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beck haberstroh
Above, undated photographs from artist beck haberstroh's "You took my impression without ever touching me" series. These will be on view at "Working Title" Jan. 5-7, 2023.

San Diego weekend arts events: 'Working Title,' 'Winterreise' and witches

Project [BLANK]: 'Working Title'

Visual Art, Performance Art, Music
"Working Title" first launched as a short-run art exhibition and performance event in March 2020, days before California's COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. It's finally back, taking place this weekend at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral near Balboa Park.

The space is the point: Leslie Leytham, Project [BLANK]'s cofounder, said that using a sacred building to host the art hearkens to the way European churches are intertwined with the art world, in a way that modern American churches are not.

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"The first time we did [Working Title], I had just come back from Italy," Leytham said. "I was just sort of overwhelmed by the casual antiquity. It's just everywhere you turn, it's in every sacred space."

One of the visual artists in the program, beck haberstroh, said that there's an inclination to exhibit art in "neutral" spaces like white box galleries, but that neutrality is presumptive.

"So there's something nice about being more front and center with the kind of associations of the space where you're showing the work," haberstroh said. "Putting work in a church brings in the conversations about the divine, belief, good and evil — like how history, storytelling and obviously the space of the church itself is like an architecture that is meant to organize people in a particular way."

haberstroh will show a continuation of a piece that they previously installed at the Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego / Central space in Balboa Park, "You took my impression without ever touching me." It was an interactive piece constructed of casts of the faces of their friends combined with AI and algorithm-generated faces.

The installation was interactive: the public, or performers during one special event, could stand against the work and create a form of shadow play against the hanging sculpture.

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beck haberstroh
Undated work by beck haberstroh is seen above. It will be on view at "Working Title," Jan 5-7, 2023.

For "Working Title," haberstroh has created photographs of the shadows — a fresh layer resulting in new renderings of the faces.

The visual art's juxtaposition with music and performances will potentially ignite an unexpected viewing experience — and add meaningful context, says haberstroh.

"I think it's really exciting to get to collaborate or show in the context of a lot of other kinds of work," haberstroh said. "I think part of the reason why it's exciting is these different media light up different sensory experiences. And so showing together, I feel like someone will come into a space like where I'm showing the work, which is like a quieter, darker space, and they might be more aware of the silence or of the darkness because they've just been seeing a work that involved a lot of light, like a video projection, or because they were just hearing music."

Plus, the cross-genre collaboration is also a key part of Project [BLANK]'s vision for the program.

"I think it's an easy trap for programmers or curators to fall into by staying in a single lane when the artist community doesn't reflect that," Leytham said. "The artists themselves — we all collaborate and want to collaborate all of the time on different pieces, so why not give it space?"

Other artists and performers include Allison O. Evans, Anna Chiaretta Lavatelli, Brian Black, Joe Yorty and Joe Cantrell, Jun!yi Min, musicians Lexi Pulido, Nellah Byrd, Peter Ko, Pruitt Igoe and many more.

Each of the three ticketed evenings will allow for viewing time for the installations, and then have a series of structured performances, though Leytham said browsing is welcome at all times.

Details: 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5 through Saturday, Jan. 7. Performances begin at 7 p.m. St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave., Hillcrest.

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A.H. Romero / Thumbprint Gallery
"Cowboy Killers" is a 5x4" oil painting on wood panel by A.H. Romero, on view at Thumbprint Gallery Jan. 6-28, 2023. Undated image.

'Arrested Motion'

Visual Art
"Arrested Motion" is the first exhibition of 2023 at Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla. The group show features the work of 20 artists, and takes its name from a quote by writer William Faulkner in a 1956 interview in the Paris Review: "The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life."

Artists include A.H. Romero, Ivonne Garcia, Thao Huynh French and more.

Details: Opens with a reception from 4-9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, and will be on view through Jan. 28. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays or by appointment. Thumbprint Gallery, 920 Kline Street #104, La Jolla. Free.

'Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations'

Theater, Music
Based on the memoir by the last remaining member of The Temptations, Otis Williams, this musical premiered at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in the Bay Area in 2017 before heading to Broadway in 2019.

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Emilio Madrid
The cast of Broadway's "Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations" are shown in a 2021 photo.

The musical is full of The Temptations' tunes interspersed with the story of the Motown band's genesis and rocky rise to fame, set against a backdrop of a changing world — including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination.

This touring cast is phenomenal, with standout performances from Harrell Holmes Jr. as Melvin "Blue" Franklin and Elijah Ahmad Lewis as David Ruffin.

Details: Remaining performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. $28-$144.

Witches' Tower: Reading and Performance

Music, Literature
Were you skimming this article to find the witchy stuff teased in the headline? The Witches' Tower is a small, mysterious structure at Presidio Park. It has a curious history, but more importantly, it's the (outdoor) site of a string of multi-genre performances curated by Matraca Tapes and Burn All Books this Saturday afternoon. Washington-based interdisciplinary artist Max Nordile will play a solo saxophone set, as will local Ryan Ebaugh. Other performances and literary readings will feature Nick Bernal, Max Turner Oestreicher, Reoh Dail Dirt and the Vesper Bridges Trio. Expect weirdness and genuine creativity.

Details: 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7. Witches' Tower, 2752 Presidio Dr., Presidio Park. Free/donation based.

Le Salon de Musiques: 'Winterreise'

Music
Le Salon de Musiques will host their first performance of the new year on Sunday afternoon at the La Jolla Woman's Club.

Founded in Los Angeles in 2010 by François Chouchan and transplanted to La Jolla in 2021, Le Salon de Musiques is a "stage-free" concert series. The intimacy of the space sets musicians and audiences on the same level, and pre- and post-show discussions and receptions allow guests, musicologists and performers to get to know the works.

They'll perform Franz Schubert's "Winterreise," an expansive, poetic song cycle for baritone voice (Matthew Worth) and piano (Chouchan) that spends much of its time in minor keys, with stories of wintry loneliness, heartbreak, despair and dreams.

Details: 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8. La Jolla Woman's Club, 7791 Draper Ave., La Jolla. $45 students, $95 general.

SoundON Festival: 'Spolia'

Music
San Diego New Music's annual festival of contemporary and experimental music returns to the Athenaeum Thursday, with three distinct performances through Saturday.

The festival is subtitled "Spolia" after a composition by Katherine Balch, which will be performed on Friday.

On Saturday, a set of solo works from Christopher Adler, Neda Nadim, John S. Pratt and Franklin Cox will be dedicated to the Athenaeum's recently retired director, Erika Torri. Another highlight on Saturday is a work by Japanese composer Yu Kuwabara, "Five Images-In Nomine" — though many of the other composers featured are local to Southern California and Arizona.

Details: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 5-7. Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. $30-$85 for the series, or $12-$30 for each performance.

For more Editor's Picks or to submit your own arts event, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar here. And be sure to sign up for my 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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