Ai Weiwei’s Lego portraits at the Skirball, and 25 other best bets for weekend culture

People look at Lego portraits of political activists and free speech advocates in "Ai Weiwei: Trace"
Installation view of “Ai Weiwei: Trace” at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. The artist “portrays activists, prisoners of conscience and advocates of free speech” in portraits made of Lego bricks.
(Robert Wedemeyer)

The Skirball Cultural Center partially reopens this weekend with “Ai Weiwei: Trace,” the artist’s portraits of imprisoned dissidents and free-speech advocates, all crafted with Lego bricks. It’s a smaller version of Ai’s installation for his unprecedented 2014 exhibition on Alcatraz, which Times critic Christopher Knight called “an always-poignant, often-powerful meditation on soul-deadening repressions of human thought and feeling.”

The Skirball show leads our weekend list of cultural offerings for your viewing consideration. All times are Pacific.

SoCal in-person events

“Ai Weiwei: Trace”
The acclaimed artist and activist‘s Lego portraits go on view in an 8,000-square-foot gallery lined with a gold-colored wallpaper, a design by Ai’s studio that turns images of surveillance equipment into a decorative pattern. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., L.A. Saturday through Aug. 1. $7-$12; kids under 2 are free; advance timed-entry tickets required.


“Love Note”
Hear stories of love lost and found, and then contribute one of your own in this interactive, site-specific audio adventure accessed by QR codes. Presented by L.A.’s Rogue Artists Ensemble as part of West Hollywood’s virtual One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival 2021. Headphones required. Plummer Park, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood. Available anytime during park hours, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday through June 30. Free. For those who cannot attend in person, a downloadable map is available to experience the work remotely. Further details will be posted Saturday at

The Muck’s 2021 Jazz Fest
This six-week musical showcase returns with a performance by western-swing band Cow Bop. Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave, Fullerton. 7:30 p.m. Thursday. $35; season pass $150; advance purchase required.

“Still Standing”
Doug Benson and Caroline Rhea are among the comics featured in a new edition of this rooftop standup showcase. NeueHouse Hollywood, 6121 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Friday. $40 and up; advance purchase required; 21 and older.

“Family Garden Days”
Gary Marshall Theatre presents a family-friendly outdoor event featuring storytellers Ravi Kapoor, Julie Pearl and Jully Lee, plus hands-on gardening and arts and crafts. 4252 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank. 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; also May 22-23. By donation; reservations required.

Ovation Award organizers mistake nominee Jully Lee for a different Asian actor. In protest, the city’s largest theaters pull out of the L.A. Stage Alliance.

April 1, 2021


Dudamel and the L.A. Phil Return to the Bowl
Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic return to the Hollywood Bowl with a program that includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” plus the Barber favorite “Adagio for Strings” and composer Jessie Montgomery’s 2012 work “Starburst.” No tickets are available for the free in-person performance, the first of several for essential front-line workers. But the concert also will be livestreamed for free beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday and will be available for 45 days on the Bowl’s website and YouTube page as well as the L.A. Phil’s Facebook page. You can also listen to a simulcast on 91.5 KUSC-FM or on the station’s website.

“AIDS Walk: Live at Home!”
George Takei, Rosie Perez, Billy Porter and Rita Moreno are among the famous faces taking part in this online event streamed live from a variety of locales, including New York City’s Central Park and the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. 10 a.m. Sunday. Free; donations accepted.,


“Watch on the Rhine”
Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn and “Watchmen” actor Carla Gugino headline a reading of Lillian Hellman’s classic 1941 drama about the dangers of fascism. Part of the “Spotlight on Plays” series presented by Broadway’s Best Shows. 5 p.m. Thursday; available on demand through 3 p.m. Monday. $15.

“taisha paggett: com.pleats.we (housecoat)”
paggett explores the line between public and private personas and spaces in this marathon livestream Zoom event that will feature the interdisciplinary dance artist going about her life under 24-hour video surveillance within the confines of the REDCAT performance space for an entire week. 10 a.m. Sunday through 10 p.m. May 23. Free.

“Heartbeat of Mexico: Mariachi Fest”
Las Colibrí, Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea and Mariachi Espectacular are joined by student performers in this livestreamed concert presented by the Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University in Orange. 1 p.m. Saturday. Free; registration required.

“Uniting in Movement”
Dancers from American Ballet Theatre perform classic repertory plus contemporary works by choreographers Lauren Lovette and Darrell Grand Moultrie in a performance filmed in front of a live audience at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa in April. Available on demand through May 26. $25 per household. (714) 556-2787.

Renowned choreographer Alexei Ratmansky world-premieres his first new full-length ballet for American Ballet Theatre at Segerstrom this weekend.

March 5, 2020

“Verbena Trágica”
The Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles and UCLA Film & Television Archive join forces for a virtual screening of this classic 1939 melodrama starring Golden Age of Mexican Cinema icon Fernando Soler. Presented with English subtitles; a Q&A follows. 4 p.m. Thursday; available on demand through June 3. Free. Register at

“Nicholas, Anna & Sergei
Pianist-performer Hershey Felder portrays the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff in this bio-musical. Available on demand from 5 p.m. Sunday through May 23. $55 per household, with proceeds to benefit arts institutions, including Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Laguna Playhouse, Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura and Ensemble Theatre Company in Santa Barbara.


“Gala 2021: Shine Bright”
Patti LuPone hosts and members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale perform as part of the choir’s online fundraiser. 5 p.m. Sunday. $25 and up.

UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance streams this multimedia-enhanced version of composer-performer Ted Hearne’s song cycle based on the darkly comic poetry of Dorothea Lasky. Available on demand beginning 7 p.m. Saturday. Free.

North Hollywood’s Road Theatre Company streams a filmed version of Steve Yockey’s dark comedy about characters in an imagined version of the Icelandic capital. On demand Friday through May 30. $25 for a 48-hour rental.

“After Hours”
This recital series hosted and curated by Los Angeles Opera artist-in-residence Russell Thomas continues with a celebration of Latina composers. With soprano Vanessa Becerra, tenor Carlos Enrique Santelli, et al. 5 p.m. Friday. Free.

“KCRW x CAAM Present: A Look at ‘Enunciated Life’”
California African American Museum’s Taylor Renee Aldridge and KCRW’s Novena Carmel discuss this CAAM exhibit of contemporary works exploring Black spiritual beliefs. Also included: a DJ set by Carmel and a live visuals supplied by Club House Global. 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday. Free. RSVP

The Getty Center and the Broad museum are open! Here is our May guide to the most promising exhibitions across Southern California.

May 29, 2021

“Mare’ot/ Mirrors”
The UCLA Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience co-presents this livestream concert over Zoom showcasing works by Lera Auerbach, Alyssa Weinberg and other contemporary female composers of Jewish heritage. A live Q&A follows. 5 p.m. Thursday. Free. Register at


“Bug Fair Connected”
Meet all manner of creepy-crawlies in a virtual version of this annual family-friendly event presented by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Free. RSVP at

“Coleman ’72”
South Coast Repertory’s Pacific Playwrights Festival continues with a reading of playwright Charlie Oh’s tale about a Korean American family on the mother of all road trips. On demand through Sunday; festival concludes June 27. $19 each; festival pass for all five readings, $80.

Edendale Up Close Concerts
Pianist Mark Robson plays pieces by Poulenc and Scarlatti in a live Zoom recital. 2:30 p.m. Friday. Free.

The Morgan-Wixson Theatre’s Solo Series of five one-woman shows continues with writer-performer Nancy Ma’s autobiographical fable about growing up in New York’s Chinatown. 8 p.m. Saturday. $15, $20.

“Naturally Tan”
Writer-performer Tanya Thomas portrays a drag queen from Singapore and other characters in this seriocomic one-woman show livestreamed from the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks. A Q&A follows. 6 p.m. Sunday; available for 72 hours. $15.99.,

“Celebrating 25 Years: The Tierney Sutton Band Jazz Americana”
The veteran jazz vocalist and her band perform as part of the virtual season of the Wallis’ intimate Sorting Room Sessions. 7 p.m. Friday. $20; series pass, $75.


“Love and Magic”
L.A.’s 24th Street Theatre’s online “Saturday Explorer Series” of kid-friendly livestream performances continues with Bennett Schneider sharing two tales by 19th century Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde; for children 6-10. 12:30 p.m. Saturday. $10; series pass $24.

Our recurring coronavirus-era arts and culture recommendations are posted every Thursday.