April 20 2015 06:09 PM

Our top picks of San Diego events this week

Ric Salinas in PLACAS

Themes of redemption, transformation and hope abound in Paul Flores’ haunting new play, PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo. But one central question remains at its core: How does a man find peace when he wears his sins on his body like a badge of (dis)honor? 

“Gang tattoos are not the same as any other tattoos. You can’t get a gang tattoo unless you’ve put in work. That is, crime,” says Flores, a Chula Vista native now living in San Francisco. “If you’re looking at a gang member with tats, you’re also looking at how many crimes he’s committed.” 

The play, which premieres locally on Thursday, April 23, for three performances at the Lincoln High School Performing Arts Center (4777 Imperial Ave.), centers around a former gang member, Fausto Carbajal, who has just been released from prison and is hoping to reunite with his family and his now-teenage son. As part of his parole, Fausto agrees to get his placas (barrio slang for gang tattoos) removed, but quickly finds that the sins of his former life are not as easily erased. He also sees his son slipping into the same kind of life he’s desperately trying to leave behind. 

Flores says he was inspired to write the play after working closely with gang youth and interviewing people who were attempting to leave that kind of lifestyle. While the subject matter is certainly serious, he also wanted the play to have a comedic side, so he cast comedian/actor Ric Salinas as the lead. 

“I wanted to show both sides,” Flores says. “There is that really hardcore bad element of the loss involved in this guy’s life, but at the same time, he makes a lot of jokes because that’s how he gets through it.” 

Ultimately, Flores sees the play as a means of getting a conversation started not only about how to better support former gang members, but also how to stop the cycle of violence in those communities. 

“Coming from the South Bay, it’s really amazing and humbling,” Flores says. “We’ve already performed PLACAS to over 10,000 audience members, been in 15 cities, off Broadway… it’s really cool.” Tickets are $12. 

G Burns Jug Band
Photo by Dave Smith

Two miles of tunes

Make sure your trendy shoes are sensible, too, for Adams Avenue Unplugged. The two-day, free music festival (Saturday, April 25, and Sunday, April 26) will offer 150 performers on 25 stages scattered along a two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue, spanning University Heights, Normal Heights and Kensington. Music is scheduled from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Adams Avenue restaurants are open for business throughout the music-imbued weekend. This year, the Church Stage on Mansfield Street will allow reserved seating for $10. Headlining the stage will be Anais Mitchell, Hot Buttered Rum, Cody Lovaas and David J. 

“Bucky” by Nicholas Mueller
Photo by Bianca Quilantan

Home sweet home

Fans of neo-futuristic architect Buckminster Fuller will be delighted to find an upcoming “opportunity to spend time in a wax-coated geodesic dome.” If that’s not reason enough to attend a hodgepodge night of music, art and interactive projects called “My name is _____. I am from ______.” and hosted by A Ship in the Woods, then the guarantee of weirdness in design and thought, just as Bucky would have it, should be. On Friday, April 24, from 6 to 11 p.m. works from 25 artists will converge in Del Mar (1660 Lugano Lane), where the nonprofit arts organization is headquartered, for a time to reflect on what “home” is and how a place can define us. $7 suggested donation at the door. 

Music at the museum

San Diego’s innovative chamber music group Art of Elan has been performing a series of concerts at the San Diego Museum of Art; their residency is coming to an end with one final performance. Titled Epilogue, the concert will feature a variety of 21st-century works, including compositions by Missy Mazzoli, Judd Greenstein and Gavin Bryars. After the performance, Art of Elan musicians will take their talents to the adjoining Panama 66 restaurant for “Encore at Panama 66,” where patrons can enjoy a musical performance with a cocktail in hand. Epilogue takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, in SDMA's Copley Auditorium. Tickets are $30.

Cabernet and good karma

Laaadies! It’s Girls Day Out: Sip-N-Shop. Need we say more? Throw on some sturdy sandals and grab your purse. Nothing too pretentious. It’s time to get your adult wine buzz on and shop for some new clothes or maybe some jewelry. From 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 25, The Wine Pub in Point Loma (2907 Shelter Island Drive, Suite 108) will host three boutiques on its patio: Teeter (modern home goods), Rare Bloom (clothing and accessories like the ones pictured here) and Alice Alfreda (upscale resale). The event doubles as a clothing drive to benefit homeless services at Father Joe's Village. Attendees who bring gently used women’s and children’s clothing to donate will be rewarded with a glass of wine for a penny.

Tip of the cap

El Anatsui is an artist who spends thousands of hours using materials like used bottle tops to create large, opulent wall hangings (his piece "Amemo" is shown here) that speak to the history of Africa. A screening of a documentary about his artwork (a combination of painting and sculpture) will be held Wednesday, April 29, at ArcLight Cinemas in La Jolla (4425 La Jolla Village Drive). The 53-minute film, Fold Crumple Crush: The Art of El Anatsui, chronicles three years in the life of an artist whose work's been heralded around the globe. The screening is held in conjunction with the exhibition Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui, on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's downtown location through June 28. Tickets are $15.50. 

Art extravaganza

"Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one." —Stella Adler. The Mission Federal Artwalk is a big event, with more than 350 artists displaying their work. Is there a chance that some of it isn't your thing? Of course. But we'd be pretty surprised if you didn't spot a good number of artists whose artwork has that transcendant quality that Ms. Adler speaks of. (We're kinda digging on Tonya Doskova's surrealist "The Gatekeepers," shown here). ArtWalk takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Little Italy, along India Street between Beech and Grape streets. The event includes live entertainment, food vendors and interactive art activities.

Does your event deserve to be featured here? Email Kinsee Morlan.