Culture Monster
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Hossein Khosrojerdi's first U.S. solo show opens at Tara Gallery

Tehran-born Hossein Khosrojerdi has enjoyed a more than 30-year career as a prominent visual artist. He represented Iran during its debut at the 2003 Venice Biennale (Iran’s first time participating in the contemporary art event after the Islamic Revolution) and two years prior his digital painting, “Gaze,” won the grand prize at the international Sharjah Biennial.

But the Iranian expatriate, who’s currently living in self-imposed exile in London, has never had a solo show in the U.S. -- until now.

On Saturday night, Tara Gallery in Santa Monica, the nonprofit gallery arm of the Los Angeles-based American Foundation for Contemporary Iranian Art, will debut “Redefining Home,” a mix of digital works and abstract paintings by Khosrojerdi.

The artist won’t be in attendance at the opening, but he spoke to Culture Monster about his journey from Iran to the UK as well as the work that came out of it.

When did you leave Iran and why?
I left Iran in 2009 because my environment was too closed and...

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SCI-Arc's newly announced director sees growth and a global presence

The Southern California Institute of Architecture is getting it's first new director in more than a decade.

Hernan Diaz Alonso will succeed current director Eric Owen Moss when Moss' term concludes next September. The appointment was announced Thursday by Jerold B. Neuman, chairman of the SCI-Arc board of trustees.

Reached by phone after his appointment, Diaz Alonso said he was thrilled but added that he wasn't ready to go into detail about his plans for SCI-Arc.

"The idea that the next appointed director has one year to establish plans for curriculum and development is a very refreshing thing," he said.

"I'm excited and humbled by the scope of the job. Stepping in after Eric Moss, who was a great director, makes my job both easy and more difficult because I have to go up from there," Diaz Alonso said.

"Going up" will include possibly expanding the campus and "getting SCI-Arc more and more involved on a global level."

Diaz Alonso has been a faculty member at SCI-Arc since 2001. He is...

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Pasadena AxS Festival debuts Dutch artist Cocky Eek's Sphaerae

On a patch of velvety grass across the street from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, a swath of white fabric lies unfurled on the ground, like a deflated parachute. This is Sphaerae -- and she is hungry.

Soon Sphaerae will be fed five bathtubs' worth of water and a steady stream of air, pumped into her belly by two high-tech fans. And when she is full, Sphaerae will take flight.

“It’s exciting,” says Dutch artist and designer Cocky Eek, who created Sphaerae, a lightweight, inflatable performance space composed of five translucent domes that, when blown up, look something like a pile of glistening soap bubbles.

Eek, who’s visiting from Amsterdam, walks the perimeter of the milky white circle on the ground, 47 feet wide and 12 feet tall when inflated.

“It’s like a living organism, something that grows,” she says. “That moment when it goes up, it’s like seeing a butterfly or air balloon passing by -- light and spacious and breathing.”

Friday is Sphaerae’s North American debut at...

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Robert Irwin to create a major installation in Marfa, Texas

American installation artist Robert Irwin will create a major piece for the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, the foundation announced on Thursday.

The project has been in the works for 13 years, Irwin said.

"I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch," he joked. "I'll believe it when I see it."

He'll have to wait a couple of years until then. Construction on the installation will begin next year and isn't slated to be completed until 2016. It will be the first considerable addition to the museum's permanent collection since 2004, when the museum opened a gallery dedicated to the work of John Wesley, a painter who Chinati founder Donald Judd also greatly admired.  

Opened in 1986, the Chinati Foundation sits on 340 acres that used to be Army barracks. The museum will turn over to Irwin the building that had housed the barracks' hospital.

Irwin said the building has essentially fallen down and will have to be rebuilt. That's what will take the longest amount of time. Irwin's...

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Music Walk in Carlsbad and a 'Parade' at the Hammer

With a hot week endured and temperatures expected to moderate over the weekend, Saturday seems like an ideal day to stroll a beach town where you can encounter new music in nearly every nook and cranny. The Carlsbad Music Festival, founded by composer Matt McBain 11 years ago is, each year, more impressive.

McBane has moved on to the Brooklyn scene (what composer hasn’t?) but returns each year, often with other Brooklynites in tow, as well as old friends and mentors from USC.

A tradition is the Music Walk, Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m. Walk and listen. Musicians will be everywhere in parking lots, cafes, a Realtor’s office, a record store, a juice shop.

The more formal festival, itself, begins Friday night with a concert by pipa star Wu Man and includes various new music groups from San Diego and Los Angeles.

David Lang -- whose new percussion concerto, “man made,” will open the Los Angeles Philharmonic season at Walt Disney Concert Hall in October -- is Carlsbad’s featured composer....

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Beijing gets a taste of L.A.'s art world in 'The Los Angeles Project'

Southern Californians walking into the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing might wonder whether they’ve stepped through a time-space portal and been beamed back to Burbank or Hollywood.

Painted palm trees soar up the walls of a giant atrium. A large Oscar statuette, the kind that normally shows up along the red carpet on Academy Awards night, stands sentry on another surface. Nearby, there’s a life-size rendering of a portable trailer that would shelter a movie star on set between takes, and oh look -- there’s a two-dimensional studio-lot golf cart too.

On a recent weekday , L.A. artist Alex Israel was bouncing a bit nervously around the space as a team of Chinese scenic artists applied the finishing touches to his sprawling mural, “Star Waggons.”

Israel -- who normally works out of the Warner Bros. studio lot and often riffs on the themes of celebrity culture, entertainment and the Hollywood lifestyle -- is one of seven artists featured in the Ullens Center’s “The Los...

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Mary Weatherford receives Artists' Legacy Foundation Artist Award

Ojai-born, Los Angeles-based painter Mary Weatherford has won the Artists' Legacy Foundation 2014 Artist Award and will receive a $25,000 cash prize.

This is the eighth annual Artist Award given by the foundation, started in 2000 by painter Squeak Carnwath, community advocate Gary Knecht and sculptor Viola Frey. The foundation will celebrate Weatherford at a private ceremony Nov. 2 in Oakland.

The goal of the organization is to encourage the work of painters and sculptors and to protect the legacies of deceased artists. A bequest left by Frey after her death in 2004 launched the group's award, first given to sculptor Kathy Butterly in 2007.

Candidates are nominated without their knowledge and selected by jury. The jury that chose Weatherford included Jennifer Gross, chief curator of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln. Mass.; Franklin Sirmans, curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Jodi Throckmorton, curator of contemporary art at the Pennsylvania Academy...

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Getty Foundation launches effort to conserve modern architectural gems

The Getty Foundation has announced a major new conservation initiative for modern architecture, funding work on 10 landmark designs around the world including Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House in Australia, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in Chicago and the Ray and Charles Eames residence in Pacific Palisades.

The Getty campaign, called Keeping It Modern, is intended to conserve 20th century architectural gems through grants of $50,000 to $200,000. The other recipients are Hilario Candela’s Miami Marine Stadium, Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium in Finland, I.M. Pei’s Luce Memorial Chapel in Taiwan, Max Berg’s Centennial Hall in Poland, Dov Karmi’s Max Liebling House in the White City of Tel Aviv, and Le Corbusier’s apartment and studio in Paris.

"Modern architecture is one of the defining artistic expressions of the 20th century," said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation, the arts grants branch of the J. Paul...

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David Lynch opens his museum exhibition in Philadelphia

He hasn't made a feature film since the murky and phantasmagorical "Inland Empire" in 2006, but David Lynch hasn't been idling away in obscurity.

In addition to developing online projects and proselytizing for Transcendental Meditation, the eccentric director has exhibited artwork in gallery shows in Los Angeles. The mixed-media creations were predictably Lynchian -- creepy, dream-like and often disturbing.

In perhaps the biggest display of his art to date, Lynch kicked off his first major museum exhibition in the U.S. at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

"David Lynch: The Unified Field" opened Saturday and is scheduled to run through Jan. 11. The exhibition features 90 paintings and drawings from 1965 to the present, as well as rarely seen works from early in his career.

In the late '60s, Lynch was a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied painting. (He has credited the city of Philadelphia for inspiring his feature film...

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Rome's Depart Foundation opens L.A.-area space with Gabriele De Santis

The Italian nonprofit arts organization Depart Foundation, which exhibits contemporary emerging and mid-career artists from around the world in Rome, is expanding its footprint, debuting a West Hollywood space Wednesday night with a show by Italian artist Gabriele De Santis.

Since launching in 2008 with the dual mission of adding to the Italian contemporary art scene as well as sparking an international art dialogue, Depart has premiered work by artists Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Nate Lowman, Frances Stark, Sam Falls, Amanda Ross-Ho and Lucien Smith, among others. It will open a new center in Rome in fall 2015 and is considering a Shanghai outpost.

Over the next few months at its 3,200-square-foot L.A. space, a former spa on the Sunset Strip, Depart will also put up exhibits by British painter Kour Pour, New York artist Grear Patterson and L.A.-based digital conceptual artist Petra Cortright. 

The inaugural Southern California show, “The Dance Step of a Watermelon While Meeting a...

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L.A. theater openings, Sept. 21-28: 'The 39 Steps' and more

A classic Hitchcock thriller is spoofed in "The 39 Steps" at Long Beach Playhouse, "Lost the Musical" sends up the hit TV series at the Lillian Theatre, and life is a "Cabaret" at North Hollywood's Crown City Theatre. Plus, Cicely Tyson reprises her Tony-winning role in "The Trip to Bountiful" at the Ahmanson.

Kiss Me, Kate Wayne Brady stars in the Cole Porter classic about a madcap musical production of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena. Sun., 5 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 2 and 7 p.m.; ends Oct. 12. $47-$125. (626) 356-7529.

Marjorie Prime World premiere of Jordan Harrison’s drama about an elderly woman (Lois Smith) at an assisted-living facility who comes to terms with her life with the help of her daughter, her son-in-law and a mysterious stranger. Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave., L.A. Sun., 7 p.m.; Tue.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2:30 and 8 p.m.; next Sun., 1 and 6:30 p.m.; ends Oct. 19. $25-$70....

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Samuel D. Hunter: Playwright of spiritual longing, now a MacArthur 'Genius' fellow

Don’t look now, but a positive trend seems to be developing: A bumper crop of talented American playwrights more interested in artistic expression than commercial validation is being recognized with the most prestigious awards and lucrative fellowships available.

Yes, that’s right, playwrights, not screenwriters-in-the-making, not stage dabblers until HBO comes a-calling, but dramatists through and through. Best of all, they’re not being asked to wait until they’re mid-career, broke and demoralized by this country’s neglect of its artists.
The latest in this delightful trend is Samuel D. Hunter, who is one of this year’s MacArthur “genius” fellows. Last year, Tarell Alvin McCraney was selected for this prosperous honor, one that gives artists and intellectuals something only a whole lot of money can buy: unfettered time to think and create.
And who would have thought that the Pulitzer Prize board, usually so reluctant to acknowledge playwrights before they’ve been lionized everywhere...

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