One of the things we love about the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center—aside from it being one of the most fun places for kids to cut loose while also participating in some hands-on learning—is that they always seem to debut new exhibitions in bulk.
So we're pretty excited that the Fleet is debuting not one, not two, but four new exhibitions. Technically, the stem cell-focused Super Cells opened last week, but Friday, Jan. 29, also sees the opening of The Art of Science Learning, which focuses on the intersections of the arts and science, as well as Zoo in You, an interactive showcase of the trillions of microbes inside our bodies.
Even with all that, it's Taping Shape that has us the most excited. Opening Saturday, Jan. 30, it could probably best be described as a DIY version of one of those play zones you see at a place like Chuck E. Cheese. It's made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap, and visitors navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways and bounce on springy surfaces.
"When you stand in it, it's very different from how you imagine it," says Dave Ghilarducci, a local sculpture artist who designed Taping Shape. "It changes your perception. We have a couple of mathematical shapes, but it almost winds up being not so much like a fun zone, but a giant 'chrysalis' of different types of things."
The educational aspect of the piece focuses on a variety of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) concepts. Things like tensile strength, topology, geometry, spatial relations and architecture. There are also supplemental exhibits to help drive these concepts home for both children and adults. For Ghilarducci, the real fun is seeing how patrons each take a different approach to the work.
"Some people want to crawl through it and some people want to walk through it," says Ghilarducci. "Some people are tentative while others want to tear through it. So it's kind of a different experience for everybody."
Taping Shape will be on display through June 12 and tickets for the R.H. Fleet Science Center start at $16.95. rhfleet.org
BACK IN BLACK
Since its humble beginnings in 2002, the San Diego Black Film Festival has gradually established itself as one of the premier fests in the country, screening hundreds of independent films. Since it is held before many of the larger fests, audiences have the chance to see the next indie darling or acclaimed doc before the buzz of Toronto or Sundance. Held Thursday, Jan. 28 through Sunday, Jan. 31, festival highlights include This Little Light of Mine, a documentary about the voting rights force Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as Scratch, a "hip-opera" feature about a Haitian-Canadian man struggling to make his rap dreams come true. Tickets range from $10 for a single screening to $50 for a pass to see any of the films all weekend. All of the films are screened at the Reading Theater (701 Fifth Ave.) in the Gaslamp. sdbff.com
ON THE RUN
The mission of CULTURUNNERS is right up our alley. The New York City-based art organization travels around the country in an RV to present art events that explore, as they put it, the "common concerns and interconnected histories between the United States and Middle East." What's particularly cool is that the travelers have chosen San Diego as the launch point for their 2016 "Campaign Trail" tour. It starts with an exhibition titled BORDERLAND on Friday, Jan. 29, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Low Gallery (1878 Main St.) in Barrio Logan which features artists from the Middle East, as well as photos from local photographer John Mireles. The tour launch culminates on Saturday, Jan. 30, at noon with an artist discussion at the San Diego Art Institute (1439 El Prado) that will include Mireles, Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar and CULTURUNNERS founder Stephen Stapleton. culturunners.com