Arts & Culture Newsletter: Singer Jane Monheit is back

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.

Reared on Ella Fitzgerald records and Broadway showtunes, Jane Monheit invokes both on her soon-to-be-released (March 12) album “Come What May.” It’s Monheit’s affection for jazz and pop that have earned her fans of each. I’m one of them.

To be in the audience at a Jane Monheit gig is to connect with her inspirations just as she does and to hear her flair for phrasing and emotive highs and lows. I’ve only had the pleasure one time, and that was 12 years ago when Monheit performed at the bygone Anthology supper club in Little Italy.

Good news, though: Monheit’s back, and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido’s got her.

She’ll perform at the CCA Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The Center Theater there is a gorgeous venue, by the way, if you’ve never been inside.

As deft as Monheit is with the Great American Songbook, she’s a sublime interpreter of the compositions of Brazil’s Antonio Carlos Jobim. Her cover of his “Waters of March” is my favorite. The new “Come What May” album, her first in five years, includes a rendition of Jobim’s travel song “Samba Do Aviao,” often referred to as his “Song of the Jet.” Don’t be surprised if she sings it in Escondido.

Pop music

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Jenny Lewis’ indie band Rilo Kiley has been broken up for eight years now, but the singer-songwriter has carried on a career not only as a solo musical performer but as an actor (a craft she’s been involved in since childhood.).

A half-hour concert performance by Lewis is streamable for free on the ALL ARTS broadcast channel. She kicks it off with the Rilo Kiley gem “Silver Lining.” The show includes interview snippets with Lewis, who talks about how growing up in the San Fernando Valley influenced her songwriting. Hear about her brief flirtation with hip-hop and how she wrote her first real song at age 13.

Also streaming on this channel is a mini-documentary about Chuck Berry, who paved the way for rockers like Lewis and many, many others.


Jeffrey Wright and Robert Pattinson in “The Batman”

Jeffrey Wright as Lt. James Gordon and Robert Pattinson as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “The Batman,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

(Jonathan Olley / DC Comics)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been suffering from Bat-Fatigue for a long time. Do we really need yet another reboot of the Batman film franchise? Yet here we are. “The Batman” opens in theaters Friday, with a planned HBO Max release 45 days later.

This time around, it’s Robert (“Twilight”) Pattinson in the cape and cowl. If the trailer’s any indication, he’ll be grunting hoarsely and staring intently through those familiar eye holes like so many of his predecessors. Colin Farrell is the Penguin, Paul Dano portrays The Riddler in an interpretation that has to be darker than Jim Carrey’s in 1995’s “Batman Forever,” and Zoe Kravitz plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Sorry, Zoe, but no one will ever top Michelle Pfeiffer’s wacked-out Catwoman in 1992’s “Batman Returns.”

Maybe it’s that kind of fan conjecture that keeps these “Batman” movies alive. Who am I kidding? It’s money that keeps these “Batman” movies alive. That’s what DC Films and Warner Brothers are banking on.

Digital theater

What’s even darker than the “Batman” flicks? Witches.

One in particular, “The Witch of Edmonton,” is at the heart of a new digital production from the U.K.’s Creation Theatre Company. This digital theater production streams live online through March 20. Given the time difference between Britain and San Diego, available performances will usually be in the mid- to late afternoon PST.

The titular Edmonton is an area of London, not the city in Canada. As for the witch, she was an actual woman convicted of sorcery and hanged during King James I’s reign in 1621. This digital production is based on the Jacobean play by William Rowley, John Ford and Thomas Dekker.

Visual art

The Stargazing Tower at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Stargazing Tower is situated on the highest point in the garden at the southern end of the lake, at the Chinese Garden at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

(Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times)

A road trip is calling: to San Marino, near Pasadena, which is the home of the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. The gardens in particular are reason enough for the drive from San Diego. If you’re there on a sunny day, which is usually the case, the hours strolling the verdant grounds will fly by without you’re realizing it.

Though the gardens, library and art museum have reopened with safety requirements for visitors, the Huntington is maintaining its HMoA at Home programming. From your computer, you can access the museum’s permanent collection and its many works of American Impressionism.

Like many other major museums’ virtual sites, the Huntington’s also offers games and coloring activities for kids. Among the latter is an empty frame in which your child — or you — can color in your own “masterpiece.”


Writer Lizz Huerta poses for a photo at her childhood home in Chula Vista.

Writer Lizz Huerta poses for a photo at her childhood home in Chula Vista. Huerta’s young adult book, “The Lost Dreamer,” came out March 1.

(Kristian Carreon/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A decade in the making, San Diego writer Lizz Huerta’s novel “The Lost Dreamer” is a Mesoamerican fantasy that tackles family, colonization and representation. It comes out this week.

READ MORE IN THIS UNION-TRIBUNE INTERVIEW: For author Lizz Huerta, a “Dreamer” come true

More visual art

Jean Cornwell-Wheat with her artwork

Jean Cornwell-Wheat on her artwork: “It’s part of my life, it’s my life blood. I always used to think about what I would do if I lost the ability to work with my hands. Well, I’d paint with my teeth. And if I couldn’t do that, I’d find a way. It’s not about being famous. If I can make enough money to live, I’m happy.”

(Bill Wechter / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

When someone asks Jean Cornwell-Wheat what kind of art she does, she often replies with “name it.”

“I may be uncomfortable or insecure about a lot of things, but I’m not insecure about the work that I can put out,” says Cornwell-Wheat, sitting on a makeshift deck outside her home near the campus of San Pasqual Academy. “I really think I can do anything.”

Everything except, perhaps, marble.

“I went to see Michelangelo’s ‘Pietà’ and thought to myself, ‘I’m going to do that,’” Cornwell-Wheat says, referring to the iconic Renaissance sculpture of Mary cradling the body of Jesus. “I went to the library and got a book about carving marble and then I went to a mortuary and got a piece of marble. They just gave it to me. I took it home, set it up in the garage, hit that marble and I didn’t even scratch it.”

READ MORE OF THE U-T’S INTERVIEW WITH JEAN CORNWELL-WHEAT: Meet artist Jean Cornwell-Wheat: Art is “part of my life, it’s my life blood”


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:

“How Older Black Adults Experience Stress and Anxiety”: Most research studies don’t consider how different races perceive the stressfulness of stress exposure. This has led to a paradox among mental and physical health outcomes that show Whites report more instances of stress and depression, yet people of color have higher rates of stress-related illnesses such as hypertension. Indeed, racial/ethnic minorities have more disabilities, a greater number of chronic conditions, and age faster than other populations. Lauren Brown discusses the unique stress experience of older Black adults and explores how race-based discrimination, lower incomes and poor education impact long-term aging.

“Alexis Smith: ‘Snake Path’ & ‘Same Old Paradise’”: Anthony Graham from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego joins Stuart Collection’s Mary Beebe and Mathieu Gregoire to discuss the work of Los Angeles-based artist Alexis Smith. Smith’s collaboration with the Collection began in 1992 with her iconic “Snake Path,” and continues with her monumental mural “Same Old Paradise,” permanently installed at the North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood at UC San Diego. The trio of panelists offer insights into Smith’s themes and creative strategies.

“Microbiomes and Aging with Rob Knight”: Our lifespans are ever-increasing, but our health spans are not, leading to long periods of unpleasant and expensive suffering with chronic conditions. Many of these conditions have recently been linked to the microbiome. We are constantly shaping our microbiomes through the foods we eat, the environments we experience, and even the people who live with us. In this popular 2017 presentation, Rob Knight explores the unseen microbial world that exists literally right under our noses — and everywhere else on (and in) our bodies. He discusses the important influence the microbiome may have on the aging process and many end-of-life diseases.

And finally: Top weekend events

Ranunculus flowers at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

Ranunculus flowers at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

(Hayne Palmour IV/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, March 3 to Sunday, March 6.

Angelia S. Rico

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