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Essential Arts & Culture: Opera gets nuclear, a Boyle Heights exodus, a ballet honors Isadora Duncan

Essential Arts & Culture: Opera gets nuclear, a Boyle Heights exodus, a ballet honors Isadora Duncan
Ryan McKinny (playing Robert Oppenheimer) and Daniel Okulitch (Gen. Groves) in a scene from Santa Fe Opera's "Doctor Atomic." (Ken Howard / Santa Fe Opera)

Just another hot August arts newsletter bursting with atomic bombs, 3-D art and gentrification. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your weekly dose of what’s good in the world of culture and what’s bad in the world of McMansions:

ESSENTIAL IMAGE

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"Maria," 2014, a 1985 Chevy El Camino customized by Rose B. Simpson.
"Maria," 2014, a 1985 Chevy El Camino customized by Rose B. Simpson. (Kate Russell)

The Minneapolis Institute of Art is prepping a major exhibition examining the art of Native American women for 2019. To announce the show, they sent an image of Rose B. Simpson’s custom Chevy El Camino truck, “Maria,” which is inspired by black-on-black Santa Clara pottery. Someone, please, bring these hot wheels to El Lay! First American Art Magazine

ATOMIC AGE

Times classical music critic Mark Swed was just in Santa Fe for a performance of John Adams’ “Doctor Atomic,” staged by the Santa Fe Opera. Directed by Peter Sellars, who is also the librettist, the opera is about the test of the first atomic bomb in nearby Trinity Site, N.M. It was interrupted by thunderous rain. But nothing “stopped a performance of the most significant, I’d say the greatest, opera of our time,” writes Swed. “If you want to know what the opera felt like, what it means and why the world is the way it is, this was the place to be.” Los Angeles Times

Dancers in a scene from Santa Fe Opera's "Doctor Atomic."
Dancers in a scene from Santa Fe Opera's "Doctor Atomic." (Ken Howard / Santa Fe Opera)

THE GENTRIFICATION FRONT

Over the last three years, antigentrification protestors have targeted galleries in an industrial portion of Boyle Heights. Now, many of those galleries are leaving — including MaRS, founded by Robert Zin Stark, who will stage a “ceremonial closing” of his space after a meeting with ski-mask-clad activists. But other battles loom. I report on how new zoning code, the designation of part of the neighborhood as an “economic opportunity zone,” and the development of market-rate lofts at the old Sears mail order complex could redefine the neighborhood. Los Angeles Times

Plus: a sidebar on what the revised zoning code, including the designation of an “innovation district,” could mean for Boyle Heights. Los Angeles Times

A man walks past a mural on Anderson Street in Boyle Heights that reads "RESIST."
A man walks past a mural on Anderson Street in Boyle Heights that reads "RESIST." (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Catherine Wagley outlines the history of galleries entering and departing Boyle Heights. ARTnews

And Caribbean Fragoza looks at how some artists in gentrifying neighborhoods are redefining their roles as artists. The American Prospect

HONORING ISADORA DUNCAN

The ballet “Isadora,” which is premiering at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts this weekend, is inspired by the artistry of one of ballet’s most legendary figures: the acclaimed American-born dancer Isadora Duncan, who died in 1927. In the lead role is Natalia Osipova, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet. On board as choreographer is Vladimir Varnava, of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. The score comes from Prokofiev’s “Cinderella.” Laura Bleiberg has a very compelling report. Los Angeles Times

Natalia Osipova, following a rehearsal for the new ballet "Isadora" at Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Natalia Osipova, following a rehearsal for the new ballet "Isadora" at Segerstrom Center for the Arts (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

SUMMER DREAMING

The New Swan Shakespeare Festival’s staging of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” has given the supernatural play a lesbian twist: One of the four young Athenian lovers, Lysander, is now Lysandra (played by Kayla Kearney). And Times theater critic Charles McNulty says the production pulls off the gender bending “with aplomb.” “The high spirits are infectious,” he adds, “at least until the second half when the silliness is allowed to devolve into mere horseplay.” Los Angeles Times

Kayla Kearney as Lysandra, left, Maya Smoot as Helena and Tristan Turner as Demetrius in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Kayla Kearney as Lysandra, left, Maya Smoot as Helena and Tristan Turner as Demetrius in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." (Paul Kennedy)

LIFE OF PIE

The hit Broadway musical “Waitress,” inspired by the film of the same name, has landed at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. The musical — about a waitress, her pies and her complicated love life — “needlessly and ham-fistedly” tweaked aspects of the film, writes The Times’ Daryl H. Miller. But “much of its strange magic remains.” The performance, he notes, has audiences “alternately whooping with excitement and dabbing at tears.” Los Angeles Times

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Charity Angél Dawson, from left, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the national tour of "Waitress."
Charity Angél Dawson, from left, Desi Oakley and Lenne Klingaman in the national tour of "Waitress." (Joan Marcus)

Miller also has a look at a rare re-staging of the play “Haiti,” currently on view at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. The play, created by the Federal Theatre Project in the 1930s, tells a story about the former slaves who helped secure independence for Haiti. “We can only imagine how segregated America must have responded to this depiction of black people standing up to oppression,” he writes. Los Angeles Times

Plus, Matt Cooper has all the weekend picks, including a musical about Judy Garland in Laguna Beach and a dance festival in Santa Monica. Los Angeles Times

IN TRIBUTE

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Actress Charlotte Rae was best known as Mrs. Garrett on the ’80s sitcom “The Facts of Life,” but she was also a theater actress. The Times’ Craig Nakano pays tribute to her stagecraft: “It was in the theater where the actress broke out of her sitcom box, defying audiences’ expectations for decades after she left Mrs. G behind.” Los Angeles Times

Charlotte Rae and James Greene in Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2016.
Charlotte Rae and James Greene in Samuel Beckett's "Endgame" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2016. (Craig Schwartz)

OTHER DIMENSIONS

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a new show, “3D: Double Vision,” that explores the nature of three-dimensional illusion — such as stereoscopic prints and holograms. The show, writes Times art critic Christopher Knight, has “assembled a captivating array of material produced since the mid-19th century” by scientists, inventors, designers, engineers and artists. Los Angeles Times

Simone Forti, "Striding Crawling," 1975-78, integral multiplex hologram.
Simone Forti, "Striding Crawling," 1975-78, integral multiplex hologram. (Fredrik Nilsen)

Plus, Knight also reviews an exhibition of work by Senga Nengudi at Art + Practice. The show, he notes, is more “a thumbnail sketch” than an in-depth exploration of this key installation and performance artist, but “standout” video documentation and newer works that take the artist’s signature material (pantyhose) and attach it to refrigeration equipment, make it “worthwhile.” Los Angeles Times

IN THE GALLERIES

Times contributing reviewer David Pagel is intrigued by a new show of work by the artist known as Jess (1923-2004) at Kohn Gallery in Hollywood. To visit the show, he writes, “is to glimpse a soul who couldn’t care less about stylistic consistency.” Los Angeles Times

A detail from the collage "Untitled (Girl with Geese)," 1955, by Jess.
A detail from the collage "Untitled (Girl with Geese)," 1955, by Jess. (Kohn Gallery and Tibor de Nagy)

For more arts happenings, check out my Datebook, which includes a show of illuminated sacred texts and the dreamlike visions of a Chicana painter. Los Angeles Times

IN OTHER NEWS…

Zadie Smith’s critique of the work of L.A. painter Henry Taylor is what you want to be reading this weekend. The New Yorker

— Chinese authorities have demolished Ai Weiwei’s studio in Beijing. Hyperallergic

— How the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has expanded into the far corners of Buffalo by establishing a program geared at public art. Citylab

— Unionized workers at the Museum of Modern Art this week staged a public walkout. Hrag Vartanian speaks to a pair of museum workers about the museum’s labor troubles. Hyperallergic

— Someone, please, show this: Oran Z’s collection of black Americana in the Mojave Desert. NPR

Oran Z with his collection in 2008.
Oran Z with his collection in 2008. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

— The Valley Relics Museum is expanding! Los Angeles Magazine

Jocelyn Vollmar, a founding member of the San Francisco Ballet, and the first American to play the role of the Snow Queen in the “Nutcracker,” has died at 92. San Francisco Chronicle

Laura Cappelle picks apart the dancing, the narratives and all the male gaze in contemporary Parisian cabaret. New York Times

— Actor Stacy Keach writes about what it’s like to have a heart attack on stage. New York Times

— Critic John King has a first look at the San Francisco’s new Transbay Terminal, a massive undertaking led by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects that is part park, part public transit center. San Francisco Chronicle

— Art critic Charles Desmarais, in the meantime, has a look at the terminal’s works of public art, which each have strengths, “but all are subsumed into a vast machine of commerce.” San Francisco Chronicle

— Is a mound in Turkey the world’s oldest piece of architecture? The Art Newspaper

Demolition is set to begin on the Parker Center on Aug. 20. Urbanize.LA

— Dear Architects: Do you have design concepts related to death? An arts nonprofit in upstate New York wants them. The Architect’s Newspaper

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST...

A “delicate balancing act between having privacy and showing off your hoarded wealth”: a hilarious and withering analysis of education secretary Betsy DeVos’ summer home by Kate Wagner. Vox

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