Nov. 27 2012 04:24 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

“Robert Falcon Scott’s Death” by Wes Bruce will be on view during the Polar Explorers exhibitions.

1. Bundle up with Bruce

Wes Bruce is an explorer. Whether he’s scavenging through abandoned homes for lost treasures, building whimsical fort-hideaways or navigating through the deeply personal letters he’s received for Structures, Poetry Humans, his current exhibit at Lux Art Institute (on view through Dec. 29), Bruce’s thoughtful projects are transporting and full of discovery.

In December, Bruce will take us places with a wintery lineup of events, including a two-part art show, Polar Explorers, and the Holiday Gift Market, which will include a screening of his feature film, A Film About a Fort. The movie, produced with Bryan Bangerter, documents Bruce’s fort installation at the California Center for the Arts in 2010.

Bruce’s latest curiosity is worlds apart from San Diego: life at the North and South poles. Polar Explorers takes a playful look at life in sub- zero temperatures, starting from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Coffee & Tea Collective (2911 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park).

Bruce’s ongoing fascination with physical structures and shelter comes up again in this illustration-based exhibit. If you go to, you can see his inspirations: photographs of indigenous people, early explorers and even “snow house design” essentials. A second phase of the show will happen a week later, from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at Bottlecraft (2161 India St. in Little Italy).

The Holiday Gift Market—more like an art-and- shopping party—will go down from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at The Cider Cellar (906 10th Ave., Downtown). Shoppers can peruse goods handcrafted by local artists, plus records and merch from musicians like Joel P West, A New Normal and Meg & Bryan. There’ll also be a hot-toddy bar and a Christmas choir performance starting at 7 p.m. The event is free before the 8 p.m. film screening, where there’ll be a $5 suggested donation. 

Aerosol attack

On Thursday, Nov. 29, graffiti artists, armed with their most dangerous weapon—spray paint—will compete head-to-head at Graffiti Battle on Park. Presented by the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s mixer group, “The A List,” the event will feature artists creating a single improvised piece at the Athenaeum’s School of the Arts Studio (4441 Park Blvd. in University Heights). Each artist will add a new layer, merging their ideas into one harmonious work of art. Spectators can also get in on the action by adding to a separate mural on the wall of the studio. Adding the urban soundtrack to the night will be hip-hop duo Brother Nature. Groove to the beats, have some drinks and watch art come alive at 7 p.m. $12.

3 Cool beans

Parents at McKinley Elementary School hit on a good thing when they dreamed up the SoNo Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza in 2009: Invite local restaurants and homegrown chili champs to cook up their best stew and have folks purchase cool, hand-made bowls from the San Diego Ceramic Connection and then vote on their fave. Add in a beer garden, live music and top-notch vendors and you have a must-attend event. This year, the fest happens from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in its usual location at 32nd and Thorn streets. Who’ll take home the trophy? Will it be last year’s Best Overall Chili winner Smoking Goat? Will 2009 winner Rebecca’s or 2010 winner Ritual Tavern reclaim the title? Tip: Get there early because the best chili goes fast. 

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