Essential Arts and Culture: Fresh faces, loud voices and an overdue debut

Hi, I'm Kelly Scott, arts and culture editor of the Los Angeles Times, and one thing we do is monitor activity along Grand Avenue in downtown L.A. There was plenty of it this week, and much more from Ojai to La Jolla.

Importing an impresario

The Music Center hired a new president, and she's a veteran arts administrator -- as well as something of an artist herself. Rachel Moore is a former member of the American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet and, for the last 14 years, the company's president and CEO. To judge from reaction to her appointment, L.A. arts leaders have high hopes. She's got a task ahead of her, as we've pointed out. Music critic Mark Swed, in particular, has had some strong words for the organization.

Rachel Moore, an executive and former dancer with New York’s American Ballet Theatre. (Rommel Demano / Getty Images)

Stocking the shelves

How often does a masterpiece that's been unaccounted for during the last 100 years suddenly pop up on display? That's what happened this week when the Getty put a 17th century Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculpture of Pope Paul V in its Italian  Baroque gallery, after buying it privately through Sotheby's London. Across town, the Broad Foundation announced that it has picked up a few pieces in the last few months -- a Murakami painting, Ed Ruscha lithographs, a Baldessari diptych, among others. You'll have to wait to see them, however: The new Broad Museum opens Sept. 20.

The Broad in downtown Los Angeles announced the acquisition of works by Takashi Murakami, Ed Ruscha, Jeff Koons, John Baldessari, Damien Hirst and Robert Rauschenberg, among others, as the museum prepares for its Sept. 20 opening. (Richard Vogel / Los Angeles Times)

The lives of the comics

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried started a podcast a year ago from his New York apartment, and it's not just a showcase for that voice, the one writer Paul Brownfield calls "a pet store of upset macaws." He's mining the stories of comedy veterans, including James Karen -- heard of him? Karen talked about doing plays by Pinter and Albee, as well as an insurance company commercial with the Three Stooges. The weekly podcast, available on iTunes, "typically consists of an hourlong conversation with an actor or writer, the angle being they're often 70 or older," Brownfield writes.

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried in his New York apartment on May 14, 2015. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

What took so long?

Carolina Miranda talked with Mark Bradford, the L.A. native who has been lauded all over the world and won a MacArthur "genius" grant, but until his new exhibition at the Hammer Museum had never had a solo show in Los Angeles. "After traveling the world, Bradford is having his museum debut in his hometown at age 53. But it's also a return to the themes that preoccupied him as a young, black gay man in Los Angeles in the early '90s," Miranda writes. 

Los Angeles-born artist Mark Bradford in front of "I Don't Have the Power to Force the Bathhouses to Post Anything," 2015. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Kind hearts and contentious cousins

"Come From Away," an affecting new musical directed by La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Christopher Ashley, is the story of the small Canadian town where many of the planes grounded on 9/11 were stranded. The individual stories of passengers and residents "collectively ... make for an affecting one-act show," Charles McNulty wrote. On the other end of the compassion scale is "Bad Jews" at the Geffen Playhouse, wherein a trio of cousins and a girlfriend battle it out over who's good, who's bad, who's deserving and, well, who's still standing at the end.

Actors Raviv Ullman, left, Ari Brand, Molly Ephraim and Lili Fuller star in the play "Bad Jews." (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

In short

Is the Hunt House, designed by Craig Ellwood for the Malibu beachfront, in danger of the wrecking ball? Christopher Hawthorne looks into it.... Remember "Bright Star," the Steve Martin-Edie Brickell musical seen at the Old Globe last fall? Next stop: Kennedy Center, and after that Broadway.... Will he be ready to don his white dinner jacket come July? Gustavo Dudamel was ordered by doctors to take off the remainder of the month to rest his back, which has been plagued by intense muscle spasms. The effect on his Hollywood Bowl dates is unclear.

What we're reading, watching, seeing and listening to

The annual Bang on a Can marathon in New York, long one of the most reliable sources for what is new in new music, will be streamed live this year, Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. PDT on the collective's This will also be a fine follow-up of both the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Next on Grand festival and the Ojai Music Festival, where the three Bang on a Can founders -- Michael Gordon, David Lang and this year's Pulitzer Prize winner Julia Wolfe -- were featured. --Mark Swed

I've been reading "Laudato Si'," Pope Francis' moving encyclical on confronting climate change, titled after Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of the Creatures," and rereading Ta-Nehisi Coates' brilliant 2014 essay "The Case for Reparations," which is as clear and disturbing an outline as can be imagined about how deeply racism is embedded in the American story. --Christopher Knight

Dramatists Guild President Doug Wright wrote this letter to CBS about the damage done when the Tony Awards for writing are pushed off the broadcast. --Charles McNulty