Culture: High & Low With Carolina A. Miranda

Essential Arts & Culture: New Year's culture events, art and democracy, surviving the fires

The new year is upon us! In with the new. Out with the old. Except for this highly caffeinated newsletter, which is your weekly dose of all things culture from the great state of Califas. Here’s wishing you joy and good fortune for 2018!

Here’s what we’ve got for the final week of the year:


Don’t have any plans for the big night? Times contributor Matt Cooper has rounded up a selection of events — including jazz, hip-hop, comedy and a free outdoor concert — with which to ring in the New Year. Los Angeles Times

Add to that list the Troubadour Theater Company’s “How the Princh Stole Christmas!” which runs through New Year’s Eve. The Times’ Daryl Miller reviews the hijinks of the company’s latest theatrical send-up. Los Angeles Times


We hope the new year will bring some comfort to the Californians whose homes and communities were devastated by the many fires that plagued the Southland. The Times’ Deborah Vankin speaks with one artist about what it was like to lose his studio and his life’s work. “It was terrible,” says John Wullbrandt, a painter in Carpinteria. “But I thought: ‘We’re alive.’” The story also features some remarkable photography by Times photo editor Hal Wells. Los Angeles Times


A sculpture in the form of a Molotov cocktail that had never been on public view and a prison mural that has been seen only twice by a general public. “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85,” on view at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles, brings together rare and surprising works that tell the story of how black women artists in the late 20th century contended with the racism of mainstream feminism and the machismo of the Black Power movement. It’s a show that, as I report this week, “makes the story of art a little richer and deeper.” You’ve got until Jan. 14 to see it! Los Angeles Times

Plus, I also report on the improvised mural inspired by Los Angeles that was painted by Mexican artist Hugo Crosthwaite at the Museum of Social Justice on Olvera Street. Starting in February, the artist will obliterate the work bit by bit. Los Angeles Times


In a year in which everyone seemed glued to a Twitter stream of political turmoil, Times theater critic Charles McNulty explores the role of art in responding to current events. It’s all well and good to be timely, he writes. But “playwrights have more pressing business than keeping up with the news crawl. At the moment, there’s no greater service they can provide than creating imaginative worlds for audiences to contemplatively explore. 'Contemplatively' is the crucial word.” Los Angeles Times


Speaking of politics, South Korean artist Jae-Eun Choi has a dream of transforming the 160 mile-long demilitarized zone that separates North Korea from South into a border nature sanctuary with the assistance of artists and architects. “We need it. They need it,” she tells Times contributor Alan Weisman. “We don’t need war: With terrorism, hurricanes, and extinctions, the world is already dangerous enough. In such times, we must get together.” Los Angeles Times


What does L.A. Phil Music Director Gustavo Dudamel look like when he conducts? Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin captured the man in action in 19 frames. It’s worth clicking through to see the video. Los Angeles Times


— Cuba has been hit by a wave of artist detentions, including Tania Bruguera, who has been detained multiple times in the past (and whom I interviewed in 2015). Havana Times

— A woman — Barbara Jatta — now leads the Vatican Museums. New York Times

— Artists, activist and inveterate collaborator Tim Rollins has died. ARTnews

— Incredibly ugly Confederate statue is vandalized. Splinter

— Urbanism writer Alissa Walker wraps up all of the things that Angelenos have to look forward to in the coming year, including improved street design and legal weed. Curbed

— How cities are turning themselves into Instagram backdrops. Make it stop. Citylab

Daniel Hernandez on the banality and beauty of the 110-105 Freeway interchange. L.A. Taco

— And Gustavo Arellano on South Coast Plaza and its history. Curbed

Anne Bown-Crawford has been named head of the California Arts Council. Lost Coast Outpost

— Why I love the internet, Part 1: A first-date-gone-wrong story that involves busted-up Warhols and a tank. KHOU

— Why I love the internet, Part 2: The U.S. was meant to have the metric system. Then pirates intervened. NPR


How do we all feel at the end of 2017? I think my dog Bonnie best sums it up...

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