Trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos and his manager Arlene Damasco are ready to begin a collaboration with Bread & Salt, the multi-arts venue in Logan Heights that combines a jazz concert with an art showing on Saturday, January 28 at 7 p.m.
Castellanos feels compelled about this fusion. “To be honest, the connection between art and music has always been there. It’s always been a part of my life. When I went to Cal Arts in the early ’90s, I really started to appreciate art and photography because I was surrounded by people who were doing it all the time.
“But what really triggered it was when the artists started to come to Panama 66,” Castellanos continued. “First one — the next week two — then all of a sudden, the place is filling up with painters and photographers within the first two months. It just kind of happened on its own. I don’t think you can separate the two — sometimes I introduce the artists when I introduce the band — because they are contributing to what’s happening musically. It’s like a different expression of a solo.”
Since Panama 66 is on the property of the San Diego Museum of Art, the painters and photographers aren’t allowed to sell their work. “I put the bug in Arlene’s ear to organize this series at Bread & Salt that pays tribute to the artists and puts the showcase on them for a change. I want the center of attention to be on them. This is a joint venture, but she’s the powerhouse person behind the scenes.”
So far, Castellanos and Damasco have decided that the first collaboration will feature the work of photographer Robert Sanchez, with paintings by Deborah Wolfe, Tom Fagen, and Brian Meyer, all regular supporters of the Wednesday Panama 66 scene. “I consider them part of my family,” Castellanos concluded. “Sanchez, especially, knows how to capture those personal moments.”
The trumpeter is especially pumped to make his debut as a bandleader at Bread & Salt. “I love the fact that it’s so raw. It reminds me of the old El Campo Ruse building at 16th and Broadway where I started my career here in San Diego. Another old, funky warehouse. To me, this is a personal thing — bringing it back to its roots.”
He is cautiously optimistic about performance opportunities in the suddenly chic Logan Heights. “I think that the people in the neighborhood are starving for that,” says Castellanos. “But it’s getting gentrified so quickly that I’m afraid there won’t be any place to play soon.”
Castellanos will be joined by Christopher Hollyday, Dean Hulett, Sam Hirsh, and Roy McCurdy paying tribute to the music of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie on Saturday night. Tickets run $25 at the door, cash only.