San Diego Weekend Arts Events: From 'Rhapsody in Blue,' To Grampadrew
Our weekend arts picks: City Ballet, Philipp Scholz Rittermann, Art of Elan in the sculpture garden, Alfredo Jaar, a dance film reflection on a year of closures and the acoustic rock of Grampadrew.
This weekend marks one year since California enacted the COVID-19 stay-at-home order — a milestone few of us imagined we'd observe whilst still unable to go out to the beloved shows and share art with our community and strangers alike. Thankfully, though, San Diego's arts offerings this weekend are top notch so we can focus on the creativity rather than just wallowing.
Maybe just a dash of wallowing.
City Ballet's current streaming program, "Rhapsody in Blue," is a powerful collection of works. There's four original pieces and two classical ballets. I tried to multitask and watch this production while also getting some work done (pandemic perk?) but a half hour into it I realized I hadn't written a word. The opening number, Gershwin's iconic "Rhapsody in Blue," is given an unexpected perspective with a stage full of ballet dancers. Layered with the fresh, jazz-tinged humor of the dancers, it's a can't-look-away formula. The world-premiere choreography by resident Geoff Gonzalez is high-octane and emotive.
The Gershwin piece leads directly into Tchaikovsky's "Black Swan Pas de Deux," based on the choreography of Marius Petipa. It's a duet between Odette and Prince Siegfried. And while, yes, the romance of the duet (and the fact that we've been through a drought of duets during social distancing) is lovely, the moody Odette solo steals the show. Another recognizable classical piece, Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," is followed by an excerpt from Debussy's "Suite Bergamasque," and Prokoviev's "Cinderella."
To finish is Ralph Vaughn Williams' transporting and rich "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis." It's interpreted by company choreographer Elizabeth Wistrich into a gorgeous four-dancer piece.
The program is really lovely, and a feast for those of us missing performances. And with the music curation — many works are almost instantly recognizable — it's highly accessible and a great way to introduce kids or other newbies to both ballet and music. Maybe it's because I'm always in the cheap seats, but I loved the closer look at the acting and facial expressions that a filmed performance like this can offer.
Details: Streams on demand through March 21. Digital rental lasts 48 hours after purchase. $29.
More dance: Read my feature on Disco Riot's "A Year of DisDANCE," here. It's a six-piece dance film about the last year of the pandemic, which screens Sunday at Cinema Under the Stars and online, on-demand, on Tuesday.
Check out Quint Gallery's new main space in La Jolla, just a block away from their Quint ONE gallery. The inaugural exhibition is a large-scale lightbox photography installation by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar titled "Walking On Water." Originally created in 1992, it depicts migrants crossing the border from Mexico across the Rio Grande. The subject is as relevant today as it was in the '90s. The size and scope of the multiple lightboxes invites and implicates the viewer into understanding their own culpability as well as how these stories are told, perceived and skewed. And while you're making appointments and planning a trip to La Jolla, try to hit up Quint ONE as well. On view through April 3 is a brand new diamond-shaped, hypnotic Gary Lang painting, created with the space in mind.
Details: On view through April 24 by appointment, Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 7655 Girard Avenue, La Jolla. Free.
Pre-pandemic, the self-proclaimed acoustic troubadour Grampadrew, AKA Drew Douglas, would often grace local venues with earnest and joy-filled alt-country performances, with a stage full of guest musicians. This Saturday, he'll bring his Flim Flam Revue to the Casbah stage and broadcast it over the venue's Twitch channel on Saturday. A show at the Casbah exactly a year ago was one of the first things I didn't attend due to COVID, so it may be an emotional tune-in moment for many of us.
Here's "Wishes" from the 2012 release, "Cut from the Cloth."
Details: Saturday at 8 p.m. Online via Twitch. Free.
The Lafayette will host the Peru-born, San Diego-based contemporary artist Philipp Scholz Ritterman and curator Kevin Miller to discuss Ritterman's works, which will be projected outside. It's part of the closing weekend of the Medium Festival of Photography.
It promises to be kind of meta: images of the Lafayette layered on other images, projected onto the Lafayette. It's a type of live, evolving collage, a site-specific and time-specific way of experiencing photography.
The event will also be streamed, but Medium's Scott B. Davis said that there'll be an upside to seeing it in person. "Part of the magic of it is that you're enlarging these pixels to — they're like an inch or something, they're very large because they're projected," Davis said. "So they'll be able to walk through this and witness pixels sliding off their faces and things."
Details: Saturday at 7 p.m. Livestream (free) or in-person at the Lafayette ($10 for students, $20 general), 2223 El Cajon Blvd., North Park.
Okay, Tuesday is really pushing the idea of the weekend, but time is meaningless and this Tuesday, March 16, will be the exact one-year anniversary of California's first official stay-at-home orders, so let's make an exception. Mark the milestone with a virtual livestream of Art of Elan musicians and collaborators in the San Diego Museum of Art sculpture garden. Surrounded by the sculptures, they'll feature works by contemporary composers Terry Riley, Jonathan Bailey Holland — his "Forged Sanctuaries" is really stunning — Hannah Lash and John Luther Adams, and musicians from Hausmann Quartet and the San Diego Symphony will perform.
Details: Tuesday at 7 p.m. Virtual. $0-10.