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Newsletter: Essential Arts: Frank Gehry is turning 90 — but he’s still got work to do

Frank Gehry in his Los Angeles office.

It may be cold (OMG, SNOW!), but El Lay’s cultural heart is blazing. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your week’s essential arts news:

GEHRY AT 90

Frank Gehry will celebrate his 90th birthday Feb. 28 with a concert at Pierre Boulez Saal concert hall in Berlin, which his firm designed. Times contributor Barbara Isenberg sat down with the architect to talk about art, aging and the type of building he has yet to design: “I would like to design a church or a synagogue,” he says, “a place that has transcendence.” Los Angeles Times

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CHEKHOV RECONSIDERED

Christiane Jatahy’s “What If They Went to Moscow?” is a deconstruction of Anton Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” that is executed partly as live performance and partly as a feed on screen. “The plot, however, is less important than the internal processing of the women, whose affectionate bonds with one another allow them to withstand the disappointments that rain down on them,” writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty. Los Angeles Times

MAKING SALAD

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You can buy a salad at Walt Disney Concert Hall. You don’t always get to watch one get made on the stage. Times classical music critic Mark Swed attended artist Alison Knowles’ “Proposition #2: Make a Salad” as part of 24 hours of Fluxus happenings around L.A. It was, he writes, “possibly the single most transgressive act any major symphony orchestra had ever undertaken in a traditional concert hall.” Los Angeles Times

ON STAGE

A prize physicist. A May-December romance. Simon Stephens“Heisenberg” is getting a fresh staging by the Rubicon Theatre-Laguna Playhouse — currently in its final week in Ventura before heading to Laguna Beach. The new staging reconsiders the very nature of the characters, writes Philip Brandes. Los Angeles Times

Rick Schultz, in the meantime, reviews the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s premiere of Eric Whitacre’s moving “The Sacred Veil,” a nearly hourlong score that “opens up a psychological and emotional space where love and loss become intimate companions.” Los Angeles Times

IN THE DESERT

Times art critic Christopher Knight spent a weekend tooling around the desert to see every last installation in Desert X, the Coachella Valley biennial. The theme takes on climate and features smartly rendered sculptures by Sterling Ruby and Julian Hoeber, augmented reality by Nancy Baker Cahill (which materializes like a mesmerizing cloud at the Salton Sea) and a smoke flag from John Gerrard that pays tribute to messy oil drilling. Los Angeles Times

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IN THE GALLERIES

A video installation by Swiss American duo Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art explores an early affair between sculptor Alberto Giacometti and artist Flora Mayo, using it as a way to examine the disparate fates of two artists. “If it doesn’t quite jell,” writes Christopher Knight of the installation, “it does open a curious window on human frailty.” Los Angeles Times

Knight also reviews Trulee Hall’s debut at Maccarone Gallery — an installation charged with “psychosexual madness” — and pays a visit to abstract painter Gary Hume’s first L.A. exhibition in more than 25 years at Matthew Marks.

Contributor David Pagel has also been making the rounds, including a show by Lisa Anne Auerbach at Gavlak that uses textiles to tell the stories of books and idea; Emma Webster’s paintings at Diane Rosenstein Gallery, a solo debut that reveals the artist’s way with a paintbrush, and Christian Eckart’s new digital “paintings” at Wilding Cran Gallery in downtown Los Angeles.

Plus, Sharon Mizota has a look at the work of Amoako Boafo at Roberts Projects: “Portrait paintings are beguiling in their simplicity.” Los Angeles Times

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LOOKING FORWARD

The Los Angeles Philharmonic has announced its 2019-20 season, which will kick off with a mini-tour around different L.A. communities and is set to feature women in a big way: Half of its commissions and half of its guest conductors will be women. The Times’ Deborah Vankin has all the deets. Los Angeles Times

The Geffen Playhouse has also announced its upcoming roster, which will include a world premiere by playwright Qui Nguyen. Los Angeles Times

OPERA NOTES

Alexandre Desplat is an Academy Award-winning composer (he’s up for another Sunday for his score for “Isle of Dogs”) who has just produced his first opera: “Silence,” inspired by a story about a writer who can’t communicate in the wake of a stroke. It’s personal material for Desplat, who was not only in danger of losing his voice (he had to have surgery on his vocal cords), he is married to violinist Dominique “Solrey” Lemonnier, who lost her ability to play when an aneurysm paralyzed her left arm. She is directing the opera. Tim Greiving has the incredible story. Los Angeles Times

Plus, E.M. Forster’s “Howard’s End” is receiving the opera treatment at Z Space in San Francisco courtesy of composer Allen Shearer and librettist Claudia Stevens. Los Angeles Times

GAY MEN’S CHORUS NEWS

The Times’ Jessica Gelt reports that John Duran, board chairman of the Gay Men’s Chorus, will step aside as chairman, citing health reasons. Duran, who is also mayor of West Hollywood, has been under pressure to resign due to allegations of sexual misconduct — allegations he has denied. Los Angeles Times

Plus, Dick Sommers, a beloved elder in the chorus, has died at the age of 82. Los Angeles Times

READY FOR THE WEEKEND

Matt Cooper has the week ahead in dance, theater, art and classical music, as well as his weekend picks, including L.A. Opera’s presentation of David Lang’s “The Loser.”

Plus, Philip Brandes has the 99-Seat Beat, including a play about a home renovation gone seriously wrong. Los Angeles Times

I’ve got visual arts goodness in Datebook, including a show that fuses instruments with a dash of Frank Lloyd Wright. Los Angeles Times

IN OTHER NEWS…

— In Mississippi, a crumbling grocery stands as testament to the lynching of Emmett Till and raises questions about how to memorialize difficult chapters of civil rights history. New York Times

— How artist Tania Bruguera wants to use the Havana Biennial as a way to critique Cuban government crackdowns on independent artists. The Guardian

— A judge has ruled that a lawsuit brought on by preservationists against Obama’s Presidential Library can proceed. Citylab

Amazon may not be settling in Queens. That doesn’t mean building affordable housing there will be easy. Citylab

— L.A. is losing affordable apartments. Curbed

— Related: Berlin is considering a raft of proposals to keep housing affordable. Citylab

— “It was like finding paradise at the end of the world.” Curbed has an oral history of Sea Ranch in one and two parts.

— A great conversation between critic Hilton Als and Studio Museum in Harlem director Thelma Golden about James Baldwin. David Zwirner podcast

Naima Keith, director of the California African American Museum, is moving to LACMA, as vice president of education and public programs. Los Angeles Times

— And the Bob Baker Marionette Theater is moving to Highland Park. Los Angeles Times

— Velveteria, L.A.’s museum of velvet paintings is trying to hold on to its space. Los Angeles Magazine

— An Italian town goes silent to preserve the sounds of Stradivarius violins. NPR

Graphic novels in the age of Trump. New York Times

— I’m preparing for #Oscars2019 by reading as many stories as I can about Vanity Fair. Los Angeles Times, New York Times

— Also, this Glenn Whipp jam about why “A Star is Born” hasn’t been an awards draw — so much dish! Los Angeles Times

LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Leonard Bernstein presents Yo-Yo Ma at age seven. WQXR

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carolina.miranda@latimes.com | Twitter: @cmonstah


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