Arts & Culture Newsletter: In her docuseries, Ruth-Ann Thorn spotlights the work of Native American artists

Good morning, and welcome to the U-T Arts & Culture Newsletter.

I’m David L. Coddon, and here’s your guide to all things essential in San Diego’s arts and culture this week.

Ruth-Ann Thorn operated her first art gallery “out of the back of a Ryder truck.” That’s a humble beginning for the woman who would — over the course of 15 years — oversee seven brick-and-mortar galleries: in La Jolla, Fashion Valley, the Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village and out of town in Laguna Beach, Beverly Hills and Breckenridge, Colo.

Today Thorn, who is of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians in Valley Center, has just one gallery space: Exclusive Collections in Solana Beach’s Cedros Avenue Design District. This is by choice. She’s taken her advocacy for artists, particularly Native American artists, to a multimedia platform. Thorn’s docuseries titled Art of the City began as a project on Facebook Live. It’s now viewable on the fledgling FNX network, on some PBS affiliates and on Thorn’s YouTube channel.

In “Art of the City” episodes, Thorn interviews and spotlights the work of Native American artists. It’s produced on a shoestring, or “Rez dog style,” she said. So far, 13 shows have been produced: four filmed in San Diego, four others in Santa Fe, N.M. and five in New Orleans.

“To me, what makes art so special and important is that you have this very short window of time that an artist is alive,” Thorn said. “Within that window they’re able to create art that can impact the rest of history forever.”

Come January, Thorn will begin producing in Santa Fe an “Art of the City — Indian Country” series. “I’m going to be doing interviews to show all these tribes and the progress they have made in spite of difficult conditions to further their art and culture,” she said. Meanwhile at home, she has a vision to open an indigenous art center on the Rincon reservation.

Theater

A woman wearing a fancy gown and tiara on top of theatrical staircase

The touring production of “My Fair Lady” will be in San Diego through Dec. 5

(Broadway San Diego)

The first Broadway musical I remember being exposed to was Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady.” My mother having been a stage actress, she introduced me to the musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” via the original Broadway cast recording, which featured Rex Harrison as Professor Henry Higgins and Julie Andrews as Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle. My affection for this show has never waned.

So it’s “loverly” to tell you that a new Lincoln Center Theater production of “My Fair Lady” comes to town on Tuesday night. The Broadway San Diego presentation will be at the Civic Theatre downtown through Dec. 5.

Museums

Ruth Rodriguez of San Diego dressed as Harley Quinn at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 22, 2017.

Ruth Rodriguez of San Diego dressed as Harley Quinn at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 22, 2017.

(K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Comic-Con enthusiasts who’ve been deprived of their beloved convention the past two years can celebrate perhaps the next best thing: The new Comic-Con Museum opens tomorrow in Balboa Park.

Ticket prices range from $11.95 to $19.95 with discounts for active-duty military and senior patrons. I am not a Comic-Con disciple myself, but this should be pretty cool.

READ MORE: What we’re most looking forward to at Comic-Con Special Edition

More museums

Model ships mounted on a wall of the Maritime Museum

Model ships from the Maritime Museum exhibition, “Celebrating the Art of the Model Maker.”

(Mark Albertazzi)

If that hobbyist in your family is looking for something to do this holiday weekend, suggest the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which is featuring an exhibit titled Celebrating the Art of the Model Maker.”

Ship models can be viewed and appreciated up close in the new visitor annex aboard the Maritime Museum’s steam ferryboat Berkeley. Access to the exhibit is included with your general admission ticket. Here’s more: sdmaritime.org/visit/exhibits/model-gallery/

Visual Art

Passing Through, a painting by Margaret Larlham

Passing Through, a painting by Margaret Larlham

(The San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild)

This weekend wraps up the San Diego Museum of Art Artists Guild’s annual membership exhibition. “Transitions” can be experienced in person at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts or online: sdmaag.org/Transitions#gallery

Film lecture

A woman in a white dress looking over her shoulder

Rachel Zegler as Maria in a scene from “West Side Story.” (20th Century Studios via AP)

(20th Century Studios/AP)

Steven Spielberg’s much anticipated remake of “West Side Story” opens in theaters on Dec. 10. Whether this film will be a blockbuster — probably not — remains to be seen. Nevertheless the word blockbuster is most often associated with two filmmakers: Spielberg and George Lucas.

On Wednesday at 9 a.m. (consider this “Breakfast with Blockbuster Makers”), the Smithsonian Institution’s streaming education program Smithsonian Associates will present a 75-minute seminar titled The Hollywood Blockbuster: How Steven Spielberg and George Lucas Changed the Movies.”

Professor Emeritus Brian Rose from Fordham University hosts this look into two motion picture pioneers and their work. Tickets to watch are $25.

Jazz

A closeup of hands playing piano

San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Longtime jazz fans in San Diego have looked forward every Thanksgiving weekend to the San Diego Jazz Fest, for many years held at the bygone Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in Mission Valley. This year, the Jazz Fest is a virtual event running tomorrow through Sunday.

You’ll be happy to hear, fans, that the San Diego Virtual Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza is free to watch on YouTube.

Union-Tribune reviews

Planning on seeing shows over the weekend? Here’s what U-T Theater Critic Pam Kragen had to say about La Jolla Playhouse’s “to the yellow house” and The Old Globe’s “Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show.”

 Lady Gaga in a red dress

Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci.” (MGM via AP)

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

If you’re headed to the movie theater, here’s U-T editor Nina Garin’s review of “House of Gucci.”

UCTV

University of California Television invites you to enjoy this special selection of programs from throughout the University of California. Descriptions courtesy of and text written by UCTV staff:

CARTA: From Molecules to Societies”: Anthropogeny is the study of human origins. It draws on a number of disciplines including the humanities and sociology, as well as the biological, computational, physical and chemical sciences. This series addresses several important distinctly human characteristics that range from molecules, to metabolism, anatomy, disease and behavior. Given the interest in understanding our evolution, this series will also help to organize how and in what sequence distinctly human physical, mental, social and cultural features evolved. Such understanding may help explain the origin of our species and how it came to directly shape the planet, giving rise to the Anthropocene, a proposed geological epoch distinguished by human influence on climate and the environment.

Cesar Chávez and the Farm worker Movement”: Cesar Chávez was responsible for organizing the farm workers in California’s Central Valley and founding the National Farm Workers Association. Following his rise to prominence, Chávez continued to organize the rest of the state’s farm workers and ultimately led the United Farm Workers labor union. In 2014, The UC San Diego Library purchased the Farmworker Movement Documentation Project, an online archive containing thousands of documents related to the history of the United Farm Workers’ union and related events. This presentation celebrates the addition of this rich digital resource and includes a discussion with two key players in the farm workers movement, Roberto Bustos and LeRoy Chatfield, key advisors to Chávez.

The Deep Learning Revolution”: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of engineering that has traditionally ignored brains, but recent advances in biologically inspired deep learning have dramatically changed AI and made it possible to solve difficult problems in vision, planning and natural language. If you talk to Alexa or use Google Translate, you have experienced deep learning in action. However, this new technology opens a Pandora’s box of problems that we must confront regarding privacy, bias and jobs. Terry Sejnowski, PhD, explains how his research strives to understand the computational resources of brains and to build linking principles from brain to behavior using computational models.

And finally … Top Weekend Events

Jay Acey dressed as a character from Star Trek

Jay Acey dressed as a character from Star Trek poses for a photo next to the H tree in front of the Tin Fish Restaurant on July 2, 2021 in downtown San Diego.

(Ariana Drehsler/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Here are the top events happening in San Diego from Thursday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 28.