Feb. 13 2013 01:26 PM

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

“El Musico” by Mario Chacon

1 The art of chorro!

La dama, el catrín and el borracho are characters well known among Latinos who’ve spent nights and holidays sitting around the dinner table with family and friends, putting raw beans on bingo-style cards emblazoned with the characters’ faces and yelling out “Chorro!” when they get four of them in a row.

These characters, beloved in Latino culture, and the memories they produce, serve as the inspiration for The HeART of Loteria, a group exhibition themed on Loteria, a Bingo-like board game played in Latin-American countries.

“I think it’s our pastime,” organizer Ruben Torres says. “It’s what we did as family time. It’s part of the glue that brought people together. We didn’t have laptops and smart phones or Netflix. Family night consisted of Loteria.”

Roughly 100 artists will show one to two pieces of Loteria art. Among them is 5-yearold painter Osmar Hernandez and famed Chicano Park muralist Mario Chacon, whose piece is pictured here. There’ll also be live painting and work on view from a wide array of artists, including Vallo Riberto, Surge and Shocker, who’s currently serving a life term in prison.

“We’re not discriminating in terms of the art,” Torres says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or a prison inmate. It’s about the art. I want to expose it.”

The atmosphere will be turned up a notch thanks to live sets from Cumbia Machin and Gavachillo, a side project of members of Ozomatli. There’ll also be people dressed as Loteria characters wandering around the space and a Mexican mercado selling handmade crafts, fresh fruits, aguas frescas and other food and drink.

The HeART of Loteria opens at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at Centro Cultural de la Raza (2004 Park Blvd. in Balboa Park). “Heart of Loteria” on Facebook.

2 Movies on wheels

The State Theatre was one of San Diego’s finest movie houses. It entertained many a moviegoer from the 1940s through the 1970s and later served the neighborhood’s Vietnamese community after being reopened as the Trieu Thanh Theater in 1980. The City Heights venue was demolished in 1987, but its legacy will live on through Drive-By Cinema, a project, headed by Pacific Arts Movement, that will be launched on Friday, Feb. 15. The organization has outfitted an old truck with equipment to show movies in public places, and from 5 to 7 p.m., it’ll stop at the site of the State (4712 El Cajon Blvd.) and play a film from the theater’s Asian period. There’ll also be free snacks and an after-party at Til-Two Club (4746 El Cajon Blvd.). drivebycinema.com

3 Cha-cha-cha

OK, Balboa Park’s Mingei International Museum has been featured in this space two weeks in a row. So what? It’s not our fault that they hold rad events. Last week, it was the opening of an exhibition of folk art by Bill Traylor. This week, it’s the launch of Mingle @ Mingei, a series of concerts by the chamber ensemble Camarada, which, on Sunday, Feb. 17, will perform the music of Argentinean composer Astor Piazzolla, known for creating nuevo tango—sort of a jazzier version of tango. Show up at 5 p.m. to see the museum’s current exhibitions, including Make Your Own Kind of Music, where Scott Paulson (Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra), will demonstrate the theremin. Camarada’s performance begins at 6 p.m. Admission is $30. mingei.org

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