Diverse city: In some towns, a multicultural festival is little more than an Indian fry-bread stand, a Mariachi band and a lady in clogs. In San Diego, we don't have to stretch to find diversity. The annual Sheila R. Hardin San Diego Multicultural Festival draws more than 20,000 to Downtown's Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade each year to celebrate our city's almost innumerable ethnicities through food, booths, dance, storytelling and song. This year's performances include Moonlight Chinese Dancers, African musicians Akayaa and Bolga Zohdoomah, Soaring Eagles Youth Dance Group and storytellers from a wide range of backgrounds. The Saturday, Jan. 15, event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Fourth Avenue and Market Street on Harbor Drive. For a schedule, visit ccdc.com.
Prints and paintings: In the 72 years artist Howard Hodgkin has been alive, never before have his prints and paintings been shown together. This year, Meyer Fine Art (2400 Kettner Blvd., Suite 104, in Little Italy), a gallery specializing in prints and other works on paper, and the San Diego Museum of Art will take one step closer toward closing that gap. Meyer Fine Art will show 11 of the British abstract painter and printmaker's small, hand-colored etchings, aquatints and carborundum on paper in Small Prints: Abstractions in Color, opening at the gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, as part of Kettner Nights. And SDMA will open a show of Hodgkin's paintings starting Jan. 29. plmeyerfineart.com, sdmart.org
Locative reality: The concept behind the site-specific installation Outside-In sounds a little like a really heavy conversation you might have, say, after a big bong rip or—if you want to be intellectual about it—after sitting in on a college-level philosophy class. “Reality is only ‘real' inasmuch as it is unaffected by the interpreting individual,” artist and organizer Silvia Valentino writes in the description of the installation. Valentino invited three other artists—Lev Manovich, Carlos Castrejon and Chris Warren—to toy around with the idea of reality and locality, and you can see what the four have come up with from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at JETT Gallery (989 W. Kalmia St. in Little Italy) as part of Kettner Nights. jettgallery.net
Phone art: Ten years ago, a 1.3-megapixel camera would've cost you more than $700. These days, a $100 smart phone comes with a camera at least five times as powerful. In fact, CityBeat readers have seen phone-photojournalism on these pages and our writers regularly post instant snapshots to Twitter (@davemaass, @kinsee) live from music, art and news events. An exhibition at Blind Lady Ale House (3416 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights) will examine the artistic potential of cell-phone photographic technology with works by more than 45 artists. An opening reception for Phonography will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, and the show will run through Feb. 13. All proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders' work in Haiti. phonographyshow.tumblr.com
Words count: When David Ulin stepped down as books editor for the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, readers immediately feared that, like so many other publications, the newspaper was scaling back its bookreview section. Not so—Ulin simply wanted more time to do what he does best: write. The author, who's been awarded “best book” honors by the Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle, will discuss his new book, The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time, from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, at The Ink Spot at the Art Center Lofts, 710 13th St., Studio 210, Downtown. Arthur Salm, the smart and funny former books editor for The San Diego Union-Tribune will chat with Ulin about why reading is something we should do more of. Free. sandiegowriters.org
Rat-a-tat-tat: Hey, you, desktop drummer. Yeah, you with the pencils in your hand, tapping out the rhythm to “Black Dog.” You just know you'd make an awesome profesh beat-keeper, but where does your innate talent come from? At 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 13, at The Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive in La Jolla, brain scientists Aniruddh Patel and John Iverson and percussionist Steven Schick will discuss Rhythm: The Brain and a Drum. They'll explore topics like whether the ability to keep a beat is something we're born with, whether a person's culture influences his or her perception of rhythm and how rhythm influences speech and language. Free. bronowskiforum.org
Come to the cabaret: It's been awhile since cabaret-style entertainment was center stage, but if the San Diego Dance Theater has anything to do with it, cabaret will be all the rage again (at least for a weekend). The dance troupe's been hard at work preparing By George / By Jean, a show with the requisite dim lighting, dinner, dancing and live music. The show will be held at the Garfield Theater (4126 Executive Drive in La Jolla), with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 14 and 15, and 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16. If you go for dinner, catered by Eron Baker Catering, arrive one-hour before showtime. The show with dinner is $50, $40 for seniors and students; show-only is $20 for the balcony or $30 for floor seating. sandiegodancetheater.org
Awesome abounds: Even the most ADHD-crazy kid will sit down and shut up when The Platt Brothers perform. Cy, Boone and Cheetah Platt are pretty damn entertaining. They do a dance / acrobatics / comedy show that's taken them as far up the fame ladder as America's Got Talent (we hear they've become pretty huge in Trinidad and Tobago, too). Starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17, the San Diego-based trio will kick off their newest show, Seven Days of Awesome, at Tenth Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Ave., Downtown. Through Jan. 22, a new special guest will join the brothers every night, including the fern Street Circus on Jan. 17 and Steam Powered Giraffe on Jan. 19. $20. theplattbrothers.com