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The movement to convert a landmarked LA bridge into a park

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There’s a growing movement to turn the last steel bridge in Los Angeles into a park. The Figueroa Bridge stands a bit north of downtown, in the shadow of Dodger Stadium, where a tangle of roads runs above busy thoroughfares below: active train tracks, and two rivers below.
Workmen are wrestling rebar here as they put the finishing touches on a new overpass. The land-marked last steel …

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Making art through sickness and health

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31-year old Dominic Quagliozzi is like other young artists who move to Los Angeles in search of community, inspiration, and better weather than can be had on the east coast. He arrived here from Massachusetts 7 years ago with his wife, who herself is a painter; each earned MFAs.
But most young artists don’t have the struggles Quagliozzi faces each day. He was born with …

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Need some good karma? Take in this sacred scroll on rare display

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How do you display a sacred, 22-foot tall, 16-foot wide scroll commissioned by a revered religious leader 300 years ago? Very carefully, say the people at Norton Simon Museum. They just finished installing a sacred Buddhist scroll known as a thangkha, commissioned by the 8th Dalai Lama, for a new show opening this Friday.
It’s only one of a handful of times that this relic …

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An artistic free-for-all: Your chance to show your stuff this weekend

It's a Los Angeles tradition that dates back to 1950

A common complaint among many artists is not the problem of making the work, but of getting it out there. This weekend, the good people at Barnsdall Park are offering you the opportunity to change that.
It’s the annual Open Call L.A., courtesy the nation’s only municipal art gallery–an annual tradition in some form or fashion since 1950. You and several thousand of your closest fellow artists …

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The wildlife of Echo Park inspired these artists to sing

Ralph Gorodetsky and Weba Garretson

Singer and performance artist Weba Garretson has lived in Echo Park for over 20 years, long before the yoga studios and cafes and condos began indelibly changing the landscape there. Along with an unusual feature for most LA domiciles–a basement–she was drawn to the tree-lined backyard and the wildlife at the house that became her home: the skunks, hawks, owls, birds, bees and cats …

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Surrealism on the wall: A muralist at work in downtown Los Angeles

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There’s a semi-public plaza behind the apartment building where I live in downtown Los Angeles, a thoroughfare that’s well-trafficked each day but tucked from plain sight, in between Flower and Figueroa Streets.  A few weeks ago, a long ugly stretch of wall at the rear of the plaza started to turn colors: A makeover was in progress, it seemed.  This is not something the …

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Art you can wear: The precision and perseverance of the Japanese tattoo

Tattoo by Miyazo.  Photo by Kip Fulbeck.

Thinking about getting a tattoo? Thinking about getting another? A new show that opens Saturday celebrates the art, culture and tradition of this form of expression: Japanese tattoos, with a focus on seven internationally acclaimed masters.
There’s nothing hasty or typical about these tattoos. And while the artists represented in the show are revered around the world (one must petition them before being accepted as …

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From Steve McQueen to Bill Viola, video artists in the limelight

Before he went mainstream: Steve McQueen in his 1992 short film, Bear

What you may not know about the winner of this year’s Best Director at the Oscars is that before he went Hollywood, Steve McQueen of “12 Years a Slave” fame earned international acclaim as a video artist. (The Turner Prize, which he won in 1999, is one of fine art’s equivalent honors.) One example of his Capital A artwork: the 1993 ten-minute film called Bear, …

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Low riders and Chicano soul

Art Meza outside Antigua Coffee Roasters in Cypress Park

Librarian by day, social media aficionado the rest of the time, Art Meza, who was born in Echo Park before it became a paradise for artists and hipsters, started posting pictures to Instagram, often of snazzy cars called low riders. Next thing you know, he’s being published, and having his work hung in City Hall.
“I still don’t consider myself a photographer,” he said modestly …

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Forget Oscar: We want books!

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Everyone knows that when you win an Academy Award, you get a shiny gold statue plus instant (if fleeting) additional fame and fawning attention. So what happens if you win a big prize in the literary world? If, say, on March 13th, you get the nod from the prestigious National Book Critics Circle, you get to… go to a party!
For authors, making the short …

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Oh, the horror: ‘Trophy Heads’ may not yield a statuette, but fans devour

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This week, while everyone else has been pontificating and speculating about the Academy Awards, I went to a loft building between Little Tokyo and Skid Row and got an inside glimpse at the other side of Hollywood: the film empire of Charles Band and his Full Moon Features.
In his 30 year career, Band has produced and directed hundreds of films, mostly of the horror …

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100 year old Angeleno trips out on joy, ego with first gallery exhibition

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It’s been quite a year for Morris Markoff. First, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez paid him a visit and wrote a profile of Markoff’s adjustment from Silver Lake to Downtown LA. A couple months ago, national press swooped in on the occasion of his 75th wedding anniversary to wife, Betty. Now, this just-turned-100-year-old is having his first art show. (t must be a trend! A few weeks …

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New art show honors Black Panthers, beyond the guns and berets

American as Cherry Pie by Lili Bernard

Tonight in the Arts District, a group show its curators believe is the first of its kind will open to the public. It’s called Rise: Love. Revolution. The Black Panther Party. The intent is, in part, to raise money for a support fund that helps aging members of the sixties revolutionary group, some of whom are still imprisoned. Organizers also hope to raise awareness …

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When pink ribbons won’t do: An artist’s fight against breast cancer

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Artist Shaney Jo Darden used to design skateboards. Now she works in a different medium: Breasts. She creates plaster casts of breasts, which she then turns over to artists, who use them as canvases. The works are sold off to raise money so Darden can help raise breast cancer detection and awareness, particularly among young women.
Darden feels that this brand of activism is more in line …

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No snow? No problem! The art of the snowboard in the concrete jungle of DTLA

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This weekend, if you want a taste of winter sports here in the land of drought and far from Sochi, you can head downtown to a new gallery on Mateo Street called CES Contemporary. Snowboarders/artists Mike Parillo and Corey Smith commissioned a series of boards from a dozen artists which they then hand-painted and finished. (Some were even given a test run at Baldface Lodge …

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American a cappella with Filipino roots

Trace Gaynor of The Filharmonic at USC's Fisher Museum

Prospective crushes all over the country are about to get a glimpse of budding heartthrob Trace Gaynor, a senior at USC.  He comprises one-sixth of an a cappella boy band called The Filharmonic.
They don’t sound like that Philharmonic, nor do they perform music evocative of the country for which their band is named: the Philippines. They’re nice Filipino-American guys with amazing voices doing their own …

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New books to savor, from a reader who knows

Carolyn Kellogg

From time to time we check in with Carolyn Kellogg of the LA Times to talk about what’s happening in the world of publishing.  She reads hundreds of books so you, dear listener, don’t have to (unless you want).
We always prefer she dip deep into the pile and look at the under-the-radar titles that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Here are three she’s looking forward to …

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After waiting a lifetime, an artist, 89, has his first show

Burton Kopelow

This Sunday at the Brewery in downtown Los Angeles, artist Burton Kopelow debuts his work publicly for the first time–after a lifetime of painting. Kopelow, who turns 90 in April and lives in Lake Balboa, has been working on his craft since the 1940′s, creating 2,000 canvases. Today, despite physical disabilities, he continues to paint daily.
In advance of the opening of the show, which …

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Migraine? An artistic attempt to ease the pain

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Like three million other Americans, artist Rachael Jablo suffers from chronic migraines. One episode that began for her in 2008 lasted a grueling 4 and a half years. “Without medication, the pain makes me lose the ability to speak,” she writes. “With medication, I have side effects that cause me to forget words.”
To help make sense of the jumble, she took to the medium she …

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The ‘Starbucks effect’ and the changing role of our libraries

The card catalogue may be gone, but it's not forgotten

For those of us out there who are devoted users of our local public libraries, the restoration of Sunday hours last week at Central Library and 8 other branches is an exciting development in what has been a dark period of cutbacks.
Thanks to voter approval of Measure L in 2011, the 30 percent budget slash that wrought havoc on the system during the recession …

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