Arts & Culture this week: The museum that isn't, a ballerina in the boardroom, diversity on the stage

Hello, spring. The arts team at L.A. Times has geared up with interviews, analysis and recommendations of where to go, whom to see and what not to miss. This week and next, look for our critics and reporters to guide you to the cultural events of the new season.

The museum that isn't a museum

When we call it the biggest story in L.A.'s art scene right now, we're not kidding: At 116,000 square feet, the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel gallery opening Sunday is as large as a Home Depot with some big names to go with it, most notably Paul Schimmel, former chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Times arts writer Carolina Miranda notes that although the gallery is being hailed as confirmation of a "new" art scene downtown, the migration of artists eastward is new only if you don't recall downtown's long history as a place where art is made and shown.

While Miranda sets the scene, our critics dive into the details: Art critic Christopher Knight takes an early look at the inaugural exhibition and likes what he sees: compelling examples of postwar sculpture by female artists whose work has long been overshadowed by the painting of men. Knight also raises an eyebrow over the number of artworks here on loan from museums and asks: Why did it take a commercial gallery to stage this show?

All that art sits in an flour mill complex transformed by the noted Annabelle Selldorf, a "consulting architect" here, and the L.A. firm Creative Space working in collaboration with Schimmel. Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne assesses the result and asks a question of his own: Despite the energy that the project brings to this part of downtown, why does the gallery still feel like a missed opportunity?

Dancer plots the Music Center's next steps

Music critic Mark Swed also sees change on the horizon after a wide-ranging interview with Rachel Moore, the former American Ballet Theatre dancer who has taken over as chief executive of the Music Center, overseeing Walt Disney Concert Hall, Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Grand Park. Swed notes that she becomes the first artist to hold that title.

Following the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and his much-shared column about how "Hamilton" holds lessons for the film industry, theater critic Charles McNulty returns to Broadway and is encouraged by signs of diversity beyond that hip-hop musical. In "Eclipsed," he sees what is believed to be the first Broadway play written by a woman, directed by a woman and cast entirely with women.

Staff writer Meredith Blake sits down for an interview with the writer of "Eclipsed," Danai Gurira, on the set of her other play on Broadway. "Familiar" is about a couple who flee Zimbabwe and find a new life in America, only to feel the cost of assimilation later.

Springing ahead

We're just getting started. In the week to come, look for McNulty's interview with the man of the moment in American theater, who is neither an actor nor a playwright but a director: Ivo van Hove. We talk with him as he prepares to open “The Crucible” starring Saoirse Ronan.

We'll also have McNulty's picks for local theater productions that should be on your radar, a cheat sheet of Broadway national tours coming to Southern California, and a guide to the best prospects in dance, from ballet to Brazilian street moves.

Our art critic will reveal which spring exhibitions are worth marking on your calendar, and our music critic will list the upcoming concerts that have him most intrigued.

More from our team

— An ex-Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and the scion of the Annenberg family hardly seem like obvious creative partners, but that's just part of the back story to the Long Beach Opera premiere this weekend. David Ng goes behind the scenes to tell the story of "Fallujah."

— Staff writer Jessica Gelt chats with Los Angeles playwright Sheila Callaghan, whose "Women Laughing Alone With Salad" is playing at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. Favorite quote, with food as a metaphor for relationships: "There's a conversation in the play about salad versus cake, and then you realize the cake is fat-free and made with Stevia, and you realize the cake was a lie."

— Afghan street artist Shamsia Hassani expresses her own truth with cans of spray paint and a mountain of courage — enough to catch the attention of the Hammer Museum, which invited her to L.A. Staff writer Deborah Vankin finds out what it means to be a female graffiti artist in Kabul.

— Finally, one of our most shared stories on social media this week: Christopher Knight's review of "Making Waves: Japanese American Photography, 1920-1940," which he calls one of the must-see shows of the season.

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