Culture Report: Ceramics Are Back, and They’re Aggressive


Sasha Koozel Reibstein

Artist Sasha Koozel Reibstein is stretching the limits of ceramics. / Photo courtesy of Sasha Koozel Reibstein

A ceramics resurgence is underway.

“Here and nationwide, established and emerging artists are gravitating toward clay as a sculptural medium with greater ease and frequency than ever, no longer hampered by expectations to stay within one discipline and no longer deterred by the stigma that clay carried as a craft, not as an art — separate and unequal,” Los Angeles Times art critic Leah Ollman wrote earlier this year.

The renewed interest in the medium has resulted in more artists pushing the limits of ceramics. No longer a material reserved for making bowls, vases and other functional or polite decorative forms, more and more experimental ceramic sculptures are taking shape.

In San Diego, multimedia artist Sasha Koozel Reibstein is one of the maverick multimedia artists at the forefront of the ceramics resurgence.

Sasha Koozel Reibstein ceramics

“How it Starts” by Sasha Koozel Reibstein / Photo courtesy of Sasha Koozel Reibstein

“Reibstein pushes the possibilities of ceramic and porcelain sculpture through a daring synthesis of crystals, abundant color, gold and copper details rendering fantastical overlapping forms connecting the human body with nature,” Lauren Buscemi wrote in a review of Reibstein’s work in “Art Ltd.” magazine.

Reibstein will be showing her ceramic and mixed-media sculptures and installations at Bread & Salt in a show opening from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Her work will be on view alongside ceramic and mixed-media works by John Oliver Lewis and, in a separate gallery inside the Logan Height’s art center, Beliz Iristay – two other area artists known for innovative ceramics. The Athenaeum Art Center inside Bread & Salt is in the process of adding a kiln and ceramics classes to its offerings.

Reibstein is the head of the ceramics department at Palomar College in San Marcos, where she also serves as director of the school’s art gallery. Palomar has become known for its ceramics program, which Reibstein has helped grow in size and expand from traditional to more experimental classes.

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“I’ve never really been interested in beauty,” Reibstein said. “I’ve really rebelled against it. I’ve been very uncomfortable with beauty. I much prefer making work that feels very aggressive, and that just comes from the fact that I was a little punk-rock growing up.”

In her artist statement, Reibstein describes her intentions and aesthetic clearly. In it, she says she works to create “unusual forms that are simultaneously recognizable and enigmatic, evoking equal parts curiosity and unease.”

Plus, she said, she likes creating weird little realms that people can get lost in for awhile.

“I think the world’s really depressing right now,” she said. “So giving a more magical outlook to the possibility of the world is important to me.”

You’re reading the Culture ReportVoice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

Celebrating San Diego’s Craft Coffee Scene

San Diego craft coffee still trails far behind craft beer in terms of its popularity and the attention it gets, but those steeped in the scene here are stoked at its steady growth.

Joshua Bonner makes an espresso at Hawthorn Coffee. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Alyssa Mopia is a fervent craft coffee fan. In 2015, she founded Coffee & Convos, a website she’s since grown into a podcast and event series. Her goal, she said, is to use craft coffee as a “tool to connect with creative people in San Diego.” 

Her podcast, for example, features interviews with local artists, musicians and creative entrepreneurs, and all the recordings happen at craft coffee shops across the region.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, Mopia is inviting coffee lovers, creators and artists to Sandbox, a new venue in the East Village, for UnfilteredSD, a one-day event featuring craft coffee, vendors, art and music.

“We all use coffee as a fuel to create, and I want to commemorate that,” Mopia said. “I just have a huge appreciation for craft coffee and the community it builds.”

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Tiki Enthusiasts in S.D., an Outsider on Border Art and More News for the Culture Crowd

• Times of San Diego says the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest is “off to a brilliant start.” The festival runs through Aug. 24.

• Tijuana artist Hugo Crosthwaite is creating large murals on the outdoor walls at Arts District Liberty Station and he’s letting passersby help him decide what to paint. (Union-Tribune)

• A writer from Indianapolis dropped by Las Playas de Tijuana and wrote about some of the art he encountered on and alongside the border fence. (Nuvo)

• This week, the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park is rolling out a new outdoor tour that highlights the science of Balboa Park.

The Renegade Science Project tour will take attendees on a fast-paced, 90-minute, interactive exploration of Balboa Park. / Photo courtesy of the Fleet Science Center

This artist, this artist and these artists are just a few of the more than 200 folks who’ll be exhibiting their work at ArtWalk @ Liberty Station this weekend. (Union-Tribune, Downtown News, Gay San Diego)

Here’s the story behind some new public art that popped up in East Village. (Downtown News)

San Diego artist Richard Becker talks about the work in his solo show that just opened at Sparks Gallery downtown. (Union-Tribune)

• San Diego Musical Theatre’s production of the comedy musical “Hairspray” is “chock full of high hair, buoyant optimism, high-spirited dancing and uplifting songs,” reports the U-T.

The Museum of Man and the San Diego History Center have embarked on efforts to better involve indigenous communities when telling their stories or exhibiting their work and shift away from the white perspective that too often dominates institutions. (CityBeat)

The Kinsee Report: Here’s Where I Want to Be This Week

Tiki people know how to party. On Aug. 8, the annual Tiki Oasis festival kicks off in San Diego. The Los Angeles Times zeroes in on one of the unique events happening during the five-day fest that’s devoted to lovers of island lifestyle, Polynesian pop culture and rum drinks. Weekend tickets always sell out (tiki fans are serious about their obsession), but there are always a few free events every year we tiki observers can experience, including an art and car show.

People who go to Tiki Oasis appreciate the island lifestyle. / Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Even if you’ve never heard the name Dave Persué, you’ve probably seen one of the huge murals by the local artist. He’s the creator of the BunnyKitty character that adorns walls in South Park, East Village and other neighborhoods around San Diego. Persué has a show up at Bread & Salt, and he’ll be talking about his work on Saturday.

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• If you haven’t made it to one of the San Diego Symphony’s summer concerts yet, this week’s show is a tribute to jazz great Charlie Parker and features a performance by Charles McPherson.

Food, Cannabis, Beer and Booze News

• Plant Power is like a combination of Shake Shack and McDonald’s, but for vegans. People dig it. (Thrillest)

Image via Shutterstock

• Speaking of plant-based eateries, Davin Waite, Jessica Waite and Christopher Logan, the folks behind the Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub in Oceanside, joined a local food podcast to talk about their plans for a new plant-based, low-waste restaurant called The Plot. (Specialty Produce Network)

• The San Diego Food System Alliance is looking for nominations of local businesses, institutions, government and food recovery organizations that are doing things to reduce food waste.

• Here’s a list of Filipino restaurants in San Diego that 10News says you must try.

• Restaurants from San Diego and Mexico are competing this week in a ceviche contest. (AM 760)

• Erick Castro, a local bartender, put together a list of some of San Diego’s best cocktails. (VinePair)

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at kinsee@vosd.org with arts and culture news and tips, or submit your question about San Diego arts and culture here. Want to recommend the Culture Report to someone? Share this sign-up link. Subscribe to Voice of San Diego podcasts





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