Essential Arts & Culture: Arts District high-rises, culture critics on Trump and throat singing


From a new show of ethereal drawings to the visceral stylings of an Inuit throat singer to classical music in a cocoon — it’s a busy week in culture. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, and here are the stories you should know about:

Enigmatic drawings dwell on the architectural

For the record:

11:35 a.m. Oct. 1, 2016

A previous version of this post implied that a Michiko Kakutani book review connected the rise of Adolf Hitler to the campaign of Donald Trump. Trump’s name is not mentioned in the review.

L.A. artist Toba Khedoori, known for exquisitely rendered drawings that reveal cryptic fragments of unpeopled architecture and landscapes, is now the subject of a solo exhibition at the L.A. County Museum of Art. “Her elusive pictures are sometimes described as dream-like — at once there and not-there, close yet far away,” writes Times art critic Christopher Knight. Los Angeles Times


Ed Ruscha and the meaning of Southern California

Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne paid a visit to the Ed Ruscha exhibition at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. The show (on view for another week) is meant to reveal the ways in which Ruscha has rendered the West. But Hawthorne argues that Ruscha offers a better read of Southern California, specifically — an artist “who treated Los Angeles itself as a readymade.” Los Angeles Times

Speaking of SoCal culture: I paid a visit to Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’ solo exhibition at Regen Projects in Hollywood, which plays with L.A. car culture in ways that are both amorous and dead serious. The show is on view through Oct. 22. Los Angeles Times

Tall towers for the Arts District


Hawthorne also reports on a proposed mixed-use development in the downtown Los Angeles Arts District that would cover 14.5 acres and include two 58-story towers. The project, called 6AM (seriously), would be designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron and developed by the Orange County company SunCal. As Hawthorne notes, the project will likely be “a lightning rod for controversy.” Los Angeles Times

Plus: A dizzying map of all the proposed development projects in the Arts District. Curbed

Plus, plus: Jeff Wattenhofer asks the very good question: “Should the Arts District still be called the Arts District when artists can’t afford to live there?” I personally like to refer to it as the Pricey Prosciutto District. Curbed

An Inuit singer re-conceives ‘Nanook’

Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq is known for her visceral mash-ups that mix traditional throat singing with contemporary musical styles. At L.A.’s Broad museum on Saturday, she will provide an improvised soundtrack to the seminal 1922 documentary “Nanook of the North.” The Times’ Jessica Gelt talks to the artist in advance of what promises to be a singular event. Los Angeles Times


L.A. Phil’s got that swing

Gustavo Dudamel conducts the L.A. Phil's opening night gala, "Gershwin and the Jazz Age."
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the L.A. Phil’s opening night gala, “Gershwin and the Jazz Age.”
(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times )

Orchestral galas aren’t known as sites of wild innovation. But this year’s gala for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, writes Times classical music critic Mark Swed, offered a moment of true revelation when the orchestra took on a selection from Duke Ellington’s jazzy “Night Creatures.” Los Angeles Times

Sort of related: Swed also recently attended the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s most recent performance at UCLA’s Royce Hall, featuring a trio of works by Beethoven, Bach and Tigran Mansurian that felt like “the sweet bread of life housing a bitter filling of death.” Los Angeles Times

Contemporary classical — in a cocoon

Venice artist Ana Prvacki uses fabric to translate musicians' movements into an unusual visual soundtrack.
Venice artist Ana Prvacki uses fabric to translate musicians’ movements into an unusual visual soundtrack.
(Christina House / For The Times )

And since we’re on the subject of weird fillings: Things will get strange at the Walt Disney Concert Hall this Saturday when five members of the L.A. Phil climb inside a shimmering white fabric and perform a piece titled “Porcupine for tent, quintet, bows and elbows,” conceived by artist Ana Prvacki with new music by composer Veronika Krausas. Los Angeles Times

Disney Hall’s new cloud sculpture

“Nimbus” debuts Oct. 1 inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall

And ever more Disney Hall news: Jessica Gelt reports that visitors are now greeted by a massive new musical cloud sculpture created by Yuval Sharon in conjunction with composer Rand Steiger and artist Patrick Shearn. The sort of piece that’ll make you go, duuuuuude. Los Angeles Times

The art of oversharing


At the age of 47, actress Lauren Weedman (formerly on “Looking” and the “Daily Show”) found herself divorced and facing menopause — a topic she takes on in her zany, variety-style stage show “Tammy/Lisa,” on view through Sunday at REDCAT. “Her unpredictability puts you so much in the moment with her,” director Erica Beeney tells The Times’ David Ng, “and you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Los Angeles Times

A marriage on toast

A not-so-hot breakfast turns into a moratorium on a failing marriage in Mary Laws’ new play “Blueberry Toast,” at the Echo Theater Company at Atwater Village Theatre. The escalating battle, writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty, takes on “Quentin Tarantino proportions.” And while the resolution isn’t very satisfying, he writes, “the dark giggling whimsy is a delight.” Los Angeles Times

McNulty also reviews “Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up,” now in its last few days at the Kirk Douglas Theatre — the autobiographical solo performance, by “Beasts of the Southern Wild” co-writer Lucy Alibar. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Margaret Gray talks with Alibar and director Neel Keller about how they turned stories about her Florida Panhandle childhood and atheist father deep in Pentecostal territory into theater. Los Angeles Times


Art illuminates history

Gabriella Karin works with student Jason Orellana on an art project inspired by her life during World War II.
Gabriella Karin works with student Jason Orellana on an art project inspired by her life during World War II.
(Irfan Kahn / Los Angeles Times )

For three years, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust has sent World War II survivors into schools in underserved communities to talk about their experiences. In response to these emotional talks, the kids make art that the museum then puts on display. “With art,” says Ximena Reyes, 16, a student at Animo Ralph Bunche High School in South L.A., “you can express the details, you can fill in the blanks.” Los Angeles Times

The book review everyone is buzzing about

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Michigan on Friday.
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Michigan on Friday.
(Jewel Samad / AFP Photo )

On Tuesday, book critic Michiko Kakutani published a review of Volker Ullrich’s new biography of Adolf Hitler, “Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939.” In a series of bullet points she outlines the circumstances under which the Nazi leader came to power — bullets that observers say echo the campaign of Donald Trump. And the Internet is abuzz: “A review of a new Hitler biography is not so subtly all about Trump,” reads a headline on Vox, while Slate described the review as “An Amazing (and Terrifying) Trump Subtweet.” New York Times, Vox, Slate


Parsing the presidential debates

Round 1 of the political celebrity death match is under our belts and the Los Angeles Times has been looking at the whole spectacle from a cultural angle — from the meaning of the set design (by architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne), the performance of the candidates (that falls to theater critic Charles McNulty) to the ways in which Broadway itself is spoofing the debates (Steven Zeitchik on “Avenue Q”).

Plus: How to photograph a candidate in the age of the selfie. The Telegraph



— The Hammer Museum has announced its lineup for next year’s “Radical Women,” what promises to be a ground-breaking exhibition of art by Latin American and Latina women. Los Angeles Times

Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, a designer known for his use of “raw, chunky, and beautifully ‘brutal’ concrete,” has won the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal. Architect

— How secure is the legacy of LACMA architect William Pereira? The Architect’s Newspaper

— Embattled San Francisco philanthropist Dede Wilsey is to remain on the board of the Fine Arts Museums, but with a different title and possibly less power. San Francisco Chronicle

Jay Rasulo, formerly of Walt Disney Concert Hall, is assuming the board chair position at the L.A. Phil this week. Los Angeles Times

— New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has laid off 34 employees. New York Times


New York City has announced a $5-million fund to support women in film and theater, a first in the U.S. Los Angeles Times

Sarah Ruhl in 2008.
Sarah Ruhl in 2008.
(Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times )

Sarah Ruhl, the Tony-nominated playwright whose play “Stage Kiss” was at the Geffen Playhouse in the spring, has received the $200,000 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. American Theatre

— How choreographer Akram Kahn has reimagined the 19th century Romantic ballet “Giselle” in a migrant worker camp. The Guardian

— 18-year-old Catherine Conley is the first American to train in the Cuban ballet system. CNN (via ArtsJournal)

— 40 years of Martin Scorsese movies mashed up into a single concert musical? Yes, this is real. And it’s playing at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills. Los Angeles Times


— A show by artist Kelley Walker, in which appropriated images from the civil rights era are smeared with toothpaste and chocolate, has sparked an uproar at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis. St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Hyperallergic

— How an innocuous cartoon frog became a symbol of white supremacy: The case of Pepe. NPR


Portland is trying to lure Japanese tourists with a fantastically bizarre, Monty Python-esque video. Like the part about the naked bike-riding. Boing Boing

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Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.