5 Works Of Art To See In San Diego In September

New works of art to catch this month in San Diego by Christina Kim, El Anatsui, Ivonne Garcia, Chitra Gopalakrishnan with The House of Resilience, and youth at MOPA.

Christina Kim: ‘liquid2solid’

On view at the Mingei International Museum beginning Sept. 3, 2021

I should probably just list the entirety of the Mingei’s architectural and design transformation as one of the works of art you should see this month. But it’s also hard to not acknowledge the subtle yet powerful hand the Korean-born textile artist and fashion designer Christina Kim has on the space. She has contributed other permanent installations to the design, but it’s her massive, airy, sheer curtain that I keep coming back to.

It’s placed upstairs, temporarily dividing the vast main gallery into two sections, and can be moved to several other configurations, too. This sort of usefulness of art objects and design elements is a fundamental part of the Mingei’s mission.

The curtain is hand-sewn from reclaimed scraps of a sheer tech fabric, in soft colors that nod to both ocean and land. The light passing through it is nothing short of magical.

Details: The Mingei is free to the public this weekend for their grand reopening celebration, Sept. 3-6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. After that, admission to the second-level galleries will be $14 for adults and $10 for seniors/military. Kids under 18 are free.

El Anatsui: ‘AG + BA (AR)’

On view at San Diego Botanic Garden Sept. 1, 2021 – Aug. 22, 2022.

“Seeing the Invisible” is an immersive, augmented reality exhibition running concurrently at 12 botanical gardens across the world, including San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas.

The exhibition features AR works of 13 different artists, like Ai Weiwei, Isaac Julien CBE (who also has a mural in town in the Murals of La Jolla project), Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Jakob Kudsk Steensen and more.

Ghana-born, Nigeria-based artist El Anatsui is presenting his first ever AR work, and it’s an adaptation of his signature sculptures. His works look almost liquid, thousands of vividly colored metallic found objects fused and stitched together into cascading sheets or draped tapestry.

Activated with a smartphone app while wandering the San Diego Botanic Garden, the artwork will appear in your phone’s camera almost like a flowing curtain, contrasting the natural environment of the garden with reused human trash. It also sways in the breeze. The app is GPS-based, so as you go from point to point, the works will present themselves. And yes, according to the FAQs, you can get in the picture with them for a selfie — if you enlist someone else to help.

Details: Exhibition information. Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas. $10-18.

Ivonne Garcia: ‘La Bella Donna’

On view at Thumbprint Gallery beginning Sept 11, 2021

Ivonne Garcia’s papercut works are stark, fantastical, evocative and something between spooky and reverential — not unlike a Shirley Jackson novel.

Her works often feature skulls, birds, serpents, botanicals, strange beasts and spiderwebs. And the contrast is lovely — almost all black and white, though there are sometimes splashes of color of shimmery metallics.

The Italian “la bella donna” translates to “beautiful woman,” but it is also a nod to the poisonous plant belladonna, or deadly nightshade. Historically used to dilate the pupils for beauty, eating the berries could also be fatal. In this work, Garcia surrounds an outstretched, sword-pierced wrist with intricate leaves, using textured ivory paper against a black background.

Details: Exhibition information. Garcia’s solo exhibition, “Encanto,” opens Sept. 11, 2021 and runs through the end of the month. The gallery is open Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and by appointment.

Chitra Gopalakrishnan: ‘We Are All Made Of Starstuff’

On view concurrently in the windows of You Belong Here and The HIll Street Country Club, Sept. 8-12, 2021

Part of the second annual San Diego Design Week, Chitra Gopalakrishnan has designed an AR exhibition that can safely be viewed from the sidewalk. Gopalakrishnan interviewed trans women from The House of Resilience, an organization that focuses on housing insecurity and equity for San Diego and Tijuana LGBTQ+ communities, particularly trans women.

Gopalakrishnan recorded the women as she asked them a series of questions — including “what would you tell your 10-year-old self?” A QR code posted in the gallery windows at both You Belong Here and The HIll Street Country Club will trigger an bright augmented reality animation to appear before a viewer, in an empty frame mounted in the window.

“I’m using AR to allow viewers to suspend their disbelief (literally as they look at animations that do not exist in front of them except via their mobile devices), but also metaphorically to suspend disbelief and accept that trans lives matter and are very real,” Gopalakrishnan explained over email.

Risograph posters will also be available as part of the installation. The exhibition is named after this first piece — a Carl Sagan quote, “We Are All Made Of Starstuff.” This piece has Paris DaSilva speaking.

Details: Event information. On view outside You Belong Here (3619 El Cajon Blvd., City Heights) and The Hill Street Country Club (530 S. Coast Hwy, Oceanside). Free.

Youth Of San Diego: ‘Darkest Nights, Brightest Stars’

On view at MOPA through Feb. 6, 2022

There are plenty of standout works of photography in MOPA’s current annual juried youth exhibition, but what struck me the most was the enormity of what modern youth are currently going through, and how profoundly well they were able to capture it in their art.

Students in grades K-12 in San Diego and Tijuana submitted their work to the contest on the themes of “growing up” and “space.” The themes somehow work in harmony in the selections, mostly photography and collage but there are a few video pieces.

The overall effect is almost transportive, seeing dozens upon dozens of works that zoom in on the darkness of isolation, or a society in upheaval, or of growing up — or somehow all of it at the same time. I felt a mixture of tangible nostalgia, pride for their talent but also sorrow for what they’re enduring. Well done/sorry, youth.

Details: Exhibition information. On view Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park. Donation-based.

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Julia Dixon Evans

Arts Calendar Editor and Producer

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI write the weekly KPBS Arts newsletter and edit and produce the KPBS Arts calendar. I am interested in getting San Diegans engaged with the diversity of art and culture made by the creative people who live here.

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