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A previous Project [BLANK] performance is shown in Bread and Salt's Brick Room in an undated photo.
Project [BLANK]
A previous Project [BLANK] performance is shown in Bread and Salt's Brick Room in an undated photo.

San Diego weekend arts events: 'Machine Music,' Shellie Zhang, 'Modern Women' and more

Project [BLANK]: 'Machine Music'

This weekend is the latest installment in Project [BLANK]'s Salty Series, named for the performance space at Bread and Salt. Saturday's performance is called "Machine Music," curated by Project [BLANK] tech supervisor, sound artist and musician Joe Cantrell. It features performances by four musicians in addition to Cantrell: Haydeé Jiménez, Xareni Lizarraga, Michelle Lou and Michael Trigilio.

Cantrell said the concert would feature some sort of machine or mechanical production as the main source of the sound.

"A lot of times with performances, you try to highlight the human in this sort of interaction, and here we're doing sort of the opposite. We're highlighting the machine," Cantrell said.

Courtesy of the artist
Composer Michelle Lou is shown in an undated photo.

Project [BLANK] is a performing arts organization that specializes in immersive and multidisciplinary music and opera. They're also carving out a much-needed home for experimental music in the region, performer and composer Michelle Lou said.

"It's a really important addition to the creative scene in San Diego," Lou said. "San Diego has always had really great indie bands and a pretty decent jazz scene, but, in terms of experimental music, it's always sort of been in a bubble on campus at UC San Diego, and they're trying to bring it out to the wider community of San Diego."

Lou studied as a classical and jazz double bass player and has a doctorate in composition. After her education, she turned to electronic music to fight creative blocks.

"Electronics came into play to expand what I could do with sound," Lou said. She has collaborated with acoustic musicians before, casting their sounds into an electronic landscape — and she has also worked solo, where her primary instrument is her laptop.

For Saturday's performance at Bread and Salt, Lou will use what she refers to as a "road map," a mixture of structured, planned use of sounds from her database and something of an empathetic improvisation, drawing on what she perceives from the audience, the space and the moment.


"When you think of music, or concerts, it's this kind of ritual practice, right? Everyone comes together, sits in silence, listens to the performer who's trying to create this moment that's really private. Each person brings to it their own ears, their own way of listening, their own history, and the performer does, as well. So it's very personal, but then it's also a very shared, public thing," Lou said.

Cantrell's performance will explore surprising sound objects and "technological trash," and he said that, as a whole, all five performances will serve to define what computer, electronic or machine music means to each composer.

This event takes place just as the Barrio Art Crawl festivities will be wrapping up. Bread and Salt will have extended gallery hours until 8 p.m., so check out exhibitions by Marisol Rendón, Francisco Eme, Kenneth Capps, Sibyl Rubottom and studio work by artist in residence Zachary Dobbins. The concert will be held in the Brick Room.

Details: 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Bread and Salt, 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. $10 (tickets sold at the door).

Shellie Zhang: 'What We Bring and Leave' / Good Faith Nite Market

Visual art
The Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego-North campus in Encinitas will open a new exhibition from Toronto-based, Beijing-born artist Shellie Zhang. Friday night, the museum will host an opening reception along with an installment of Good Faith's Nite Market for shopping.

Artist Shellie Zhang is shown in an undated photo.
Farihah Shah
Artist Shellie Zhang is shown in an undated photo.
Shellie Zhang's "$24.76" will be on view at ICA San Diego-North beginning Dec. 9, 2022.
Shellie Zhang
ICA San Diego
Shellie Zhang's "$24.76" will be on view at ICA San Diego-North beginning Dec. 9, 2022.

Zhang's work hones in on the transition between home and new spaces for displaced and diasporic people — the title, "What We Bring and Leave," reflecting what is brought and melded with a new space, and the imprint left on the spaces left behind. Zhang is particularly interested in the places to which immigrants are drawn, and what brings communities together.

The exhibition features two series: "Means of Exchange," which is photography of dollar-store objects presented in still-life form, and "Facades," a stunning set of light boxes that bring to mind bustling urban settings.

Zhang will be in residence at the museum for several upcoming weekends during the run of the exhibition: 3-5 p.m. on Dec. 17-18, Jan. 7-8 and Jan. 14, 2023.

Details: Reception is 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. ICA North, 1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas. Free.

'Modern Women'

Visual art
Now on view at San Diego Museum of Art is a new exhibition of 20 works of art by women that maps a broad and diverse snapshot of the history of women in the art world — part of a new and "indefinite" loan. Included in the exhibition are works by British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; American artists Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Cindy Sherman; French/Ukrainian artist Sonia Delaunay; Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, and many more.

Details: On view through November 2023. Museum hours this weekend are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park. $8-$20.

'Noel Noel'

Music, Theater, Storytelling
"Noel Noel" is a mixture of narrated and performed storytelling and holiday music. It's a new story and script this year — written by Mabelle Reynoso — so, if you've attended in the past, this will feel new. It's conducted by Christopher Dragon (Wyoming Symphony), and the San Diego Symphony, the San Diego Master Chorale and the San Diego Children's Choir will perform. The cast includes Jada Alston Owens, Kaia Bugler and Kelly Prendergast.

Details: 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 10; 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022. The Shell, 222 Marina Park Way, San Diego, downtown. $20-$95.

The New Pornographers

Influential Canadian indie band The New Pornographers have steadily released music since 2000's "Mass Romantic," and have remained a strong force in music even while seeing the astronomic (well, among indie folk circles) rise to fame of one of the group's vocalists, Neko Case.

The New Pornographers are shown on stage at The Observatory in North Park on Feb. 4, 2020.
Julia Dixon Evans
The New Pornographers are shown on stage at The Observatory in North Park on Feb. 4, 2020.

On their current tour, the band is performing two separate shows; the first night, Saturday, is a full-album run-through of "Mass Romantic," and the second, Sunday, is a run-through of 2005's "Twin Cinema." According to set lists posted online, the band then plays a long encore of other songs — but nothing from the album from the other night. Good luck trying to choose a night.

Details: Two performances, 9 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10 ("Mass Romantic"), and 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 ("Twin Cinema"). The Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. $45-$79.

San Diego Civic Youth Ballet: 'The Nutcracker'

Each holiday season, the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet performances of "The Nutcracker" are a mainstay in Balboa Park at the historic Casa del Prado Theater. If you are looking for a traditional performance of the Tchaikovsky ballet, it's a well-produced and affordable option.

Details: Performances this weekend are 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10, and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Additional performances are on Dec. 16-18. Casa del Prado Theater, 1800 El Prado, Balboa Park. $25.

More weekend arts events we're covering:

Check out Beth Accomando's preview of Diversionary Theatre's production of "The Mystery of Irma Vep." Opening night is Dec. 10.

For more arts events, or to submit your own, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar. You can sign up for the weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter here

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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