L.A. is awash in art and music and opera this week — featuring Chinese dissidents, roving aliens and feral little girls. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, with the week’s essential culture stories:
THE L.A. PHIL AT 100
The Los Angeles Philharmonic held its first concert on Oct. 24, 1919. To mark its centennial, the 2018-19 season promises to be beyond lavish. This will include a new home for musical director Gustavo Dudamel’s YOLA youth education project designed by Frank Gehry, special programs led by former musical directors Zubin Mehta and Esa-Pekka Salonen, a tribute to African American composer William Grant Still, and an appearance by Dudamel in the 2019 Oscars ceremony. Like, whoa!
“The sheer ambition of L.A. Phil should further inspire cautious arts organizations to think big,” writes Times classical music critic Mark Swed. “But it may also bring up some fears of one organization dominating the landscape.” Los Angeles Times
Plus, Richard S. Ginnell reviews the L.A. Phil’s performance of Ravel’s 50-minute opera “L’heure espagnole,” a work that the orchestra had never before performed — and which it will do so again on Saturday under the direction of Charles Dutoit. Los Angeles Times
On a related note: Do you find yourself in need of an animated GIF of Dudamel conducting? Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin and graphics journalist Joe Fox have got you covered.
A HALF-CENTURY OF PLACIDO IN L.A.
And since we seem to be on the subject of important anniversaries: Los Angeles Opera co-founder Plácido Domingo is marking the 50th anniversary of his Los Angeles debut. (LA Opera is celebrating with a gala.) Swed takes stock of the tenor’s legacy in Los Angeles and beyond. “I have the enthusiasm,” Domingo tells him. “I have the passion. I always say, when I hear, ‘the years are passing,’ I want them to pass. I don’t want them to stay.” Los Angeles Times
Swed also reviews Keeril Makan’s “Persona,” currently being staged by the LA Opera at REDCAT. It was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film of the same name. “There is nothing groundbreaking musically or dramatically,” writes Mark Swed of the piece. “But what opera adds is a new psychological dimension.” Los Angeles Times
“Something Rotten!,” writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty, is a “light theatrical soufflé” that “sets out to pinion you with laughter.” The show, now playing at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, and soon making its way to the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, features a pair of Elizabethan playwrights, a number called “God, I Hate Shakespeare” and gags that involve “Hamlet” and omelets. “The prolonged farcical antics falter at moments,” writes McNulty, “but there’s always a spare kooky character to provide a lift.” Los Angeles Times
ALIENS INVADE L.A.
“Citizens of the nation, I shall not try to conceal the gravity of the situation that confronts the country.” Those are the words from a beleaguered government official as aliens take over the streets of Los Angeles. If it sounds like the plot from Orson Welles’ infamous Martian invasion epic “War of the Worlds” — it is. Except it’s now an opera by Annie Gosfield that is being staged by Yuval Sharon inside and outside Disney Hall starting Sunday. “Part of what we hope to achieve with our audience,” Sharon tells The Times’ Jessica Gelt, “is that they realize the value of their own critical faculties in assessing what’s true and what’s fabricated.” Adds Gosfield: “Maybe a project like this inspires someone to voice an opinion artistically or politically that they wouldn’t otherwise." Los Angeles Times
POSTMODERN ARCHITECTURE AT RISK
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced plans to sell Chicago’s Thompson Center, designed by architect Helmut Jahn in 1985 — and it’s got the postmodernism preservationists worried. It’s an old story, writes Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne: “Building by important architect approaches middle age; falls out of fashion; suffers from deferred maintenance; begins as a result of deferred maintenance to lose whatever charm or verve it once had; falls further out of fashion; becomes demolition target.” Los Angeles Times
A gallery talk by a purported Chinese dissident that is also an immersive work of performance: The Times’ Daryl H. Miller attends the “wildly inventive” art installation/theater piece “Caught” at Think Tank Gallery that “leaves viewers with more questions than answers.” Los Angeles Times
Filmmaker George Lucas and artist Mark Bradford were the guests of honor at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art + Film Gala. The Times’ Deborah Vankin was there for the uplifting speeches and the butternut squash agnolotti. Los Angeles Times
Plus, Times fashion writer Adam Tschorn reports on all the fine duds that were rocked at the party. Los Angeles Times
IN THE GALLERIES
Times art critic Christopher Knight has been making the rounds. Up first: Adrián Villar Rojas’s “The Theater of Disappearance,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art — a work that meditates on the nature of cultural ruin. It’s a massive installation, that has taken over the sprawling Geffen Contemporary, reports Knight, “but the gigantism of the project far outpaces its slender rewards, which shrink further by comparison.” Los Angeles Times
Knight found more to savor in Mike Kelley’s “Kandors” at Hauser & Wirth. Inspired by a reference to a shrunken city in a Superman comic, he reports that the works are remarkable for how they treat something that “would generally be considered a negligible throwaway subject with sincerity and discernment.” Los Angeles Times
Also on the docket: Luke Butler’s paintings and drawings at Charlie James Gallery. Knight is compelled by the drawings that record torn bits of obituaries of famous TV and film stars. Los Angeles Times
KIM DINGLE’S UNVARNISHED TRUTHS
In my career as a journalist, I had never once interviewed an artist and spent two solid minutes cry-laughing into the phone. Thankfully for us, that’s where Kim Dingle comes in. The L.A. painter, known for her depictions of feral little girls, has a show on view at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects through Saturday. “That is the downfall for so many artists — the art market and too many galleries and all of those things,” she tells me. “It’s artists thinking, ‘Oh, they will like this.’ But what you’ve done is just jumped on your grief pole to hell.” Los Angeles Times
Matthew Rolston has photographed the performers who star in the living tableaux in Pageant of the Masters in full makeup — and the results are surreal. Los Angeles Times
IN OTHER NEWS...
— Lin-Manuel Miranda is taking “Hamilton” to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. PRI
— Mexico’s churches took a big hit during the last major earthquake. PRI
— Snehal Desai, the new artistic director at East West Players, charts a new course for the organization involving a lot of collaborative partnerships. Los Angeles Times
— Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was detained then released after planning an alternate exhibition to the Havana Biennial. Hyperallergic
— Benjamin Genocchio has been replaced as director of the influential New York art fair, the Armory Show, after being accused of sexual harassment. New York Times
— Bruce Kaji, a founder of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, has passed away at the age of 91. Los Angeles Times
— HM157 co-founder Charon Nogues departs the Lincoln Heights arts space. LA Weekly
— The Van Gogh painting with a grasshopper stuck in the paint. Architectural Digest
— A grime-encrusted object ended up being a priceless Grecian artifact evoking “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” New York Times
— You can experience Kerry James Marshall’s exhibition at MOCA on an Oculus headset. VR’t Ventures
— Taking a dance class with Misty Copeland. New York Times
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…
Illustrations of people who want artists to work for free. Dangerous Minds