Feb. 15 2012 10:53 AM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

Samantha Martin and the Amazing Acro-Cats
Feline fancy

You know that old idiom “It’s like herding cats”?

It’s an exaggeration. All it takes is a clicker and treats to have a house cat climbing ropes and riding skateboards, says Samantha Martin, trainer and costar of The Amazing Acro-Cats, a live-animal mini-circus coming to the Garfield Theatre, 4126 Executive Drive in La Jolla.

OK, Martin says, maybe her cats (all 13 of them) aren’t always easy to control, but their unpredictability is part of the magic.

“The hard part is having them work in different environments,” she says. “Cats can be very unprofessional. They’ll sit on the stage and just groom themselves in the spotlight. If I try to hurry them along, they’ll give me the look, Yeah, in a minute, and I have to just stand there and smile.”

On command, they’ll roll barrels and jump through hoops, but occasionally one will wander into the crowd for an impromptu meet-and-greet or worse. Once, a cat brought a giant cockroach on stage and batted it around. That’s why it’s important to limit distractions.

“They have a rider longer than most rock stars,” Martin says. “No balloons. Dogs can’t be in the field of vision. They don’t like clowns. They don’t like Santa Claus.”

The show also involves four rats, a groundhog and a chicken, which is a total pro. It plays tambourine in The Rock-Cats, an animal band that ends each show. And, no, the cats won’t try to eat it.

“The cats like their chicken cooked,” she says. “If anything, they’re intimidated by the chicken. It’ll fly at the keyboard player. It’s very bold.”

The show is $12 for children, $18 for adults. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16; 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb 19. 

Something’s a-brewin’

San Diego is widely known and celebrated as a beer town, thanks to the multitude of award-winning local breweries. See what the fuss is all about at Taste of San Diego Micro Brews, happening Saturday, Feb. 18, at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park. There you can sample beers from Stone Brewing Co., Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Port Brewing Company, AleSmith and Rock Bottom Brewery. There will be food from four eateries that pairs perfectly with the brewskis on tap, as well as an auction. A $65 VIP ticket gets you entry at 6 p.m., the chance to taste limited-edition and seasonal beers and unlimited samples throughout the night. Regular tickets are $39. For those ticket holders, the event starts at 7 p.m. and includes 10 tastings.

Asian-art fans rejoice 

The San Diego Museum of Art is known for its Asian art, and this week, two new traveling exhibitions will add to that reputation. On Saturday, Feb. 18, SDMA opens Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan and Dyeing Elegance: Asian modernism and the Art of Kuboku and Hisako Takaku. The former features an immersive digital recreation of the caves, which served as Buddhist pilgrimage sites filled with important sculptures until they were destroyed in the 20th century. The latter includes kimono and other textile paintings, which are on view outside Japan for the first time ever, by the father / daughter team, Kuboku and Hisako Takaku. From 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, the museum will celebrate the openings with its ongoing Culture & Cocktails event.

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email our events editor, Alex Zaragoza. You can also bug her on Twitter.