Graffiti art
ZENO, RAID, ESCAPE and TAKEN in front of ZENO’s Crush piece, The Pits, 1988. Courtesy of Christopher Kinney

An exhibition opening this week at the San Diego History Center celebrates the dynamism of San Diego’s skate, punk and hip-hop cultures from the 1970s through the 1990s.

I’m Not Like You: Notes from the San Diego Underground” examines a time before the Internet, social media and smartphones, when highly localized subcultures formed and thrived throughout the city.

Skate, punk and hip-hop were three especially vibrant social and cultural scenes, often forming around a particular record or clothing store, band, music venue, outlaw skate spot or graffiti writing yard. They shared an interest in art, personal style, music, and other expressive forms, a rebellious spirit, DIY attitude, and a
mutual pride in being outside the mainstream.

The exhibit, which opens Saturday, April 20, is sourced solely from the personal collections of the individuals involved, including photographs, video, music, print media, art, objects and ephemera that share these unique histories through a first-person perspective.

“The San Diego History Center is committed to presenting programming that addresses topics of real relevance to our community, in particular histories that are often untold or overlooked,” said curator Kaytie Johnson. “’I’m Not Like You’ presents a history of three vibrant cultural scenes that have never before been addressed in a museum exhibition — it’s a snapshot of a remarkable moment in San Diego’s cultural history, a sliver of a much larger, far more complex story that deserves further investigation and articulation.”

The museum in Balboa Park is open from from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The suggested minimum donation is $5.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.