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I’m Not Like You:
Notes from the San Diego Underground

April 20 – May 3, 2020

I’m Not Like You: Notes from the San Diego Underground is an exhibition celebrating the creative energy, self-expression and independent spirit that distinguished skate, punk and hip-hop culture in San Diego from the 1970s through 1990s. During the two decades preceding the rise of the World Wide Web in 1991, and the subsequent ubiquity of social media and smartphones, highly localized subcultures formed and thrived throughout San Diego.

In San Diego, skate, punk and hip-hop were three especially vibrant social and cultural scenes that thrived in the years before the advent of the Internet and new technologies profoundly altered the activities, attitudes and behaviors of young people. Merging group identity and personal expression, these groups came together through shared interests, activities and outlooks, often forming around a particular record or clothing store, band, music venue, outlaw skate spot or graffiti writing yard.

Although San Diego’s skate, punk and hip-hop scenes were highly diverse and distinctive, they also shared several vital common threads: an interest in art, personal style, music, and other expressive forms, a rebellious spirit and DIY attitude, and a mutual pride in being outside the mainstream.

Sourced solely from the personal collections of the individuals who formed San Diego’s skate, punk and hip-hop communities, I’m Not Like You features photographs, video footage, music, print media, art, objects and ephemera that share these unique histories through a first-person perspective.

I’m Not Like You: Notes from the San Diego Underground is not a comprehensive historical overview of these diverse cultural and social scenes, but a snapshot that captures the dynamism and inventiveness that characterized skate, punk and hip-hop culture in San Diego. The exhibition explores what made these three San Diego scenes so distinctive, celebrates the boundless potential of youth culture, and validates the power of subculture to unite and bring young people together.