Culture: High & Low With Carolina A. Miranda
Moment of Friday: Journey to the land of Jodorowsky

Hey Folks: I'm taking a bit of a breather.

I'm headed to Chile, the motherland (literally, my mother's land), for a spate of empanada-eating and cabernet sampling. In between, there may be pisco sours and ginormous hot dogs involved.

I'll be back at the keyboards in about a week — with some art and architectural discoveries from the smoggy capital of Santiago.

In the meantime, I leave you with a little Alejandro Jodorowsky, the Chilean filmmaker renowned for bizarre/metaphorical/epic motion pictures such as "El Topo" and "Holy Mountain" — and for being the subject of the wondrously charming documentary, "Jodorowsky's Dune." 

His last picture, "The Dance of Reality," released in France in 2013 (see the trailer embedded), is a wild and surreal meditation on the filmmaker's youth in a northern Chilean mining town. And it's available for streaming on Amazon.

Get on it, people. You only live cinematically once.

You can find me on El Tweeter (as they say in Chile)  @cmonstah . But while I'm on...

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Datebook: Art about the aqueduct, marijuana growers, warped perspectives

Paintings that play with everything you think you are seeing ... photographs that chronicle Northern California’s marijuana cultivation industry ... and a thorough examination of that vital piece of infrastructure that gives life to our city: the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Plus, a show that’s all about paintings and the latest short films. Here are five new shows to see in L.A. this week, plus a selection of the best ongoing art events:

“After the Aqueduct” at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. In a time of drought, this exhibition couldn’t be more timely: a selection of projects by artists and designers that focus on the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the 233-mile conveyance system that helps keep all those lawns green and pools filled in the greater metro area. Through April 12. There will be a panel discussion Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the issue of water and Los Angeles. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, welcometolace.org.

H. Lee, “Grassland,” at Spot Photo Works. Planting, cultivation...

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Watts to Joshua Tree: A tour of Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Museum

The high desert wind at the edge of Joshua Tree was fierce and frigid, but the sculptures were gritty, weird and wonderful at Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Museum — which more than made up for my frozen fingertips.

We arrived by bus Monday, a crew of art nerds brought together in advance of the June exhibition of Purifoy's work at the L.A. County Museum of Art. And it was a phantasmagorical display: entire structures built from bits of wood and metal, towers of bowling balls, a row of old Kirby vacuum cleaners and a gallows inspired by a Clint Eastwood flick, with Joshua Trees and cholla cactus marking all the in-between spaces.

Listening to Purifoy's sculptures creak in the wind made them seem practically alive.

The longtime Los Angeles artist was renowned for fabricating teetering assemblages out of piles of old chairs, banged-up mannequins and industrial and domestic remnants — from steel trays (as seen in a whimsical, roller-coaster-like piece titled "Sixty-Five Aluminum Trays") to old...

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How the dense grids of artist Charles Gaines took the ego out of art

When Charles Gaines was in elementary school in Newark, N.J., one of his teachers noticed that this son of a construction worker and seamstress was skilled at drawing. 

“My teacher told my mom that she should encourage me to go into art because I could be the ‘first black artist,' “ Gaines remembers with a chuckle. “Of course, there was already a rich black history in art, but nobody knew it because it wasn't taught.”

He went on to attend an arts high school in Newark and pursue art as a career. But at first, art was hardly his passion.

“I look at myself in those days as being unconscious,” says the artist, whose early work is the subject of a major exhibition now on view at the Hammer Museum. “You opened a door, and I walked through it.”

Only during his third year at Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University), a time he describes as “the awakening,” did he decide that making art was something he had to do. Even so, it took him time to find his voice.

“I was doing these...

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Roundup: Cartoon event canceled, Marina's memoir, Leonard Nimoy art podcast

A priceless Bernini fountain is damaged by soccer hooligans.... A cartooning conference canceled because of security threats.... A Mexico museum cancels a show by a controversial Austrian artist.... And reports that Joshua Tree National Park may have been vandalized by a street artist. Plus: Marina Abramovic’s memoir, a new Google campus and a Leonard Nimoy art podcast of MOCA.

— A museum in Normandy, France, cancels a French cartoonists’ conference in the wake of cyber attacks.

— The Jumex Museum in Mexico City has canceled a show by Vienna Actionist Hermann Nitsch over concerns by animal rights activists. (The artist’s work has historically featured blood animal carcasses.) And there are conflicting reports about whether director Patrick Charpenel may have resigned from the museum

— Modern Hiker reports that the street artist known as “Mr. Andre” may have tagged a site in Joshua Tree National Park. (LAist

— Sort of related: a Dutch restoration company has offered to repair a...

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Follow-up: More tales of the Prometheus tree and how it died

On Friday, I had a front-page article on the story of Prometheus, the 5,000-year-old bristlecone that was chopped down in 1964 in the name of science — and whose memory was resurrected by Los Angeles artist Jeff Weiss.

A number of readers wrote in over the course of the day to ask how and why the tree had been cut down and what the scientific purpose had been. The story is an interesting one.

Prometheus was cut down at the request of Donald Currey, a young scientist doing research on the geology of the area (who has since passed away). Currey wanted to study the tree’s rings in order to better understand the area’s climatological history (a science known as dendrochronology), and with the help of a ranger named Don Cox, he secured permission to remove a specimen.

The pair settled on a specimen known as "WPN-114" in the official government paperwork. The tree reached a height of 17 feet and a circumference of 252 inches. Large portions of it were dead, but a single 11-foot branch was...

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