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Southwest Mobile Storage - Best Mobile Storage & Office Containers In San Diego, CA

Southwest Mobile Storage is a family-owned shipping container business founded in 1995. Our strength for more than 25 years comes from the specialized knowledge and passion of our people, along with serving over 24,000 commercial, construction and residential customers. Our facility and expertise in maintaining, manufacturing, and delivering corrugated steel containers is unrivaled in the industry.

While the rental side of our business is regional with branches throughout the Southwest, our container sales and modification operations are nationwide and becoming global. San Diego, CA offers a wide selection of portable offices and mobile storage containers you can rent, buy or modify.

Our experts in container rental, sales and customization are committed to providing you the highest quality and best experience from service to delivery - our reputation depends on it.

Whether your need is for storage, office space, moving, multi-purpose or custom use, we've got your back. Here's how:

Storage Containers San Diego, CA



We bring your storage container to you for convenient, easy access at your home, business or jobsite. Plus, you'll get more choice in storage space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of a pod or add on building, saving money and energy.


Not enough room to keep a storage container at your business, home or construction site? No problem - we can store it for you. Plus, you get 70% more space and better security, for a fraction of the cost of public storage units.


Need a permanent storage solution for your business, residence or construction? We sell new and used shipping containers in many sizes with a variety of add-ons. Or customize a container to your specific storage needs with our certified fabrication experts.


Take your time packing with our moving containers. We'll deliver to your business or home and pick it up whenever you're ready to move. So, you don't have to stress about moving or making multiple trips in one day, like if you rented a moving truck.


Our moving container solutions ensure the long-distance move of your home or business is highly efficient and affordable throughout the southwest. In fact, we usually cost 20%-40% less than full-service movers.


We understand move-in and move-out dates might be different. We can store your moving container at our highly secure facilities until you're ready to move to your new home or business location, and you can conveniently access it at any time.


Whether you need a workspace, conference room, or other office requirement, our ground-mounted mobile offices meet any and all of your business needs. Plus, it's faster and easier than building additions.


If you need your shipping container to serve multiple uses, such as office-storage combos, breakrooms and even utilities, we've got you covered. We'll modify a custom container to fit your business needs and bring your business to the next level


We'll create a custom container to fit your unique needs anywhere in the US. With our container modification expertise, we make any idea a reality. From pop-up stores to multi-story structures, our unrivaled facilities and fabrication experts do it all.

You'll get your own dedicated storage and container expert to serve as your one point of contact for easy, convenient service you can trust.
With our wide selection of intermodal containers for sale and rent, you'll find exactly what you need, from size, to type and condition.
We maintain our rental fleet to the highest standard - our integrity depends on it.
Our certified, experienced Conex container modification experts have more than 500 years combined experience modifying ISO containers.
All of our containers come with high security dual-locking system for no additional charge, so you can rest assured your stored items stay safe and that you don't have to pay extra for it.
At our unrivaled 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility, ensuring your custom shipping container is made exactly to your specifications.
With our level of service, quality and expertise, you won't find a better value anywhere else.
Our portable offices include lighting and electrical outlets, internet hookups, HVAC and were crafted by our in-house steel container fabrication experts for top-quality construction.

Premium Quality - High Security

With Southwest Mobile Storage, you get much more than a POD or typical Conex box. You also get high security, unparalleled service and unmatched container modification expertise and facilities. No other company offers that much.

Shipping containers and storage containers come in a range of sizes. The most common external lengths are 20ft and 40ft with a width of 8ft. ISO Containers are typically 8ft 6in tall, but high cube containers are 9ft 6in tall. We also have steel containers in a variety of sizes from 10ft long to 45ft long to rent or buy, and we can modify shipping containers into any size you want.

 Rent Storage Containers San Diego, CA

SMS Mobile Storage Containers have these high quality features:

1/8" thick steel plate bottom side rails
High strength steel supporting cross members
1 1/8" thick hardwood floor with galvanized self-tapping screws
16-gauge corrugated steel walls
16-gauge roof
270-degree swing cargo door(s)
High security dual-locking system*
Spot-grinded, primed & repainted with a beige high-grade water reducible alkyd direct-to-metal enamel*
* Comes standard on all rental units

SMS portable workspace containers have these structural features:

High security window bars, lever & deadbolt set with lock box
Studs & R-19 Insulation covered with wood paneling
1 1/8" marine board floor is covered with a durable single part gray epoxy coating
Dual pane low-E horizontal sliding windows with screens and miniblinds
18 Gauge steel polystyrene core 3-hour fire rated personnel door
All of our workspaces are manufactured in-house and arrive new or restored to factory specifications
Exterior load center operating on 100 Amp single phase 230 Volt power
Light switch, receptacles and 4' light fixtures; all wiring is Romex 12/2
CAT-6 voice and data lines with electrical junction box
HVAC units ranging from 1 ton to 2 ton on rentals; ability to customize up to 10 tons of cooling

Having flexible storage containers options is important, but security is crucial to protect your peace of mind and your possessions.

At Southwest Mobile Storage, we don't believe in leaving things to chance. We want you to rest easy knowing your inventory, documents, tools, equipment and other items are safe 24/7. That is why we equip SMS high-security slide bolt locking systems and lockboxes on our entire fleet of rental freight containers.


High-security slide-bolt locking system and extra-long lock box, giving you twice the security and peace of mind.
No holes to ensure your rental shipping container is wind and water-tight.
No rust for your safety.
14-gauge corrugated steel for strength and reinforcement.

Contact us to speak with a helpful, friendly representative to better understand our full range of capabilities. We are happy to answer any questions you have, go over pricing and set up a time and place to deliver your Conex box. Our quotes are 100% free and you are under no obligation to pay for your consultation.


When you own a business or manage one, it's crucial to have efficient, affordable ways to store inventory and supplies, whether it's to grow your business or adapt to changes in the market, like the many caused by the pandemic.

Renting storage containers to keep at your business eliminates the cost and hassles of sending your staff to offsite storage facilities. Steel containers with roll up doors make storing and retrieving items faster and easier. Auto repair shops and other businesses that need easy access throughout the workday to secure storage for tools, parts, equipment or supplies find renting shipping containers to be the best solution for their business storage needs. Southwest Mobile Storage has your back.

 Storage Containers For Rent San Diego, CA

Renting portable offices gives your business more workspace, breakrooms, pop up stores, security booths and more, without the cost and red tape associated with constructing building additions. Plus, a steel storage container fits neatly into one parking space and provides much stronger security than Pods and way more convenience than self-storage units.

If you have a specific need, we can modify shipping containers to build whatever you need to grow your business. Whether it's a portable workspace to run your business, like a pop-up container bar, or a durable facility for scientific research, like a container laboratory, or even a container gym, our unrivaled fabrication facility and modification experts got you covered. Our full-time, in-house staff of certified welders, engineers, electricians, carpenters and painters have over 500 years combined experience modifying thousands of container projects for just about any business use you can imagine.


Offsite storage alternatives cause a mess of hassles and headaches. Expanding office space and storage capacity at your location saves time, money and hassle of making multiple trips offsite.
We offer more choice in security, size and features in steel Conex boxes or ISO shipping containers than a public storage unit or Pod for less cost and far greater service.
We offer flexible, month-to-month rental agreements and prorate by the day after your first 28-day billing cycle.
With us, you get a dedicated account manager you can rely on, so you can focus on running your business than waste time with a different person every time you call that doesn't know or care as much.
While other companies may have some staff for modifying containers, most outsource the work, so you don't know who is actually doing the modifications or how much they're marking up the price.
 Mobile Storage Containers San Diego, CA
When you modify a shipping container for your business, you won't have to worry about expensive, lengthy and complicated construction.
We have modified thousands of containers nationwide and internationally for more than 25 years for NASA, US Navy, GCP Applied Technologies, Helix and Sundt to name a few. And rent containers to Amazon, Walmart and many of other nationally recognized brands.
Our extensive staff makes it possible to custom build multiple projects simultaneously and our 90,000 sq ft indoor fabrication facility prevents contaminants from interfering with fabrication, which delivers better quality and precision.


With an extensive in-house staff and 90,000 sq ft container modification facility, we're able to deliver consistently high quality and work on multiple projects simultaneously for a fast turnaround.

Other companies don't have the facility, staff or resources to modify shipping containers and will outsource the work to various shops who may not have the special experience or tools needed to modify the right way.

You can rest assured knowing your custom container is safe in our hands. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications through every step of the process.

Renting a moving container from us makes your move much less stressful because you won't have to rush to pack your whole house into a moving truck in one day. Instead, you can take your time packing over the course of a month.

Our ISO shipping containers are weatherproof and come with vault-like security, so you don't have to worry about theft or damage to your belongings.

You won't get that level of security from U-Haul or other moving truck companies.

Renting a storage container at your home keeps your belongings close and gives you convenient 24/7 access, so you're always able to retrieve the contents of your container when you need to.

We know move in and move out dates don't always line up. We can store your packed rental container at our secure facility until your new home is ready.

With our mobile storage containers for rent in San Diego, CA, you can save up to 40% when compared to full-service long-distance movers, while gaining more flexibility in your schedule.


We know your needs may change suddenly. With our extensive inventory and variety of sizes of portable offices and shipping containers to rent, buy or modify in San Diego, CA, we provide fast service and the best value possible so it's easy for you to get whatever you need when you need it.

Renting storage containers and portable offices from us gives you more flexibility when it comes to your schedule and options. If you don't have enough space at your current location or simply would prefer offsite storage, you can keep your rental storage and office containers at your location or ours - whichever is most convenient for you. You also get more options to choose from when it comes to size and features, like portable offices with divided rooms for private meetings or office/storage combos for storage and office space in one container. All while costing a fraction of the price of a pod or self-storage facility.

You can also buy new or used freight containers from us and choose from a variety of add-ons, including lights, electricity, doors and windows. Or fully customize a shipping container to save time, money and energy by skipping the expensive, lengthy process of constructing building additions. We can modify a Conex box into whatever you can imagine for any use you need, from construction tool cribs to office buildings, monitoring stations, mobile communication towers and much more. The possibilities are endless.


You'll never face hidden fees or surprises with us. We give you transparent billing up front at the best prices.

With us, you get a reliable, dedicated point of contact, who keeps you updated every step of the way. You can rest assured knowing you'll always get what you need, when you need it.

No other company has the breadth and depth of staff and experience that we do when it comes to modifying shipping containers. Our certified welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters have more than 500 years of combined experience in fabricating custom steel containers.

We prorate your rent by the day after the first 28-day billing cycle, so you don't have to pay for a full month when you only have your mobile containers and offices for a few days.

While other companies may be able to do small container modifications, most don't have an in-house fabrication staff or 90,000 sq ft fabrication facility like we do. As a result, they outsource the work on your custom container, so you don't know who's actually building it.

Rest assured knowing your modified shipping container will be built to the highest quality standards. Our certified weld and quality control inspectors check every step of the fabrication process to ensure everything is structurally sound and built to your specifications.


Whether you're in need of a storage container for your commercial business, a portable office for your construction site, or a moving container for your home, our process is simple and straightforward.

Choose Your Container

Choose the mobile storage solution that works best for your needs. In this step, you will let us know the number of containers you need, their sizes and what types of doors to equip.

Choose Your Options

Let us know if you would like to add any of our rental options, like a folding table or shelving.

Choose Your Security

Choose from padlocks, puck locks and other enhanced security options. All of our storage containers come standard with dual-locking, vault-like security.

Choose Your Delivery Timeframe

You can expect standard delivery within 3-5 days of your order. If you need expedited delivery, we will do everything in our power to accommodate your needs.

Pick-Up Planning

Do you need to keep your shipping container at our location? Prefer to have our team deliver your packed container to a location of your choice? Let us know, and we'll be by your side to work out the logistics.




Let our team know where we should deliver your mobile storage container for rent in San Diego, CA. Be sure to let us know if there are any special conditions that might prevent our drivers from entering your chosen destination. Before you schedule your delivery, let us know which direction you would like the doors of your container to face.



Our drivers can deliver your storage container Monday-Friday, between the hours of 6AM and 2PM local time. Our two-hour delivery window is the most precise in the industry. If you desire another delivery time outside of our standard delivery options, we will do our best to accommodate your needs. As a courtesy, our driver will call you at least 30 minutes before they arrive at your drop-off destination.



Before we deliver your Conex box, prepare your delivery area by ensuring that there are no low overhangs, arches, wires, trees or any other obstacles that could interfere with your delivery. It's a good idea to mark the space where you would like your steel container placed.



When our driver arrives, they will back our truck into the space where you would like your shipping container placed. Once we arrive, we will ensure that your container is delivered safely and securely. If placed on asphalt or pavement, we will use wood dunnage pads to make sure your ground surface is protected and the container is level.


Check out our FAQ page or reach out to our helpful customer service team today @


Latest News in San Diego, CA

Mexico Series is bigger than baseball for Padres Spanish broadcaster

MEXICO CITY -- When Eduardo Ortega lands in Mexico with the Padres -- and this will now be his fourth time doing so -- he thinks about all of it.He thinks about playing pickup baseball games with his two brothers, imitating Mario Thomas, the Spanish voice of the Padres when Ortega was a kid growing up in Tijuana.He thinks about those years he spent as a radio DJ, a talk show host, a news reporter, clinging tight to his dream of becoming a baseball broadcaster.He thinks about his past trips to Mexico with the Padres -- th...

MEXICO CITY -- When Eduardo Ortega lands in Mexico with the Padres -- and this will now be his fourth time doing so -- he thinks about all of it.

He thinks about playing pickup baseball games with his two brothers, imitating Mario Thomas, the Spanish voice of the Padres when Ortega was a kid growing up in Tijuana.

He thinks about those years he spent as a radio DJ, a talk show host, a news reporter, clinging tight to his dream of becoming a baseball broadcaster.

He thinks about his past trips to Mexico with the Padres -- the three regular-season series in Monterrey, including a particularly poignant moment in 1996, when MLB came to Mexico for the very first time. There were other exhibition games, too, as well as a day trip he vividly remembers, going alongside Tony Gwynn and Rod Carew as ambassadors at a clinic in the ‘80s.

Ortega, now in his 37th season as the Spanish-language voice of the Padres, thinks about all of it. And -- you know what? -- it's all a bit overwhelming.

"I know Thursday night, when we land from Chicago, it's going to be very special," said Ortega, his eyes beginning to well. "It happened to me in Monterrey in '96 and '99, and then 2018, when we played the Dodgers. It gets emotional."

He has to pause, collect himself.

"Very special," Ortega continued. "Just very, very special. Proud to be Mexican in the Major Leagues."

The Padres and Giants play two games at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú on Saturday and Sunday in Mexico City, the first two regular-season games ever played in the Mexican capital.

They'll do so amid quite a backdrop. And there's no one better qualified to summarize that backdrop than Ortega:

"It's the best moment of Mexican history for baseball -- ranking third [in the world baseball rankings] after the World Baseball Classic," Ortega said. "Baseball has grown in Mexico. More states and more fans are following baseball because of what happened in the World Baseball Classic. But also, all of the buzz the Padres have created, building this team ... a lot of fans from Mexico are watching the Padres, growing this fanbase.

"It's just a great moment to be an ambassador for both sides -- for Major League Baseball and for Mexico."

Ortega has called 25 World Series and 20 All-Star Games. He's called 17 Caribbean Series, including the latest one in February, an eight-team edition that was the largest in history. And he was the lead Spanish play-by-play voice for each of the first four World Baseball Classics.

"Broadcasting in Spanish is a lot different than broadcasting in English," said Pedro Gutierrez, Ortega's partner on Padres Spanish radio. "You've got to have a little bit more flair and a little bit more flavor. He oozes it. He goes by far, above and beyond, and it comes from his passion for baseball."

Ortega's résumé speaks for itself. Gutierrez believes staunchly that Ortega will, sooner or later, become the first Mexican enshrined in Cooperstown.

And yet, those who are closest to Ortega almost never gush about his broadcasting chops first. They gush about the person.

"When I started working with him, the first thing that somebody told me was: See how he treats people," Gutierrez said. "Whether it be an elevator operator at a stadium we don't know, or it was [former Padres GM] Kevin Towers ... everybody would see Eduardo, and it puts a smile on their face. That's just the way he treats people."

End your night with this elite Spanish radio call of Camarena’s grand slam!!!!! #HazloGrande

— Cut4 (@Cut4) July 9, 2021

Ortega brings his unending enthusiasm to the broadcast booth. “Sabor Latino,” Gutierrez calls it. Ortega has announced dozens of the sport's biggest games. He also spent plenty of time during the 2010s calling some bad Padres teams on a nightly basis.

"In terms of just sheer emotion, it doesn't matter if we are the 2016 Padres on a losing streak, or we're the 2022 Padres going to the NLCS, or he's doing ESPN Game 7 of the World Series and Rajai Davis just hit the homer in Cleveland,” Gutierrez said. “It's the same passion on every single pitch. That's a pretty high standard."

It's a standard Ortega strives to maintain every day.

"In the end, I'm always thinking, based on my love of baseball: promote the game and sell the stars on the field," Ortega said. "That's the goal -- and should be -- for every broadcaster, to connect the game with the audience."

Congrats to my friend Eduardo Ortega @EDEPORTEGA on 35 years as the voice of the Padres Spanish broadcasts. Should be HOF. So glad I got the chance to know you and tell my story about our trip to Mexico City!

— Don Orsillo (@DonOrsillo) September 27, 2021

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Said Gutierrez: "He tries to present the players in the best possible light. He'll drop a story about each player -- his parents come from here, parents come from there, and he can connect a little bit with the audience, trying to give that little background."

First and foremost, Ortega’s passion is baseball.

Within that passion, however, there are clearly two passions: Padres baseball and Mexican baseball. This weekend, they’re intertwined.

“The first ever official game, with San Diego being the home team, in Mexico City, the capital of the country -- it’s very special,” Ortega said. “I can’t wait to call the game there and make another chapter of history where the Padres are starring.”

‘Like Tatis right now’: High school students play baseball series at Petco Park

SAN DIEGO — While the Padres took to Mexico City, several local high school baseball teams got the chance to play a game in Petco Park Saturday afternoon.As part of the annual CIF High School Baseball series in Petco Park, Carlsbad High School took on La Costa Canyon in the last of seven student games that took place this weekend.“I’ve been in this park many times, but I’ve never seen a high school team play here,” one LCC student, Emerson Ostanik, told FOX 5. “It’s kind of cool.”...

SAN DIEGO — While the Padres took to Mexico City, several local high school baseball teams got the chance to play a game in Petco Park Saturday afternoon.

As part of the annual CIF High School Baseball series in Petco Park, Carlsbad High School took on La Costa Canyon in the last of seven student games that took place this weekend.

“I’ve been in this park many times, but I’ve never seen a high school team play here,” one LCC student, Emerson Ostanik, told FOX 5. “It’s kind of cool.”

The series kicked off Friday with three match-ups: Valhalla vs. West Hills, Mater Dei Catholic vs. San Ysidro, and Imperial vs. Brawley.

Two schools, La Jolla Country Day and Maranatha Christian, took to the field the day prior, however, that game as not part of the Padres-sponsored series.

Saturday marked the final day of the High School Baseball Series at San Diego’s downtown stadium. Before CHS and LCC, Kearny and Foothills Christian took on Mountain Empire and Classical Academy, respectively.

For many of the students that took to the diamond, it was a dream come true. Even the students in the stands were awestruck seeing their classmates playing on the home turf of their favorite players.

“If I was on the LCC (team), I’d be like ‘Oh my god, I’m like Tatis right now,’ or Machado,” Ostanik said.

Each of the schools were issued about 400 tickets for the game to sell to students and families, the San Diego Union Tribune reported. But high demand ultimately prompted the Padres to open a ticket booth at the stadium for the games.

There is at least one more game scheduled at Petco Park for this CIF baseball season. It will take place on June 18 immediately following the 1:10 p.m. Padres game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

SAN DIEGO — Don’t put your coats and umbrellas away yet: San Diego is in for a “rollercoaster” week, according to the National Weather Service, with high temperatures forecasted to transform into a major cooldown and chance of rain.

NWS said a low pressure system moving south from the Gulf of Alaska will be affecting the region for much of the next week.

While Sunday will see a slight dip in temperatures, it will remain fairly warm across the county.

Daytime highs in the coastal neighborhoods on Sunday will be in the high 60s, while valley and mountain communities are forecasted to see maximum temperatures in the mid to high 70s. Desert areas could see heat anywhere from the high 80s to the low 100s.

A thick marine layer will accompany the biggest drop in temperatures on Monday. Most areas away from the deserts will see anywhere from a 5 degree to 10 degree departure from normal high temperatures.

The marine layer will also bring a chance of precipitation in the middle of the week, with patchy drizzle possible as early as Tuesday. More widespread showers are likely on Wednesday and Thursday.

NWS said that the strongest chance of precipitation will come Wednesday night into Thursday. Both morning and evening commutes could be impacted, according to the weather agency.

About a quarter to a half of an inch is possible west of the mountains, NWS said. In the south slopes of San Bernardino County, up to one inch of rain is possible. Measurable snow is possible for elevations above 6,000 feet.

Periods of gusty winds are also possible across the mountains and deserts moving into the week, according to NWS.

Yankees 2023 transaction tracker: New York adds Jake Bauers to active roster, transfers Lou Trivino to 60-day IL

Here is a look at the latest Yankees roster moves...April 29, 11:50 p.m.The Yankees announced on Saturday morning that they’ve officially signed Jake Bauers to a major league contract, and they’ve added him to the big league roster.With ...

Here is a look at the latest Yankees roster moves...

April 29, 11:50 p.m.

The Yankees announced on Saturday morning that they’ve officially signed Jake Bauers to a major league contract, and they’ve added him to the big league roster.

With Aaron Judge a bit banged up over the past few days, Bauers joined the Yankees’ taxi squad at the beginning of their series in Texas. New York is excepted to provide an update on the outfielder’s status later today.

If Judge does avoid the IL, and is just to miss a few days, Bauers could at the very least provide the Yanks with insurance. The veteran has played first and both corner outfield positions in his big league career.

Prior to being called up, Bauers was hitting .304 with a 1.245 OPS, nine homers, five doubles, and 20 RBI in Triple-A. He also put together a strong spring, hitting .407 across 13 games.

In a corresponding roster move, New York has transferred Lou Trivino to the 60-day injured list. The right-hander, who has yet to pitch this season, is dealing with a UCL strain in his pitching elbow.

April 28, 11:35 p.m.

Following the Yankees' 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday night, the team announced they optioned INF/OF Franchy Cordero to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

In 18 games (53 at-bats), the 28-year-old slashed .151/.182/.578 with four home runs and 11 RBI.

While Cordero's numbers of late were not good, he was pivotal in the first couple of weeks of the 2023 season. From April 3-12, Cordero hit .280 but launched four home runs and 11 RBI. He would not hit another home run or drive in another run since.

April 25, 4:22 p.m.

The Yankees announced Tuesday that they have signed LHP Nick Ramirez to a major league contract and selected him to the active roster.

Ramirez, 33, last appeared in the majors in 2021 with the San Diego Padres. In 13 appearances, Ramirez had a 5.75 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. Last season, Ramirez was signed to a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners but did not make it out of Triple-A with the club.

In a corresponding move, the team optioned RHP Greg Weissert to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes/Barre.

Entering Tuesday, Weissert appeared in four games this season and pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 4.1 innings.

April 14, 3:25 p.m.

The Yankees announced Friday they have called-up pitcher Greg Weissert from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and designated pitcher Colten Brewer for assignment.

The move comes after the Yankees bullpen got taxed for 8.1 innings of relief on Thursday in an 11-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins after starter Jhony Brito failed to make it out of the first. New York's 40-man roster count now stands at 30 after the move.

Brewer joined the Yankees' Opening Day roster after having spent spring training in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization. The 30-year-old appeared in three games for this season, allowing four runs (all earned) on six hits while walking three and striking out four in 8.1 innings pitched (4.32 ERA). The right-hander got bitten by the long ball three times in his final appearance against the Twins on Thursday night.

If Brewer clears waivers, he has the right to reject the assignment and elect free agency.

Weissert, 28, appeared in 12 games for the Yanks last season – his first action at the Major League level. The righty allowed seven runs (all earned) on six hits while walking five and striking out 11 in 11.1 innings (5.56 ERA).

San Diego Weekend Guide: April 28-30 – Flurry of Fests

Jeepers, but it’s going to be pretty this San Diego weekend. And oh, the number of outdoor activities happening just in time for it – whew!The WOW Festival – the La Jolla Playhouse event formally known as Without Walls – continues with dozens of options, f...

Jeepers, but it’s going to be pretty this San Diego weekend. And oh, the number of outdoor activities happening just in time for it – whew!

The WOW Festival – the La Jolla Playhouse event formally known as Without Walls – continues with dozens of options, from theater and dance to music and puppetry. Local artists include performers from the San Diego Symphony, DISCO RIOT, the Diversionary Theatre, TuYo Theatre and the Blindspot Collective. Most shows are free and this year, the action shifts to the waterfront Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. WOW opens at 4 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

You honestly could make it a free arts weekend in downtown San Diego. Spend a few hours at WOW, then shift several blocks north to Little Italy for ArtWalk, where 250 artists offer up their best paintings, photos and other creations in booths along India Street. Musicians also will perform on four stages during the two-day event – it opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.

Need your mid-year fix of music on Adams Avenue? It’s time for Adams Avenue Unplugged, with live performances inside restaurants, bars and coffee houses along two miles of the main drag, from University Heights to Kensington. Headliner Dave Alvin’s show sold out, but never fear. There are more than 60 other shows to see. Start times stretch from noon to 9 p.m.

There’s SO much free community and cultural festival goodness this weekend too.

The Encinitas Spring Street Fair opens at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with food, arts and crafts vendors plus entertainment on four stages, children’s rides and a kid/dog-friendly beer garden. Head to South Coast Highway 101 in downtown.

The first Southern California Asian & Pacific Islander Festival opens at 10 a.m. Saturday at Oceanside Civic Center with more than 20 Asian and Pacific Islander cultures set to be represented. Performers will take to three stages for the free event, which includes a martial arts demonstration arena, Library Hub, storytelling and hands-on cultural activities.

Spring Valley Day 2023, in front of Bancroft Elementary School, includes a car show, arts and crafts fair, chalk mural, live entertainment and local vendors and kids’ zone. The event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. There’s a free bike valet too.

Linda Vista hosts its Multi-Cultural Fair and Parade on Linda Vista Road between Comstock and Ulric Street, opening at 10 a.m. Saturday, with booths and music and dance on two stages. The parade, starting on Genesee Avenue leading to Comstock, begins at 11 a.m.

Art of the City: Artist Tarrah Aroonsakool creates by making more with less

City Heights resident uses found objects in her exploration of the human body and its commodificationTarrah Aroonsakool is really into trash.Halfway through our conversation at her City Heights home she admits that she’s had to limit herself to how many times she goes to swap meets because she knows she’ll end up coming back with all sorts of knick-knacks, curiosities and ephemera.“I’m definitely a collector of things,” says Aroonsakool, pointing to a wall-sized Vietnamese food menu...

City Heights resident uses found objects in her exploration of the human body and its commodification

Tarrah Aroonsakool is really into trash.

Halfway through our conversation at her City Heights home she admits that she’s had to limit herself to how many times she goes to swap meets because she knows she’ll end up coming back with all sorts of knick-knacks, curiosities and ephemera.

“I’m definitely a collector of things,” says Aroonsakool, pointing to a wall-sized Vietnamese food menu, complete with pictures of the dishes, that she found after a nearby restaurant closed. “I know that I’m eventually going to do something with it.”

She even has something of an inside joke among friends that the art store she most frequently visits is right outside her door.

“My first studio, you could enter it through an alleyway, so I always joked that going through the alley was, for me, like going through an arts supply store,” she says, laughing. “I’m just shopping behind people’s trash cans in the alleyway.”

So as to not give the wrong impression, Aroonsakool is by no means a hoarder. Rather, she is attracted to the concept of what she calls the “lesser than.”

Whether it’s the discarded or unwanted materials she uses within her sculptural and painted works, or the thematic elements within those pieces, the clearest throughline within her work is the exploration of beauty and commodification. Whether it’s body parts rendered to look like chicken wings or a tissue paper sculpture resembling a butchered pig carcass, she admits her work is both enticing and disturbing, accessible but crass.

By incorporating everyday objects, even things many people consider to be trash, she says the viewer is able to find the value in these objects even if what they’re viewing can be initially bewildering.

“In a way, it makes people feel more comfortable, more open and receptive to the ideas presented in the work,” Aroonsakool explains. “My stuff can be on the gruesome side. Even with my watercolor paintings, I paint portraits of queer bodies, people that aren’t seen, by Western ideas, as what is beautiful.”

This exploration of “exaggerated bodily elements” and the “capitalist-promoted fetishistic gaze,” as she puts it, is something Aroonsakool has deftly explored since moving back to San Diego five years ago. Born and raised in the South Bay, growing up in National City and Bonita, she was often drawn to outsider art and ceramics. It’s likely what led her to eventually move to New Orleans, where she lived for six years. At the time, she says she had a very narrow outlook on the San Diego art scene.

“When I left San Diego I was like, ‘I don’t want to do beach art. I don’t want to paint dolphins. I don’t want my art in La Jolla,’” Aroonsakool says, laughing. “It was always like, ‘where’s the space for me?’”

Still, once she was living on her own for the first time in New Orleans, she began gravitating toward creating art using found materials not out of an overt desire, but rather out of necessity. Without a reliable kiln to fire and produce her ceramics, Aroonsakool says she began to create art using materials that were readily available.

“I found some cardboard boxes and started to paint on them. I ended up really liking the oil stains that would be on there,” says Aroonsakool, adding that it made her think “inside the box.”

“Pun intended,” she laughs. “I would incorporate things like the stains and the markings on the cardboard into the work. I realized that I really do love trash. In a sense, you’re limited by what you find, but it makes you think differently.”

She eventually moved back to San Diego to work at an art licensing company, moonlighting in the DIY art scene with organizations like Weird Hues, a Chula Vista warehouse space known for showcasing young and experimental local artists. Aroonsakool had a solo exhibition of her work at the space in March 2019.

“It was weird being back at first, like a tourist in your own hometown,” Aroonsakool says, adding that becoming involved with Weird Hues helped “kickstart” not only new work, but also the idea that it was possible to stay creative in a city that is often viewed as not valuing homegrown artists. “It showed me that I could make art in San Diego versus New Orleans.”

She’s kept that mindset since, incorporating everyday objects, found materials and household items into her work.

Aroonsakool admits that her work, including her paintings, can sometimes have color tones and even textures that are “meaty” and “nasty.” Tones of red and purple and pink abound and her new work incorporates papier-mâché and found materials to create disconcerting sculptural works that hang in her studio like a meat market.

She credits a 2021 group exhibition in City Heights (“Characters”) for reigniting her interest in sculptural works. And whereas her previous works were much more blatant (for example, a 2020 work featured a body on a plastic meat tray), her new work is more abstract in nature.

“Yes, bodies in general are a throughline, but I gravitate towards what I call ‘lesser than’ people,” Aroonsakool says. “When it comes to the current work, it has to do with the commodification of bodies — slicing and dissecting parts of us that are deemed as less, or cutting off the best parts of us and putting that on display.”

These days, she produces most of this work in a City Heights space she shares with the owners of Teros Gallery and Burn All Books, both of whom lost their previous brick and mortar locations during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a palpable energy within the studio, emblematic of the DIY hustle of local creatives; that is, that in a city where being an artist is not commensurate with the cost of living, collaboration and communal mindsets are downright imperative.

“Being part of the community is really important,” says Aroonsakool who has also volunteered and done mentorships at a number of community organizations and nonprofits. “Whether it’s a friendship that might end up influencing my work or it might lead to me finding new materials, I just generally want to connect with my surroundings.”

Aroonsakool has recently been hosting open studio events to get feedback on her new work, which she will eventually showcase at a solo installation at Hill Street Country Club in Oceanside in June. She’s also planning a new large-scale sculptural work which will be installed at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and Euclid Avenue.

She mentions she quit her job to devote herself full-time to her practice. One gets the sense she’s on a bit of a roll, having finally found, in digging through the literal and metaphorical debris of life, the art and the community she’s always desired.

“I do see what all of us see; what it was and what it could be,” Aroonsakool says. “And so I do think that a lot of us are trying to create that atmosphere that we want to see.”

“It’s a community,” Aroonsakool adds. “If one of us succeeds, we all succeed. And that’s something I’m seeing throughout San Diego.”

Combs is a freelance writer.

Tarrah Aroonsakool

Age: 28

Born: San Diego

Fun Fact: Aroonsakool created one of her new sculptural works, “Rib Special,” using newsprint papier-mâché, cardboard and, of all things, paper toilet seat covers.


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