Then again…: The process of viewing a piece of visual art is filled with double takes and second glances. Look at it from another angle and you find something new. Pass by it on the way out and suddenly it stops you in your tracks, beckoning you for another look. Mexico City painter Victor Rodriguez takes this experience to new levels. Is it photography or a painting? Is it abstraction or realism? See for yourself at Rodriguez's new show, NewAbstract Paintings, which will open with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 14, at Scott White Contemporary Art (2360 India St. in Little Italy). Considered to be one of the leaders of the photorealist school, Rodriguez creates large-scale paintings of still-life subjects like birds and eyes but uses grids, dots, lines and other geometric devices to render the subject conceptual. You may think you know what you're looking at, but look again. Are you sure? www.scottwhiteart.com.
Deep blue sea: When you live right next to the Pacific Ocean, there's really no way to stop it from becoming a part of your life (or work). Take the five artists who organized the Blue Realm art show, for example. They all either grew up or currently live next to the ocean. They surf in it, swim in it and see it every day. During a reception starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 15, you can see the different ways beach culture has crept into their work at the Ebb and Flow gallery and surf shop (111 Chesterfield Drive in Cardiff). There will be music, drinks and appetizers—plus, a portion of the proceeds from the show will benefit the environmental group Coastkeeper, proving that for these artists, it really is all about the ocean. www.bluerealmartshow.com.
Muppet madness: Screw the computer-generated Na'vi of Avatar. With Heather Henson Presents Handmade Puppet Dreams: Volume I, Jim Henson's daughter reminds us that creature-creation is best accomplished through elaborate puppeteering. More Spike & Mike than Sesame Street, the film festival features artists who push the limits of taste as well as the imagination. Take, for instance, Steve Johnson, whose work on Cat in the Hat and Spiderman 2 was totally mainstream. His short film Everlasting involves puppets manipulated upside-down and filmed underwater, in reverse and at double speed. If that doesn't pull your strings, we don't know what will. The fest runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 14, at the Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado in Balboa Park. Tickets are $8. www.mopa.org, www.handmadepuppetdreams.com.
Bogged down: Two years ago, the group Friends of San Diego Architecture, began a series of panel discussions that highlight the frustration many San Diegans feel about how their elected and appointed leaders have largely failed to move the city upward on the list of burgs that provide world-class public places and amenities. The last in the series, Getting it Done: Can We Move Beyond the Quagmire?, will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 15, at NewSchool of Architecture & Design (1249 F St., Downtown), with former city architect Michael Stepner serving as moderator. Show up and see if the panel sees any reason for hope that San Diego can emerge from the miasma. Suggested donation: $5. www.friendsofsdarch.com.
Northern exposure: Some local “art” festivals may claim to have something for everyone, but the North Park Festival of the Arts really can live up to that boast. The neighborhood and its businesses are so eclectic that it only makes sense. There's visual art, dance, music, spoken word, hand-made crafts, food and activities for kids—even a bike valet and a beer garden. Now in its 14th year, the Fest was organized to help raise money for North Park Main Street, a nonprofit that helps revitalize the neighborhood's business district. The event is free (with exception of the “Craft Beer Block,” which is $25 in advance, $30 the day of) and will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 16, on University Avenue between 30th and 32nd streets. www.northparkmainstreet.com.
Ready set blow: We can probably all remember unscrewing those bright blue plastic bottles, pulling the wand from the sudsy solution and trying to blow the biggest bubble possible. Kids are lucky; they're still living those days. Proving they know what they're doing when it comes to celebrating the coolest parts of childhood, the New Children's Museum (200 W. Island Ave., Downtown) will hold a Balloons and Bubbles Bash from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 15. Collect the kids and head down to the museum, where they can take part in a water-balloon toss, a bubble-gum-blowing contest, balloon-animal creating and a chance to snap a photo inside a giant bubble. www.thinkplaycreate.org.
Gettin' steamy: What do you think when you hear the words “yacht race”? Dudes in polo shirts whose egos are bigger than their boats? The race that takes place at “high noon” Saturday, May 15, ain't nothing like that. For the Classic Edwardian Era Steam Yacht Race, two early-20th-century steam yachts, Medea (1914) and Cangarda (1901), will depart Glorietta Bay in Coronado, head under the Coronado Bridge, up San Diego Bay, past Harbor Island, past Shelter Island and toward the finish line at the Maritime Museum (1492 North Harbor Drive). According to the folks at the museum, these are two of the only three steam yachts from that era still afloat. Watch from the shore for free or purchase tickets to view the race from one of the Maritime Museum's ships. www.sdmaritime.org.
In a blue mood: When Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue” premiered in 1924, it was part of a program called An Experiment in Modern Music, a title that's amusing in retrospect, given that we now consider the song a classic, representative of its time. Jean Isaacs, the innovative San Diego choreographer, will give the tune new life as part of Rhapsody in Blue and Other Dances at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 15, and 6 p.m. Sunday, May 16, at the Don Powell Theater on the San Diego State University campus. The “other dances” include two Isaacs classics and a new work, “When Strangers Meet.” Tickets are $30 general admission or $45 for a VIP post-performance reception on Saturday night. www.sandiegodancetheater.org.