Entertainment & Arts

Newsletter: Essential Arts: The L.A. Phil’s centennial season was full of ‘good vibrations’

LOS ANGELES, CA MAY 30, 2019: Gustavo Dudamel climaxes the LA Phil Centennial season with the big
Gustavo Dudamel leads the L.A. Phil in Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” in May.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

It is June gloomy in L.A., but the arts are shining bright. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer with the Los Angeles Times, with the week’s essential arts news and moody synth music:

Centennial year in review

The Los Angeles Philharmonic recently wrapped up its celebratory 100th season — and Times classical music critic Mark Swed takes a look back. “When the audacious centennial celebration ended earlier this month,” he writes, “the L.A. Phil was still extracting good vibrations and radiant light from a seemingly inexhaustible reservoir.”

Projections on Walt Disney Concert Hall during the L.A. Phil’s centennial kickoff in 2018.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Five lives hijacked

Mark Swed also checks out Anthony Davis’ latest opera, “The Central Park Five,” which is being staged by Long Beach Opera. The “supercharged score,” he writes, “grippingly conveys the claustrophobia of a racist legal system and society from which there was, for these five innocent boys and their families, no exit.”


Long Beach Opera’s “The Central Park Five” at the Warner Grand Theatre.
(Long Beach Opera)

These tricks are for kids

Santa Monica will soon harbor a new museum: the Cayton Children’s Museum, a 21,000-square-foot space in which kids will be invited to touch (and even climb) the exhibits. “A children’s museum design is meant to flip the way the world works,” CEO and founder Esther Netter tells The Times’ Jessica Gelt. “You cross our threshold, and kids decide where to go.

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - JUNE 13: Artist Stephanie Marra of Redondo Beach works on a painting at the Ca
Artist Stephanie Marra of Redondo Beach works on a painting at the Cayton Children’s Museum.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. voices

The Los Angeles riots left South Los Angeles riddled with empty lots. Twenty-seven years later, artist Juan Capistrán has used these spaces for ephemeral installations made out of bricks — a material that is both building block and weapon. “There were other parts outside of South Central that were deeply affected by the riots and those got redeveloped right away,” he tells The Times’ Makeda Easter. “This community, there’s huge areas that were never taken care of.”


Los Angeles artist Juan Capistran at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Capistran’s works are on view at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery as part of the annual exhibition “COLA 2019,” which features pieces by 11 Los Angeles artists who were recently awarded City of Los Angeles art grants. “The show is without an overarching curatorial theme,” writes Times art critic Christopher Knight. But “loose strands hold some things together. Precariousness around continued existence turns up often.”

Performance as balm

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors has spent the last two years working on her MFA at USC. Makeda Easter sat down with her for a Q&A about the importance of performance art to her life at this moment in time: “For black people in particular, our life is performance. Everything we’re doing has some implication for either ourselves, or the people around us or the systems around us.”

Patrisse Cullors performs at her thesis solo show at USC.
(Vivien Killilea / Getty Images for Patrisse Cullors)

In the galleries

On view at Hauser & Wirth is David Hammons’ first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in 45 years. His most noticeable move is installing dozens of tents in the gallery’s courtyard to highlight the city’s homelessness crisis. Times contributing reviewer Sharon Mizota sees a streak of “poignant frustration, and a resulting antic perversity” in his work.

I talk about the exhibition with Madeleine Brand on KCRW — a show that reveals the ways in which we choose to look the other way on homelessness, but also the ways in which the installation can feel a bit precious. (Starts at the 51-minute mark.)

David Hammons’ installation of tents in the courtyard of Hauser & Wirth.
(Fredrik Nilsen Studio)

Plus, Mizota reviews María Berrío’s “dream-like” collages at Kohn Gallery and Fahamu Pecou’s paintings at Kopeikin Gallery, works that “subtly probe fissures in stereotypical representations.”


Embracing brownness

In her show at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Linda Vallejo breaks ground (she is the first Latina to have a solo exhibition at the space) and makes a statement — taking icons of popular culture (Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe) and painting them brown. “All of the work,” she tells contributor Matt Stromberg, “deals with the focus of what it means to be a Latin American person born in the United States.”

Artist Linda Vallejo’s “Brown Belongings” show is at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

On the stage

Margaret Gray reviews City Garage’s production of Eugene Ionesco’s “Exit the King,” a play that is all about dying. Troy Dunn’s turn as King Berenger is worth noting. “With his aristocratic bearing and a gleam of madness in his eyes,” she writes, “he displays an impressive emotional range.”

Mamet mistake?

David Mamet’s “Bitter Wheat,” a satire inspired by a Harvey Weintsein-esque character and the #MeToo movement, has opened in London and the reviews are ... not good. Jessica Gelt rounds up the best of the worst: “diagrammatic, glib and insincere” — and that’s just for starters.


Robert Therrien, the Los Angeles sculptor who took everyday objects and blew them up to monumental size (such as the table and chair sculpture on view at the Broad museum), has died at 71. Jessica Gelt has the obituary for an artist “whose monumental sculptures of everyday objects revealed hidden truths about the nature of memory.”

Robert Therrien beneath his sculpture “Under the Table” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2000.
(Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

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Ready for the weekend

Matt Cooper has the weekend picks, including Michael Feinstein conducting an outdoor concert of Broadway favorites.


My weekly Datebook has the latest art happenings, which include a show devoted to socialist TV.

And Daryl H. Miller rounds up what’s doing in L.A.’s small theaters. Hint: There is tap dancing!

“Dames at Sea” with Katie Franqueira, center.
(Gina Long)

In other news…

— Fair pay debate: the Assn. of Art Museum Directors has called for an end to unpaid internships.

— The New York Times has a good photographic portfolio of contemporary Latinx artists — which includes key L.A. figures such as Guadalupe Rosales, Rafa Esparza and Gabriela Ruiz.

Serpentine Galleries chief Yana Peel has resigned after a media report linked her to a cybersecurity firm that has been criticized by human rights organizations.

LACMA has named three new board members: Mellody Hobson, co-founder of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; TV producer Colleen Bell; and financier Robbie Robinson.

— UC Irvine’s Institute and Museum for California Art has named its first ever director: Kim Kanatani.

— Beautiful color: The Huntington has acquired 32 prints by the quilters from Gee’s Bend.

— Postmodernism in trouble? Michael Graves’ Portland Building is being delisted from the National Register of Historic Places because of changes to its facade.

— Work crews are preparing to dismantle a mural by Millard Sheets in Santa Monica.

— The L.A. Phil contest to “Play With Ray” (violinist Ray Chen) at the Hollywood Bowl has chosen three finalists. They are all women.

— A consideration of the late Franco Zeffirelli’s career as an opera director.

— How single-family zoning is exacerbating the housing crunch in cities all over the U.S. — including L.A. More here.

— On the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, exploring where it all began.

And last but not least…

The soundtrack for HBO’s “Los Espookys” (more comedies about Latino goths, please) will keep you grooving through the weekend. | Twitter: @cmonstah

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