Culture Monster
All arts, all the time
Bill Clinton portrait features shadow of Lewinsky dress, says artist

A portrait of former President Clinton in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington contains a subtle reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal that engulfed the White House in the late '90s, the portrait's painter has revealed.

Pennsylvania artist Nelson Shanks told the Philadelphia Daily News in a Sunday article that the painting features a shadow on its left-hand side, and that the shadow was actually cast by a blue dress that was placed on a mannequin.

"The reality is [Clinton's] probably the most famous liar of all time. He and his administration did some very good things, of course, but I could never get this Monica thing completely out of my mind and it is subtly incorporated in the painting," the artist told the newspaper.

Shanks said that the mannequin was present while he was creating the portrait, but not while Clinton was posing. 

He added that the dress "represents a shadow on the office [Clinton] held, or on him." 

Lewinsky's blue dress was a focal point of...

Read more
Ken Novice steps down as managing director of Geffen Playhouse

Kenneth Novice has departed the Geffen Playhouse after serving as its managing director for more than five years, the company has announced.

The Geffen said that Gil Cates Jr., who serves as vice chairman of the Geffen's board of directors, is stepping in as interim managing director.

Novice joined the Geffen in 2009 after having worked as managing director at the Pasadena Playhouse and as marketing and public relations director at the Old Globe in San Diego. At the Geffen, he succeeded Stephen Eich, who stepped down in 2008 after eight years as managing director of the company.

Reached by phone, Novice declined to elaborate on his departure from the Geffen. The  company, which announced Novice's departure late Friday, also declined to provide additional detail.

In a press release, Geffen board co-chairs Martha Henderson and Pamela Robinson Hollander said that "we appreciate Ken's expertise and efforts during his time at the Geffen and wish him much success in his future endeavors."...

Read more
Deborah Borda to take four-month sabbatical from L.A. Philharmonic

Deborah Borda will take a four-month sabbatical from her role as president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic so that she can assume a residency at the Harvard Kennedy School  at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. 

Borda's sabbatical is expected to begin in September, when she will join the Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser leader-in-residence. The school said on Monday that Borda will engage with students and faculty in the area of cultural entrepreneurship.

In addition, she will develop mentorship opportunities for students at the school and contribute to lectures and leadership development programming for the center's more than 100 students.

Borda said in a news release that the appointment "comes at an opportune time for me, as I pause to reflect on the exciting adventure of the past 15 years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic."

She added: "I look forward to returning refreshed and filled with new ideas as we prepare for the celebration of the L.A. Phil's...

Read more
Baghdad's National Museum of Iraq reopens in rebuke to Islamic State

The National Museum of Iraq, shuttered 12 years ago in the wake of the country's invasion by U.S.-led troops, has reopened in Baghdad. According to the BBC, the opening date was moved up to Saturday in direct response to a statue-smashing propaganda video released last week by the so-called Islamic State.

The video shows plaster replicas being toppled from pedestals in northern Iraq's Mosul Museum and crashing to the floor, as well as actual stone antiquities being hacked with sledgehammers and drills. An on-camera narrator claims the wanton destruction is mandated by passages in the Koran that forbid worship of false idols.

The video is part of an aggressive media war being waged by Islamic State, especially online and on social media sites, in addition to its brutal military tactics on the ground.

The National Museum of Iraq suffered severe looting in 2003, when U.S. war-planners failed to provide security for what is regarded as the primary repository of important art and artifacts...

Read more
Not just Spock: Leonard Nimoy's arts trek covered many galaxies

“Leonard Nimoy carried conviction,” is the first sentence ever written in the Los Angeles Times, 59 years ago, about the man-who-would-be-Spock. He was playing a supporting role in a now-forgotten play called “Life Is But a Dream” at a now-defunct L.A. venue, the Civic Playhouse.

Nimoy, who died Friday at 83 at his home in Bel-Air, carried his convictions far in many varied arts endeavors that were light years distant from the screen roles for which he'll be indelibly remembered by millions.

As a stage actor, not yet famous, he delved into the edgy, dark theater of Jean Genet, performing in the 1960 L.A. premiere of the French playwright’s explosive prison drama, “Deathwatch.” The venue was a Hollywood coffee house.

In 1962, Nimoy secured the film rights to the play along with its producer-director, TV star Vic Morrow. The movie premiered in the spring of 1966 with Morrow directing Nimoy as a petty thief who turns murderous after being locked in a cell with Paul Mazursky and Michael...

Read more
Islamic State attack on Iraq museum condemned by Getty

The Islamic State's recent video showing its forces destroying what appear to be priceless antiquities in an Iraq museum has provoked harsh words from the head of the J. Paul Getty Trust, who condemned the attacks but said there is little that can be done outside of military intervention to prevent future acts of cultural pillaging.

"It's outrageous -- it's the destruction of some of the world's greatest antiquities dating back thousands of years. These are objects that truly belong to the world," said James Cuno, president and CEO of the Getty Trust in Los Angeles, in an interview on Friday.

Cuno said that he had seen the five-minute online video that the Islamic State released on Thursday and said that the video appeared to be legitimate.

"It wouldn't be in the interest of ISIL for it to be fake. Anything that is contrary to their beliefs is idolatry," he said. "They appeared to use every attempt to destroy them -- it wasn't a casual activity."

The video shows forces using...

Read more
Loading