ENVZN23 Takes Over San Diego’s Logan Heights

ENVZN23 Takes Over San Diego’s Logan Heights

Art Business News Editor, Linda Mariano, has been in conversation with Susanna Peredo Swap throughout the planning of Vanguard Culture’s upcoming ENVZN23 event. It’s going to be an exciting one-of-a-kind event that promises to engage the whole family in a broad range of art and cultural activities.

Q: What and when is ENVZN23 and why is Vanguard Culture creating the event?

A: ENVZN23 Urban Art Takeover is a one-of-a-kind visual & performing arts festival that will transform numerous warehouses, industrial spaces, and other urban areas of the Commercial Street corridor in Logan Heights with multi-sensory art interventions by creatives from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. 

Q: What and who is Vanguard Culture?

A: Vanguard Culture is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to advancing San Diego’s creative industry workforce. This is our 10th anniversary year of programming award-winning arts journalism, professional development for creatives, and unique-cross industry events that encourage creative collaboration across the visual, performing, and culinary arts.

Q: How do you work?

A: We are a volunteer-powered organization with over 30 passionate arts leaders from film, theatre, dance, visual arts, music, fashion, and culinary arts. This dynamic group of highly connected and innovative creators share the fundamental belief that together we can achieve amazing things. This openness to collaborate and share resources is at the core of everything we do and it is what makes our events so special.

Q: What visual arts will be involved in ENVZN? How were they selected?

A: There are 15 visual artists and arts groups participating from both sides of the US/Mexico border. They include a 56′ long “chalk art walk” by ArtWalk San Diego; a virtual reality experience around the world by San Diego Sister Cities Association; and an 8′ tall face of a Native American woman by XoQue with gigantic tentacle-like braids made from blankets and sheets overtaking a shoe factory.

Individual artists include Cat Chiu Phillips with a large installation of traditional Barong Tagalog shirts quilted together to tell the story of the local Filipino community; The Alchemist by Debby and Larry Kline’s which is a 9′ tall ancient/futuristic warrior made of aluminum cans. The accompanying 2D artwork reflects on industry and overconsumption and the entire installation is set inside of a screen-printing warehouse that feels like a gigantic spaceship. One of my favorite pieces is a video art installation by Perry Vasquez and Lianne Thompson Mueller called Mexus Nexus Fluxus. This immersive outdoor audio/visual projection is set “inside” of an authentic Mexican Coffee House and explores the history and culture of San Diego’s Mexican American neighborhoods from Barrio Logan to National City and beyond.

Q: What do you expect to achieve? Will there be an ENVZN24?

A:  ENVZN has 4 specific goals.

  1. To showcase a diverse range of visual, performing, and culinary artists from both sides of the US/Mexico border.
  2. To highlight Commercial Street in Logan Heights as an up-and-coming urban arts district and help enable it to flourish economically and culturally.
  3. To secure the San Diego / Tijuana region’s reputation as a cultural destination and increase cultural tourism dollar.
  4. To level the playing field by ensuring programming balance between established arts institutions, smaller up-and-coming arts orgs, and individual artists.

ENVZN is designed as a recurring event and am thrilled to share that it will return during the year-long celebrations of World Design Capital San Diego – Tijuana 2024 for an audience of thousands of design professionals, art patrons, and other culture-seekers from the San Diego/Tijuana region and around the world.

Q: Vanguard Culture has done events many times in the past. What’s different about ENVZN23? And what have been the challenges in organizing an event like this?

A: After 10 years of programming and community-building across dozens of industries, the one thing we’ve gotten very good at is bringing creatives together who would typically never intersect. This cross-industry approach has created a tighter community that is more open to creative collaboration and a sharing of resources. This festival is a manifestation of 10 years of that consistent effort and I’m so proud of how well it is all coming together – all with the goal of creating something truly meaningful and transformative for the region.

Our first urban art takeover was produced in a condominium complex in Downtown San Diego called IDEA1. The event was similar in scope in terms of programming, but it was all contained inside a single building. That event was completely sold out and was even featured on the National Geographic Channel!

The ENVZN Urban Art Takeover has similar components but sprawls across seven warehouses and industrial spaces along a 2-block corridor, so of course there are logistical challenges with that effort. Thankfully we have brought together a powerhouse team of professionals in marketing, logistics, development, and curation to make it all come together and I am hopeful that it will all come together beautifully.

Q: What else should our readers know about ENVZN23?

A: One of the fun components of the festival is that programming will change every 30 minutes so that audiences can create their own visual and performing arts lineup. You just show up, look at the schedule for that time slot and decide whether you want to see a fashion show, a short film festival, and immersive art experience, or a dance or theatre performance. It’s up to you!

Readers of Art Business News can receive 20% off using the promo code ARTSD23 here:

All images courtesy of Vanguard Culture 2023.

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