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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Films in the Garden, The San Diego Museum of ArtFor someone of the canine species, the garden is ground zero for all kinds of fun and mischief. Humans simply have no idea what I can turn up in soft, recently replanted soil: crunchy insects, old bones, missing parts from a child’s toy, and, of course, fledgling flora.

One thing I never expect to find in a garden of any kind is classic films and hundreds of people watching them. But that’s exactly what The San Diego Museum of Art will be “growing” in their sculpture garden this summer when it launches the Films in the Garden outdoor film series on Monday, July 14.

Formerly known as “Screen on the Green,” SDMA has moved its long-running summer film screenings into the cozy confines of the May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden, already home to a number of colorful visual treats in the form of 20th-century sculpture.

The four films in the series will screen under the stars every other Monday starting at 8pm and include Blood and Sand with Tyronne Power and Rita Hayworth (July 14); 1492: Conquest of Paradise, a unique retelling of the Christopher Columbus story (July 28); the Audrey Hepburn classic Roman Holiday (August 11); and the Wim Wenders’s sci-fi drama Until the End of the World (August 25).

This family-friendly event encourages folks to bring a picnic basket, though no outside libations are permitted. For packs unable to pack adequate provisions for the night, the sculpture garden’s restaurant will offer a selection of light snacks and beverages, including a full bar.

Be sure to arrive early to mark your territory as seating inside the sculpture court is limited.

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Joaquin Sorolla, portrait of William Howard Taft, San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, Cosmos BlogIf you’re a patriotic pooch like me, then you are undoubtedly wagging your tail over the fact that the calendar gods have seen fit to schedule July 4 on a Friday this year, making for a perfect three-day weekend to celebrate our great country. But you are also probably wondering how you are going to fill all three days when most fireworks shows don’t last more than 30 minutes.

What some folks may not realize is that there is more to celebrating America than eating charred hamburgers covered in beach sand (though I’m normally not one to complain). In Balboa Park, for example, bipedal citizens can take part in a number of American-themed exhibitions and events this weekend:

  1. Presidio to Pacific Powerhouse: How the Military Shaped San Diego examines the U.S. military’s deep and long history with the region, a story so big it encompasses the San Diego History Center, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, and the Veteran’s War Memorial and Museum (and venues beyond Balboa Park).
  2. Sorolla and America at The San Diego Museum of Art reveals the special relationship Spain’s top dog artist, Joaquin Sorolla, had with the U.S. art world at the turn of the 20th century, one that included the painting of an official portrait of a U.S. president (William Howard Taft).
  3. Surf Craft — Design and the Culture of Board Riding at the Mingei International Museum surveys the evolution of a unique American art form, highlighting the central role of two alpha dog surfers from San Diego.
  4. The House of U.S.A. Lawn Program at the International Cottages will enable patriots of any breed to extend their Independence Day weekend festivities all the way into late Sunday afternoon thanks to an all-American menu of potato salad, baked beans, apple pie, and, of course, hot dogs.
  5. The Spreckels Organ Pavilion Concert, also on Sunday afternoon, serves up a howling good selection of patriotic tunes performed by Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton. Howling dogs are of course always welcome at these free outdoor concerts.
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Marketers do everything they can these days to get a leg up on their competition. As a result, marketing buzzwords tend to come and go like a hashtag in a social media feed. Yet I can’t help but think the word “eventizing” was coined to describe what the International Summer Organ Festival has been doing for over a quarter century.

International Summer Organ Festival 2014, Balboa ParkWhat else would you call presenting a diverse range of top dog musicians from around the globe under the stars on one of the world’s largest outdoor organs that also happens to be 100 years old and situated in the largest urban cultural park in North America? And if that wasn’t enough “eventizing,” the weekly concerts are free, pet friendly, and the perfect place for a family picnic!

But wait! There’s more! as commercials for my favorite as-seen-on-TV pet products always say.

In addition to playing a distinctive style and genre of organ music at each Monday night concert, certain festival performers eventize their own event. Take next week’s performance on June 30 for instance, when Monte Maxwell from the United States Naval Academy performs with the Navy Band Southwest, one of the U.S. Navy’s finest and oldest continuing musical organizations.

Then on July 14, rising star organist Wyatt Smith is joined by soprano Priti Gandhi. The following week (July 21), San Diego Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton brings along special guest Marco Labastida, a tenor. And on July 28, Danish organist Sven Ingvart-Mikkelsen offers a program from medieval times to the present with bombarde player Jens Roemer.

As always, the 10-week series is capped off by the alpha concert events of the summer in Balboa Park: Silent Movie Night on August 18, when Scottish organist Donald McKenzie accompanies projections of two classic silent films, and the festival finale on August 25, featuring San Diego’s current Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, who performs with the Moonlight Serenade Orchestra.

Since advertisers tend to chase their own tails more often than not when it comes to (re-)inventing the latest fad, it’s nice to know some programs are buzz worthy based solely on their own merits.

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Tucker and Sophia write: Dear Cosmos, You’d think since we are from the same pack, Tucker and I would share the same tastes in art, music, and entertainment, but we often fight like cats and dogs whenever we have to decide on something to do. What do you suggest?

Cosmos: Sounds like someone needs to step up and assume the role of pack leader in your home. But until that happens, the best way to avoid tearing up the furniture over where to go next is to simply plan on checking out the free Twilight in the Park concerts on summer weeknights.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night through August 28, a different musical act, representing a completely different style of music, performs live on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.

Twilight in the Park concerts, Balboa Park, crop of photo by Joanne DiBonaGranted, not every musical style will suit the tastes of all your fellow packmates on any given night. But what’s not to enjoy about sharing a picnic supper while listening to fun, uptempo music in a historic landmark as the sun sets over Balboa Park’s picturesque scenery? And who knows? You might even discover a new genre of music to download to your iPaw.

Taking a quick glance at this summer’s line up, I see plenty of returning and personal favorites of mine. In the coming week alone, I’m already marking my calendar, among other things, for the tropical rock and roll band Stars on the Water on Wednesday, June 18, and the always popular Elvis Presley Tribute Band, Graceland, the following Thursday.

Then next Tuesday, local legends the Bayou Brothers perform their unique Cajun/Zydeco music on June 24, followed by Cool Fever, covering classic R&B and Motown tunes, on June 25.

July and August promise an even greater variety of music at least one of you is sure to dig. If not, please send me a private message so I can refer you to a good pet therapist.

Posted in Ask Cosmos | add a comment

When it comes to summertime, I’m an equal opportunity concert hound — especially when those concerts are free, family-friendly, and outdoors. It makes no difference to me whether the music is rock, country, Cajun, or classical, whether it’s on a weekday or weekend, or whether the concerts take place in the historic Spreckels Organ Pavilion or on a lawn at the fringes of Balboa Park’s vast 1,200-acre footprint.

Nevertheless, as much as I dig the International Summer Organ Festival and the Twilight in the Park concert series, there is a very special community vibe that only the Bird Park Summer Concerts can offer. A dozen years in the making, these bi-weekly Saturday evening concerts draw hundreds of residents, and their pooches, from the surrounding Morley Field and North Park neighborhoods.

Located in a small community park at the corner of Upas and 28th Streets, concert seating is open and sur l’herbe, which facilitates my mingling and scavenging efforts. But it’s the top dog local performers, from a variety of genres, that are the real attraction.

In fact, kicking off this year’s summer concert season in Balboa Park on June 14 is none other than the king of the local blues scene himself, Bill Magee and his band. For you lazy dogs who can’t be bothered with clicking the link above, here is the complete Bird Park Summer Concerts schedule:

June 14 — Bill Magee Blues Band

June 28 — The Craig Ingraham Band (folk)

July 12 — The Ballad Mongers (indie rock)

July 26 — Mark Jackson Band (country)

Aug 9 — Bayou Brothers feat. Robin Henkel (Zydeco/folk)

Concerts run from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, offering ample time for dancing, dining, and making new friends.

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