Arts & Culture Newsletter: At SDMA, an artist will use destruction to make a point about preservation

Good morning, and welcome to the U-T Arts & Culture Newsletter.

I’m David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all things essential in San Diego’s arts and culture this week.

On Saturday, San Diego photographer John Raymond Mireles’ photographs go on display at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. On Sept. 16 and 17, visitors will be invited to physically damage them in two “destruction events.”

Why? To make an important point about safeguarding what is precious.

An outdoors enthusiast as well as an artist, Mireles spent a week in southern Utah in 2019 photographing two sites — Escalante-Grand Staircase and Bear Ears — whose protective U.S. National Monument statuses were revoked during the Trump administration and as such were “opened up to exploitation,” Mireles said. “I had in my mind that I could use my art to say something.”

That was the genesis of what became “Disestablishment: John Raymond Mireles,” an exhibition at SDMA. Mireles’ images, printed with solvent ink on cellulose paper, will be on the museum wall for a little over a month, after which “they’ll come off the wall and people will be able to interact with them,” he said. Interact as in, if they choose to do so, damage them.

Mireles isn’t sure how patrons will respond Sept. 16 and 17, acknowledging that “People are very resistant to damaging the art even when they know the purpose. That raises the question: We’re so reluctant to damage a representation of the environment, then why are we OK with just sitting back and letting the actual landscape be destroyed?”

Whatever visitors do will be filmed, after which Mireles’ altered images will be reinstalled at the SDMA for further viewing and further discussion.

“That,” he said, “is the finished art.”

Classical music

Alisa Weilerstein

Alisa Weilerstein

(Courtesy photo by Marco Borggreve)

There will be a little something for everybody in the San Diego Symphony’s opening night concert tomorrow at the new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

Concert producer Vivian Scott Chew, about whose Carnegie Hall spectacular I wrote this past spring, hosts “The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park Opens: A Celebration with Rafael Payare and the San Diego Symphony.” Besides a symphony commission by Grammy-winning composer Mason Bates and guest artists such as cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, the concert repertoire taps classical music (Saint-Saens, for one), opera (including Mozart and Rossini), and orchestral ballet (Stravinsky’s “The Firebird Suite”).

Also on the program are George Gershwin’s timeless “Rhapsody in Blue,” his jazzy magnum opus over which I invariably become rhapsodic; and, from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s 1949 musical “South Pacific,” its most moving tune – “This Nearly Was Mine.” Gird your emotions for that one with this impassioned rendering by Brian Stokes Mitchell from 2006 at Carnegie Hall.

Read more about The Shell in this story by the Union-Tribune’s George Varga.


Andrew Polec, top, Tyler Hardwick and Storm Lever lead the cast of the musical "Hair" at The Old Globe this summer.

Andrew Polec, top, Tyler Hardwick and Storm Lever lead the cast of the musical “Hair” at The Old Globe this summer.

(Jim Cox Photography)

Is any year of the 1960s more iconic than ’68? I was just a Point Loma kid when my parents returned from a road trip to Hollywood where they’d seen this new musical called “Hair” at the Aquarius Theater (today the Earl Carroll Theatre). They wouldn’t tell me anything about it — not a single, solitary thing. You can bet that an industrious child like myself soon ferreted out, even pre-internet, that this show officially titled “Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” contained counterculture content and even brief nudity not intended for “innocent” eyes and ears like mine.

Of course I got to see “Hair” onstage in later years and witnessed what I’d been missing. By then I was pretty jaded about the excesses of hippiedom, but I came to really appreciate the music by Galt MacDermot and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado. To name-drop a few of the songs that I think still stand up today: “Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In),” “Easy to Be Hard,” “Good Morning Starshine” and the title tune, “Hair.”

On Aug. 10, the Old Globe begins previews of its staging of “Hair,” the theater’s first full in-person production since the 2020 onset of the pandemic. It’ll be on the Globe’s outdoor Lowell Davies Festival stage. I’m going sometime during its run (ending Sept. 26). Mom and Dad are gone now, but my curiosity has never left me.

Visual art

Shifting to something more family-friendly, Laguna Art Museum just up the I-5 from us is continuing to offer virtual programming with the kids in mind on its @Home website.

Art activities like face painting and creating a clown comic and writing a haiku are tied to exhibits at the museum. Recommendation: If you’ve been to this museum perched above the coastline, you may be interested in seeing and re-creating yourself existing “World Through Our Windows” paintings by Roger Kunz or Wayne Thiebaud.

Laguna Art Museum, at 307 Cliff Drive in Laguna Beach, is open for in-person visits, by the way.

Roots/blues music

The Flower Fields in Carlsbad is the setting for New Village Arts Theatre’s presentation tomorrow night of a concert by blues artist Rick Holmstrom and roots musician Nathan James. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $25-$30.


University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

“Family Health in Challenging Times”: The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting families around the world with unique challenges, and many have had to make significant changes to the daily patterns, arrangements and rhythms of their lives. In an era of multiple societal and environmental stressors, resilience and coping have been hot topics as families learn to adapt. In this series, we hear from researchers, educators and clinicians as they investigate, develop and deliver the knowledge base and tools to help our local and extended community build the resources they need to help our children and teenagers not only cope in challenging times, but thrive.

“’Carmina Burana’”: It began with a collection of nearly 1,000 early-13th-century songs discovered in Beuren, Germany in 1803. “Carmina Burana,” translated as “Songs of Beuren,” was first published in Germany in 1847, but it wasn’t until 1934 that German composer Carl Orff came across the texts. With the help of law student and Latin scholar Michael Hofmann, Orff chose 24 poems and set them to music in what he termed a “scenic cantata.” Originally conceived as a choreographed stage work, “Carmina Burana” was written by Orff between 1935 and 1936 for soloists, choruses and orchestra, becoming one of the most popular pieces of classical music.

“Rethinking the School Day”: As summer draws to a close, the start of the new school year is right around the corner. However, this year will look a lot different when students return to classrooms for full-time, in-person instruction. The questions on most parents’ minds: What will learning look like as schools continue to reopen? Will class schedules be back to normal? Will students be required to wear masks? Are students still going to be physically distant? Educators Morgan Appel, Gabriela Delgado and Lisa Johnson Davis take a deep dive into how education can and must shift to incorporate the lessons of the pandemic and effectively support students and staff.

And finally: Things to do this weekend in San Diego

A scene from "Top Gun" in which Iceman (Val Kilmer, left) confronts Maverick (Tom Cruise).

A scene from “Top Gun” in which Iceman (Val Kilmer, left) confronts Maverick (Tom Cruise).

(Paramount Pictures)

Here are San Diego’s top weekend events: Aug. 5 to 8.

Angelia S. Rico

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