The arts carry a terrible burden. They are supposed to elevate our culture, to separate us from the beasts. Art moves the Guggenheim Foundations of the world to unburden themselves of money by the truckload so that elaborate palaces to human cleverness might be constructed. Art is serious business, charged with saving our souls in a corrupt world, which is why it’s not always very fun.
So, here are half a dozen suggestions for good, (mostly) clean fun in the arts world. Nothing too serious. Nothing too fancy. Nothing expensive. But, be assured, all very cool for one reason or another.
920 Kline Street #104, La Jolla
1475 University Avenue, Hillcrest
(No longer in business.)
330 A Street, Downtown San Diego
(No longer in business.)
Since the gallery doors opened in 2009, Thumbprint has been a force in the local art scene. Exhibitions showcase contemporary artists and the culture of quasisurreal visual art that has come to represent the 21st Century’s artistic voice for many people. With the additions of TPG2 and TPG3, Thumbprint has been able to host a constant rotation of group shows and exhibits of emerging artists who might otherwise not find gallery space for their work. It’s uncanny that Thumbprint has managed such success in the otherwise thankless modern-art world, but it’s absolutely to the collective benefit of San Diego’s artists, many of whom might never have been seen.
2650 Truxtun Road, Suite 202, Point Loma
I like to think that cavemen danced, and it was maybe the first form of artistic expression mastered by proto-humans. Technically speaking, the only requirement for dancing is basic motility. Real dancers take that basic maxim and embellish it many times over, putting meaning into movement. My appetite for dance isn’t huge, but Malashock makes a huge effort to bring contemporary dance outside the effete world of New Yorker columns, leading into a sphere where it can be relevant for less-than-rabid dance fans.
Adult Puppet Cabaret
There’s something about puppets that captivates even the most mature audience. Though the puppeteers may stay in plain sight, we are drawn to the artifice through some weird puppet magnetism. Maybe it’s because puppets are kind of creepy, or maybe it’s because we secretly believe they come to life when we’re not looking. Whatever the reason, the best way to catch one of Animal Cracker Conspiracy’s Adult Puppet Cabarets is to sign up for the mailer at animalcrackerconspiracy.com. Just remember to bring your finest appreciation for the truly out there!
8622 Kennel Way, La Jolla
San Diego Underwater Photographic Society
I don’t know what charms me more: the geekworthy citizen/scientist attitudes or the stunning marine close-ups taken at great expense, and not inconsiderable risk. This certainly is not flashy or hip, nor is it a party, but it bears huge social relevance to our tenuous modern relationship with the sea. Maybe, if more people saw the majesty that SDUPS members see in nature, we would live in a better, cleaner world. Meetings are every fourth Thursday, in the Sumner Auditorium at the Scripps Institute.
1878 Main Street, Barrio Logan
Established in hip and trendy North Park, Low just recently made the move to Barrio Logan, a neighborhood that has been everyone’s “up and coming” pick for the next hipster neighborhood a dozen years running, and which has steadfastly refused to oblige the soothsayers in that regard. So far, that hasn’t exactly happened, but the new digs give Low a grittier surrounding for the streetwise outsider artists who exhibit there. Tip: check the alley behind the Main Street buildings for the gallery itself, using Ryan Brothers Coffee as your go-to landmark.
2196 Logan Avenue, Barrio Logan
La Bodega Gallery
Sitting around the corner from a fancy taco shop, this not-so-little gallery celebrated its two-year anniversary with a vinyl (record) art show. During those years, La Bodega has done a good job of representing the Chicano history of its chosen neighborhood, but also of not being 100% percent defined by that. What ties together such disparate exhibits as the Día de los Muertos skull art show and their “Dirty Filthy Show” (adults only!)? For my money, it’s a mix of edginess and playfulness; a sense of serious subjects not being taken too seriously.