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Essential Arts: The painting from under the couch

I'm Kelly Scott, arts and culture editor of the Los Angeles Times, and these are some of the stories the arts writers and critics wrote about this week:

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Treasures where you least expect them

The newsroom shorthand for this story was “the painting they found under the couch.” Art critic Christopher Knight's piece is much richer and more complicated than that, but it’s true that a 1763 casta painting by Mexican artist Miguel Cabrera, missing for years, did spend time rolled up and stored under Christina Jones Janssen’s sofa. “My dad always told me it was old and probably from Spain,” Janssen told The Times. “He wanted me to look into it some day.” She did, and it’s now in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum art, its reemergence a major art historical event.

(Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Schuller's more secular legacy

One of televangelism's founding fathers died this week, and though his empire has shrunk since its heyday, Robert Schuller left behind a church campus with buildings by three of the late 20th century’s most important architects: Richard Neutra, Philip Johnson and Richard Meier. Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne traces the rise of Schuller’s pulpit from the refreshment stand of a drive-in movie to the finely designed mega complex that sold to the Catholic Church in 2011 for $57 million.

A fabled auteur of the stage

An eagerly awaited new Mary Zimmerman play opened at the Old Globe in San Diego. (Zimmerman's "Metamorphosis" had a memorable run at the Mark Taper Forum in 2000.) Her new work, "White Snake," is a "sprightly theatricalization of an ancient Chinese fable .. [that] gives her another opportunity to exercise her marvelous transformational artistry," theater critic Charles McNulty wrote.

Music that bonds as well as soothes

In Japan last week, music critic Mark Swed went along with 15 members of the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles to visit Soma and nearby Fukushima, where the kids whose lives were changed four years ago by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown had formed a Japanese El Sistema group. The musicians rehearsed and played together, and even toured the surrounding area, some of it rebuilt and other parts deserted. The week culminated in a performance led by Gustavo Dudamel.

(Sam Comen)

Two determined women

The movie "Woman in Gold" didn't get great reviews (Kenneth Turan's is here), but even critics who panned it recognized the great real-life story it dramatizes: Austria emigre Maria Altmann’s quest to regain the dazzling Gustav Klimt painting "The Woman in Gold" and others stolen by Nazis decades earlier from the Austrian government. Mike Boehm talked to Randol Schoenberg, who was Altman's attorney, about the film -- and being played by Ryan Reynolds. The week ended with news in another long-running art restitution case:  A federal judge ruled that Marei Von Saher's suit against the Norton Simon for the return of Cranach the Elder's "Adam" and "Eve" could go forward. Boehm has written about how the case is making law that will affect other restitution efforts.

In short:

The Getty Museum and LACMA announce a major joint Mapplethorpe exhibition for March 2016. ... Lewis Segal found a lot to like in the L.A. Ballet’s new “Sleeping Beauty.” ... The construction at the entrance of the Huntington Museum Library and Botanical Gardens is finished, and the new visitors center opened this weekend. ... The Odyssey Theater will host a play drawn from Ferguson, Mo., grand jury testimony.

What we’re reading:

There's a lot to chew on -- and argue with -- in Michael O'Hare's lengthy essay on art museum collections: "Museums Can Change -- Will They?" -- Christopher Knight, Art critic

I have been reading this interview in the Paris Review with novelist Hilary Mantel, whose novels have been dramatized (for television and the stage) -- Charles McNulty, Theater critic

Changing of the guard at Tate Britain, and advice for the new director -- Bret Israel, Sunday Calendar editor 

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