Saturday, December 19, 2020

Brighten Your Nights with Holiday Light Art

BOTANIC WONDERLAND, Quail Gardens Drive, photo courtesy SDGB

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt. Photos by Maurice Hewitt 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but it’s been hard for me to get my ho-ho-ho on this holiday season. So I really appreciate the folks who have been brightening our nights with their lighthearted Christmas displays. 

Here’s some of what my husband and I saw on an early-evening drive-by around our Encinitas neighborhood. There’s probably light art in your neighborhood too; just ask friends for recommendations or check online. This year, it’s best to stay in your car, taking in the sights slowly and safely, though we did notice a few families standing quietly on the sidewalk, admiring the artistry for awhile. If you plan to do that, wear a mask. And wherever you go for enlightenment, here’s wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season.

Village Run West & East, off Gardendale Road, Encinitas.

Plenty of inventive displays to be found on this circling street! Here are two of our favorites—a block apart—on Village Run. The Nativity scene is just part of a large-scale installation, and what you see as two different views of a House of Blue Lights is in fact a constantly changing program of colors, patterns and tempos, so you may have to hang out and wait for the Blues. For musical accompaniment, tune your car radio to 88.3.

Gitano Street, off Chapalita Drive, Encinitas.

There’s a grand show of light art and community spirit on Gitano, with strings of colored lights linking imaginatively decorated homes on both sides of the street. Look for the animated dragon, spreading his Christmas wings, and go on to even more lights as you round the corner onto Olmeda Street.


BOTANIC WONDERLAND, Quail Gardens Drive.

For a really special evening, combine nature and art on a De-Light-Full stroll through San Diego Botanic Garden. Advance reservations and masks are required, but once you’ve got your tickets and arrive in the Garden, you can stay until closing time. The month-long light-up started December 2, but you can still visit Wonderland from now through December 23 and 26-30, from 5–8:30 p.m. (SDBG is closed December 24 and 25.) Tickets are $7-$18, with reservations available at


 Photo by Rachel Cobb, Courtesy SDGB


Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has written about arts and lifestyle for the La Jolla Light and other local media for over a dozen years. You can reach her at 

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Kaori Fukuyama Light After Dark at Engage Gallery

 by Patricia Frischer

Kaori Fukuyama

Kaori Fukuyama Light After Dark at Engage Gallery: Walk through and panel discussion 

I was lucky enough to be part of the virtual walk through of Light After Dark with a video presentation about Kaori Fukuyama’s art and the building where the exhibition is housed.  There was a live guided tour where Melissa Walter remoting was able to ask the videographer to show us specific aspects of the exhibition during the walk through but there were 2 other tours with their own "puppeteers.". The panel discussion afterward was a more general discussion about the pandemic because the beginning question from Aaron Martlage from Border UX strategy, design, architecture and development agency, the presenter was, “What is your darkest moment in 2020 and how did that affect your process. The last question, “Where do you personally find the light?” The artists agreed on many of these observations.

Kaori Fukuyama –

  •         At the beginning of the pandemic lockdown there was a lovely feeling of freedom with less pressure and no deadlines.
  •         Kaori needs solitude to connect to herself. But then a feeling of the prolonged unknown future took over.  She was affected by the negative feelings from lots of hard luck stories she heard.
  •         Although she is working more, she is more aware of the need to make meaningful work.
  •         Looking at light itself, lights her up.

Melissa Walter -

  •         There are no distractions in isolation.
  •         She too, questions the role of art and wants to be able to concentrate on her role to promote anti-racism.
  •         Connection is a catalyst for ideas, and online talks and art tours have broadened her view.
  •         She is looking forward to developing a new language which focuses on the human experience.
  •         Birthing something out of nothing gives her great light and joy.  

 Bhavna Mehta –

  •         Not being close to those who need us is sobering.
  •         Art is a coping mechanism which is a privilege and a burden. On good days it is empowering, but there are lots of bad days.
  •        To figure out the future, one needs silence and time. James Baldwin said, “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions that have been hidden by the answers.”   
  •         We must take advantage of what we have experienced but move forward into the light.

 Katie Ruiz –

  •         There is lots of loss, from COVID but also from mental health issues as well.
  •         In her journals she is noticing how she has reacted to tough times and exploring how art can make others feel better.
  •         She was able to finished some long overdue projects, have time to grow, but short-term making masks made her feel useful.   
  •         She is lit up by how artists support artists and how much the public supported artist with commissions and purchases.

 Christian Garcia-Olivo – 

  •        Although the pandemic causes a huge loss of opportunities it was a reminder of how important art is.
  •         There is lots of negative energy but he uses his art to let out those emotions.
  •         The challenge is to come to terms with not knowing.
  •         One of his goals is to work with a larger community in the future.
  •         The moment of discovery is when the light is emitted.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Collectors during the Pandemic

by Patricia Frischer

In a set of interviews by Artsy: 19 Collectors on the Art They Bought in 2020 you can get a good cross section from around the world of how art collectors are reacting to the pandemic.

It was heartening to see that this group of collectors is either still collecting, collecting more, or collecting a bit less but investing directly to help artists.

Collectors are doing more virtual studio tours. They are looking outside of their geographical area. They are attending more art fairs as they can see them all instead of having to pick and choose which to attend physically.  They want personal connections.

Staying at home means they have time to look at, re-hang and access their own collections. This is therapeutic for them. They are researching more and filling gaps in their collections.  They are looking at how the artists are reacting to the pandemic…smaller and more introspective works are appreciated. 

As they are continuing to support large institutions, some are particularly supporting programs that support acquisitions by artist in order to help the artist survive. Inclusivity and diversity are terms that are used often when thinking about what donations to make. They are lending works for shows with those types of themes more and more. Some with big hearts and large properties are even opening studio space for artist or programs impacted by the pandemic.  

Friday, November 20, 2020

Carlos Martiel: The Shadow of the Color Line Residency at Lux Art Institute

 by Patricia Frischer

A naked man is sealed in a concrete box and a man and a women spend some time chipping away to make a hole so the man can slither out.

A naked man stands on some small raised protrusions with his legs shaking with the effort of balancing.

A naked man takes the place of one of the four legs of a table serving a large buffet of food.

Carlos Martiel is this naked black man and a Cuban performance artist who resides both in Havana and New York but is currently the resident artist at Lux Art Institute.  He puts himself in danger, not just briefly but over a period of time.

This is  very obviously a metaphor for the treatment of African American, but that does not make the immediacy of the experience he presents us any less potent. There is violence, abuse and alienation, born with a stoic almost impersonal demeanor. There is visible pride but with innocence that exudes a mystery.

You can see three of his performance art works which were linked on utube and find out more about him on his Carlos Martiel  Lux Art Institute page.

Carlos Martiel at Lux Art Institute
IN STUDIO: Sat, Nov 21, - Sat. Dec 19, 2020 through
ON EXHIBIT: Sat. Nov 21 – Sat. Jan 16, 2921

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

A Covid-Time Exhibition: How to View Art Without Leaving Your Car

 By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt. Photos by Maurice Hewitt. 

Wow! An outdoor art-show opening reception on Friday the 13th, just as we sank into the purple tier of social restrictions after newly-soaring Covid-test positives.  It took a combination of nerve and imagination for Mesa College’s Gallery Director/Fine Art Professor Alessandra Moctezuma to come up with an idea like that in times like these. 

An artist and curator herself, Moctezuma supervises the Museum Studies program at Mesa, which traditionally has the class present a gallery exhibition as its final project. But this year, with everything gone virtual, she decided that staging an outdoor drive-through exhibit would give students the same opportunity to develop their curatorial, promotional and installation skills. 

The exhibition was imagined as “a visual time capsule capturing the dramatic events of the last eight months—plague, social unrest and fires.” After posting a Call for Artists on social media, students chose 36 emerging and established artists whose works would be painted or printed on 3’x5’ banners and displayed on a fence along the perimeter of one of the college’s parking lots.

My photographer/husband Maurice and I attended the afternoon reception, which consisted of a masked student welcoming us with a printed catalog, complete with photos of the artworks and artist bios, and an even warmer welcome from Alessandra herself, a bit further along. Her smile shone through her mask as we sat in our Prius, waiting in the social-distanced lineup of cars, with the art just beyond.

“We’ve had so much virtual activity here, I really wanted to do this today, to greet visitors in person and chat with everyone, if only for a few minutes,” she said. “The event’s all outside and everyone’s in their cars, so we were allowed!”

Did she have any concerns about opening a show on Friday the 13th? “Not at all,” she said. “13 is my lucky number!  It’s my grandmother’s lucky number too!”

Over 150 cars showed up for the three-hour-long opening—not all at once, happily. We came around 2 p.m., the line of cars in front of us moved along at a comfortable pace, and we took our time viewing the banners. Here are some of our favorites, those we found particularly eye-catching, with selected quotes from the catalog.



These fanciful drawings are very different from what we usually see by this award-winning artist, who’s best known for her intricate paper-cutting and embroidery. The two figures are, she writes, “about perception and imagination…What do we see when there is chaos and despair in our world? I want to play with the ideas of relocating how we see.”


JUDITH PARENIO: The Place That Was

Referring to herself as “a sculptor who paints” and obviously influenced by Southwestern culture, the artist presents “a visual dialog about the earth’s frailty and beauty,” imagining ancient people returning to their abandoned pueblo and giving it new life by reviving their old ways.


GAIL SCHNEIDER: Hercules Beetle

A drawing from a children’s book the artist created for her grandkids to brighten up pandemic-time.



A still from a short animation that was part of a live projection on the side of a building in Little Italy during San Diego Design Week. “It is about hope for unity, with this fist bump as one of the gestures.”


SHEENA RAE DOWLING: The Answers Aren’t Down There: I Already Looked

and The Loneliest Place on Earth

A pair of striking pieces that are actually about the horror of addictions—alcohol and drugs—by an artist who has done extensive work with people in recovery.



“I feel the passage of time like an hour-glass these past months during Covid-19. Seems as if there are limits to how much each of us feel we can handle. This shape is my exploration of what it means to be human and particularly female.’’  A two-dimensional banner like all the others, this one seemed seriously textured;  I really wanted to reach out and touch it, but I was on the far side of our car!


MICHAEL CHAVEZ: Build Community

“This piece is to show how we can create community by cooperation on tasks that benefit us as a whole in the long run.” A fine poster for handling life in Covid-time—or any time.


Mesa Drive-In: November 13-December 9, 2020.

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed for Thanksgiving 11/23-11/27.

Parking Lot 1; enter through Mesa College Drive and follow directions. Stay in your car. Photos can be taken through the driver’s open window. San Diego Mesa College, 7250 Mesa College Dr., San Diego, CA 92111

Participating Artists: Kirsten Aaboe - Victor Angelo - Jenny Armer - Lucy Boyd-Wilson - John Calavitta -  Katie Carrion -Michael Chavez - Remi Dalton - Joseph DeLaunay - Sheena Rae Dowling - Christopher Ferreria - Katie Flores - Kirsten Francis - Sarah Frey - Sora Gallagher - Scott Gengelbach - Sofia Gonzalez - Janice Grinsell - Steve Harlow -Kathleen Kane-Murrell - Ginger Lou - Don Masse - Bhavna Mehta - Lourans Mikhail - Michelle Montjoy - John Oleinik –Judith Parenio - Johanna Poethig - Yvette Roman - Elizabeth Salaam - T. Jay Santa Ana - Gail Schneider –Andrew Sena - Jennifer Steffey – Christopher Tucker – Cindy Zimmerman

For more information, including a link to an Audio Tour of the exhibit, see


Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has written about arts and lifestyle for the La Jolla Light and other local media for over a dozen years. You can reach her at



Friday, November 13, 2020

Pages from the Book of the Unknown Explorer: A Performance Lecture by Installation Artist Judit Hersko

Judit Hersko's portrait of Anna Schwartz -  transparent silicone cast with sea butterflies.

Report by Patricia Frischer

Judit Hersko creates historical fiction. When you first experience her performance, you think you are listening to a factual commentary but it turns out that she has created and then inserted characters based on her mother and herself into her otherwise well-researched fact-based stories. She does this with a certain amount of glee and wonderful imagination. Her character Anna Schwartz is interested in the documentation of the sea angel and the sea butterfly, two pelagic snails that are the canaries in the coalmine when it comes to ocean acidification. The shell of the sea butterfly dissolves under acidity levels already present in some parts of the oceans and since the sea angel’s only food source is the sea butterfly they are both threatened. Decay and time are a big part of Hersko’s ephemeral pieces as she acknowledges that things change and pass. Threads of personal and collective memory run through the work. 

Jeanne Baret disguised as a man on an exploratory voyage around the earth, 1766-1769

Judit Hersko who depicts herself as Anna Schwartz's daughter

Hersko creates photographs, collages, and sculptures to support her narrative and she inserts these into existing materials. Finding magical connections in historical facts inspires her and she weaves further relationships by inserting her characters. She works in the intersection of art and science as well as fact and fiction.

Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott with his wife Kathleen Scott - 
Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour, NZ, 1910

Sculptor Kathleen Scott  working in her studio with her son Peter

Judit Hersko - Installation “400 Parts Per Million”

Hersko’s story focuses mainly on climate change science as well as important and undervalued women in the history of science and culture. One example is Ellen Browning Scripps who made her own money from journalism, never married and gave masses to charity in the San Diego region. Most of us, including Hersko, just assumed she had inherited or married into her money. There has always been a society of women who supported as well as practiced science and Hersko imagines her character Anna Schwartz interacting with those active in her era in both social and laboratory settings.

Collage format invented by women of the Victorian era.

Judit Hersko - collage “Anna Schwartz: Self-Portrait with Diatoms”


Judit Hersko working with light, transparency, time, performance

Judit Hersko - Installation “Pages from the Book of the Unknown Explorer”

Judit Hersko detail

Judit Hersko works in close collaboration with scientists. She says she has a miniaturist approach and likes to get close to her subjects. However, creating the narrative allows her to zoom out and provide a wider perspective. Does the art benefit the science?  Her art is inspired by the science and helps to convey the science. But collaboration between artists and scientists is a two-way street as the scientists can do better and different work by having a new perspective. Artists have a different way of looking at things and the scientists in her sphere are inspired by her. 

Judit Hersko is currently Chair of the Department of Art, Media, and Design at California State University San Marcos.

Note: Scripps Institution of Oceanography now has an art collection focused on art and science collaborations. Works from “The Weather on Steroids” exhibition on climate change (2017) are the first pieces in this collection.  Thanks to Margaret Leinen of Scripps Institute of Oceanography and Amy Adler Visual Arts UCSD for supporting this performance presentation. 

Watch the actual Performance Lecture by Installation Artist Judit Hersko 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Virtual First Friday at Liberty Station Arts District

 by Patricia Frischer

Virtual First Friday at  Liberty Station Arts District

I can recommend that you take a look at this virtual event that the NTC Foundation sponsored. Although long, don’t miss the last 45 minutes with the interview of Hugo Crosthwaite. They presented a cross section of just some of the events going on at the Liberty Station Arts District.  

Host Andrew Waltz with Hugo Crosthwaite discussed his creation of the Installations at the Station mural, Column A and Column B: An improvised mural narrative performance bases on the separation of child from their parents created in 16 days. He also showed his video. "Tzompantli",  a stop-motion animation video. Lael Corbin and Perry Vasquez joined into the discussion which extended to the problems women have in crossing the border. We are defined by the stories we tell ourselves.

Hugo Crosthwaite with Columns A and B

Lauren LeVieux Artist Studio "Fish Out of Water 2020" is an art work that only reveals itself if it is wet. Sprinkle some water on the concrete and see a set of fish designs.  

Leah from Milk Oolong Studio - Watch the magic of the pottery wheel and see porcelain teacups created and learn a bit about this new studio where you can learn to make pottery.

Patricia Martinez Canela Photography presents “I voted” a live photo session with stickers placed on the white tutu of a ballet dancer and red and blue gels.  

Anne Gaffey Art demonstrates a  mixed media heart motif small gift painting. You can do this at home or at her studio. 

Molly Puryear and Dan Malashock from Malashock Dance presents Community Conversations: Artistic Collaboration in collaboration with UCSD films. clips from a variety of exciting past programs featuring intersections of dance with visual artists, digital artists and musicians.

Malashock Dance

Leslie Pierce Studio Oil Painting Demo and inspiring Art Talk.