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Arts & Culture

San Diego weekend arts events: Photography, flowers, books and more

Attendees of a previous Medium Festival of Photography are shown in an undated photo.
Hilary Morefield
Medium Photo
Attendees of a previous Medium Festival of Photography are shown in an undated photo.

Top picks

Medium Festival of Photography

Medium Festival highlights:

Photography Pop-Up
6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
Marriott Courtyard, 2435 Jefferson St., Old Town. Free.

Open Portfolio Walk
6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25.
Marriott Courtyard, 2435 Jefferson St., Old Town. Free.

Keynote lecture with Cara Romero
7 p.m. Friday, April 26.
San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., downtown. $20 lecture/reception without festival pass.

'The Artist Speaks: Cara Romero' exhibition opens
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
MOPA @ SDMA, 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park

'Size Matters' Exhibition Reception
5-7 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
Athenaeum Art Center, 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. Free.

Mónica Arreola Exhibition
5-7 p.m. Saturday, April 27.
Best Practice, 1955 Julian Ave., Logan Heights. Free.

Bus Tour to Tijuana
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 28. $150 without festival pass.

Tickets, festival passes and more information available at

Visual art, Photography | The 12th annual Medium Festival of Photography kicks off this week, a locally based convening of photographers and photography lovers worldwide. With a keynote from Indigenous photographer Cara Romero, exhibitions, lectures, studio tours, a Tijuana bus tour, receptions, portfolio reviews, pop-up markets and more, it's a busy week with plenty to stumble upon, even if you don't have a festival pass.

The festival began in 2012 by an organization called Medium Photo, founded by Scott B. Davis.

"Medium started because I knew a lot of people working in fine art photography who didn't have a platform for their work, and I myself as a photographer learned the most in my career by hearing other artists speak about their work and by attending educational workshops. And those didn't exist in San Diego," Davis said. "I really want to see the community feel a shared love of photography. It's such a dynamic medium and it reaches people on so many different levels — as a storytelling tool, as a tool for creative expression, as a tool for abstract ideas."


Photography has transformed significantly since the festival originated. Smartphone camera use is not just more widespread, but the technology is much better today than in 2012. Davis has also noticed a resurgence of analog photography. In addition, artificial intelligence has begun to shape the landscape of photography — and a Medium Festival panel on copyright and AI will attempt to help attendees sort through it.

Festival passes are still available, but some of the events are free and open to the public, or — like Romero's keynote lecture on Friday evening at the Central Library — are ticketed separately at a lower-cost and don't require a festival pass.

Details: Event link. Thursday, April 25 through Sunday, April 28. Locations vary.

This spring, discover our picks for the best art and culture in San Diego, including visual art, theater, dance, music and literature — and even some picks for kids.

San Diego Book Crawl and Independent Bookstore Day

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.

Books, Poetry | Independent Bookstore Day is back, and with it, every local book lover's favorite tradition: San Diego Book Crawl. Here's how it works: visit and support as many of the 13 participating indie bookstores in San Diego as you'd like. Bonus perks may be yours if you make purchases at each shop. This year's author ambassador is Susan Lee, and a new addition to the crawl this year is a shuttle service, on Saturday. You can learn more in our interview with Book Crawl organizers here.


Details: Event link. Saturday, April 27 through Monday, April 29. Times and locations vary. Free (purchases required at stores to receive prizes).


A sculpture by John Oliver Lewis is shown in an undated photo.
Courtesy of Techne Art Center
A sculpture by John Oliver Lewis is shown in an undated photo.

Visual art | Named after the afterburner combustion mechanism on jet engines, this exhibit at Oceanside's Techne Art Center spotlights artists who push boundaries — with materials and form in art. Artists include Jon Elliott, Jack Henry, Robin Kang, Dave Kinsey, Jason Clay Lewis, John Oliver Lewis, Mônica Lóss, Jessica McCambly, Tim Murdoch, Sasha Koozel Reibstein and Allison Renshaw. Curated by Chuck Thomas. You can view samples of the works by some of the participating artists here. Notable are the intricate, charred-looking relief pieces by Dave Kinsey, the sculptural, textile works of Mônica Lóss, the curious and almost candy-like constructions of John Oliver Lewis and the minimal works on paper by Jessica McCambly — but there's so much to discover from the 11 artists.

Details: Event link. Opens with a reception from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. On view through July 20. Gallery hours are 1-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; and 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Techne Art Center, 1609 Ord Way, Oceanside. Free.

'Madama Butterfly'

Opera, Music, Theater | Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece opera, "Madama Butterfly" returns to the San Diego Opera stage — it was last produced in 2016. The story follows a young woman in Japan, Cio-Cio-San, known as "Butterfly," who meets an American officer, Pinkerton, falls in love and — so she thinks — marries him. He returns to his American family, while she is left to raise their son alone, awaiting his return. It's a tragic story, with a gorgeous and quintessential operatic score.

Details: Event link. 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown. $13-$340.

Art Alive

Visual art | San Diego Museum of Art's annual spring floral show will be on view this weekend. Floral designers are tasked with interpreting works of art in the museum, and those floral arrangements are displayed near the inspiring art. Don't miss the kid-friendly activities in the sculpture garden. And of course, there's the ever-dazzling rotunda display in the museum's two-story entrance lobby — designed this year by Meghaa Modi, Art Alive's first international selection for rotunda designer.

Details: Event link. 12-5 p.m. Friday, April 26, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 26-28. San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park. $40 for general admission, $5 for guests aged 7-17, or free for museum members.

Alejandra Dueñas' sculpture, "¿A dónde se van las lágrimas que nos guardamos?" is shown in an undated photo.
Courtesy of The Front Arte & Cultura
Alejandra Dueñas' sculpture, "¿A dónde se van las lágrimas que nos guardamos?" is shown in an undated photo.

Sidro Saturdays

Visual art, Music, Food, Theater | This special community arts event in San Ysidro is a great chance to check out the "Invisible Traditions" exhibition at The Front Arte y Cultura Gallery, curated by Katalina Silva and Arzu Ozkal. Plus, between The Front and the nearby El Salon space, you'll also find live theater performances, music and lots of food, including tacos from Los Pinches Birrieria.

Details: Event link. 12-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. The Front, 147 W San Ysidro Blvd., San Ysidro. Free.

Live music picks

* indicates a local act

Thursday: San Diego Music Awards Showcase: Blair Gun*, Swive*, The Psychlops* and Grampadrew* at Casbah (pop, rock, alternative, folk); Cathedral Bells, Foliage and Rew at Soda Bar (indie); Gone Gone Beyond, Lily Fangz and Jesus Gonzalez* at Music Box (folk/Americana, alternative/hip-hop); Eliza McLamb, Mini Trees and Tan Universe at House of Blues (indie); Kamaiyah at SOMA (rap); Neil Young & Crazy Horse at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre (rock)

Friday: LA LOM and Radio Malilla at Quartyard (cumbia); Tep No and Sunsets* at Soda Bar (dance/electronic); Guerilla Dragfare: Greenwitch, Lacerated, Agonista* (Tijuana), Angel Guts*, and Violuminescence* at Che Cafe (metal, hardcore/punk, indie); Johnny Dynamite & the Bloodsuckers at Casbah (rock); Songwriter Sanctuary: Lizzie Wann*, Calman Hart*, Bug Guts* and Missy Alcazar* at Normal Heights United Church (singer-songwriter); Bang Yongguk III at Observatory (rap/hip-hop/k-pop); The Gravities* and Jonny Tarr* at Civita Park (funk/blues, pop); The Brothers Burns*, San Diablo Allstars*, Bastard The Enemy* and Katie Ladubz* at Pour House Oceanside (hip-hop)

Saturday: Rufus Wainwright and Francis Blume* at Belly Up (indie/pop/folk); Choir Boy and Trit 95* at Lou Lou's Jungle Room (darkwave, goth); Surfer Girl, The Wide Eyed Kids* and Dune Blue at Casbah (reggae/rock); Peter Sprague plays Antonio Carlos Jobim at Dizzy's (jazz); Julia Wolf, Scro and Zach Palmer at Quartyard (pop, alternative)

Sunday: Nico Play and Aloe Vera* at Soda Bar (indie); A Beacon School at Casbah (pop/dreamwave); PinkPanthress at Observatory (pop); Tenille Townes and Henry Morris at House of Blues (country, indie); Quarters of Change at SOMA (alternative); The Grinnells at Books & Records (jazz).

More arts and culture events this weekend

Adams Avenue Unplugged
Live music, Festivals | Browse the schedule and lineup of bands that will take over bars, cafes, restaurants and performance spaces along Adams Avenue. Event link. 12 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, April 27. Adams Avenue, University Heights, Normal Heights and Kensington. Free (except headliner concert, which is $25). 

Little Italy Mission Fed ArtWalk
Visual art, Festivals | This annual art festival is the longest-running one in the region, and it celebrates its 40th year with more than 250 artists working in painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry and more. Learn about this year's featured artists here. Event link. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 28. India St. between Grape St. and Beech St., Little Italy. Free. Free MTS trolley passes while supplies last.

Sazón Live
Dance, Music | Centro Cultural de la Raza will host vibrant performances of Mexican dance along with live music. Event link. 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, April 27; and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 28. Centro Cultural de la Raza, 2004 Park Blvd., Balboa Park. $15-$90. 

'Tuck Everlasting'
Theater, Music | This weekend, Coronado Playhouse opens their production of "Tuck Everlasting," a musical adaptation of Natalie Babbitt's classic book. The story follows 11-year-old Winnie as she gets caught up with a mysterious, immortal family in the woods near her home. Event link. On stage April 26 through May 2. Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado. $27.

Twelfth Night Ensemble: 'The English Orpheus'
Music, Classical | San Diego Early Music Society presents the debut of a new ensemble featuring harpsichordist David Belkovski and violinist Rachell Ellen Wong. The group will perform works by Purcell and Handel. Event link. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27. St. James-by-the-Sea, 743 Prospect St., La Jolla. $10-$50.

'Duruflé Requiem'
Music, Classical, Choral | The San Diego Master Chorale will perform Maurice Duruflé's 1947 "Requiem" along with works by J. S. Bach, Mark Butler, Benjamin Britten, Felix Mendelssohn and Gerald Finzi. 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27 at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave., Banker's Hill; and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 28 at St. James-by-the-Sea, 743 Prospect St., La Jolla. $10-$35.