IF THEY BUILD IT
The month-long Archtoberfest kicked off this past weekend with a cool party and a tour of the North Park business district. But for many people, the idea of an entire month of architecture and design-focused programming could seem, well, a little overwhelming. How does one choose what to attend? And does San Diego even have the cultural cachet to host such an event?
"San Diego is the country's biggest small town, and of course we're not New York or Chicago, but we're still a pretty big place," says Bastiaan Bouma, executive director and CEO of American Institute of Architects San Diego, and helped create Archtoberfest three years ago. "I do think we have the potential to really be a leader in the space between the biggest players and the smallest players. We can try new things that those bigger cities couldn't consider."
Trying new things and innovation while respecting the historical foundations of local architecture is what's really at the heart of Archtoberfest. Sure, there's the elbow-rubbing parties and the decidedly fun Orchids & Onions award show, the latter of which honors the best and worst in local design and architecture (it happens 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Spreckels Theatre), but there's also art shows, neighborhood walking tours, and guest lectures on an array of topics including community engagement and housing affordability. There's even the San Diego Design Film Festival, which begins Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6 p.m. at the Thompson Building Materials Design Showroom (6618 Federal Blvd., Lemon Grove).
"We're trying to tie the past with the future in terms of raising awareness of what we've got and engaging people in thoughtful conversation about how we address the challenges we face in the future," Bouma says. "Everything from sustainable design and transportation, to employment and preservation while still pursuing new development."
There's literally dozens of cool events to choose from, and while there are a few that might set you back $20, most are free and open to the public. Check out archtoberfest.com for full schedule.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
It's easy to fall for the notion that Russia is a cold, bleak place. Granted, there isn't much evidence to prove otherwise: Putin's tyrannical policies, a maligned Winter Olympics and waging a devastating war against Syria are only some recent examples. I Was Never Alone—described as "a documentary play"—usurps these notions by presenting seven monologues (or "portraits") composed entirely of quotes transcribed from interviews with Russians living with mobility impairments. Yes, the topic that binds these monologues—segregation from Russian society—doesn't exactly inspire the warm fuzzies, but the underlying themes of love, connection and family are reminders that humanity can exist in the cold. Performances will be held at Shank Theatre on Friday, Oct. 7, and Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m., and costs $10 at the door. Check calendar.ucsd.edu for more info.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAE
Poetry slams and spoken word events aren't uncommon, but to see a Rae Armantrout reading is an event that even someone with a passing interest in poetry shouldn't miss. For those unfamiliar, the longtime local Language poet has published 10 books and has been featured in numerous anthologies. Her 2009 book, Versed, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and later, the freakin' Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. While off the metaphorical clock, Armantrout teaches writing at UC San Diego, but on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m., she'll head down the street to D.G. Wills Books (7461 Girard Ave.) to read from her newest poetry compilation, Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2015. The new book combines old favorites and 25 new poems, with Armantrout's keen observations and innovative imagery on full display. This event is free. dgwillsbooks.com