Culture: High & Low With Carolina A. Miranda
'Cultural feeding frenzy': Art world descends on Cuba for Havana Biennial

Rosa Lowinger has been getting the invitations at a rate of two a day. The Los Angeles-based sculpture conservator, who writes frequently on Cuba and leads art and architectural tours of the country, is in the Cuban capital for the opening of the latest edition of the Havana Biennial. And the mood, she says, is frenetic.

"There are exhibits in every corner of the city: performances, collectives, interventions, you name it," she stated via email from Havana on Thursday. "It feels like the Monday night before Art Basel in Miami. The parties have already started with the Norwegian and Swiss embassies holding bashes for artists and VIPs."

Friday marked the opening of the 12th edition of the Havana Biennial, an event that has the art world abuzz. First launched in 1984 as an exhibition devoted to showcasing the the works of artists from Latin America, it has since morphed into a sprawling international affair with plenty of ancillary events. In the last half dozen years, it has attracted collectors,...

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Old-time music in a citrus grove: Santa Paula's Deep End Sessions on Sunday

Banjos and fiddlers and 19th century murder ballads.

For roughly six months, I've been tooling up to the Santa Clara River Valley every few weeks, to catch a very special series of shows in the middle of a citrus grove. The Deep End Sessions concert series has brought together old-time musicians from all over the country for intimate performances held inside a century-old farmhouse belonging to artist and citrus rancher David Bunn. 

The audience generally doesn't number more than 75 people. Musicians and audiences all share the same living room floor. And afterward, there is a big communal chili supper. All of it is followed by an hourslong old-time jam session, in which musicians both expert and novice whip out their instruments and have at it.

In this way, I've seen Ben Townsend, a banjo player from West Virginia, tell stories about the musicians who taught him some of his repertoire. I've watched Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller's soulful duets (see the embedded video). And I saw banjo...

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Moment of Friday: The Jay Z versus Marina Abramovic feud, illustrated
The city that makes Rome blush: 5 reasons why Palmyra's ruins are so important

The fate of one of the world's most important archaeological treasures hangs in the balance after the Islamist militant group ISIS overwhelmed the historic city of Palmyra, also known as Tadmur. 

The city contains the ruins of what, according to UNESCO, "was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world" — an important Silk Road hub where East met West more 2,000 years ago. A World Heritage Site, Palmyra is heralded by experts as having some of the finest Roman-era ruins in existence.

"It makes Rome blush," says Stephennie Mulder, an archaeologist and professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. "When you approach the site, it rises out of the desert like some sort of a mirage out of a fairy tale."

The ancient city, which flourished in the 1st and 2nd centuries, has numerous historic structures. Among them: a 3,600-foot long colonnade, an agora (or marketplace), an amphitheater, an urban quarter, a series of tombs, a hilltop castle and the...

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Datebook: Experimental shoes, art by vets, stories about immigration

Over-the-top shoes. Works produced by military veterans. And a series of collaged paintings that chronicle the lives of modern-day gold prospectors on the San Gabriel River. Plus: works that touch on personal stories of immigration and a painter’s otherworldly forms. Here’s what we have coming up in Datebook:

“Chris Francis: Shoe Designer,” at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. Get ready for shoes that aren’t so much shoes as they are experimental works of art. Francis, a self-taught designer who lives in L.A., creates designs inspired by street art, Constructivism, Cubism and high fashion, in the process employing a wide range of materials, from plywood to leather to leftover bits of fruit crates. Opens Sunday and runs through Sept. 6. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles,

“Art and Other Tactics: Contemporary Craft by Artist Veterans,” at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. A group show gathers works — painting, sculpture and even ceramics — by figures whose artistic practice...

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Gallery Report: Stitched paintings, a shattered mural, hidden heads