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Essential Arts & Culture: #Oscars2018 and culture, the trippy Olafur Eliasson installation

Essential Arts & Culture: #Oscars2018 and culture, the trippy Olafur Eliasson installation
Armie Hammer, left, and Timothée Chalamet in the Academy Award contender "Call Me By Your Name." (Luca Campri / Sony Pictures Classics)

A look at the Oscars. A play about Jacqueline Kennedy. And an artist's hallucinatory installation. I'm Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer with the Los Angeles times, with the week's top culture stories and ancient art GIFs:

IMAGE

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From here on out, I'll be kicking off the newsletter each week with a compelling image. Seen here: an early photograph of a Dakota woman by pioneer photographer J.E. Whitney — on view in "Paper Promises: Early American Photography" at the Getty Museum through May 27.

Detail of "Portrait of a Dakota Sitter," about 1862-64, by J.E. Whitney at the Getty Museum.
Detail of "Portrait of a Dakota Sitter," about 1862-64, by J.E. Whitney at the Getty Museum. (J. Paul Getty Museum)

OSCAR OSCAR OSCAR

The Academy Awards are on Sunday and we've got stories!

Times theater critic Charles McNulty has a look at two of year's big Oscar contenders: Luca Guadagnino's "Call Me by Your Name" and playwright Martin McDonagh's "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" — and he is not convinced. "In both cases, I found myself quarreling with the writing," he states. "I couldn't understand how friends and fellow critics could overlook the implausibilities of language, character, culture and plot." Los Angeles Times

"Three Billboards" writer-director Martin McDonagh with star Frances McDormand.
"Three Billboards" writer-director Martin McDonagh with star Frances McDormand. (Merrick Morton / Associated Press)

Times contributor Tim Greiving has an analysis of the life and work of composer John Williams — who is nominated for his work on "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." The composer received his first Oscar nod 50 years ago for adapting André Previn's songs in the score for "Valley of the Dolls." Los Angeles Times

Greiving also has a sonic roundup of the most iconic movie music that never won an Oscar. It sounds like a hall of fame to me. Los Angeles Times

Composer John Williams at the 2106 AFI Life Achievement Award Gala.
Composer John Williams at the 2106 AFI Life Achievement Award Gala. (Chris Pizzello / Invision/Associated Press)

"The Oscar Concert" at Walt Disney Hall featured three of this year's five Oscar-nominated composers leading the L.A. Phil in excerpts of their scores. Rick Schultz reviews. Los Angeles Times

Times culture writer Jeffrey Fleishman isn't buying the idea that the Oscars are all that. Los Angeles Times

But just in case you have to bone up for the office pool: Oscar mastermind Glenn Whipp offers predictions on 24 Oscar categories. Los Angeles Times

This year, I'll be attending the Academy Awards (!!!). To prepare for this grand event, I took a TMZ tour. Los Angeles Times

PLAYING JACKIE KENNEDY

At the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Saffron Burrows, best known for her role as Cynthia on Amazon's "Mozart in the Jungle," takes on the grief of Jacqueline Kennedy in Tom Dugan's "Jackie Unveiled." "She was so intelligent and yet she was endlessly patronized," says Burrows of the former first lady. Los Angeles Times

Times theater critic Charles McNulty, however, says the play doesn't offer Burrows much to work with: "This isn't a private Jackie but a contrived public version for the commercial stage." Los Angeles Times

Saffron Burrows is starring in "Jackie Unveiled" at the Wallis in Beverly Hills
Saffron Burrows is starring in "Jackie Unveiled" at the Wallis in Beverly Hills (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

IN THE THEATERS

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Los Angeles has been having a Quiara Alegría Hudes moment — with three plays in the Pulitzer Prize-winner's Elliot cycle in production at venues around town over the last month. Charles McNulty sat in on "The Happiest Song Plays Last" at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. The play, he writes, has "an impressive scope," but the production, by the Latino Theater Company, feels "unsettled." Los Angeles Times

Peter Pasco plays Elliot in "The Happiest Song Plays Last."
Peter Pasco plays Elliot in "The Happiest Song Plays Last." (Gio Solis / Bracero.la)

At the Actors' Gang, a new work of performance, "The New Colossus," created in collaboration with the company's artistic director, Tim Robbins, explores personal tales of immigration. "The characters call themselves refugees, and whatever the legal definition, you believe them," writes McNulty. Their worn overcoats, scarves and gloves seem inadequate protection for their vulnerable humanity." Los Angeles Times

McNulty also took in a performance of Michael Michetti's "revitalizing" projection of "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center — and found it's a staging that "shakes out the cobwebs" of a Tennessee Williams classic "that hasn't felt fresh in a long time. Los Angeles Times

ELSEWHERE ON STAGE

The Times' Daryl H. Miller checks out George Takei's musical, "Allegiance," about the Japanese American interment experience, at the Aratani Theatre. The show bears the "heavy burden" of educating and entertaining, he notes — putting it in a small club of musicals, such as "Zoot Suit," that examine periods of American brutality. Los Angeles Times

George Takei as Sam Kimura in the Broadway production of "Allegiance."
George Takei as Sam Kimura in the Broadway production of "Allegiance." (Matthew Murphy)

Miller notes that after a six-year absence from the theater, Los Angeles playwright Justin Tanner is back with humorous family dysfunction in "El Niño" at the Met Theatre in East Hollywood. Los Angeles Times

And Times contributing reviewer Margaret Gray sits in on an "enchanting" production of "The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk" at the Wallis in Beverly Hills — inspired by the art of 20th century painter Marc Chagall. Los Angeles Times

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THE ART OF WHOA

I love any story that begins, "Just in time for the arrival of recreational marijuana…. " This one happens to be by Times art critic Christopher Knight, who reports that Icelandic Danish artist Olafur Eliasson's "Reality Projector" installation at the Marciano Art Foundation "is a smashing immersive environment guaranteed to elicit an immediate 'Oh, wow' from visitors — pot or no pot." Los Angeles Times

Which is a great time to resuscitate the Southern Mothers' 2008 Olafur Eliasson rap (which contains arty swearing). YouTube

Olafur Eliasson's "Reality projector" at the Marciano Art Foundation.
Olafur Eliasson's "Reality projector" at the Marciano Art Foundation. (Joshua White / Marciano Art Foundation)

IN THE GALLERIES

Knight also paid a visit to Diane Rosenstein Gallery, where artist Gisela Colon showcases recent sculpture that channels light and space. Los Angeles Times

And he writes about Charlemagne Palestine's vast installations crafted from plush toys at 356 Mission. "The installation is all really just too much," he notes, "which, in these cruel and emotionally crushing days, means it's almost just enough." Los Angeles Times

Charlemagne Palestine, "Ccornuuoorphanossccopiaee Aanorphansshhornoffplentyyy," 2018, at 356 Mission.
Charlemagne Palestine, "Ccornuuoorphanossccopiaee Aanorphansshhornoffplentyyy," 2018, at 356 Mission. (Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times)

WRIGHT'S L.A.

For a new documentary set to air on KCET, Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne digs into architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Los Angeles years — which came after the brutal murder of his lover in Wisconsin. "Was there some link between the violence in Wright's personal life that sent him careening to California?" asks Hawthorne. "And what was it about pre-Columbian ruins that made them so attractive to Wright in the 1920s as the basis for an experimental, concrete-block L.A. architecture?" "That Far Corner," as the doc is titled, will explore those ideas. Los Angeles Times

Plus, James Brasuell looks at the conservation work that goes into maintaining Wright's L.A. structures. KCET Artbound

Frank Lloyd Wright's enigmatic Millard House, built in 1923.
Frank Lloyd Wright's enigmatic Millard House, built in 1923. (Travis LaBella / KCET)

WORK IT

Melanie Griffith is starring as Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate" at the Laguna Playhouse. Times contributor Catherine Womack sits down for a Q&A. Where does she think her character Tess McGill from "Working Girl" would be today? "Running Google," Griffith says. Los Angeles Times

Melanie Griffith during a break from rehearsing for "The Graduate."
Melanie Griffith during a break from rehearsing for "The Graduate." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

IN OTHER NEWS …

— "Darkness has brought to light other things." Samuel Granados and Kevin Schaul have created a terrific animated piece about a troupe of performers in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. A must-watch. Washington Post

— A censored sculpture of Leonard Peltier takes up residence at the Main Museum. Los Angeles magazine

— Santa Monica's letterpress emporium Church of Type is no longer. KCET Artbound

— A version of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" is set in a West Bank settlement. Tablet

— The Geffen Playhouse has announced it's 2018-19 lineup, the first under new artistic director Matt Shakman. Los Angeles Times

Dulé Hill will star in "Lights Out: Nat 'King' Cole" as part of the new season at the Geffen Playhouse.
Dulé Hill will star in "Lights Out: Nat 'King' Cole" as part of the new season at the Geffen Playhouse. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

— Plus, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel's "Indecent" will be part of the 2018-19 lineup at the Ahmanson Theatre. Los Angeles Times

— "It's a cool, powerful feeling to direct the energy of the room." A profile of stage and film actress Laurie Metcalf considers her range. New York Times

— How an American Ballet Theatre dancer became a body double for Jennifer Lawrence in "Red Sparrow." WWD ...

— … and the film's choreography team created Lawrence's ballet sequences. New York Times

— KCRW's Frances Anderton and Avishay Artsy have devoted an entire show to the ways in which artists are engaging the Los Angeles River and the bridges that span it. Design and Architecture

— Making cities more child-friendly. Guardian

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One hundred and one movies about cities. Curbed

— Facebook censors the 30,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf sculpture as "pornographic." Art Newspaper

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

This one's for Venus: It's time for goddess GIFS. Nina Paley

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