Whether you’re a pending Picasso or an underactualized E.E. Cummings, or only a dabbling fan of surreal cinema, song, and dance, the greater Cali-Baja region has something for you.
Come with me on a tour of a few locales that have tickled my artistic fancy this past year, and discover what they’ll have to offer in the year to come.
Red Poets Society at Kafe Sobaka
2469 Broadway, Golden Hill
(No longer in business.)
Red Poets are the saving grace for stage-frightened Comm 101 dropouts like me. The intimate group of lyricists covers everything from slam rants to beatnik boppers to iambic confessionals to Bukowskian world eulogies in a warm environment. Got a few lines you’ve been kicking around but nobody to share them with besides Facebook? Drop into this kitschy Eastern European eatery every second Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to sign up for a five-minute reading. Nosh on a plate of Sobaka’s veggie-friendly “peasant” fare, sip on an exotic selection of vodkas, and stretch those snapping fingers for an evening of no-holds-barred, pan-genre poetry.
2855 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park
Sleep Bedder Art Collective Sound Gathering at BLVD Market
I was immediately charmed by this half mattress showroom, half art gallery during a recent installment of BLVD Market, San Diego’s premier pop-up hot-food fair. Throughout the month, Sleep Bedder hosts workshops on topics including communication, acupuncture, macramé, bone broth, and yoga. But every third Friday, from 6 to 10 p.m., the shop becomes an impromptu venue with selectors such as Chill Pill, Astral Touch, Ghost Traps, Sleeve, Justin Conrad, and resident DJ OPR8. Meanwhile, recent art-showings have included works from IMD (of Dirty Drums duo Hezus), Lauren Howard, David Peña, and Porschia Talbot.
7426 Girard Avenue, La Jolla
Open Figure Drawing at My Art Shed
All skill levels are invited to take part in this figure-drawing class every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m. My Art Shed hosts a different model each week, both costumed and nude with props to accommodate different perspectives and techniques. The $15 course is uninstructed and materials are not provided (though they are available for purchase), but what I like most about this class is the potluck approach to hors d’oeuvres, as everyone is encouraged to bring their own dish, bottle of wine, or favorite beverages to share in the communal art space.
444 Fourth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
The Grand Black Orchid Burlesque at Horton Grand Theater
The historic Horton Grand is home to San Diego’s most outlandish monthly burlesque revue. Black Orchid is a dada-glam-noir extravaganza, where awesome meets avant-garde with a creepy underbelly of contortion, acrobatics, angle-grinders, suspension of body and belief, and stunning costumes embodying both the sensual and the surreal. I’ve seen many of the Black Orchids performing with affiliated troupe Pink BoomBox in the past, and I’m beyond impressed at how far they’ve taken costuming and set design on these larger-scale events. General admission, $32; VIP for $50 includes priority seating, a Black Orchid cocktail, and a meet-and-greet with the cast.
Cineclub at Mamut Brew Co.
Third Street between Revolución and Constitución, Centro, Tijuana
About three years ago, Mamut Brewery Co. was selling micro batches of bottled beer out of a tiny gallery in Pasaje Rodriguez. Today, they have three locations in Tijuana and recently added a mezcal bar to their downtown headquarters, complete with stage and video screen. Antonio Vega, proprietor of the cult cinema merchandise stall Cine Camisetas, takes over the projector every Monday with free cult classic screenings of icons such as Buñuel, Jodorowsky, Kubrick, and, in commemoration of a recently departed alien, The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring David Bowie. Artisanal beer to wash down art films. Salud!
3201 Thorn Street, North Park
Art Church at Expressive Arts
Every second and fourth Sunday, from 10 a.m. to noon, explore “Art as an Inner Journey” with Art Church. What I enjoy about this event is the open-ended use of the term “church” here, where participants are encouraged to work at a slow, meditative pace while still engaging in the presence of a group. Though the event is not a denominationally religious event, attendees can (and possibly inevitably will) incorporate elements of their own personal beliefs, using the artistic process as a means of facilitating a conversation with one’s self. Tithe is 20 bucks.
1450 El Prado, Balboa Park
Workshops at the San Diego Museum of Art
Art classes abound in San Diego’s cultural centers, but what makes the San Diego Museum of Art unique is that each of their workshops focuses on techniques and processes that can be seen in works from the museum’s permanent collection and special exhibits. Targeting an adult audience of learners (many events include a local-beer pairing), SDMA’s workshops are taught by artists, educators, and associated professionals throughout the year. Spring’s roster includes “The Art of East Asia,” “European Art,” and “Brueghel to Canaletto.” Classes cost $15–$50.