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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: 'Nomad Concerto,' Pinar Yoldas, AFROTURE and more

Detail of work by artist Pinar Yoldas, which will be on view at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) San Diego Feb. 24, 2024.
Pinar Yoldas
ICA San Diego
Detail of work by artist Pinar Yoldas, which will be on view at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) San Diego Feb. 24, 2024.

Top picks

A rendering of "Synaptic Sculptures" by Pinar Yoldas, which will be on view at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) San Diego beginning Feb. 24, 2024.
Pinar Yoldas
ICA San Diego
A rendering of "Synaptic Sculptures" by Pinar Yoldas, which will be on view at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) San Diego beginning Feb. 24, 2024.

Pinar Yoldas: 'Synaptic Sculpture' and C You Saturday

Visual art | Artist and UC San Diego professor Pinar Yoldas merges technology, design, neuroscience and the construction of new and imagined futures. The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) San Diego will open her first solo exhibition in the United States, "Synaptic Sculpture," which includes a mix of somewhat unsettling face-like sculptures and creatures, video works, AI works, installations that seem somewhere between futuristic apothecary and space age lab — and a photo bioreactor system that makes a plastic out of algae. The exhibit opening coincides with ICA's monthly C You Saturday public party, held at their Balboa Park space, which features an artist panel at 5 p.m. with Yoldas, curator Jordan Karney Chaim, Sylvia Cartwright, MD, and cofounder Suman Kanuganti. Kids can join in on the strange AI fun by creating a "Not Quite Right" collage.

Details: Event link. C You Saturday is 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. Exhibit on view Feb. 24 through June 23. ICA San Diego - Central, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. Free.


San Diego Symphony: 'Pines of Rome,' 'Bolero' and Bates' West Coast Premiere

Music, Classical | The San Diego Symphony will perform some absolute bangers in classical music, including Ravel's "Boléro" and Respighi's "Pines of Rome," which includes my favorite final few minutes of any classical piece.

California-based contemporary composer Mason Bates has been co-commissioned by the San Diego Symphony to create a work designed for his friend, violinist Gil Shaham. It's called "Nomad Concerto," which is both a solo concerto to show off the violin, and a tone poem, which are often vehicles for storytelling. This composition explores various wandering cultures.

Composer Mason Bates is shown in an undated photo.
Todd Rosenberg
San Diego Symphony
Composer Mason Bates is shown in an undated photo.

I spoke to Bates from his studio in Burlingame, and he said the work plays with Shaham's distinct style.

"He has this unique, old world sound — like it's a special sound that comes out of his violin," Bates said. "And I felt that having this concept of different kinds of nomads would allow him to explore that rich, old world sound in different ways."

For more arts events or to submit your own, visit the KPBS/Arts Calendar. If you want more time to plan, get the KPBS/Arts Newsletter in your inbox every Thursday to see event picks for the weeks ahead.

Bates has worked with the San Diego Symphony several times, notably including a commissioned piece that "christened" the Rady Shell when it opened in 2021 — his "Soundcheck in C Major," for orchestra and electronics — evoking something between an actual soundcheck, the movie theater THX sound effect and a resonant fanfare.


Bates' medium is music, but he's been a natural storyteller since he was a kid with a typewriter punching out short stories.

"I've always loved storytelling and that journey of: What happens? How is a story told? Who's telling it? It really fascinates me. And so even in a piece of music without any words, 'The Nomad Concerto,' you get a kind of a journey — from this old balloon seller wandering through a village to a traveling magician to the middle of the desert in Israel to, at the end, a Parisian jazz club," Bates said.

Details: Event link. 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. $25-$90.

Kristopher and Dina Apple: 'Labyrinth'

Dance | Musician Kristopher Apple and dancer Dina Apple perform together in a San Diego New Music presentation at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library. Kristopher and Dina Apple both often work at the intersection of dance, music and other practices. For this program, their work is an exploration of the labyrinth — a meditative, spiraling path believed to be transformative — through text, music and movement, featuring original compositions by Kristopher and choreography by Dina. Cellist Peter Ko, percussionist Nathan Hubbard, pianist Kyle Adam Blair and dancer Emily Aust will also perform.

Unrelated to the performance but a side perk: visual artist Peter Cochrane's exhibit, "The Magician Longs to See" will be on view before and after the concert.

Details: Event link. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23. Athenaeum Music and Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. $12-$30.

"Savoya and Her Good Genes" (2022) by photographer Joseph Patrick will be on view at "I See You: Beauty Through the Black Lens" at San Diego City College Feb. 24, 2024.
Joseph Patrick
"Savoya and Her Good Genes" (2022) by photographer Joseph Patrick will be on view at "I See You: Beauty Through the Black Lens" at San Diego City College Feb. 24, 2024, curated by Denali Jöel.

AFROTURE | 'I See You: Beauty Through The Black Lens'

Visual art, Photography | This day-long series of talks, workshops, film screenings and an art exhibition centers on Black lens-based artists, curated by Denali Jöel and San Diego City College's photography program. The exhibition, featuring works inspired by the expression "I see you," explores beauty and Black aesthetics, will be on view at City College's Luxe Gallery through Mar. 22.

Panelists and exhibiting photographers include Kelsey O. Daniels, Alanna Airitam, Dinah Poellnitz, Robin North, Keomi Rene, Angie Chandler, Rich Soublet, Neville Green and more.

Details: Event link. AFROTURE event is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. Exhibition opening begins at 3 p.m. San Diego City College Luxe Gallery, 5th Floor V-Building, 1081 16th St., downtown. Free.

Sound and Liberation: Black History Month Edition

Music | The Hill Street Country Club's experimental performance series will host a night of Black musicians, including Joy Guidry, Niecy Blues and Myles Ortiz-Green. The gallery space will serve as a listening lounge, with refreshments on sale.

Details: Event link. 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25. The Hill Street Country Club, 530 S. Coast Hwy, Oceanside. $0-$10.

'How I Learned To Drive'

Theater | Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company presents a production of playwright Paula Vogel's "How I Learned to Drive," which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize and was recently revived on Broadway. The protagonist is a young woman, nicknamed "Li'l Bit," and the story traces the sexually abusive relationship with her aunt's husband, her Uncle Peck, that began when Li'l Bit was an adolescent. Their surrounding family is achieved through the use of a Greek Chorus device as the plot and backstory unfolds — through Vogel's use of a non-linear narrative.

Details: Event link. On stage through Mar. 16. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tenth Avenue Arts Center, 930 Tenth Ave., downtown. $18-$40.

Live music picks

Thursday: Headphone, Coastal Wolves and DAVIS at Casbah (indie); Leonard Patton and Kamau Kenyatta at The Jazz Lounge (jazz); Gold Necklace at House of Blues (prog rock).

Friday: Songwriter Sanctuary at Normal Heights United Church (singer/songwriter); Husbands and Being Dead at Casbah (indie); Foilsick, Othiel, Mold Wine and more at Che Cafe (indie); Euphoria Brass Band at Seven Grand (New Orleans-style jazz).

Saturday: Big Business and Owl Be Damned at Casbah (metal); Deceits, Corbeau Hangs and more at Soda Bar (dark wave/alt); Magic City Hippies at Observatory (rock); Derv Gordon (of The Equals) with So What and The Loons at Kensington Club (rock); Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Belaganas at House of Blues (hip-hop).

Sunday: Mall Goth Nite - Memory Theater, TV-MA, Alice Knows Karate and Space Wizard in Space at Che Cafe (alt pop/dark wave); The Surfrajettes, The Tailspins and more at Casbah (instrumental/surf rock, jazz); Strawberry Fuzz, Niis, Slaughterhouse and Sands at Soda Bar (punk); Cory Wong and Monica Martin at Observatory (rock/jazz/funk).

More arts and culture weekend events

Kline Swonger: 'Everything Dissolves' Artist Reception | Visual art
Immersive, research-based sculptor Kline Swonger has a new solo exhibit at MiraCosta College's Kruglak Art Gallery, on view through Mar. 1. An artist reception will take place this Saturday for a rare weekend viewing opportunity, and additional gallery hours are 2:30-7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Event link. 12-2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. MiraCosta College, 1 Barnard Dr., Oceanside. Free.

Matt Rich: 'Painting As' | Visual art
San Diego's community college galleries and art programs seem to be a particular force in the art scene this week, and here's one more: Southwestern College Gallery, which was founded in 1961 by Bob Matheny and launched with an exhibition of work by John Baldessari. In that rich tradition, the current exhibit is from artist Matt Rich. The exhibition studies the possibilities of "painting," featuring canvases or pieces of canvas acting in sculptural, architectural and unexpected ways. On view through Mar. 5 with gallery hours 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and an opening reception this Saturday afternoon. Event link. Reception is 12-2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24. SWC Art Gallery, 88-101, 900 Otay Lakes Rd., Chula Vista. Free.

'The Many Loves of Don Juan' | Dance, Ballet
San Diego Ballet presents their production of "The Many Loves of Don Juan," featuring husband and wife dancers Stephanie Maiorano and Tona Gomez, following the story of the woman-obsessed Don Juan. Event link. 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25. The Conrad Prebys Performing Art Center, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. $18-$68.

SACRA/PROFANA: 'The Hope of Loving' | Music, Vocal
Chamber ensemble SACRA/PROFANA present a series of works inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, including Judie Batie's "Mary McLeod Bethune Suite," "Song of Hope" by Florence Price, Roland Carter's arrangement of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and Mark A. Miller's "I Choose Love." Event link. 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. Christ United Presbyterian Church, 3025 Fir St., South Park. $10-$35.