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Essential Arts & Culture: Getty Center at 20, a show unearths Mexican masterpieces, a Gold Rush opera

An important anniversary for the Getty Center and a revelatory paintings show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your weekly West Coast dose of what’s burning up in arts and culture:

THE GETTY AT TWO DECADES

The Getty Center is turning 20. And to mark the occasion Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne spoke with its architect, (the very dry) Richard Meier, about the forces that shaped the building’s design. “There was a committee formed by the neighborhood association, and I remember meeting with them early on,” Meier recalls. “And they said, “We don’t want to see it, we don’t want to hear it, we don’t want to smell it.” Welcome to Los Angeles! Los Angeles Times

Plus, to mark his mother-in-law’s 80th birthday, who is into design, Hawthorne organized an architecture tour of nine Los Angeles buildings from nine decades. This looks like a great thing to do over the holiday (at 4 a.m. when there is no traffic). Los Angeles Times

ART THAT IS A REVELATION

LACMA has unveiled a historic show of paintings titled “Painted in Mexico, 1700-1790: Pinxit Mexici,” as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA / LA. Featuring more than 100 works, many of which have never been on public view, the exhibition is “a first” and builds knowledge of an understudied era, “a remarkable curatorial achievement, one of the most memorable exhibitions of the year,” says Times art critic Christopher Knight. Los Angeles Times

In other PST news: LA/LA news: Laura Aguilar’s retrospective at the Vincent Price Art Museum has been drawing attention for the inventive ways in which the photographer chronicled her own body. Art in America, New Yorker

Plus, writer Matt Stromberg profiles artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres, whose hand can be seen in various PST: LA/LA exhibitions — and whose exhibition “MEX/LA” at the Museum of Latin American Art in 2011 served as intellectual precursor to the current series of shows. KCET Artbound

‘VERMONICA’ GONE

Sheila Klein’s beloved lightpost sculpture “Vermonica” has inhabited a strip mall in East Hollywood since 1993. Late last month it was taken down and placed before the Bureau of Street Lighting offices. The artist, who made the piece as a healing gesture in the wake of the Los Angeles riots, was never notified. “It’s outrageous,” she tells me. City officials say they moved the piece because of impending construction. Los Angeles Times

AN IMMIGRANT’S TALE

Over the summer, I wrote about how filmmaker Alejandro Iñárritu’s virtual reality installation “Carne y Arena” told a poignant story about the treacherous desert crossing many Latin American immigrants make to get to the U.S. Last month, the director won a special Academy Award for the piece. Iñárritu took time to chat with me about why “Carne y Arena” has been so important to him: “There is so much blah, blah, blah and so much tweets and nobody is interested in going to the root of why these people are leaving their homelands, their families, their culture — putting themselves at risk, putting their lives at risk, their kids’ lives at risk.” Los Angeles Times

A GOLD RUSH OPERA

John Adams’ new opera “Girls of the Gold West,” from a concept by Peter Sellars, recently opened the San Francisco Opera. The reviews have been negative, notes Times classical music critic Mark Swed. So he dug in for not one, but two, performances. The story is disjointed, Swed notes, but the opera’s themes make it one for our time. “It’s doesn’t matter from which direction you approach the War Memorial Opera House. You will pass encampments of homeless seemingly growing in direct proportion to the invasion of newly minted tech millionaires.” Los Angeles Times

OFFICE HOURS

Want to meet a museum director to talk about your work? The Main Museum in downtown Los Angeles has just such a program. Once a year, director Allison Agsten sits down with the first 50 artists to sign up. The Times’ Deborah Vankin sat in on the meetings. Los Angeles Times

AN ARTIST ‘ALEXA’

In a work inspired by artificial intelligence products for the home, such as Amazon’s Alexa, artist Lauren McCarthy transformed an L.A. apartment into a digitally managed hub that she controls remotely. Times reviewer Sharon Mizota spent the night. Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK THEATER UPDATES

Times theater critic Charles McNulty has been in New York City to catch the latest shows — this includes Duncan Macmillan’s “People, Places & Things,” which has had a “triumphant” run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. McNulty sat down with the show’s star, Denise Gough, who plays an actress and addict. “No performance this year has affected me as viscerally,” writes McNulty. Los Angeles Times

He also caught the Broadway production of Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower,” featuring Amy Schumer and Keegan-Michael Key. (The show had first opened at the Old Globe in San Diego.) Unfortunately, says McNulty, the celebrity casting can’t save a narrative that’s “half baked.” Los Angeles Times

GRAMMY GETS CLASSICAL

The nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards were announced this week, and Times contributing reviewer Richard S. Ginnell parses the nominations in the classical categories. This year, he reports, the nominations feature a “predominance of American composers and organizations in some categories” — with nods to Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, the recently deceased baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the next two Ojai Music Festival directors (violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and singer-conductor Barbara Hannigan). Los Angeles Times

Plus, The Times music writers pick through the whole list of nominations, which include a possible history-making turn for the reggaeton jam “Despacito,” a spoken word nod for Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the rise of nominations for women and underrepresented minorities. Los Angeles Times

IN THE GALLERIES

Times reviewer David Pagel has been making the rounds. He reports that Lynda Benglis’s show at Blum & Poe in Culver City “does what nature does: moves us in ways we don’t fully understand and connects us to processes that are bigger than all of us.” Los Angeles Times

Pagel also enjoyed Adam Silverman’s solo exhibition “Ghosts” at Cherry and Martin. The experience of looking at the artist’s ceramics, he writes, grows “deeper and more resonant as each piece rewards visitors with nuances that make you want to look even more closely.” Los Angeles Times

IN OTHER NEWS…

Anna Somers Cocks, the founder-editor of the Art Newspaper, says cultural institutions have been compromised by donations from the Sackler family, the family behind Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxycontin, which has been implicated in the opioid epidemics. “It is hard to see how an institution vowed to the higher good,” she writes, “can accept money from this source again.” The Art Newspaper

— See The Times’ investigation into Purdue that sparked it all. Los Angeles Times

— Art by Guantanamo captives may be destroyed. Miami Herald

— Why “Swan Lake” inspires so many dark adaptations. The Guardian

David Cote looks at theater criticism’s second act. American Theatre

— In his lifetime, Edgar Degas exhibited only one sculpture. Now more than 70 bronzes by the artist are going on view at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Los Angeles Times

— Critic Holland Cotter visited the Louvre Abu Dhabi — which isn’t technically a Louvre. “The narrative is engagingly well paced,” he writes, but “sugarcoated and incomplete.” New York Times

— How Andrea Zittel explores art, architecture and environment in the Mojave Desert. T Magazine

Rock art in Saudi Arabia may offer the earliest depiction of dogs. Smithsonian Magazine

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