Art in the Park
Every first Thursday, the dimly lit back room of this North Park's Bluefoot Bar and Lounge transforms into a bustling dance party complete with live art, DJs, and live-beat musicians.
Having celebrated its one-year anniversary in May, Art in the Park feels more like an underground warehouse party than a wine-and-cheese opening. Local and trans-border artists scrawl on cuts of cardboard, etch wood pieces, fasten leather, and paint graffiti-esque portraits while 20- and 30-somethings flow around the room chatting with artists, bobbing their heads, and clinking glasses with friends. Add soul food and music from future sound selectors such as Mystery Cave, ill spectre, Abjo, Ele, and Sufficient Sounds, and you’ve got an interactive audio-visual experience unlike anything else in town.
3404 30th Street, North Park
The exceptional ambiance is no accident — curator Andre Power is a leading visionary behind the local live-art scene, with over 100 events under his belt. He’s also co-founder of bass-and-beat label Soulection.
“Live art gives the viewers a chance to experience the art and the artists in their essence,” Power says. “Viewers can interact with the artist in ways a lot of them have always wanted, asking questions like, ‘What inspired this?’ and ‘Why are you using that color?’”
Monthly installments generally feature 10–15 artists, 4 DJs, and the occasional special guest musician.
“Our goal is to give a lot of the local DJs — [ones] that don’t quite have the experience — a chance to play, because most of them have a great selection of music,” Power says. “Some of San Diego’s most creative, up-and-coming DJs and producers have stopped through and blessed the tables at Bluefoot for Art in the Park.”
Power also curates third Tuesdays at Bluefoot with Steez, a trunk show where local designers, craftsmen, artists, and musicians showcase their work and network with other vendors. Browse one-of-a-kind summer wear stitched by a designer down the street while sharing drinks with your friends.
“Art, music, and fashion go hand and hand, and have since the ’60s,” Power says. “A lot of people in the fashion industry...enjoy coming to live-art events and meeting the next best artist in the community, [hoping] to build a relationship that may lead to a collaboration.”
— Chad Deal
4610 Park Boulevard, University Heights
(No longer in business.)
Members of this workshop put on regular events, and all branches of the artistic community are represented: expect anything from puppetry to music to gallery openings. 3rd Space is a hybrid model of workshop, studio, and clubhouse, so the chance for collaboration among members is high. The resulting work can be an eclectic mix of artistic styles. Members curate and organize the shows, so there is no real “standard operating model.” Tickets to events usually cost about $10.
4673 30th Street, North Park
Drink & Draw
Steady your drawing hand every Sunday at 9:00 p.m. with $5 you-call-its. Sketch models — zombie, clown, grandma, glamour, burlesque, gay cowboy, ’80s, and space invaders. Hosted by the House of Pink Boombox’s Lilly Holiday (the Burlesk mistress behind spectacles such as the Seedy Soiree, the Monster Mash, Ninja versus Pirate, and Hungarian Carnival revues), sessions at the recently remodeled Normal Heights lounge include prizes and a chance to sell your artwork. The model fee is $5 if you’re drawing, free if you’re just there to drink.
3536 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights
(No longer in business.)
Despite its modest size, this self-described “creative hub” for the local art community has regular gallery openings on the first Saturday of the month. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for a show that starts at 8:00. ArtLab can fit about 65 people inside. Shows are free; donations gratefully accepted. Past events have included the “Assembly of Awesomeness,” a group show that featured 25 local artists. In addition to the openings, a blues band plays on Wednesday nights, a classical quartet on Friday nights.
1271 University Avenue, Hillcrest
(No longer in business.)
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School
On the third Saturday of every month (at the Ruby Room), costumed models pose while artists make portraits with one hand and hoist adult beverages with the other. The crowd evokes the cosplay and anime fans of Comic-Con; the artistry is mostly in the cartoon style those fans love. Sessions end with contests that ask artists to get creative: on a sexy-kitty-themed night, you might draw the models as actual cats. A $10 fee covers the models’ time; non-artists are welcome to hang out and enjoy the atmosphere. drsketchysandiego.com.
1450 El Prado, Balboa Park
Culture and Cocktails @Sdma
Culture and Cocktails at the San Diego Museum of Art is a great way to mix it up: here you’ll find a melting pot of young, attractive socialites looking to mingle. But this event isn’t only for art connoisseurs. Scattered throughout the museum are enough bars, DJs, and interactive exhibits to amuse anyone (airheads included). Admission is $15 a head for non-members and includes one drink. You can keep the party rolling with more drinks at the Prado next door. Ladies: bring a pair of flats for the walk from zoo parking. sdmart.org/programs-events/culture-cocktails
2812 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
At electronic-music nights at Kava, some of San Diego’s most forward-thinking visual artists project homemade effects and video loops all over the dance floor. CutMod, a video jockey, musician, and UCSD student, designed an iPad app to control his custom visuals wirelessly. Similarly, Wind Spirit creates unique controllers to manipulate hexagram-based projections. Beat alchemist Mystery Cave projects at monthly events, such as Doo Doo Roo, which also features live art by Andre Power (Art in the Park) and guests. Sam Lopez of the Stay Strange “outsider art and music” night likens their fliers to Raymond Pettibon’s work with Black Flag/SST.
Monaco Beer Club, Mexicali
About a two-hour drive east of San Diego, plus a $3 cab ride into Baja from the Calexico border, Bar Monaco is a popular spot for multimedia artists and punk/noise/electronic bands living in and passing through Mexicali. San Diego acts such as Batwings, Innerds, All Leather, Gonjasufi, Hot Nerds, and Retox are but a handful of the bands who’ve turned it up at this desert dive, alongside Mexicali staples Tron, Noise Beat Propaganda, X=R7, Therapist, Maniqui Lazer, and Hosana. Think Tower Bar meets Mos Eisley Cantina, with $2 (mostly imported) beer and monthly installations in the upstairs gallery. Look for upcoming installations from San Diego multi-art deviant, Mostrix on their Facebook page.
For the past two years, this auxiliary building at the New Vision Christian Fellowship in University Heights has been hosting strictly free shows and art exhibits (though donations are welcome, and 100 percent of door sales benefit artists and musicians). You can browse local works to the live soundtrack of anything from experimental dragcore tuba/vox duo Aquapuke, to Celtic-rock anthems by Lexington Field, to klezmer-punk jams by Di Nigunim. The venue is explicitly drug- and alcohol-free, so leave the flask and pipe at home. I know what you’re thinking, and, no, there won’t be a surprise sermon midshow.
Psychedelic art, live music, flamenco dance, postmodern photo exhibits, and wine — these are probably not the first articles of culture that come to mind when you think of Tijuana. But this inconspicuous alleyway between Third and Fourth streets (off lively Avenida Revolución) gives San Diego’s finest art walks a run for their money. The first Friday of every month, 18 storefronts-gone-studios come to life with installments by musicians, photographers, graphic designers, craftsmen, artists, and dancers. Among the artisans, you’ll also find T-shirt printers, bike and skate shops, and a cozy café.
325 15th Street, East Village
San Diego Space 4 Art
Occupying a 23,000- square-foot warehouse complex in the East Village, S4A has room for over 1000 guests, along with studio space for 30-plus artists, some of whom live on the premises. With all that content being generated, Space 4 Art offers two to three events every week. These range from cutting-edge dance fusion to kids’ puppet shows. The place is open to the public during the day, even when major events aren’t happening.
1863 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill
(No longer in business.)
Drawing Jams @Tin Can
Inspired by a similar event in San Francisco, Drawing Jams is hosted by the Double Break gallery adjacent to this popular Bankers Hill venue. For each installation, about ten mostly local artists create drawings in-house that are then pinned to the walls and offered for sale at what co-curator Matt Coors calls “reasonable prices.” It makes for a casual environment in which to mingle, have a beer, enjoy music curated by the venue, chat with artists, and find local art on the cheap. Tin Can recently obtained a liquor license, so you can sip a cocktail with a burger from the house kitchen, Doods Foods.
2236 Fern Street, South Park
The decor at this popular South Park venue is redone every third Thursday during Makeout Weird, when curators and experimental art/music power–duo Monsterpussy and Freak Sauce debut original video loops. Installations have seen everything from cheesy portraits found at Kobey’s Swap Meet by Gabe Serbian (the Locust, Le Butcherettes), never-before-seen pieces by Jason Lane (Crash Worship), and work by renowned street artist Acamonchi. The event’s two-year anniversary party in April saw the Whistle Stop transformed, with 3-D, real-time projections on four screens and genre-defying music pumped live through quadrophonic sound. Try a Weird Guero, the event’s token beverage — a Mexican White Russian, of sorts.
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