The new normal in the arts and culture scene in San Diego is an ever-evolving mix of formats and this weekend has it all.
Like many other parents, I was unwittingly thrust into the world of remote learning this spring. This arrangement — fresh again this month as back-to-school season took us nowhere near school — has shaken up the way I think of many things in this all-virtual culture, including digital arts offerings. (Or, maybe distance learning has used up most of my capacity for thought and I can only think in terms of distance learning now.)
I'm borrowing from this reality for one pandemic arts format: asynchronous art.
Asynchronous, which basically means "not happening at the same time," is a word I apply to arts events and programs we consume when we can, on our own time and most often alone.
Now we visit art galleries solo or in very small groups, by making appointments to get the whole place to ourselves (major silver lining). We can buy a ticket for a performance but actually cash in the link whenever we want, even if it's at 8 a.m. Film festivals are now like someone with incredible taste curated a streaming rental suggestion list, and instead of trying to cram 10 cinema viewings into one weekend, we can watch a movie while making lunch.
It's not the same as "the before times," but it's something.
There's still plenty of synchronous virtual and in-person art out there too if you need a deadline — you'll find a few picks below — but for now, amid the post-back-to-school doldrums, I'm thankful for everything asynchronous San Diego culture has to offer, with as few scheduled Zooms as possible.
Lux is reopening for free, reservation-based visits after a long six months closed. Two new artists-in-residence, visiting artist Cosmo Whyte and regional artist Beliz Iristay will take center stage in the gallery for the next few months.
Whyte is a cross-disciplinary artist who blends sculpture with sketching and archival photography, performance art and major installation works to interrogate his identity, body and the impact of migration and assimilation — he's an immigrant, born in Montego, Jamaica. There's a mundane element in his work: an object from a home, something everyday or kitschy obscured by repetition or the way it's linked with other elements in a piece. Whyte will be creating new works in residence throughout October, and his works will be on display now through Nov. 7.
While you're there for your COVID-chic gallery appointment, check out regional artist Beliz Iristay's ceramics and multidisciplinary works. Iristay, born in Turkey but currently splits her time between San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico, pulls techniques and materials from each of these regional influences, and in doing so, explores identity in the liminal spaces. Aesthetically, her pieces are striking, with a curious, narrative warmth. Iristay's work will be on display at Lux through Oct. 31.
Details: Reservation only, Thursday through Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. 1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas. Free.
There’s something especially cool about dance film. I love that it exists on a plane that somehow holds both the narrative of storytelling plus the freedom to lean on the abstract or eschew plot. The Rosin Box Project — in collaboration with local filmmakers, choreographers and dancers — have produced a new, original dance film festival which takes place over the next four weekends. For two of the weekends, you can buy individual screening passes for the selected film, but the other two, including this Friday's opening film, "The Long Goodbye," require a subscription to the season. It's worth checking out the trailers for each film to make the decision.
Details: "The Long Goodbye," by cinematographer Brandon Lazo and choreographer Bethany Green streams for 48 hours beginning Friday. Online. Season subscriptions start at $25 per month.
The Moxies are back on stage. They've staged a performance of "The Niceties" by Eleanor Burgess and will stream it beginning Saturday through Oct. 4. It stars San Diego native Deja Fields and Mouchette van Helsdingen and is directed by Moxie cofounder Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.
Burgess's 2018 play dwells in a meeting between a young, Black student, Zoe, and a white professor, Janine, to discuss a paper Zoe wrote on the American Revolution. I love the implication that a single setting — a single college paper — could unravel to fill a play, and it pulls race, feminism, ageism, politics and more into the arena. Each screening will be bookended by introductions and Q&As.
Moxie's ticket system is worth paying attention to as theaters adapt to changing funding models and audience willingness to spend on virtual shows. Regular tickets to access the online production are $35 per household. Or if you have the means, you can send a larger gift with a few quick clicks. A limited number of $15 tickets are available an hour prior to the performance. And if $15 is too steep, contact the box office 24 hours in advance to request a free ticket.
Details: Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m., plus more performances through Oct. 4. Online. $15-35.
More performing arts: Read my preview of the Hausmann Quartet's Haydn Voyages program which streams a new performance of the local quartet's beloved series aboard the Maritime Museum's ship, the Berkeley. Streams Sunday at 4 p.m.
The 27th anniversary Latino Film Festival was so close to taking place in March, but ultimately canceled everything, rescheduling it for the fall. Alas, in-person cinema festival screenings aren't quite ready yet, so the festival is reimagined for virtual viewing. The upside is that we can probably cram in a lot more films now that we don't have to commute and can maybe even multitask. All 120 offered for the festival? I dare you. You have ten days.
On my radar? "Radio Silence," which chronicles journalist Carmen Aristegui's quest for justice against misinformation and corruption after she was fired from the radio station, screens Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.
The 2020 feature-length documentary "Once Upon a Time in Venezuela," by filmmaker Anabel Rodriguez Rios, alongside screenwriters Ricardo Acosta and Marianela Maldonado runs Saturday at 4.
I love a shorts program! Saturday at 5:20 p.m. catch the "Hecho En USA" narrative shorts program, featuring eight bite-sized films, including "1,2,3, All Eyes On Me," about an elementary school art teacher who springs into action in a crisis.
Festival passes or 5-ticket packs are available, or you could also just buy individual screeners. This type of locally minded, expert curation puts our Netflix algorithms to shame.
Details: Runs now through Sept. 27. Online. $9-12 for individual films.
More film: The San Diego International Film Festival's drive-in series kicks off Friday at the Westfield UTC mall parking lot with Knives Out. Chase the 2019 clever "whodunit" mystery with a viewing of a different kind of clever on Saturday: Ferris Bueller's Day Off.