Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Revolutionary Movement right here, in San Diego

I was recently looking back at my journal, seeing that it was all the way back in 2007 that Sophia and I first visited the Golden Hill area of San Diego, thinking this could be the place we might relocate and become part of a brand new community of faith, hope and love called NieuCommunities San Diego. While I spent our first number of visits trying to envision what it might be like to live and work here (and quite honestly, struggling with that possibility), one thing stood out to me… the art.

It was on the sidewalks and streets. It popped up in unexpected places. Flyers and postcards advertising events and happenings adorned every coffeehouse. I began to see and hear about art events and happenings, often paired with music by local musicians. As a guy who's been intrigued with art as long as I can remember, this was particularly exciting for me. It felt fresh and vibrant, like something important and new was happening in this little corner of the world. Though Sophia and I really didn't know what this would mean—we'd never seen anything like this in the suburban sameness of Orange County—it excited us both, and we looked forward to this being part of our life here with NieuCommunities in San Diego.

Since moving to Golden Hill, we've had the opportunity to meet a lot of artists, befriend a number of them, help launch The Handmade Revolution with other local creatives, and start Make Good. What amazing opportunities we've had so far, for sure. As we've delved deeper into the culture of art here in San Diego, I'm just now beginning to realize the depth and breadth of the art scene, and it's growing impact on our city and the culture, thinking and influences around us.

And growing, it surely is.

Last week a lecture called the San Diego Arts and Culture Forum was held. It was a packed house, surprising a lot of people at the interest of the arts scene in San Diego. Conversations are taking place in and around the idea of art as an influential medium, and what that means to the people of San Diego. And a growing number of people seemed to be taking part of it.

Viva la Revolucion
This weekend, a new exhibition called Viva La Revolucion opens at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego. It's a gathering of some of the most influential international street artists in the world, including Shepard Fairey, Invaders and Banksy. These aren't mere taggers, but artists who believe art needs to be accessible (I happen to share that passion), and as a result they often bring their art to the street. More than art just for art's sake, many of these artists are leveraging their medium to further agendas of truth, justice and ideas. As urban populations around the world grow, the dialogue between art and the urban landscape intensifies. This exhibition is a reflection of that reality, and an important one at that.

Survey Select
This Friday, an exciting art exhibition begins (and runs thru Sept 15th), called Survey Select. Local San Diego curator Mark Murphy leads this effort, one in which he brings influential artists, films, writers and performers from all over the world to San Diego. The format follows the Art Salon era of the early 20th century, a time and method in which powerful new art movements were started in Europe. I'm particularly excited at the centralized theme around which this exhibition is built, that of "narrative art" and "storytelling." The fact that an art event of this magnitude in incubating here in San Diego is profound. Located at the old Wonderbread factory in East Village, this ought to be a great series of events to participate in.

Then in September, Entijuanarte happens in Tijuana. A few of us attended this surprising art and music event last Fall in Tijuana, and were blown away at the creativity that seemed to be occurring south of The Wall. This is also where we first met Tecui, who has since become part of Make Good. What amazed me most was the lack of San Diego participation. I think we were among the only non-Mexicans in attendance. It was both sad and exhilarating for me, as it felt like were had stumbled on a little-known gem in our backyard. I can't wait to attend again this Fall.

Believe it or not, this just scratches the surface of the art events happening here in San Diego. Ray At Night happens every Thursday night in North Park, The North Park Music Thing is coming up (featuring a hundred local music acts)… the list goes on and on.

All of this fuses into something greater than I'd ever hoped for when moving to San Diego. That art—in all it's permutations, cultures, languages, mediums and expressions—is being leveraged, experimented with, and grown in new and influential ways, right here in San Diego and Tijuana.

Why does this matter?

Because as we continue to pursue how best to engage in conversations with the world around us about the greatest truth and hope of all, others are already having deep and profound conversations in these new, influential mediums… mediums and conversations that don't occur inside the walls of a traditional, institutional church setting.

All of which stirs me to wonder… how can we become part of that? Whether you're an artist/musician or not, whether you know about art or know nothing, it's doesn't matter. You can still be part of this important cultural current that is happening right her in our city, right now. I know I will. I hope you'll join me.