Jan. 15 through Mar. 6. Museum hours are Wednesday 11-7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 11-5 a.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $0-12.

Matthew Hebert and Jared Stanley: 'La Jolla Reading Room'

Visual art

Reading rooms are so much more than just a place to look at text on a page. They're loaded with history, with other people, and with a great communal tradition of public availability of the written word.

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Courtesy of the Athenaeum Music & Art Library
An installation view of the "La Jolla Reading Room" exhibition, opening Friday, Jan. 14, 2020.

"La Jolla Reading Room," a sweetly named new exhibition at the Athenaeum Music and Art Library in La Jolla, is a collaboration between artist Matthew Hebert and writer Jared Stanley, but also with artists and community members they roped in to being part of the project. It's a series of large-scale sculptures (part reading desk, part maze) plus sound recordings. The recordings are stitched together from a variety of voices as they thumb through select books in the Athenaeum's vast library. Expect something curious and possibly a bit unsettling — at the very least, a bit noisier than your average library.

Details: Opens Friday, Jan. 14 with a reception from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., through Mar. 12. Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. Free.

Roman de Salvo: Electric Picnic Redux

Visual art

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Courtesy of the Timken Museum
Jean-Honoré Fragonard's "Blindman's Buff."

Influential public artist Roman de Salvo first designed and built this tree-like sculpture in the Timken Museum's main atrium, and it was inspired by an 18th century Jean Honoré Fragonard painting of a picnic party under a tree… and biology. When De Salvo selected the Rococo-era work, he was struck by what he referred to as the "bifurcation" — or dividing into branches — of the tree, and of Fragonard's practice.

De Salvo's tree is constructed primarily of garage door mechanisms and standard nuts and bolts, and is a stunning spin on the bucolic old painting.

More than two years later, the sculpture finds new meaning in an entirely different setting — swapping the Timken's history-drenched environment for the almost industrial nook in Quint ONE at Bread and Salt. Devoid of any visual reference to the Fragonard painting, there's somehow more agency to De Salvo's work.

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Julia Dixon Evans
Roman de Salvo's "Electric Picnic Redux" is shown installed at Quint ONE on Jan. 8, 2022.

Details: On view through Feb. 5. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11-4 p.m. Quint ONE (at Bread and Salt), 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. Free.

More visual art: Art Produce just opened an exhibition of Doug McMinimy's photography of Khamla Somphanh's choreography. Read my feature on "Dis/Re-member" here.

Mara Kaye at Panama 66

Music, Outdoors

Blues singer Mara Kaye takes over Panama 66 on Friday for a no-nonsense opportunity for some live music. Sit in the public sculpture garden or order a drink or dinner at Panama 66 and sit in the outdoor (heated) courtyard. San Diego Museum of Art's May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden is open until 9 p.m. on Fridays.

Details: Friday, Jan. 14, 6-8 p.m. Panama 66, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park. Free.

34th Annual All Peoples Celebration

Music, Virtual, Heritage/Cultural

Held in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Alliance San Diego's annual celebration is virtual (again) this year. In addition to a keynote speech from disability rights activist Rebecca Cokley and a look at the life and legacy of MLK Jr., musicians Tomás Doncker (from New York's True Groove) and Jada Holliday will perform, among others. Ticket sales end Sunday at 6 p.m.

Details: Monday, Jan. 17 from 10-11 a.m. Virtual, advance tickets required. $45.

Michaelangelo and Van Gogh go immersive

Visual art

It's a big weekend for travelling immersive installations based on the old masters! The famous — nay, notorious — Van Gogh "experience" opens Friday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Van Gogh's masterpieces in still and animated form are projected all around visitors, even on the floor and ceiling. Yes, there'll be influencers and branded merch, and yes, I still want to go.

Since seeing La Jolla Playhouse's production of "to the yellow house," which is a play by contemporary playwright Kimber Lee that explores two largely lost years of the painter's life, I've looked at Van Gogh's work in a new light. This event is extremely popular already; you may have to settle for a less-desirable time slot unless you plan way ahead.

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Courtesy of Paquin Entertainment Group
Visitors are surrounded by Van Gogh swirls at Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, in an undated photo.

Across town, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition has slightly extended its several-month run at Westfield Mission Valley (that's right, mall art). The immersive exhibition that purports to bring the iconic-yet-distant works of the Sistine Chapel within reach will now close Jan. 23. It's a life-size, up-close interpretation of Michelangelo.

Van Gogh: Friday, Jan. 14 through March 6. Wyland Center at Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. $36.99 and up.

Michelangelo: Thursday through Sunday, through Jan. 23. Westfield Mission Valley, 1640 Camino Del Rio N. $19.40 and up.

Be sure to check with event organizers before attending. For more arts events, visit the KPBS/Arts calendar here, and sign up for my weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter here.