Events: CityBeat's Cover Art, Robert Wilson, And Electronic Music
The work of a prominent video artist is on view at the Timken Museum, a festival of electronic music launches, and CityBeat shows their cover art.
Kinsee Morlan is the arts and entertainment editor at San Diego CityBeat.
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CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Cover art, video portraits, and an east meets west electronic music festival. We've got a fast, furious, and off the beaten track weekend preview for you today. I'd like to Zeus my guest, Kinsee Morlan is arts and entertainment editor at San Diego City beat. Kinsee, good morning.
MORLAN: Hey, it's great to be here as always.
CAVANAUGH: Now, our first item is not much of a stretch for you, Kinsee, because it's all about CityBeat. CityBeat is holding an art event tonight. Tell us about it.
MORLAN: Right. Well, we didn't do any of the leg working actually Alexander Salazar called us up, he runs a gallery downtown, and he said, hey, I want to show all of the artists who were on you 2010 covers. And we said, hey, sure, why not? And he kind of rounded them up, and I think even a few artists from 2009 and you know, other years have contacted him. So the show will be all San Diego artists, which I think will be cool, because we've been featuring local artists on our cover for a few years, but never have we done an exhibition. So this'll be a first.
CAVANAUGH: Now, what made you decide to do that? Do you know? That's really a sort of big editorial leap because it doesn't really have anything to do with what's inside the magazine right?
MORLAN: It often doesn't. We do covers that relate to stories every so often. But you know, it was a choice of wanting to support the local art scene, and wanting to have a beautiful cover. It's a very easy way to do both of those things in one fell swoop. We get to feature some of the best local artists, we try to be timely as well. So it's also a way to cover the scene. You know? So we try to run on the cover that relates to an art piece that you'll actually see out somewhere, you know, walking about in San Diego.
CAVANAUGH: How do you go about choosing them.
MORLAN: People e-mail us, we see something as we were walking by a gallery at North Park, we walk over, we see something, we contact the artist, we put it on our cover, but it's a collaborative process between the three of us there at CityBeat, and I welcome any artist out there to e-mail us at any time, just go to SD CityBeat.com, and you'll find our contact information there.
CAVANAUGH: And before we leave this event, it's taking place, as you said at the Alexander Salazar fine art auction house. What can you tell us about this gallery.
MORLAN: Well, this is the second gallery space by Alexander Salazar who worked up in La Jolla at a gallery for about a decade, and he has kind of hit the art scene with a storm, and that guy is doing one event or another every night of the week, you be, a Q&A with the artist, an art and design auction, a new show every other week. So he's got more energy than I do, that's for sure.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Well, the cover show, the CityBeat cover art show takes place at the Alexander Salazar fine art auction house on seventh avenue downtown tonight. We move to another art exhibit, this one featuring the video Art of Élan Robert Wilson, and it's at the Timken museum of art. Tell us, what is Robert Wilson.
MORLAN: Yeah, this is an exciting show. Robert Wilson is probably best known as a sort of a avant-garde experimental playwright and stage director, and he's actually most well known for a piece that we'll talk about when we get to the electronic music festival, Einstein on the beast, which he did the direction for, and Philip glass did the music. It's kind of an avant-garde opera of sorts. So anyway, he's an artist is really also a pioneer in the field of video art.
CAVANAUGH: And what is -- who is in these video pieces? Tell us about them.
MORLAN: Well, the two most recognizable characters are Robert downy junior and Winona Ryder. What he does is get famous actors and performance artists to pose in a way that's -- oftentimes it's a reference to a great piece of European art, so Robert Downy Jr., for one is -- he's the dead guy in Rembrandt's Anatomy Lesson of Doctor Tulp. And Winona Ryder is up to her neck in dirt, and it's a reference to Samuel Beckett's Happy Days character. So it's interesting, and just the effect of them, I was watching some bootleg copies on YouTube last night, you know, people filming a portrait that's being displayed at a gallery. And they hold so still, but you can see them blinking and breathing, and the effect it's just kind of creepy, but also beautiful, you know? They're a great work of art.
CAVANAUGH: Are they life size?
MORLAN: They're huge. I think they're gonna be on a -- gosh, 60? I don't know the size of the screens that they're gonna be on. But they're pretty big. And of course heap has a stage director, as an artist, he composes the shots and does the lighting, the color, the compensation, and they really do look like, you know, slightly moving, slightly alive fine art portraits.
CAVANAUGH: Right. Because I haven't seen them, from what I understand there, they're video of these people standing as still as they possibly can, every once in a while, they blink ask breathe, and you can see that, and it's basically on this loop, it's a assistant, almost virtually living presence there in this video portrait.
MORLAN: It is, there's something unsettling about it. But basically he directs them and tells them to stand there, make very few gestures and think of nothing. But of course we know when a camera is on anybody, especially famous actors, there's going to be some sort of performance involved. So they really get into character and yeah, you just gotta -- you gotta go see these. You can't really -- the bootleg version doesn't do them justice. So I'm excited that Timken is bringing it to town.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, and Timken is sort of a more of a traditional kind of museum. Why is it showing this work? Do we know.
MORLAN: You know, at first, I think everybody was like -- what is going on? But it's really not as big of a departure, I think, as we all initially thought because of the reference to the old European traditional -- European and American traditional art 678 so I really applaud the Timken for kind of going out on this limb and bringing us traditional art in a very contemporary and interesting way.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. So the Robert Wilson video art exhibit opens at the Timken museum of art tomorrow, and it runs through May 15th. Now, am I saying this right? NWEAMO?
MORLAN: Wow, you're good. You got it.
CAVANAUGH: There's an electronic music festival happening this weekend, and it's all about NWEAMO, and tell us about it.
MORLAN: It's the east meets west, NWEAMO and Tribeca music festival. That's the title of it, although it's a music festival that's gone on for 12 years. And it actually was started by a guy whose stomping grounds is a couple buildings over here on SDSU's campus, Joseph Waters. He's an electroacoustic composer. And so the whole idea of this festival is to bring electroacoustic music across the world. And it's definitely a type of music that doesn't have a huge fan base yet, but this festival is one of the biggest out there, and Joseph Waters is doing a really good job of breaking audiences into this somewhat experimental field of music.
CAVANAUGH: Now, is this - electronic music, is it performed all off a laptop?
MORLAN: Joseph Waters, the founder, his favorite instrument is the lap top. But it's also, you know, a mix of classical music. So you'll see violins, you'll see piano, and then main sitting next to the violinist on stage is a guy on his lap top creating these amazing sounds right on the stop. So they're actually live mixing and live -- you don't call it composing, they're composing live on the stage. So it's definitely a mix, there's a bell choir involved. There's a piece written for piano virtuoso and infomercial. And like I said earlier, there will be a 20-minute sampling of Einstein on the beach by Philip Glass.
CAVANAUGH: There's so much more to talk about this, but like I said, it was fast and furious today. East meets West, NWEAMO, and Tribeca new music festival. It takes places Friday through Saturday at Smith recital hall on the campus of SDSU. Kinsee, thank you.
MORLAN: That was fun.
CAVANAUGH: It was good.
MORLAN: Quick and painless.
CAVANAUGH: And if you'd like to comment, please go online look KPBS.org/These Days. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.