Arts & Culture, Featured »

How teaching Shakespeare to middle schoolers transformed a struggling actor

Posted October 22, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Mel Ryane and her new book at KCRW

Mel Ryane, a classically trained actor, thought the idea seemed simple enough: Volunteer at a local public school to teach kids an appreciation for Shakespeare. Share the joys of literature and the Bard’s life lessons with kids who might not otherwise learn it. Her time on the stage had to have prepared her for the task–no? Well, it turns out, definitely not. Nothing could have primed Ryane for the terror and …

Arts & Culture, Headline »

Inside the Hello Kitty empire: An icon turns 40

Posted October 17, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Allegory of Love by Marc Dennis

My, how the super-cute Japanese export known as Hello Kitty has grown since first adorning a coin purse 40 years ago. For one thing, she’s become an $8 billion international empire, with her image affixed from backpacks to underwear and airplanes to tombstones. She’s also the character that sparked the “cute” culture called kawaii while helping to break down racial barriers at a time before things from …

Arts & Culture, Headline »

Celebrating the life and work of a cherished writer and teacher

Posted October 15, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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This Sunday at 6pm, a book party to be held on the campus of UCLA will also serve as a memorial: the writer Les Plesko committed suicide over a year ago, leading his friends to rally to make sure the book he considered his magnum opus got into print
Plesko taught for nearly 20 years at UCLA Extension, and was an active member in the community of …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

Great in any language: Meet the most famous writer and musician from…Estonia

Posted October 10, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Musician Silver Sepp and writer Kristiina Ehin--Estonia's "it" couple visit LA, and Grand Park

It’s not every day you get invited to meet people from Estonia, much less people who comprise Estonia’s power artistic couple: its most famous writer and in-demand musician.  Where is Estonia?  I myself had to look at a map (N of Latvia, W of Russia,) but after meeting the accomplished writer Kristiina Ehin and her husband of three years, Silver Sepp (yes, Silver is his …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

A communal experience, delivered over the airwaves – in between English and calculus class

Posted October 8, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
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It’s second period on Friday at Grover Cleveland Charter High School in Reseda, a school of 3,000 students, faculty and staff about an hour’s drive north of downtown LA in the morning rush. Students, aka the cast and crew of KCAV News, stream into the campus TV studio and get to work, putting the final preparations on their weekly news show.
In a matter of minutes, they rehearse, …

Arts & Culture, Headline, Interviews »

Where feminist art began: Revisiting ‘Womanhouse’

Posted October 1, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Doesn't look historic, but the grounds on which this building sits played an important role in art history

533 N. Mariposa Avenue is an ordinary looking apartment building on a hilltop in the nether land between Koreatown and Los Feliz.  The most remarkable thing about this quiet street is its view of the Griffith Park Observatory.  But the ground on which it sits turns out to be a hallowed bit of contemporary art history.
Back in 1972, pioneering artists Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro, along with 21 …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

Demystifying a blockbuster hit (in pajamas)

Posted September 26, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Frozen1

If you’ve had any interaction with a little girl who is around five years old, you know the fever: They’re very likely gaga for the animated Disney princess-film, Frozen, which has earned over a billion dollars since its release last year.
What is it about this movie that seeps into young impressionable minds so deeply that girls want to see it over, and over, and over again? Just how did …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

Two unlikely friends, one tragic ending

Posted September 19, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs

When Jeff Hobbs arrived for his freshman year at Yale, his mother was preoccupied with making curtains for his dorm room. His roommate Robert Peace, on the other hand, had different concerns. His father was in prison, serving time for murders he may or may not have committed. His mother was struggling, as she had been for years, with her low-wage job in a …

Arts & Culture, News »

Women cross the border with a universal language: Art

Posted September 18, 2014 by | 2 Comments | ]
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A new show up at a gallery in San Diego aims to illustrate how women navigate borders, literal and figurative. Spearheaded by artists Anna Stump, Jill Holslin and the art collective known as FIG (Feminist Image Group), colleagues associated with Mexico’s Distrito Diez Gallery were invited to collaborate.
A fence bisects the space. On one side is work by the Mexican artists; on the other is work by the …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Headline, News, Warren Olney »

Stressed out? Unhealthy? Can your city government improve your quality of life?

Posted September 17, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
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Skeptics around the world shook their heads this week at news that the city of Santa Monica is about to get underway with a planned $1 million study of well-being. The city beat out 300 others last year in the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge to create a “well-being project.” What does that mean?
Julie Rusk, the project’s assistant director, says just as Santa Monica has been at the …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Interviews, News »

Preservationists rail against plans to ‘deforest’ Lincoln Boulevard

Posted September 11, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Some people want the mural preserved

The school that sits at the busy corner of Lincoln and Ocean Park Boulevards in Santa Monica was first built in the 1920s as an elementary school, named for environmentalist John Muir. It’s covered on two sides with a mural of the Muir Woods, painted in his honor back in 1978. For decades now, the structure has housed Olympic High School, a small city-run school for at-risk youth.
After …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Interviews, News »

‘Snackable’ art served up by LACMA’s social media maven

Posted September 3, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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Maritza Lerman Yoes said she was worried when she first joined Snapchat on behalf of her employer, the LA County Museum of Art–believed to be the first art institution to deploy the youth-oriented social media app. Would the brand of irreverence necessary to succeed on Snapchat offend her bosses at the museum?
The answer is, it seems, no: Last week one of the big VPs asked …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

How teaching at-risk youth helped this Los Angeles author write her first novel

Posted August 27, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Writer, teacher, activist Cynthia Bond

Cynthia Bond‘s first novel, “Ruby”, was ten years in the making. Life and work and incubation of a story have delayed the completion of many an opus; the fact that “Ruby” tackles racism and brutality must have made it more challenging to write.
Recently published by Hogarth Press, the novel tells the story of Ruby Bell, whose dark past makes her a pariah in her community, and the man who …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

Celebrating the mighty orchestral soundtrack of Hollywood (and its 21 feet of tubing)

Posted August 20, 2014 by | 2 Comments | ]
The first meeting of the LA Horn Club

Annie Bosler is living the dream. She’s a resident and teacher at the prestigious Colburn School downtown; she’s played with the likes of Paul McCartney, John Williams, and Josh Groban; and now she’s putting the finishing touches on a documentary, a decade in the making, about her life-long passion: the twisty wind instrument with 21-feet of tubing known as the French horn.
Bosler was raised on a cattle farm in South …

Arts & Culture, Featured »

The first movie star never said a word

Posted August 13, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
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Once a model, Mabel Normand was a movie star before that term even existed. A pioneer in silent films in front of and behind the camera, she captured the hearts of the very first movie-going public at the dawn of the celluloid era.
And yet, she’s all but forgotten today. Except among film historians like writer Jon Boorstin, who found the true story of Normand’s life so inspirational he wrote a novel about her. It’s called …

Arts & Culture, News »

Artists riff on immigration themes with blend of history, humanity

Posted August 13, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
China Mary, Wyoming 2 by Hung Liu (courtesy the artist and Walter Maciel Gallery)

Meet “China Mary.” That wasn’t her real name, of course.
Like other Chinese women sold by their families to work as slaves or prostitutes in the United States back in the 19th century, she was renamed for the convenience of the Americans who employed them. This portrait is by the artist Hung Liu, who immigrated to California in the 80s.
View the complex issues of immigration through …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

So little time, so many good books to look for this fall

Posted August 6, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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Fall is when the publishing industry typically rolls out its blockbusters.  This coming season is no exception.

To help, we asked writer and critic Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times to wade through the stacks of upcoming titles.

Trouble is, there’s so much good stuff that her list is anything but short.

And it begins August 12th, with the release of Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His …

Arts & Culture, Featured, Interviews »

How – and why – to turn your kid into a bookworm

Posted August 1, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Jason Boog reads with his daughter, Olive.

How do you teach your kids to love books when you haven’t picked one up in years?
Why shouldn’t you give your child an iPhone or iPad until he or she’s at least two?
A new book explains the nuts and bolts of turning your kid into a reader in an age when focusing seems impossible.
Author Jason Boog says the bad news, for anyone who wants …

Arts & Culture, Featured »

Loving your neighbor, one laundry load at a time

Posted July 30, 2014 by | 3 Comments | ]
Rev. Nat Katz makes sure the laundry love keeps flowing.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of food banks and soup kitchens which serve the poor.  A movement sparked out of Ventura, Calif., offers a twist on that: making it possible for people with limited funds to do their wash for free.
It’s called Laundry Love, and it’s happening all over the country.  Typically, it’s organized by a church, mosque or synagogue that wants to engage …

Arts & Culture, Featured, News »

Taiko drumming: ‘Not just Asian anymore’

Posted July 18, 2014 by | 4 Comments | ]
Maz Baba

This week, 500 international masters and scholars of Taiko have descended on Los Angeles for an unprecedented gathering.
They’re dissecting every aspect of this unique style of drumming and performance, and this weekend in Little Tokyo, they’ll show their stuff in several public performances.
To mark the occasion, we spoke with Masato Baba, considered to be the best Taiko drummer in the United States. A native …

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