1 Love and loss
Anna Joy Springer is a feminist, writer, visual artist and former punk-rock frontwoman with a penchant for spoken word. She's led an interesting life, from being part of San Francisco's music scene in the '80s and '90s to touring the U.S. with the all-women spoken-word group Sister Split. Springer, now an associate professor of literature at UCSD, will read from her latest book, The Vicious Red Relic, Love, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at D.G. Wills Books (7461 Girard Ave. in La Jolla).
Springer calls it a hybrid text because of the book's mix of visual art, poetry and letters and says it doesn't fit into one genre. "It's part memoir, part fiction, part literary gender theory and part Buddhist text," she says. The story is rooted in the tragic death of Springer's former girlfriend, who was HIV-positive and dying of pneumonia when she committed suicide in 1992. Illustrations are based on those found in Springer's notebooks from 1990 and 1991.
Springer's account of the tragedy is anything but linear. Instead, the creative writer—who teaches an experimental-writing course—sends a small sculpture of an elephant made out of tin foil on a journey back in time to be with "[Gil]" (how Springer refers to her ex in the book and a reference to the ancient poem, "The Epic of Gilgamesh") during the period leading up to her death. The elephant, Winky/Blinky, finds out the complicated story of main character Nina's relationship with the troubled [Gil].
"Elephants are really good, as a culture, handling emotions and rituals around grief and mourning," Springer says. "I thought it would be a good symbol to send back in time."
One of Springer's former students, Janice Lee, will read from her book, Daughter, as well. The two authors are used to sharing the stage; they recently finished a book tour together. dgwills.com
2 Soggy bottoms up
George Clooney had the lead role in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but the real star of the Coen Brothers' beautiful film was the soundtrack, a collection of old-timey folk, country and gospel that went on to win a Grammy for Album of the Year. With O Berkley, Where Hart Thou?, local musicians Jeff Berkley and Calman Hart are assembling their own crew of singing ne'er-do-wells to bring the music of the Soggy Bottom Boys Robin Henkel and Jeff Berkley to the Poway Center for the Performing Arts (15498 Espola Road) at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22. The show will be performed Grand Ol' Opry-style, with the musicians (including Tim Flannery, Steve Poltz, Seventh Day Buskers and special guest, John C. Reilly) circled around a single mic. Tickets are $29 for adults, $10 for those 18 and younger. powayarts.org
3 Making a scene
There's a certain kind of installation art that almost takes your breath away when you see it—if not for its beauty, then for its unexpectedness as you simultaneously take in its meaning as a whole and in part. James Skalman creates this kind of art, filling up spaces in ways that get your mind going ("subtly subversive" is how Rick Gilbert described his work in Art Week). Skalman began working on the installation Las Vistas at the SDSU Downtown Gallery (725 W. Broadway) last month as the gallery's artist-in-residence. The product of his multi-media work, which was inspired by Western United States midcentury landscapes and architecture, will be unveiled at a reception happening from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, and will be on view through Feb. 18. downtowngallery.sdsu.edu