Newsletter: Essential Arts & Culture: King Tut and ‘Angels in America’ return, Laura Owens’ 356 Mission to close

Playwright Tony Kushner, who has productions of “Angels in America” being staged on each coast.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“Angels in America” comes soaring back and King Tut makes the rounds — again — while painter Laura Owens announces that her art space 356 Mission will close. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your week’s essential art news:


An installation view Patrick Martinez’s exhibition “America Is for Dreamers” at the Vincent Price Art Museum , on view through April 7.
(Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times )

Patrick Martinez: America Is for Dreamers” at the Vincent Price Art Museum is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in Los Angeles. His work examines the city’s landscape (stucco walls, commercial neon, street signs) as much as the social forces that shape it (inequity and police violence). The show is on view through April 7. Vincent Price Art Museum


Times theater critic Charles McNulty traveled to New York to see Marianne Elliot’s production of playwright Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” which just landed on Broadway. The play, a profound examination of sexuality and politics in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, remains wildly current. “Kushner’s hopeful political conviction retains its urgency but seems even more persuasive than before,” writes McNulty. Especially noteworthy: Nathan Lane’s “titanic” portrayal of Donald Trump-mentor Roy Cohn, “a Broadway performance for the ages” — one that “voices the antagonistic, ruthless, predatory, exploitative side of our animal nature.” Los Angeles Times

McNulty also spoke with Kushner about the revival. The play was a cultural watershed that earned its writer both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. But that doesn’t make him any less anxious about bringing it back to the stage. In the age of the juke box musical, “Broadway,” he says, “is nothing but anxiety.” Los Angeles Times

Plus, critic Ben Brantley describes the new production as hitting the system like “a transfusion of new blood.” New York Times

And, in case you missed it, it’s a good moment to read McNulty’s review of the National Theatre production when it was staged in London last year. Los Angeles Times


“Three Tall Women” was the play that helped rehabilitate Edward Albee’s reputation in the 1990s. Charles McNulty took in the new Broadway production — starring Glenda Jackson, Alison Pill and Laurie Metcalf — while he was in New York. “Broadway might not be the ideal home for a play that has no interest in sugarcoating its truth,” he writes. “But Albee’s writing is sublimely searing, [director Joe] Mantello‘s staging is magnificent to behold and these three larger-than-life actresses are nothing short of transfixing.” Los Angeles Times


Since we’re on the subject of theater, Times classical music critic Mark Swed has now seen all 24 hours of Taylor Mac’s “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music” and has lived to tell the tale. “It is, on the surface, like nothing else, a queering of American history with the help of a quirky selection of 246 songs, a great many of them put to audacious use,” he writes. Los Angeles Times

Taylor Mac wades into the audience during a performance of "A 24-Decade History of Popular Music" at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel.
Taylor Mac wades into the audience during a performance of “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music” at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )


In addition to 24-hour shows, Mark Swed has somehow managed to materialize at numerous other concerts around town. This includes a performance of the San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Playing Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, he writes that it took “less than half a minute of a 75-minute syphony and only a trumpet solo to tell that [Thomas] had the key to Mahler like never before.” Los Angeles Times

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
(Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times )

Also on the deck was a performance of Peter Ablinger’s “Voices and Piano” at Zipper Concert Hall by pianist Nicholas Hodges. “He is a pianist with a flabbergasting technique and instantly engaging musicality,” writes Swed. Los Angeles Times


“Your mother’s voice — where you finish and where I begin. Your voice is a sonic trace of who you are, your identity.” That’s vocalist Carmina Escobar chatting with The Times’ Jeffrey Fleishman, who has a beguiling profile of the singer. Fleishman attended one of the classes she teaches at CalArts, where she and performance artist Ron Athey taught a class about speaking in tongues. Bonus: some stunning portraits Escobar by Times staff photographer Mel Melcon. Los Angeles Times

Experimental vocalist Carmina Escobar in Griffith Park.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )


“Like Barbra Streisand, Elton John and Cher, Tutankhamun, boy king of ancient Egypt, periodically goes on a world tour for what may or may not be a last live performance for the fans,” writes Times art critic Christopher Knight of the new exhibition at L.A.’s California Science Center. Knight notes that this show is lighter on commercial dazzle than previous incarnations. Even so, apparently “it’s impossible to show ancient Egyptian art in an American museum in something other than darkened galleries made eerie by atmospheric blue lighting and pin spots.” Los Angeles Times

I’m prepping for the show by listening to Steve Martin expound on the funky golden idol. Saturday Night Live

On a related note, the Getty Conservation Institute announced Tuesday that it had nearly finished a multiyear conservation project on Tut’s tomb. Los Angeles Times


The artist-run space 356 Mission, founded by painter Laura Owens and Wendy Yao, the proprietor of Ooga Booga art book shop, will shut its doors in May, when shows by painter Alake Shilling and installation artist Charlemagne Palestine come down. The closing of the Boyle Heights space comes in the wake of antigentrification protests in the neighborhood. But Owens and Yao tell me that isn’t the reason they are closing. “Our lease was ending, and we felt it was the right time,” says Owens. Los Angeles Times


And because I’ve been on an architecture bender: I got a look at a newly released rendering of an event space planned for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple designed by Shohei Shigematsu, partner at Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture. “The whole form is generated from a respect to the existing structure,” says Shigematsu. Los Angeles Times

Plus, I explore a tiny sidebar from the LACMA exhibition “Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915-85” (which closes Sunday — get over there!) that looks at a curious architectural style known as “Colonial Californiano.” It is a Mexican style drawn from a U.S. style that was drawn (sort of) from a Mexican style attributed to the Spanish. And so you know, Luis Barragán hated it. Los Angeles Times

It came from Southern California: Pasaje Polanco, a mixed-use apartment building in Mexico City's Polanco neighborhood designed in Colonial Calforniano style, a Spanish Colonial Revival derivative, by Francisco J. Serrano in 1939.
(Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times )


Christopher Knight made the rounds and has reports on two intriguing Los Angeles shows. This includes a show of photographic works by Christopher Russell at Von Lintel Gallery, in which the artist scratches into the surface of photographs creating “luminous” works that are “neither photograph nor drawing but something in between.” Los Angeles Times

Plus, he checks in on a show inspired by the late Minimalist Sol LeWitt at Honor Fraser that brings together a worthwhile juxtaposition of “marvelous” LeWitt sculptures and contemporary works. Los Angeles Times

Contributing reviewer David Pagel checks out paintings by Robert Colescott at Blum & Poe, the geometric abstractions of Tony Larson at Zevitas Marcus and new paintings by Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth. The latter, he writes, are paintings “about displacement and the seismic shifts society is undergoing.”


The notion that any preschooler could fling paint on a canvas and create a masterpiece will be dispelled during a public viewing of the conservation of Jackson Pollock’s “Number 1, 1949,” at Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Getty Conservation Institute. The idea, writes Liesl Bradner, is to bring [the conservation] process out of the laboratory and into a gallery, providing a rare peek at the science and art behind protecting a painting.” Los Angeles Times


In 2013, Reprise Theatre Company ceased operations due to lack of funding. Now founder Marcia Seligson is bringing the theater, known for producing rarely staged musical theater, as Reprise 2.0. “Victor/Victoria,” “Grand Hotel” and others will be part of the first season. Times culture reporter Jessica Gelt chats with Seligson about the theater’s future. Los Angeles Times

Plus, The Times’ Daryl H. Miller sits in on a production of Stephanie Alison Walker’s “The Madres” at Skylight Theatre. The play examines the period of the Argentine military dictatorship. Things start slowly, but the second half “sparks to life” with tender and fierce emotion. Los Angeles Times


“New Colussus” at the Actors Gang in Culver City, a play about immigrant tales, is being extended until May 12. Los Angeles Times

— Hollywood actors love the stage — being on it. The Times’s Jessica Gelt rounds up the latest celebrity castings in theater. Los Angeles Times

Actor Jim Parsons will join the Broadway production of “The Boys in the Band.”
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times )

— Chicago is so not impressed with Houston’s Anish Kapoor bean sculpture. So much shade! Chicago Tribune

— I predict a lot of Instagram selfies at this Smithsonian exhibition devoted to Burning Man. Architectural Record

— A tourist attraction in Indonesia has a copycat version of Chris Burden’s “Urban Light.” Hyperallergic

Dara Birnbaum’s prescient art was picking apart imagery and mass media before the word “meta” came into common use. Alex Greenberger has a profile. ARTnews

— Have you been watching FX’s “The Trust” about J. Paul Getty, namesake of various Los Angeles institutions? Well, Julie Miller has a good backgrounder for you. Vanity Fair

— This week, Google celebrated Mexican architect Mario Pani with a Google Doodle. Google

— The urbanist meme group you didn’t know you needed. Chicago Magazine


A border wall prototype as designed, so we’re told, by Yayoi Kusama. The Onion

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