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.
Nowhere is the art of floral design more vividly on display than at Art Alive, the San Diego Museum of Art’s annual floral exhibition that marks its 40th anniversary tomorrow through Sunday in Balboa Park. As is tradition, some 85 designers will create floral works intended to be representative of paintings on exhibit in the museum. This year these interpretations can be viewed up close and personal in the SDMA galleries or virtually from your home.
Why has Art Alive endured? “You get to see the art in a new way,” said Sarah Grossman, the museum’s associate director of Special Events & Corporate Relations. Part of the appeal, she said, is “the unknown of what you’re going to see. But you just know it’s going to be beautiful.”
Two exhibitions open this Art Alive weekend: “Cranach to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation” and “Everything You See Could Be A Lie: Photorealistic Drawings by Ana de Alvear.” (Alvear hosted a fascinating virtual tour of her studio in Madrid in an SDMA presentation last October.)
The focal point of Art Alive onsite this weekend is the family-friendly Open Air Floral Affair, which includes a variety of hands-on activities as well as a marketplace. For those experiencing the art installations online, the virtual access allows visitors to see them in-depth and “from all angles,” according to Grossman.
Art Alive is usually a springtime event, and Grossman is hopeful that in 2022 it will return to its April time frame. After all, she said, “spring and florals go hand in hand.”
If, like me, you enjoyed the Old Globe Theatre’s 2019 musical production of “Almost Famous,” Cameron Crowe’s adaptation of his 2000 hit film, then you certainly remember Solea Pfeiffer’s performance as Penny Lane. (Union-Tribune theater critic James Hebert called Pfeiffer in his review “an arresting presence and wonderfully gifted singer.”
This weekend Pfeiffer returns to the Old Globe to star in the first of its three planned cabaret performances this summer. Pfeiffer will perform in the outdoor Festival Theatre on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.
These cabaret gigs under the stars are a way cool idea from the Globe. Following Pfeiffer in coming weeks will be Carmen Cusack (she of the Globe’s “Bright Star” in 2014) June 25-27 and Eden Espinosa (2016’s production of “Rain”) July 9-11.
Read more about each actress in this Q&A by the Union-Tribune’s Pam Kragen.
My favorite words of wisdom from Dr. Ruth Westheimer have nothing to do with sex. Well, maybe they do. Judge for yourself: “A lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained.” That quote, by the by, is in the script of Mark St. Germain’s “Becoming Dr. Ruth,” a one-woman show starring Tovah Feldshuh. North Coast Repertory Theatre’s streaming production, directed by David Ellenstein, is available for $35 through July 11.
St. Germain’s play is more about the remarkable pre-fame life story of Ruth Westheimer than it is about Dr. Ruth the pop-culture sex therapist, which is to its credit. As for Feldshuh, she must have been born to play the role. She becomes Dr. Ruth from the opening moments of the production.
Incidentally, a Tovah Feldshuh obscurity of interest: Way back in 1977, she had a memorable encounter with another therapist — Dr. Bob Hartley on “The Bob Newhart Show” sitcom. The episode was titled “The Heartbreak Kidd,” and Feldshuh played a young protégé of shrink Bob who he mistakenly believed was in love with him.
Read this review by the Union-Tribune’s Kragen.
In a little more than a month, on Aug. 1, MTV will celebrate its 40th year on the air. Does anybody still watch MTV? Is there anything on the network besides episodes of “Ridiculousness”? It seems like ancient history now, but when the music channel launched (with the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”), it revolutionized the music industry — at least for awhile.
Folks who were around at the dawn of MTV remember most the music of the 1980s that the channel featured its first decade. For all of them, there’s a place to go online to relive some of their favorite songs and ‘80s videos: It’s called The Great ‘80s.
The site features all things 1980s including pop culture, movies and TV, but the music section is the most fun, with a video menu that offers categories like “’80s #1 Hits Station” and “’80s Metal Hair Nation Station.” Hello, Poison, Whitesnake, Dokken and more.
The San Diego theater community is very much into the spirit of this weekend’s Juneteenth celebration. Here’s a roundup from the Union-Tribune’s Kragen.
The San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild’s 2021 Online Summer Exhibition opened online June 8 and continues through Aug. 8. The exhibition, which features 250 artworks by by 188 artists from all over the world, includes a colored pencil-and-paint piece titled “Ernest” by Tanmaya Bingham, who captured a first-place honor. All the pieces are for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the San Diego Museum of Art. See all the pieces here.
At the Mainly Mozart concerts last weekend, an exuberant crowd welcomed the return of live music, and this time, they showered musicians with applause, not honking horns. Read more in this review by Union-Tribune contributor Christian Hertzog.
For starters, the 13-song collection finds them putting an equally fresh spin on such pop and R&B hits as Tina Turner‘s “Simply the Best” and Macy Gray‘s “I Try” as they do on such jazz and Great American Songbook classics as Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Cole Porter’s “So in Love.”
“I picked songs that reflect our musical friendship,” said Karrant, who produced the album and worked closely on it with Los Angeles recording engineer Talley Sherwood.
“Shadows Fall” also offers a stirring version of jazz vocal great Abbey Lincoln’s intensely melancholic “Being Me,” but with a key twist. Karrant has changed the lyrics from past to present tense — the better to look ahead to the future, rather than back at the past.
But what is perhaps most unexpected and surprising about “Shadows Fall” is that it is the work of two accomplished musicians who, at first glance — and maybe second as well — may appear to come from two distinct musical realms.
Read more in this story by the Union-Tribune’s George Varga.
University of California Television (UCTV) is making a host of videos available on its website during this period of social distancing. Among them, with descriptions courtesy of UCTV (text written by UCTV staff):
“Women In Leadership 2021”: For 2021, UC San Diego’s annual Women in Leadership program presents a candid panel discussion honoring the legacy of Sally Ride, first American woman in space, and celebrating the 20th anniversary of Sally Ride Science. Panelists including feminist scholar and social justice advocate Brittney Cooper, astronaut and scientist Kathy Sullivan and news anchor and reporter Maria Hinojosa share with author and journalist Lynn Sherr their personal journeys, their hopes, and their visions for the future, and especially what it means to them to be leaders and inspire others. Topics include “anger as a superpower” and the need for new media perspectives.
“Combatting 911 Dispatcher Burnout”: 911 dispatchers often handle calls that are literally matters of life or death, so it’s not surprising that theirs is one of the most stressful jobs in the world, or that they suffer burnout at roughly twice the rate of other workers. Consequently, the profession is plagued by high turnover and recruiting difficulties. This is bad news not just for dispatchers, but for everyone needing their help and for city budgets. Researcher Elizabeth Linos at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy believes giving dispatchers a deeper sense of community is a simple but effective way to address burnout.
“COVID-19: Science and the Public Health”: The rapid development and distribution of effective COVID-19 vaccines is heartening, but public health experts warn against complacency. Though diminished in many areas, the pandemic continues to threaten community health, global economies, and political systems. Dr. George Rutherford, Salvatore Pablo Lucia professor and the head of the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Epidemiology at the School of Medicine at UC San Francisco, has been instrumental in the COVID-19 response at the local, national, and global level. Here, he weighs in on the most encouraging—and the most worrying—developments, and on what has surprised him about this pandemic.
And finally: Top weekend events
Juneteenth celebrations, live theater and lots of flowers is what you’ll find happening in San Diego from June 17 to 20, 2021. Check out our list here.