A starry night of music and art at ICA North

On a cold, sunny Friday night the 13th, after several days of heavy rain, more than 100 people gathered for an arts and music event on ICA North’s six-acre campus. San Diego.

The event showcases the talents of ICA Artist-in-Residence Shelly Chan and the Art of Elan, a small but mighty musical team that has been bringing contemporary classical music to diverse audiences for over 15 years. combined the talents of

Kate Hatmaker, executive director of Art of Elan and violinist with the San Diego Symphony, said: “We’re always looking for new ways to inspire joy.”

Born in Beijing and based in Toronto, Zhang explores East-West connections and how people who migrate to other countries create a sense of home in new cultures, so Art of Elan Inviting the world-famous composer Lei Liang to participate in the program on January 13th. Liang, a distinguished music professor at the University of California, San Diego, was also born in China and explores similar connections in his compositions.

Kate Huttmaker and cellist Alex Greenbaum playing Lei Liang’s Gobi Canticle.

(Maurice Hewitt)

In the evening, after viewing Zhang’s three-part exhibition in the hilltop artist gallery, there was an outdoor gathering for conversation and music in the backyard of the education center on the street. Earlier in the day, my photographer/husband and I joined her to tour the exhibit, where ICA San Diego Executive Director Andrew Utt said she saw some of her work at the NADA Art Fair in Miami. Then I found out that I had first contacted her online a year ago.

“It was a series called ‘Offerings to the Past and the Future.’ It’s the same kind of oversaturated photography you see here, but it all comes to fruition,” says Zhang. “His ICA theme this season was about consumption, what it means to consume our culture and our surroundings, so he wanted to know if I had the same idea. I did.”

She just happened to have a perfect match for her two most recent pieces. It’s a series called ‘Means of Exchange’, which consists of five large still-life photographs of her of artificial flowers, gift wrapping, children’s toys, and Christmas her ornaments, all made in China. , found in Canadian dollar stores and sold in bulk to buyers around the world.

Lei Liang and Sherry Chan before the evening conversation.

Lei Liang and Sherry Chan before the evening conversation.

(Maurice Hewitt)

The second series, Facades, is a line of four lightboxes inspired by the storefront signs Zhang saw in Chinatown, Canada. She removes the Chinese words that convey what they sold. Only her eye-catching outline remains, evoking a nostalgia with no clear memory of what was once there.

During his month-long residency, Zhang began work on a new series, “Grass is Greener on the Other Side,” examining the differences in products sold on both sides of the San Diego-Tijuana border. She encouraged visitors to become part of the exhibit by filling out a shopping list and pinning it to the gallery wall, showing which products were important to them.

array of products

A series of products from both sides of the border that will be part of the glass is the new photographic series Opposite Green.

(Maurice Hewitt)

Chan’s childhood was filled with border crossings. Her family moved to Baltimore, after which she returned to China, where she attended elementary school in two different cities before deciding to emigrate to Canada, where she settled in Windsor, Ontario. Thirteen years ago she moved to Toronto. But she loved her time at ICA North so much, hanging out with gallery visitors and even discussing egg prices with friendly strangers at the local supermarket. And after giving a talk about her life and art, she has a friendly conversation with Lei Liang and her audience about her house idea before her five-piece concert at night. I loved the opportunity.

Before the conversational duet, we listened to Liang’s three minutes of electronic music, “Mother Tongue,” full of the scrambled sounds you hear in dim sum restaurants. “The Chinese love to shout. They yell and clap plates,” he said. “Performance art!” Zhang replied enthusiastically. Her first job she ever had was at a dim sum restaurant.

One of the Facades lightboxes.

One of the Facades lightboxes.

(Maurice Hewitt)

Liang’s next work, “Gobi Canticle,” was something completely different, inspired by a song his Mongolian teacher sang to him many years ago. He introduced it as follows. Are we all looking for a home? I use music not only to connect with where I am from, but also where I am, and I use it to protect our home on this planet Earth. ”

That feeling was magically conveyed in a heartfelt performance by violinist Kate Hattmaker and her husband, cellist Alex Greenbaum. It was the highlight of the night, warming the cold night air and stirring a sense of combining ancient spirituality with modern hope, giving us all a true feeling of being at home.

Shellie Zhang: What We Bring and What We Leave

The artist is now back in Toronto, but her exhibit will continue until February 12th, and visitors’ shopping lists are still welcome.

ICA North:

1550 S. El Camino Real, Encinitas

Open: Thursday to Sunday, 12:00pm to 5:00pm Free admission.

For ICA North and ICA Central events, visit icasandiego.org or @icasandiego.

For Art of Elan events, visit artofelan.org.

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