One of Banksy's works. Photo courtesy of Melrose & Fairfax.

One of Banksy's works. Photo courtesy of Melrose & Fairfax.

Around town, by Olga Khazan:

Bankable street art hits L.A.: Banksy is in town for the Oscars, and is believed to be stealthily putting up street art that is both revered and reviled. While some of the street artist’s purported stenciled pieces were welcomed, one drawing of a drug-addled Micky and Mini Mouse, reportedly worth millions, was promptly ripped down and left in a crumpled ball. LA Weekly reports that art lovers have banned together on Facebook to preserve the remaining works.

Meanwhile another street artist, 27-year-old Parisian artist/activist JR brings his larger-than-life black and white posters to the walls of 20 locations around L.A. for “The Wrinkles of the City.”

Art in Inglewood: USC Annenberg’s South Los Angeles report has a story on the burgeoning art scene in Inglewood. Drawn by the relatively low rent and community feel, artist Renée Fox describes her work and the growth of the Inglewood Beacon Art Building.

Liz at LACMA: On February 26, LACMA will open an exhibit of photographs of Elizabeth Taylor taken by Firooz Zahedi when the actress was touring Iran in 1976.

Feel the glow: The Museum of Neon Art opened its 30-year anniversary exhibit on February 17: “Mona at 30” will feature “a group exhibition of neon and kinetic art.”

Around the Web:

Fewer are Gawking: The iconic Manhattan gossip site Gawker redesigned its site layout last week, but according to site metrics, the new look is bombing with users. The new version has a dominant feature story and photograph, with several other main stories below and a static sidebar. So far, it doesn’t seem to be much of a hit:

“According to Quantcast, which directly measures the sites, Gawker’s U.S. daily unique visitors were cut in half from a high of 561,000 to 257,000“ reports Techcrunch.

While some tech sites are saying that’s because the new version is more confusing and harder to use, the Neiman Journalism Lab speculates that Gawker’s editors are purposefully sacrificing pageviews in exchange for longer-staying visitors:

“With the design’s increased emphasis on engagement/the lean-back experience/etc., Gawker properties will ostensibly beef up their time-on-site stats while — for the short term, at least — taking a cut on pageviews.”

Will those robots defeat us? Now that the Watson computer has reigned victorious over the “puny brain” of Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, what’s next for artificial intelligence? San Francisco’s Meka Robotics has just released a robot who might be your next co-worker.

“The bot is specifically designed to work with and around humans, and has relevant smarts in mobility, dextrous manipulation, and ‘compliant force-control’ (in other words, it won’t accidentally rip you limb from limb if you get in its way while its working).” [Fast Company]

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