Controversial art exhibit reopens in Carlsbad mall

'Winter Wonderland' temporarily shut down

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Forget about reindeer and snowmen. A new art installation inside a Carlsbad mall is challenging people to think differently about the holidays, even about shopping.

It is called "Winter Wonderland" and it is a month-long series of interactive and performance art exhibits at the Plaza Camino Real Mall, sponsored by the Oceanside Museum of Art.

The poster and t-shirt that advertise the exhibit show two children sledding on a skull.

"The whole point of these projects is to take some risks, to bring artists into public spaces and engage them, not in a passive way, but hands-on kinds of experiences," said Daniel Foster, the museum's executive director.

Winter Wonderland has already stirred controversy. On Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year for many malls, it hosted a heavy metal band, which led to mall management temporarily shutting down the project.

"The volume was a little too loud," explained Foster. "We're now agreeing to volume checks and all that to fit into the context and not go overboard."

Foster said the band of accomplished artists used some of the printed literature used in store advertising, challenging its content and questioning why so many people feel the need to shop during the Thanksgiving holiday. 

"I honestly don't feel they went over the border line, but they did raise the subject of asking ourselves where shopping fits into the context of the holiday season, and I think we've all been asking ourselves that," Foster added.

Foster said artists are not afraid of controversy. They embrace it.

"Art is a very subjective experience, so artists are constantly challenging those norms and asking ourselves as a society, as a community, what is art? What are the boundary lines? What happens when we do something that’s not normal? What is that context, and how do people respond to it, and they don’t all respond in the same way, and that’s the fascinating thing about art," he said.

The artist who created Winter Wonderland, Armando de la Torre, agreed to talk to 10News about his vision and what caused the closure. He agreed to meet 10News at the museum, but was a no-show.

De la Torre also said the storefront, located in the center of the mall, was open Tuesday.  When 10News arrived it was locked up.

Mall management told 10News' media partners KPBS that the exhibit was temporarily closed because of "technical difficulties."

It has since reopened and on Friday will host a "Santa for Adults" event, where adults sit on Santa's lap, while children take the photos.

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