The magic of Art Renzei, Ukraine’s ‘King Lear,’ celebrating Henry Mancini and the best of L.A. culture this week

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A building is painted as a fanciful landscape, with two circular windows serving as lens for one character's sunglasses.
A Shar Tui’asoa mural created for the Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei event last year.
(Brandon Shigeta)

Welcome to another edition of the Essential Arts newsletter, in which we offer a buffet of main course entertainment in L.A. with dash of insider news and popcorn-ready truth-telling from our team of top-tier reporters and critics who are working harder than ever in this time of vacations and leisure to make sure you know where to go in a city of a million things to do. Here’s the best stuff we dug up this week.

Best bets: What’s on our radar this week

Julianne Nicholson, left, and Zoe Ziegler in "Janet Planet."

1. “Janet Planet”
The stunning debut film by Annie Baker, one of the most marvelously inventive playwrights of her generation, is about the intense bond between Janet (Julianne Nicholson), a licensed acupuncturist with a history of ill-judged relationships, and her iron-willed 11-year-old daughter, Lacy (Zoe Ziegler). Lacy finds herself in a series of triangles with her mother, whose attention she would like to monopolize. Yet her future depends on how successfully she can move beyond what Freud termed the family romance. With “Janet Planet,” Baker doesn’t so much translate her artistry to the screen as discover a whole new frontier for her singular sensibility. Look for the full review later at
Preview screening 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. Opens in theaters across Southern California on June 27.
— Charles McNulty

Dozens of sculptures of fanciful faces -- some cute, some scary or funny or otherworldly -- are mounted on a wall.
One installation in the Jeffery Sun Young Park show “Dokkaebi Revelry” at Garden Stroll in Los Angeles.
(David A. Keeps / For The Times)

2. Jeffery Sun Young Park: Dokkaebi Revelry
For his second show at Stroll Garden, the queer, first-generation Angeleno of Korean descent continues to mine his ancestral culture with flawlessly rendered, vividly colored ceramic bells, masks and smile-inducing interpretations of mischievous folkloric nature spirits known as dokkaebi. The fantastically cute creatures sport horned heads and flower faces with simple holes for eyes, all adorning human and animal forms enlivened with the speckles of iron-rich clay and the crackles of raku firing. “Art has room for all narratives, looks, genders, and backgrounds,” says the artist, a marriage and family therapist who took up ceramics as a form of self-care during the pandemic. “I want visitors to find a piece that gives them permission to love all the parts of who they are.”
Through Saturday at Stroll Garden, 7380 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.
— David A. Keeps

Crystal Wagner's contribution to Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei last year.
Crystal Wagner’s contribution to Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei last year.
(Brandon Shigeta)

3. Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei
This annual public art festival kicks off Saturday in Long Beach with projection-mapping artist Brendan Monroe using the Queen Mary as his canvas. Then come Monday, other artists will begin creating murals on walls all across the city. Artist talks and a bike ride to see works in progress are parts of the festival’s free programming. For more on the event’s history, read The Times’ feature from last year.
Through June 29. Locations throughout Long Beach.
— Craig Nakano

4. “Not a Moment, but a Movement”
Center Theatre Group, in collaboration with The Fire This Time Festival and Watts Village Theater Company, presents readings of new plays from Black woman-identifying or nonbinary playwrights: Z & Co” f/aka AzizA Barnes, Roger Q. Mason, Tahirih Moeller, Cynthia Grace Robinson, and t. tara turk-haynes, all of whom were commissioned to write plays in early 2021. The three-day festival is the first time these works will be performed for an audience. The lineup includes a portrait of a young Bayard Rustin, a continuation of the acclaimed play “BLKS,” and a behind-the-scenes look at the 1961 movie “Paris Blues” starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier.
Saturday-Monday. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City.
— Ashley Lee

5. Soundwaves
One of the best-kept secrets in classical and jazz is this monthly free series at Santa Monica Public Library. The next program has the venturesome local Isaura String Quartet, who will play pieces by composers ranging from the late, neglected Gloria Coates, who was born in 1933, to ever-intriguing, rising new music star inti figgis-vizueta, who was born 60 years later. Also on the program will be recent works by two young cutting-edge, genre-busting L.A. composers, Laura Cetilia and Sarah Hennies.
3:30 p.m. Saturday. Santa Monica Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.
— Mark Swed

The week head: A curated calendar


BBC (Big Black Cockroach) A right-wing American white woman wakes up in the body of a Black man in writer-performer Paul Outlaw’s Kafkaesque satire.
8:30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday. REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., downtown L.A. (streaming Saturday).



The Bikeriders Jodie Comer, Austin Butler and Tom Hardy star in writer-director Jeff Nichols’ crime drama about a 1960s Chicago outlaw motorcycle gang.
Starts Friday (with Thursday previews) in theaters.

It’s Showtime at the AC! The American Cinematheque salutes the movie musical with screenings of “The Sound of Music,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Annie” in 70 mm, plus a tribute to director Bob Fosse.
Through Sunday. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Los Feliz Theatre, 1822 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz.

Pictures at an Exhibition: The Paintings of Bob Peak Leonard Slatkin and the Los Angeles Film Orchestra perform scores juxtaposed with artwork by the noted illustrator; plus, the world premiere of a new piece featuring original works by leading composers inspired by the artist. 8 p.m.. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.

Pulsations LA A free outdoor concert celebrating Make Music Day (Fête de la Musique) features local musicians live-streamed globally as part of the Paris 2024 Cultural Olympiad.
8 to 11 a.m. Friday. Vision Theater, 3341 W. 43rd Place, Leimert Park.

A Rose Called Candace Spoken-word artist Candace Nicholas-Lippman shares her story of family, faith, fear and freedom in a one-woman show.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles.



“Wendy’s Peter Pan” Artistic director Ellen Geer directs her “retelling” of the classic 1904 play by J.M. Barrie in the verdant outdoor venue.
7:30 p.m. Saturday through Oct. 4. Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga.


The Doobie Brothers Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons, John McFee and Michael McDonald are back with “What a Fool Believes” and other hits; with guests the Robert Cray Band.
7 p.m. Sunday. Kia Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood.

Hauser The YouTube-spawned, genre-defying Croatian cellist of 2Cellos fame tours solo.
8 p.m. Sunday. Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway, downtown L.A.

Joffrey Ballet The esteemed dance company presents its award-winning interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel, “Anna Karenina.”
2 p.m. Sunday. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Avenue, downtown L.A.

Josh Kline The exhibit “Climate Change” utilizes sculpture, moving image work, photography and ephemeral materials to create a terrifying vision of the too-near future.
Through Jan. 5, 2025. Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A.


Henry Mancini 100th Celebration The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and guests including Michael Bublé and Cynthia Erivo officially open the venue’s summer season with a centennial tribute to the composer.
7:30 p.m. Sunday. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood.

Solo art shows The experimental monoprint-style paintings of Melissa Huddleston (“Primordial Spring”); Phung Huynh’s graphite drawings and photographic banners (“Return Home”); and the geometric abstract paintings of Luis Emilio Romero (“Fortress of Light/Fortaleza de Luz”) are on display.
Through Aug. 3. Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, 1110 Mateo St., Los Angeles

Wagonfest Hitch up the family station wagon for a unique cruise-in car show featuring classic models and modern marvels.
10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday. Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.


Chris Stapleton Grace Potter and Allen Stone join the country singer-songwriter’s “All-American Road Show.”
7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N Highland Ave., Hollywood.

L.A.’s biggest culture news

Artist Kehinde Wiley
Artist, Kehinde Wiley.
(Brad Ogbonna)

Staff writer Jessica Gelt reported that a traveling exhibition by L.A. painter Kehinde Wiley was canceled by many museums after several men alleged sexual misconduct. He said the claims were false.

A Black man in a maroon sweater and white T-shirt and jeans posing with his left leg up on a chair against a grey background
Movie director Ron Simons in 2011.
(Victoria Will / Associated Press)

This week also brought the sad news reported by staffer Alexandra Del Rosario that Ron Simons, the actor-turned-producer whose repertoire includes Tony Award-winning Broadway shows and Sundance Film Festival selections, has died. He was 63.

Jeremy Strong accepts a Tony Award statuette
Jeremy Strong accepts the award for best performance by an actor in a leading role in a play for “An Enemy of the People” at Sunday’s Tony Awards in New York.
(Charles Sykes / Invision / AP)

Staffer Ashley Lee recapped the winners of Sunday’s Tony Awards. “Stereophonic” led all Tony contenders with five wins, including best play. “The Outsider” won four awards, including best musical. “Merrily We Roll Along” won best revival of musical plus honors for stars Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe.

Lindsay Mendez, Jonathan Groff and Daniel Radcliffe in the Broadway revival of 'Merrily We Roll Along.'
Lindsay Mendez, Jonathan Groff, center, and Daniel Radcliffe in “Merrily We Roll Along,” which won the Tony for best revival of musical. Groff won lead actor in a musical, and co-star Radcliffe won featured actor.
(Matthew Murphy)

The results from the biggest night in theater prompted a timely PSA from theater critic Charles McNulty. The column is a reminder that wins for “Stereophonic,” “The Outsiders” and others prove that nonprofit and regional theaters can succeed by prioritizing ambitious work and giving it time to develop.

Shakespeare's King Lear, shot from the wings of the stage
Ukrainian actors wait backstage for their turn to perform during the rehearsal of “King Lear” at the Other Place theater, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Staff writer Laura King has the extraordinary story of Ukrainians — doctors, laborers, lawyers, accountants — who found an escape from the war at home by joining a no-experience-required production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear.” King writes that none of the amateur actors had imagined themselves taking to the stage, but by the end their remarkable journey, they found themselves performing in the most unexpected place: the Bard’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.

More culture news, briefly ...

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The Latinx Art Forum announced the recipients of its 2024 Latinx Artist Fellowship on Monday. Five of the 15 artists to receive the award of $50,000 in unrestricted funds are based in Los Angeles. They are Yreina D. Cervántez, Maria Maea, Sandy Rodriguez, John Valadez and Chris E. Vargas. The fellowship was established in 2021 to help address the underrepresentation of Latinx artists in the U.S. and is funded by the Ford and Mellon foundations. To date, more than 60 artists have received the award, representing early, mid- and late career stages.

The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs’ has launched the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery’s 70th Anniversary Digital Exhibition. The gallery, located in Barnsdall Park, first opened in 1954 and focuses on the work of artists from Southern California. The digital exhibition is built from the gallery’s archives, as well as the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection. It celebrates the history of the gallery with photos, essays and other ephemera and is expected to be updated on a yearly basis. Each section of the digital exhibition is divided by decade, beginning with the 1950s.

The home of Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak was vandalized last week with red paint and an anti-Zionist message in what appeared to be a protest over the museum’s ties to Israel. The vandalism came in the wake of a May 31 pro-Palestinian protest that culminated at the museum with more than 30 protesters occupying the lobby and demanding the museum condemn the war in Gaza.

Gagosian chief operating Andrew Fabricant and his wife, Laura Paulson, a director of Gagosian Art Advisory, have left the gallery, Gagosian founder Larry Gagosian announced to the staff via email last week. Fabricant has worked at Gagosian for more than 40 years, beginning his career in Los Angeles in 1983. Speculation about the gallery’s future surrounds the leadership shake-up, with some wondering what will happen when Larry, now 78, retires.

Spain’s culture of ministry has published a list of more than 5,000 items and pieces of art, including paintings, sculptures, furniture and jewelry, that were seized during the Spanish Civil War under the Franco dictatorship. The goal of the list is to help families reclaim the items, which were initially taken for safekeeping by the Republican government after Franco’s military coup in July, 1936. The items were never returned.

And last but not least

We leave you this week with another work from last year’s Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei festival, courtesy of artist Olivia Steele.

Art installation by Olivia Steele, part of the 2023 edition of Long Beach Walls and Art Renzei.
(Brandon Shigeta)