Arts & Culture, News »

The major source of state arts funding? You won’t believe it

Posted December 19, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
One of about a dozen celebrities who've signed on to endorse the plate

California ranks near the bottom of state-funded per-capita arts spending in the nation–44th, to be exact.
What’s the unusual source for the lion’s share of state-funded arts education? Turns out, it’s the sale of specialty license plates.
You may have seen the so-called “ArtsPlate” by artist Wayne Thiebaud, since it’s been in use on the roads for 20 years. But you probably didn’t know that $35 of …

Arts & Culture »

The perfect last-minute gift: A good read

Posted December 17, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Funk, and a spaceship

Carolyn Kellogg, who covers publishing for the Los Angeles Times, sits on the board of the National Book Critics Circle and is one of the most influential journalists in the industry. In other words, she reads more than most mere mortals and really knows her stuff. Over a cup of coffee, we talked about books as dandy last-minute gift ideas.
First, she recommends using the services of your …

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How ‘Tradition’ became a classic: Celebrating ‘Fiddler’ at 50

Posted December 12, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Lines of people swarmed the box office as soon as Fiddler opened/photo: Photofest

The Tony award-winning Broadway show turned Oscar-winning film, “Fiddler on the Roof,” didn’t look from the start to be a work that would endure for decades. It took the team who wrote the work, based on the 1905 writing of Sholem Aleichem, a number of attempts to massage it into the classic it became. “Twelve things a day,” was the mantra after early lackluster reviews in pre-Broadway tryouts, as …

Arts & Culture, Cargoland, Environment, Interviews, News »

Cargoland: Artist Cathy Opie on her 10-day cargo ship ride

Posted December 3, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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I didn’t go to artist Cathy Opie’s house explicitly to see the bunnies, but before I got to talk to her about what did lure me over to West Adams, I got a tour of this extension of her existence. Her partner, Julie Burleigh, has, over the last five years, converted an eyesore abandoned lot down the block from their house into a community …

Arts & Culture, News »

The show must go on: Bob Baker’s supporters vow to keep the puppets moving

Posted December 2, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
Young puppeteers keep Baker's work alive.  The theater is home to 3-thousand marionettes.

In his last days on earth, puppeteer Bob Baker waxed poetic about shows he hoped to stage and moved his hands for a hospice worker as if he were still manipulating one of his marionette creations. Though the 90-year-old with a life-long passion for puppets passed away last Friday, his imprint on the industry he helped to craft won’t soon fade away, says trustee …

Arts & Culture, Interviews, News »

Art meets kitsch: Self-described snob displays mom’s vast collection of turkey platters

Posted November 25, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Art dealer Mat Gleason and his mother, Helen

Mat Gleason, a longtime figure in the LA art scene, admits that he long pooh-poohed his mother’s proclivity for scavenging through antique stores and swap meets. “I was always snobby about her collections,” he told me as we stood in a gallery he’s just taken over next to his Coagula Curatorial.
Then his mother, an 80-something year old mother of seven, asked to see a show of …

Arts & Culture »

Punk Rock Marthas serve up ‘guerrilla philanthropy’

Posted November 21, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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The name was catchy enough, although Anji Williams says she isn’t sure she’d have chosen it if she’d known the group would be around so long: Punk Rock Marthas, a riff on a group in a book called “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson. (Those Marthas were preppy.)
When Williams was a teacher at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood, the idea was to make the …

Arts & Culture, Interviews »

When AM radio ruled Los Angeles and made musical stars

Posted November 12, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Influential DJ Dave Diamond passed away this spring

When was the last time you listened to AM radio in search of some great new music?  Harvey Kubernik’s latest book, “Turn Up the Radio! Rock Pop and Roll in Los Angeles, 1956-1972″ is an homage to the time when people toted around transistor radios with great devotion–when AM deejays discovered acts you hadn’t heard before.
Few personified the power and charm of that medium more …

Arts & Culture, News »

Bringing the street back to plein air: Art ‘diplomats’ paint downtown

Posted November 5, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
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Sometime over the last month in downtown Los Angeles, you may have seen some guys with paint-stained clothing, standing in front of easels, intently working to capture the world around them. The French tradition of plein air painting is typically associated with serene landscapes, not gritty cityscapes. But John Kilduff, Steven Thomas Higgins, and Alex Schaefer vowed 30 days ago to bring the street …

Arts & Culture, News »

When a walk becomes a pilgrimage

Posted October 29, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
The 500 mile long and winding road

Long before writer Cheryl Strayed hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and published a best-selling book about it, pilgrims were searching for peace and salvation along the Camino de Santiago, a series of roads that wends through Spain and France.
This weekend, “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,”  a documentary about this medieval pilgrimage, opens for a week-long screening here in southern California. We talked to Annie O’Neil, who has a …

Arts & Culture, Interviews »

Psychedelic: Pakistani truck artist brightens the LA roads

Posted October 24, 2014 by | 0 Comments | ]
Truck artist Haider Ali and his finished product

For the last few weeks, Karachi-based artist Haider Ali been working around various spots in southern California, mostly in the parking lot of his hosts at the USC Pacific Asia Museum at Los Robles and Union in Pasadena, spiffing up a Ford cargo van.
In his native Pakistan, Ali is one of a handful of prominent truck artists who do brisk business around the country.  India, he says, …

Arts & Culture »

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 them. 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 »

Inside the Hello Kitty empire: An icon turns 40

Posted October 17, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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 »

Celebrating the life and work of a cherished writer and teacher

Posted October 15, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
lescloseuplookingdown

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, News »

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

Posted October 10, 2014 by | 1 Comment | ]
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, 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, 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, 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, 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 …

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