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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: Jezabeth Roca Gonzalez, 'The Kids Run This Place' and more

Courtesy of The Hill Street Country Club
The video installation "Isla Flotante/Floating Island" by Jezabeth Roca Gonzalez is shown in an undated photo.

Jezabeth Roca Gonzalez: 'Agridulce'

Visual art
The Hill Street Country Club will launch their first exhibition of the year with multidisciplinary artist Jezabeth Roca Gonzalez, who is based in Oceanside and is also currently in residence at the Hidrante art and project space in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

At the center of the exhibit will be Gonzalez's piece, "Isla Flotante/Floating Island," which features a multi-channel, dual screen video work that contrasts a nearly static video of their family with a dizzying, dynamic series of vignettes of nature, snippets of recorded speech and audio that stitches together a sort of speculative narrative. Additional works are soil prints, terrazzo tiles and other sculptures, honoring their family home in Puerto Rico and the available materials.

Courtesy of The Hill Street Country Club
"Untitled, Porton," is a 2022 carved terrazzo tile by Jezabeth Roca Gonzalez. The tile belonged to their aunt and family for 30 years; the artist rendered the design of a gate (porton) from their family's house across the tile.

Details: Opens with a public reception from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18; gallery doors open at 1 p.m. The exhibition will be on view through April 2, and is viewable by appointment from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The Hill Street Country Club, 530 South Coast Hwy, Oceanside. Free.

Swish Projects at NCM: 'The Kids Run This Place'

Visual art, Kids
This year's artist-in-residence at the New Children's Museum is Swish Projects, a creative studio based in San Diego and LA, helmed by John Itiola, Edwin Negado and Julian Klincewicz.

When visiting the New Children's Museum with museum leadership early in the process, Itiola said the idea was right in front of them.

Courtesy of Swish Projects
Swish Projects' John Itiola is shown installing "The Kids Run This Place" at the New Children's Museum in an undated photo.

"There were just kids everywhere, leading their parents around. It wasn't the other way around like you see in a grocery store, in the mall. It was like the kids were leading the adults and kind of dictating the pace," Itiola said. "I was just like, 'Man, the kids run this place.'"

They laughed, but knew it was their tag: The Kids Run This Place (TKRTP).

Gabrielle Wyrick is the museum's new chief curator and director of audience engagement, who tapped Swish for their ability to tell dynamic and playful stories.

"We wanted to bring on someone to help us document who we were as an organization, and to help us tell our story, about who the people were that made up our community, and what the portrait of the New Children's Museum in 2023 was, in all of its various and sundried ways," Wyrick said.

The residency manifests in a three-part exhibit space in the museum. The first is a large-scale photo and video collage portrait of the museum made by Swish Projects. There's a drop-in artmaking space for all museum visitors to contribute their own work to another, collective group portrait of the museum. They'll also showcase work made in a series of intensive workshops throughout the year, beginning with students from Zamorano Elementary school who made video works. Future classes for several other Title 1 schools will include zine making and poster design.

San Diego Unified's Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) department chose kids in grades four through six that have shown a particular interest in art and creativity.

Courtesy of NCM
Swish Projects kicked off their program, "The Kids Run This Place" at the New Children's Museum with a workshop in early February. The exhibit opens Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.

Swish's Edwin Negado remembers the first time he felt his artwork was taken seriously. As a grade schooler at Zamorano Elementary in Paradise Hills, his class displayed their art at the nearby McDonalds. Negado remembers how proud he was to show his family. He considers it the seed that would one day result in running a gallery and working in the arts.

"It was a really pivotal moment for me as a young person in Paradise Hills to see what art can look like outside just a classroom, like how creativity can live in a public space and how you could share your perspective or your story," Negado said.

Details: Opens Saturday, Feb. 18 with a special reception at 8:30 a.m. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Tuesdays. The New Children's Museum, 200 W. Island Ave., downtown. Regular full price admission $18-$20. Museum month details and digital tickets here.

Sacra/Profana: 'Beauty Reimagined'

Music, Classical/Choral
LA-based Filipino composer Saunder Choi's new work for choir and string quartet, "Verum Corpus," will be at the center of this one-night-only performance from local choral ensemble Sacra/Profana. This is the composition's west coast premiere. The piece is a setting for a powerful poem by Amir Rabiyah that was inspired by the Greek myth of Caenis. Caenis transformed, after trauma, from a woman to a man. For this choral setting, Choi braided traditional Christian liturgy into the text — the Ave Verum Corpus chant, which Choi described as a "reclamation of the trans narrative and a recontextualization of the words 'Hail, true body, whose pierced side flowed with water and blood.'"

Details: 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17. St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 743 Prospect St., La Jolla. $10-$35.

'Carnival of the Animals'

Music, Classical, Kids
The San Diego Symphony will perform a special family-friendly concert at Balboa Theatre.

"Carnival of the Animals" is a collection of classical music pieces specifically chosen for the kid-approachable way they're inspired by and sometimes imitate animals. Pieces include Haydn's "Bear" symphony, Leroy Anderson's "Waltzing Cats," and Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals."

The performance is guest conducted by Tristan Rais-Sherman, who is not only a conducting fellow at the Philadelphia Symphony, but is also active as a conductor on Twitch.

Details: Performances at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., downtown. $15-$40.

'Black Voices, Black Writers'

Literature, Theater, Black culture
The music and art department at First Lutheran Church of San Diego will present a series of staged readings of significant works of literature by Black writers, including Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin and more — including playwright Bil Wright, winner of the LAMBDA Literary Award, who will also perform in the cast. Actors Karole Foreman, Rhys Greene and Portia Gregory will also read alongside Wright.

Details: 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19. First Lutheran Church, 1420 Third Ave., downtown. $20 suggested donation.

Live Arts Fest


Pre-pandemic, San Diego Dance Theater's Live Arts Fest used to be a sprawling, nine-day extravaganza of emerging choreographers and new dance works. It's back, though condensed to four events and performances across one weekend. It kicks off Friday evening with a presentation from Marcella Torres-Sanchez, winner of the Young Choreographer's Showcase and Prize. Guest artists Lavina Rich and Holly Clark will also perform throughout the weekend, and the SDDT faculty and work study program will perform Sunday afternoon.

This photo features performers from San Diego Dance Theater's Live Arts Festival.
Manny Rotenberg
Performers from a previous San Diego Dance Theater's Live Arts Festival are shown in an undated photo.

Details: Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 17-19, with an additional 2:30 p.m. show Sunday. Light Box Theater, 2590 Truxtun Rd. #205, Liberty Station. $20-$30.

More weekend arts events we're covering:

"The Outsiders" begins previews at La Jolla Playhouse, 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19. Check out my interview with director Danya Taymor here.

"The High Table" opens at Diversionary Theatre with shows 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Check out my interview with director Niyi Coker Jr. and actor Andrea Agosto on KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday.

"Under A Baseball Sky" opens Thursday, Feb. 16 at The Old Globe. I spoke with Playwright José Cruz González and director James Vásquez on Midday Edition.

The San Diego International Jewish Film Festival kicks off its 33rd year, and KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando has a preview.