SAN DIEGO — The newest gallery space in Balboa Park doesn't belong to any of its art museums, but to the Centro Cultural de la Raza, the Latino cultural center on Park Boulevard. Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, the Centro unveils about 150 linear feet of exhibition space with a showing of works by Domingo Ullo, whose graphics and paintings depict the social, political and everyday life of the Mexican people.
Ullo, a resident of El Centro, is artistic kin to the late, great Mexican artist and muralist David Siqueiros, whose works are currently featured at the San Diego Museum of Art. In line with that, the Centro Cultural will feature Latin-American art historian Dr. Shifra Goldman, of Santa Ana College, speaking on "The Real Siqueiros" at 3 p.m. Saturday. Centro Cultural artist-in-residence David Avalos noted that Goldman's lecture will focus on the fierce political side of Siqueiros, which, in Avalos' opinion, the Museum of Art exhibition downplays.
"The museum's mandate is to present an artist in context--political, social, historical--not just hang up the art," Avalos argued, charging that the museum has deemphasized the artist's commitment to Marxism and political activity. "I find it disturbing that the museum has eliminated from the show certain politically charged pieces that were shown when the exhibit toured the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries."
Avalos was referring to photo panels of Siqueiros involved in revolutionary anti-American politics that are indeed absent from the museum's display. According to the Museum of Art's director, Steven Brezzo, "a couple of photo panels were left out, but we didn't edit the show to reduce it in any sense. Its political implications are quite strong."
"Siqueiros was certainly an avowed Marxist and politically strident, and that's a significant component of his art," Brezzo continued. "But on the aesthetic level, I think the portraits included here are some of the finer work." Brezzo would not concede that the show which was assembled by Siqueiros' family members and the fine arts bureau of Mexico--had been politically softened to please the museum's board of directors.
"Seeing the show," Brezzo said, "you can't miss what kind of passionate artist Siqueiros was."
MATINEE IDYLL: Who is David Atherton's tailor? Ever since he first shocked the blue-haired set by stepping onto the podium for a matinee casually clad in slacks and an embroidered blue guayabera, our Beach City-British maestro has made the comfortable jacket-like Mexican garment his frequent attire for matinees. Sunday afternoon it proved popular indeed. When time came to move the Steinway out for fellow Englishman Paul Crossley's interpretation of Carl Maria von Weber's "Konzerstueck , " out marched the stage hands as usual, rolling out the instrument--and all were clad in identical blue guayaberas like Atherton's. Once everyone and everything was in place, Crossley sailed out, also sporting the ubiquitous blue guayabera . A stage hand said after the concert, "They were made down in Mexico just as a joke. But I'm not sure how well it went over with the maestro."
S.O.B.: Although the San Diego Art Center has a virtual lock on converting downtown's historic Balboa Theater into a modern art center, the preservationist "Save Our Balboa" movement rolls on. On Monday afternoon, the grass-roots group held a protest march, and another letter of support has come from the American Corporation of the Arts, the nonprofit production arm of the mighty Nederlander theater chain, which has expressed interest in presenting shows at the Balboa if it is preserved as a theater.
The letter, addressed to Mayor Roger Hedgecock and signed by Nederlander official Stan Seiden, reads in part: "We would like to go on record expressing our interest in the booking and management of the Balboa . . . Our intention would be to present live entertainment in downtown San Diego . . . On evenings when it is not possible (to do so) we would show fine art films." The letter requests that "the same financial consideration" extended by the city to the Art Center--basically, a $1-million loan for remodeling--be made available for refurbishing the Balboa stage. "We are firm in our belief that the theater must not be destroyed," the letter concludes.
FAIR FACTS: The concert line-up for the Del Mar Fair is set. All shows are at 7:30 p.m. in the fair's grandstand (unless otherwise noted). June 20, New Edition; June 21, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble; June 22, Kris Kristofferson, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; June 23, Jesse Colin Young, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; June 24, Katrina and the Waves; June 25, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers; June 26, Emmylou Harris; June 27, Lennon Sisters with the Harry James Orchestra, 2 p.m., and Planet, 7:30 p.m..
June 28, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; June 29, Sha Na Na, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; June 30, Los Lobos, 2 and 7:30 p.m.; July 1, Cheap Trick; July 2, The Whispers; July 3, America; July 4, Patti Page and the Harry James Orchestra, 2 p.m., and Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles, 7:30 p.m.; July 5, The Blasters; July 6, Philip Bailey, 2 p.m., and Amy Grant, 7:30 p.m. The fair's closing day show on July 7 hasn't been confirmed yet, but promoters reportedly are seeking a superstar name.