Essential Arts: Gehry meets Zuckerberg, the Venezuela question and second chances

Hi, I’m Kelly Scott, arts and culture editor of the Los Angeles Times, and these are the arts world stories we wrote this week:

The intersection of Frank Gehry and Mark Zuckerberg

When the world's most famous architect and a young tech billionaire get together for a new project, what kind of building emerges? You might not have envisioned the studied just-folks, nothing-fancy Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., reviewed by architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne this week. Despite their fame and success, both Frank Gehry and Mark Zuckerberg see themselves as underdogs who made good, and the building reflects that. “The aesthetic marriage between Zuckerberg and Gehry succeeded because it allowed both sides to commit to a comforting fiction,” Hawthorne writes.

A pedestrian ramp snakes along the north side of Facebook's new Frank Gehry-designed building in Menlo Park, Calif. (Christophe Wu / Facebook)

Choosing to disagree on Venezuela -- and that's OK

The second most illustrious Venezuelan in classical music, Gabriela Montero, chooses a different path when discussing the state of affairs of her country than the L.A. Phil’s Gustavo Dudamel. While Dudamel continues to work with young musicians of the government-supported El Sistema program and appears with President Maduro, Montero lives in the U.S. and has become active in Amnesty International, pointing out government abuses and bringing attention to the plight of the Venezuelan people. After speaking with Montero, Mark Swed decided both of their positions are valid -- and necessary.

Pianist Gabriela Montero performs at the Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, Calif., March 16, 2008. (Stefano Paltera/For The Times)

The 800-parking-space question

A hiccup or a sign of things to come? Potential parking and traffic problems associated with the proposed Academy of Motion Pictures Museum in mid-city L.A. could spark a lawsuit, according to a board member of the civic group Fix LA.  The museum is expected to break ground this summer on renovations of the former May Co. building on the LACMA campus for a film museum and the addition of a 1,000-seat theater. A City Council vote to approve the project is expected in June. The lawsuit could follow.

Trending: women in animation classes

Classes in animation at institutions like CalArts are seeing a surge in female students, a real turnaround from the Valencia school’s first character animation class, which had two women. Today, the animation department is 71% female. That may not be reflected in creative jobs in animation throughout the industry, but a survey of recent TV and movie projects shows more women breaking through. Read Deb Vankin’s story.

CalArts Animation director Maija Burnett, center, with white flower necklace on, poses with her female students at CalArts, in the Animation Department on May 8, 2015. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

Signing 'Spring Awakening' -- and succeeding

Charles McNulty caught up with Deaf West Theatre's adaptation of the Steve Sater- Duncan Sheik musical "Spring Awakening" when it reopened at the much larger Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills this week after a popular run last fall at the smaller Inner City Arts Center. "This version of 'Spring Awakening' must go down as a rousing success," McNulty writes. "If you missed this 'Spring Awakening' the first time around, count yourself lucky that you have an opportunity to catch it now."

Sandra Mae Frank as Wendla and Austin McKenzie as Melchior in "Spring Awakening." (Kevin Parry)

Keeping current at Disney Hall

The L.A. Phil closed out its season at Disney Hall with the Next on Grand festival of new music. First, a chamber music concert conducted by John Adams featured four young composers' work,  including a new piece from Christopher Cerrone, the composer of "Invisible Cities," the opera staged in 2013 at L.A.'s Union Station. Cerrone's “The Pieces That Fall to Earth,” a song cycle to texts by Bay Area poet Kay Ryan, was [Tuesday] evening’s hit,” Music Critic Mark Swed wrote. A full orchestra performance of two pieces commissioned by the Phil, one by The National’s Bryce Dessner and a new concerto for two pianos by Philip Glass followed. "Next on Grand" is more accurately "Now on Grand," Swed observed.

John Adams conducting the L.A. Phil New Music Group in Dylan Mattingly's "Seasickness and Being (in Love)" at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Tuesday. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

In short

Bette Midler is back on the concert stage after her triumph as talent agent Sue Mengers in “I’ll Eat You Last” on Broadway and in L.A. She's back in Divine Miss M mode (minus the fishtail). She spoke to the Times' Mikael Wood. ....A one-man show, "Satchmo at the Waldorf," featuring the amazing actor John Douglas Thompson as Louis Armstrong, his longtime manager and, briefly, as Miles Davis opened a two week run at the Wallis Annenberg Theater...Missed that gone-viral exchange on "Jeopardy!" this week? You can see it here: ...As the Eifman Ballet prepares for two appearances in Southern California, first at the Segerstrom Center and then the Music Center, director and choreographer Boris Eifman spoke about his company, his process and his new work, "Up and Down"....

Coming up this week

Movie stars, art stars and the inimitable Janelle Monae mingle at this year's gala for the Museum of Contemporary Art...It's Tony Awards week, and The Times will cover the preparations, the contenders and the Thursday awards ceremony  ... Mark Swed reviews Philip Glass' opera "Hydrogen Jukebox" at Long Beach Opera.

For the record

In the May 24 Essential Arts Newsletter, I called New York Live Arts a festival in an item about its executive director and CEO Jean Davidson being named president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. New York Live Arts is an arts organization.

Follow me on Twitter at @kscottLATarts.