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From Perry Vasquez’s “The Gates of Heck”

In recent years, the San Diego Museum of Art brought exciting cultural events to Balboa Park with the Summer Salon Series, which featured parties, performances, films, live music and more every Friday night from June through August.

This year, the museum is changing things up and replacing Summer Salon with Summer Break 2013: Double Portraits, a new series comprising 10 consecutive days of cultural programming—including films, workshops, artist talks, interactive installations and live music—that explores the themes in the current exhibition, Arnold Newman: Masterclass. The series runs from Thursday, Aug. 1, through Saturday, Aug. 10. Get all the details at sdma.org.

Alexander Jarman, manager of public programs and co-curator of Summer Break, says the museum chose to focus on Newman's use of pastiche and so-called "double portraits." In his images of famous artists, including Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, the photographer framed his subjects in a way that pays homage to their art. The Mondrian portrait, for example, depicts the artist among square, solid-colored paintings and an easel, giving the appearance of an actual Mondrian painting.

Using that as a jumping-off point, the museum will display contemporary works with the original artwork that inspired them.

"Not to be too corny or anything like that, but I think we at the museum consider this an important program because it provides a lot to local artists," Jarman says. "The thing we hear is that they like to be presented in the context of our museum because they're performing in front of the Picassos. It means a lot to artists, and it certainly means a lot to us to make that happen."

Among the programs incorporating pastiche is "The Gates of Heck," a performance-art piece by Perry Vasquez and his group Border Corps, happening at 7 and 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2.

Vasquez brings sculptor Auguste Rodin's famous piece "The Gates of Hell" to life using animation, performance vignettes and music, only instead of using characters from Dante's The Divine Comedy as Rodin did, Vasquez uses superheroes and presents them as if part of a late-night, Conan-style show.

"It's going to be pretty punk-rock in the sense that it's going to be not a lot of theatrical props and backdrops," Vasquez says. "I think people will enjoy the mixture of visual art, poetry, performance, movement and song.

"Hopefully, people will follow us into this journey into hell," he adds. "We promise to bring them back. We won't abandon them there."


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