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Panca's room-sized installation at Bread and Salt is part of the San Diego Art Prize exhibition, on view through Dec. 31, 2021.

5 works of art to see in San Diego in November

Notable artwork on view in town this month, featuring: Panca, Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley, Neil Kendricks, Ellis Duc Luu and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribal Community with Hans Baumann

Panca: SD Art Prize Installation

On view at Bread and Salt

San Diego Art Prize recipient Panca is known for her prolific, unapologetic use of vivid color. Which is partly why the Tijuana-based artist turned to black and white for a site-specific San Diego Art Prize installation, an entire room painted floor-to-ceiling with black lines, shapes, figures and symbols against a stark white background. I'm sure I'm not the only person in San Diego who has taken to calling it "The Panca Room," but Panca — otherwise known as Paola Villaseñor — calls it "the disorienting doodle room."


It's immersive not just in scope and scale. Past the initial rush (and past the initial Instagram), take a few minutes to get to know Panca's characters and get a little lost in their world. Don't miss the words "I'm ready" in script on the floor.

There is one unavoidable pop of color, though: a large sculpture made from what looks like a vintage ice cream shop trash can, but adorned with Panca's signature face: unsettling eyes and a gaping mouth. It echoes her ice cream mural on the outside of the building.

Details: On view through Dec. 31, 2021 at Bread and Salt, 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.

Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley: 'Variations on a Gold Theme'

On view permanently outside the Mingei International Museum

Courtesy of the Mingei International Museum
"Variations on a Gold Theme" by Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley, shown in an undated photo, is now on view outside the Mingei.

This work by influential husband and wife duo Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley was previously installed on the exterior wall of the Mingei's satellite location in Escondido, beginning when the Escondido space opened in 2003. Before that, it was originally installed in 1966 downtown, on the side of the old First National Bank building. When the building was remodelled in 1997, it was gifted to the Mingei, though they had nowhere to put it for some 16 years until the Escondido space opened. The Woolleys — longtime friends and contemporaries of the museum's founder Martha Longenecker — were known for their large scale architectural works as well as smaller pieces.

"Variations on a Gold Theme" is made of sculptural, tiled copper and enamel in earthy golds, oranges and turquoise, and spans 36 feet wide by 12 feet tall.

Detail of mural by Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley
Courtesy of the Mingei International Museum
Detail of Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley's "Variations on a Gold Theme."

Now on view for the public in the newly renovated Mingei in Balboa Park, the piece embodies the institution's commitment to bringing folk art directly to the eyeballs of the … folk. This work is viewable by passersby outside. It's also installed in the public courtyard, just off the public first floor of the museum, which is always free. Grab a coffee and lunch from the Mingei's new Craft Cafe or join me in anxiously awaiting ARTIFACT, the restaurant and bar that is slated to open for lunch beginning Nov. 16. Or BYO: half of the patio will be reserved for public, non-restaurant use.

RELATED: Art For (All) People: The Mingei Is Back

Details: On view outside 24/7 at the Mingei, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. The Mingei is open daily: Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the first floor and courtyard is free.

Neil Kendricks: 'The Great Migration of Letters'

On view at Oceanside Museum of Art through Feb. 20, 2022

Neil Kendricks' story, art and music installation, "The Great Migration of Letters" is part of his new exhibition, "Temple of Story," on view through Feb. 20, 2022 at Oceanside Museum of Art.

When I set foot in Neil Kendricks' new exhibition, "Temple of Story," the first word that came to mind was "monumental." During the pandemic, Kendricks wrote ten original short stories that he then illustrated and recorded, with music from composer and sound designer Mike Mare. Multiple drawings or sculptural installations accompany each story. "The Great Migration of Letters" is something of a centerpiece, and the insightful OMA docent suggested I start there. It follows the story of a bookseller, Ira, amid a storm and tsunami, with books literally swirling off the shelves to find readers themselves. This work includes vintage books, hymnals and encyclopedias pinned open, with Kendricks' ink drawings directly on the pages.

Detail of Neil Kendricks' "The Great Migration of Letters," on view through Feb. 20, 2022 at OMA.

Bring headphones, or you can request some from the museum. You may also request a printed version if you'd rather read the stories. Many of the stories are longer in length, so unless you arrive with intention and plenty of time, you may have a more realistic experience just selecting a few stories to listen to. The illustrations are gorgeous and evocative enough on their own, but who doesn't love a good storytime?

Details: On view through Feb. 20, 2022 at OMA, 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside. An artist reception will take place Nov. 20, 2021. Open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. $5-10.

Ellis Duc Luu: 'Chapter 3: Space Oddity'

On view at Thumbprint Gallery beginning Nov. 13 through Dec. 4

"Mình Sẽ Đi Về," is a forthcoming solo exhibition from San Diego artist Ellis Duc Luu, featuring new ink drawings based on the stories and events of Vietnam War refugees — plus the works serve as a letter of sorts from Luu to his family. The pieces are complicated, in process and aesthetics as well as in meaning. Luu is trying to encapsulate the grief and disruption caused by the Vietnam war into these works, as well as draw on what Luu believes are his own failures, in the French creative tradition of "le mal de vivre," or "the pain of living," which is an introspective exploration of self, flaws and purpose. Intricate details are layered within other intricate details, and white space is nearly nonexistent in Luu's work. Every corner of each 22 x 30" work is chock-full of lines, shapes, figures or swirls of ocean and storm.

Ellis Duc Luu
Ellis Duc Luu's "Chapter 3: Space Oddity" will be on view at Thumbprint Gallery Nov. 13, 2021 in the exhibition, "Mình Sẽ Đi Về."

One work, "Chapter 3: Space Oddity," features a swirling ocean backdrop, ink-black but dotted with delicate white dots that evoke constellations, but forming the shape of dozens of bodies, curled up in fetal position. A boat cuts through the water, or maybe the bodies, or maybe the stars.

Details: On view Nov. 13 through Dec. 4 at Thumbprint Gallery, 920 Kline St., La Jolla. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment. Opening reception is Nov. 13 from 5-10 p.m. Free.

Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribal Community / Hans Baumann: 'Position Vector Salton Sea'

Prototype and process works on view at ICA North through Nov. 14; to be installed at the Salton Sea permanently

Artist and "land art practitioner" Hans Baumann worked with dozens of youth from the Torres Martinez Cahuilla Desert Indian Tribal Community in an arts internship program. On view at ICA North is a prototype, a large, crude, circular cement-looking pit, built by hand by the youth and including barnacles mined from the Salton Sea. Ultimately, they'll perfect the process and deposit each object at intervals along the lakebed — each will be revealed over the decades as the Salton Sea rapidly recedes.

Hans Baumann / Courtesy of ICA San Diego
A rendering of "Position Vector Salton Sea" created in collaboration with Hans Baumann and the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribal Community, marks the rapid recession of the Salton Sea.

"Water reallocation and climate change have caused the Salton Sea to shrink dramatically. By 2030, nearly 1/3 of this 340 square mile body of water – the largest in California – will have disappeared," wrote Baumann in an artist statement.

As the waters recede, migratory bird habitats are being destroyed and hazardous residues from agriculture and chemical runoff turn into dust. Baumann said that the Cahuilla, who are the predominant residents in neighboring lands, are already seeing harsh respiratory and other health effects.

"The Salton Sea – also known as the ancient Lake Cahuilla – has been the homeland of the Cahuilla people since time immemorial, and the future of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians is inextricably linked to the future of the sea," Baumann wrote.

"Position Vector Salton Sea" is an exhibition by the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribal Community and land art practitioner Hans Baumann, on view through Nov. 14, 2021 at ICA North.

Surrounding the prototype at ICA North are a series of drawings from Cahuilla youth interpreting the Coachella Valley, plus startling maps, renderings and documentary video works by the youth.

Details: On view through Nov. 14 at ICA North, 1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas. Gallery hours: Thursdays through Sundays noon to 5 p.m. by appointment. Free.

Julia Dixon Evans writes the KPBS Arts newsletter, produces and edits the KPBS/Arts Calendar and works with the KPBS team to cover San Diego's diverse arts scene. Previously, Julia wrote the weekly Culture Report for Voice of San Diego and has reported on arts, culture, books, music, television, dining, the outdoors and more for The A.V. Club, Literary Hub and San Diego CityBeat. She studied literature at UCSD (where she was an oboist in the La Jolla Symphony), and is a published novelist and short fiction writer. She is the founder of Last Exit, a local reading series and literary journal, and she won the 2019 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Julia lives with her family in North Park and loves trail running, vegan tacos and live music.
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