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Essential Arts & Culture: Activists vs. art galleries, a battle over an alleged Pollock, Hammer gala

Essential Arts & Culture: Activists vs. art galleries, a battle over an alleged Pollock, Hammer gala
One of the New York galleries that has landed in Boyle Heights: Venus Over Los Angeles, in the pink building. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

The connection between art and urban renewal. A lawsuit over a painting alleged to be by Jackson Pollock. And a Lily Tomlin play without Lily Tomlin. I'm Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, and here are the week's most intriguing culture stories:

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The arrival of international art galleries in the industrial area that rings Boyle Heights has raised alarm among residents about issues of gentrification and displacement. Using the neighborhood as a case study, I look at how art and artists became identified with gentrification. And how ongoing protests shine a spotlight on the need for housing and more thoughtful city planning.

Police investigate vandalism at Nicodim Gallery on South Anderson Street in Boyle Heights. The presence of galleries has raised alarm about gentrification.
Police investigate vandalism at Nicodim Gallery on South Anderson Street in Boyle Heights. The presence of galleries has raised alarm about gentrification. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

"Nobody is watching this," says John Arroyo, an urban planner at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and East L.A. native. "So communities become beholden to these benevolent developers who will make concessions for housing and parks and services. And then when it doesn't happen, nobody holds them to it." Los Angeles Times

In related news: Arts writer Catherine Wagley has a thorough report on the tensions between artists and activists in Boyle Heights. LA Weekly

"Pink Spring," a painting thought to be by Jackson Pollock, is at the center of a lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court
"Pink Spring," a painting thought to be by Jackson Pollock, is at the center of a lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court (Pierce O'Donnell)

Because the art world always needs to have at least one spectacular art authentication lawsuit happening at any given time: Prominent Los Angeles litigator Pierce O'Donnell filed suit in L.A. Superior Court against business partner Maitreya Kadre, an art adviser and New Age spiritualist, over a purported canvas by Jackson Pollock that the two invested in. O'Donnell alleges that Kadre has hindered efforts to get the work authenticated and back on the market. Times reporter David Ng has all the juicy details. Los Angeles Times

Director Ken Sawyer prior to a run-through of "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Director Ken Sawyer prior to a run-through of "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

When Jane Wagner wrote "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" for her partner (and future wife) Lily Tomlin in 1971, she conceived it as a one-woman showcase for various characters inhabited by Tomlin. Typical responses when other actors performed the show ran along the lines of: "Nice job, but you're not Lily Tomlin." But a new staging at the Los Angeles LGBT Center puts a whole cast of actors into roles once played by Tomlin alone. And, as contributor Margaret Gray reports, both Wagner and Tomlin are totally OK with it. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Gray also looks at a new production of the groundbreaking 1958 play, "A Taste of Honey," which put a gay character at its center. Los Angeles Times

Chris Butler, Helen Sage Howard Simpson and Kristy Johnson in South Coast Repertory's 2016 production of ​​"District Merchants" by ​Aaron Posner.
Chris Butler, Helen Sage Howard Simpson and Kristy Johnson in South Coast Repertory's 2016 production of ​​"District Merchants" by ​Aaron Posner. (Debora Robinson / South Coast Repertory)

Aaron Posner is known for reconceiving classic plays — such as Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull" — in contemporary and imaginative ways. Now the playwright has remade Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" as "District Merchants," set in the U.S. Northeast during the period of Reconstruction. But the show, now playing at South Coast Repertory, seems to lack the wit of the writer's previous rehashes, writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty. Los Angeles Times

Leah McCall dances her solo in "Untouched," one of three pieces in Los Angeles Ballet's season-opening program.
Leah McCall dances her solo in "Untouched," one of three pieces in Los Angeles Ballet's season-opening program. (Reed Hutchinson / Los Angeles Ballet)

The Los Angeles Ballet ended its last season fiscally overextended, resulting in cutbacks to the company. But as it kicks off its new season, contributor Lewis Segal reports that while the budget cuts may have affected some of the trappings, the company's value and its commitment to modern dance remains resplendent, "with no need for more of anything — expect possibly live music." Los Angeles Times

Violinist Joshua Bell at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood.
Violinist Joshua Bell at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell is in town for a series of gigs at Walt Disney Concert Hall that run through Sunday. In advance of the show, contributor Rick Schultz talked with Bell about why the musician loves playing Brahms, his recent visit to Cuba and what it was like to work with the late conducting great Neville Marriner. Los Angeles Times

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Plus: Schultz also reports on the L.A. Philharmonic's "riveting" performance of Ravel and Stravinsky under the conducting of Pablo Heras-Casado. Los Angeles Times

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"Quinceañera Limo Swag," 2014, by Rafael Cardenas at the Vincent Price Art Museum.
"Quinceañera Limo Swag," 2014, by Rafael Cardenas at the Vincent Price Art Museum. (Rafael Cardenas / VPAM)

A new exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park looks at the history of Latino youth culture in Los Angeles, providing a rich overview of how Latino fashion, music and art — from zoot suits to Mexrrissey — have shaped Southern California. "The story of Los Angeles that's put out there comes through Hollywood. It's the story of … 'Dogtown' … or 'Beverly Hills 90210' or reality TV shows in the O.C.," museum director Pilar Tompkins Rivas tells arts writer Matt Stromberg. "For more than half of the people who grow up here, that's not their story." Guardian

Art about town: A bevy of must-see shows

A still from Kahlil Joseph's "Wizard of the Upper Amazon," 2016, on view in an exhibition of works by Henry Taylor at Blum & Poe.
A still from Kahlil Joseph's "Wizard of the Upper Amazon," 2016, on view in an exhibition of works by Henry Taylor at Blum & Poe. (Kahlil Joseph / Blum & Poe)

Times art critic Christopher Knight has been hitting the galleries hard with his trusty research assistant and has reports on shows around Los Angeles. Here are four worth marinating in:

  • Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas at Regen Projects in Hollywood has created “10 wickedly imaginative new sculptures,” he writes, that serve as "vibrant mashups between art and automotive play." Los Angeles Times

  • At Gemini G.E.L., in West Hollywood, Tacita Dean is displaying a series of hand-drawn prints inspired by clouds, and they provide, reports Knight, “a rich tactility for evanescent imagery.” Los Angeles Times

  • In Culver City, at Von Lintel, abstract painter Valerie Jaudon’s calligraphic canvases “show her working at top form.”  Los Angeles Times

  • And right across the street, at Blum & Poe, artist Henry Taylor, in collaboration with filmmaker Kahlil Joseph, has embedded portraiture into wild environments that evoke scenes of “alienation and recreation.” Los Angeles Times

Gala Report: Hammer Museum

Musician Laurie Anderson in Italy last month. She was honored by the Hammer Museum at its annual gala.
Musician Laurie Anderson in Italy last month. She was honored by the Hammer Museum at its annual gala. (Luca Bruno / Associated Press)

Experimental musician Laurie Anderson and filmmaker Todd Haynes were the guests of honor at the Hammer Museum's Gala in the Garden last week. The Times' Deborah Vankin reports on the events, which included a performance by Anderson, a dinner of striped bass and lots of talk about the Presidential election. (Because there isn't enough of that.) Los Angeles Times

IN OTHER NEWS …

Bob Dylan plays the opening set at Desert Trip in Indio last Friday night.
Bob Dylan plays the opening set at Desert Trip in Indio last Friday night. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

— A singer-guy named Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature. Discuss. Los Angeles Times

— Why sprawl (and the anti-density measures that promote sprawl) are bad for the environment. Alissa Walker reports — and namechecks Leonardo DiCaprioCurbed

— How a group of artists working in San Diego pushed the boundaries of photography in the '70s. KCET Artbound

— Brooklyn artist William Powhida has come up with a list of reasons artists should no longer live in New York. (Caution: Contains the sort of coarse language you might find in presidential campaign coverage.) 20x200

— Can't make it to Italy? Google has digital tours of the Venice Architecture Biennale. Artforum

— A new book picks apart at the inner workings at the Bolshoi Ballet. New Republic

— Colombian artist Doris Salcedo covered a Bogota square with massive stitched banners in memory of the lives lost in the country's civil war. Art Newspaper

An installation by Colombian artist Doris Salcedo honors Colombia's civil war dead at the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota.
An installation by Colombian artist Doris Salcedo honors Colombia's civil war dead at the Plaza de Bolivar in Bogota. (Leonardo Mu単oz / EPA)

— Sacred Virgin of Guadalupe objects travel to Santa Ana for an exhibition at the Bowers Museum. Orange County Register

— An oratorio inspired by Chelsea Manning lands at REDCAT. Los Angeles Times

— And an exhibition in Oakland looks at the complex and often misunderstood history of the Black Panther Party. Los Angeles Times

— Very handy: California ballot initiatives as bold graphics. Ballot.fyi

— The U.S. National Archives now has a database of animated GIFs. Giphy, Hyperallergic

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

That time Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí collaborated on a totally trippy animation. DuuuuuudeRemezcla

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.

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