Newsletter: Essential Arts & Culture: Getty Villa’s redo, speaker dresses and Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer — damn!

Pauchi Sasaki and Claire Chase wear dresses made of speakers for a performance at Disney Hall.
(Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times)

Hip-hop upends the Pulitzer Prize and a pair of musicians take to the stage in dresses made out of speakers. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with the week’s rocking culture news (and essential cumbia remixes):



The 2018 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in photography is Ryan Kelly, who caught the dramatic moment in which a vehicle slammed into a group of protesters in Charlottesville, Va., for the Daily Progess, leaving one dead. It’s a photo that speaks to violence (Columbia professor Jennifer Wenzel asks if the photo is an American “Guernica”) and to the economics of journalism: Kelly is no longer at the paper — he now manages social media for a brewery. NPR

Also: New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz took home Pulitzer for criticism. Vulture


It was the Pulitzer for music, however, that people were talking about. The prize generally goes to a jazz or classical music composer, which makes Compton hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s win on Monday for his album “Damn” one of the awards’ biggest surprises. The Times’ Jessica Gelt reports on his win. Los Angeles Times

The Times’ Randall Roberts speaks with the judges and examines the (at times, snobby) reaction to Lamar’s unexpected triumph. The prize, says critic David Hajdu, who served as a judge, “is not a prize for the best classical music or the best jazz — it’s a prize for the best music.” Los Angeles Times

Times pop music critic Mikael Wood has an answer piece of sorts in which he breaks down five Kendrick Lamar songs that show why the hip-hop star won the Pulitzer. Los Angeles Times

Doreen St. Felix, in the meantime, looks at what Lamar’s award means for hip-hop: “I would argue that the award is a bigger event for the Pulitzers than it is for Lamar.” New Yorker

It all proves the relevance of rap, which The Times covered in depth earlier this year with our series The Age of Hip-Hop: From the Streets to Cultural Dominance. Los Angeles Times

Kendrick Lamar onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2017.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times )


Musicians in dresses made out of speakers and a flute that “looks as if it took its inspiration from a cow’s intestine.” Times classical music critic Mark Swed writes that Pauchi Sasaki’s “Gama XV: Piece for Two Speaker Dresses” may “or may not be a game-changer, but it works brilliantly on all levels.” It was part of an evening of performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall that served as a last-minute replacement for a tardy commission. Los Angeles Times

Pauchi Sasaki, left, and Claire Chase, after performing Sasaki's "Gama XV: Piece for Two Speaker Dresses."
(Maria Alejandra Cardona / Los Angeles Times )

Swed also caught a performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s new composition, “Pollux,” at Disney Hall — “a translucently liquid 12-minute score” that Salonen wrote for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The piece, he writes, is a “wash of sound” featuring “impressionistic string arpeggios, along with other rapid figures, moody thick chords and glissandi.” Los Angeles Times


The Getty Villa has rearranged the furniture ... er, art. Times art critic Christopher Knight had a gander and reports that the reinstallation of the collection marks a significant turning point: a “savvy” rearrangement that “represents a step forward in the museum’s confidence.” Conspicuously missing from the display, however, is a Greek kouros of questionable authenticity that had long been a Villa star, an absence Knight thinks could have inspired its own clever show about reality and “the madness of art” — and which could have replaced a “dreary” inaugural exhibition of contemporary work inspired by Plato. Los Angeles Times

It’s ancient art week for Knight, who also explored the fearsome artifacts of the pre-Columbian center of Teotihuacan at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The urban complex, located on the outskirts of contemporary Mexico City, was an important cosmopolitan center about which not nearly enough is known. But the exhibition’s smart layout, writes Knight, helps clarify Teotihuacan’s “tangled complexities.” Los Angeles Times

More art shows: Among the many exhibitions and happenings you’ll discover in my Arts Datebook are Rafa Esparza’s “de la Calle,” a transformation of the museum project room at the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, which begins Saturday, and June Wayne’s “Propeller, Paintings & Mixed Media, the Pop Up” exhibition of water-inspired lithographs, which runs through Saturday at MB Abram Galleries. Los Angeles Times


The inimitable Laurie Anderson landed in Los Angeles this week for a show at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts that explores themes of loss. The artist, in short succession, lost her partner, musician Lou Reed, followed by decades’ worth of her work, which was consumed by the floodwaters of Superstorm Sandy. The Times’ Jessica Gelt spoke with the artist about “Everything I Lost in the Flood,” her one-woman show. “It was really inspired by the fallibility of stories,” says Anderson, “and the fraying of stories, during the election.” Los Angeles Times

A photo illustration of Laurie Anderson at her home in Manhattan in March.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times )


It is a lecture that is also a game of telephone that is also a work of theater. Suzanne Bocanegra’s “Farmhouse/Whorehouse” explores life on her grandparents’ hardscrabble farm in Texas — which happened to be located across the road from a brothel. “The odd juxtaposition of these seemingly opposite worlds leads to a frolicsome deconstruction of cultural binaries, which is a fancy way of saying that our minds are pried open to unexpected associations,” writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty of the show, staged by UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. Los Angeles Times

McNulty tooled to the O.C. for a performance of Kemp Powers’ “Little Black Shadows” at South Coast Repertory. The play, about the inner lives of two young slaves on a plantation, is “visually arresting,” he writes, but it still reads like a series of sketches: “The scenes are rich in theatrical atmosphere and quotidian historical horror, but the drama isn’t well calculated.” Los Angeles Times

Gorgeously rendered bedtime scenes in director May Adrales’s production of “Little Black Shadows.”
(Jordan Kubat / South Coast Repertory )


The highest male voice in opera is the countertenor — and John Holiday is considered among the finest. This week, he is singing Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” in the company of the L.A. Phil at Disney Hall. He talks with Times contributor Richard Schultz about hitting the high notes: “I remember being made fun of because I sing really high ... It is kind of shocking, but we’ve had Michael Jackson, Frankie Valli, Franki Lymon, the Fantasticks. These are people who sang in the range.” Los Angeles Times

Mark Swed caught a performance of the “Chichester Psalms” earlier this week. He reports that Holiday has a voice of “soaring purity” and that L.A. Phil musical director Gustavo Dudamel “captured everything there is to capture.” Los Angeles Times


Through drawings, artist Manuel Lopez has created a portrait of the pitch-roofed houses that cling to the hills of East Los Angeles. The Times’ Esmeralda Bermudez watches over his shoulder as he sketches. A great L.A. story. Los Angeles Times

Artist Manuel Lopez framed by his drawings of hillside communities at his City Terrace studio.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )


Times contributing reviewer David Pagel has been hitting the white cube. On the itinerary? A group show that serves as paean to the untrendy organized by guest curator Laurie Nye at Big Picture Los Angeles, “intimate” drawings by Kitty Brophy at Jenny’s, and the “wonderfully unruly” paintings of Daniel Crews-Chubb at Roberts Projects in Culver City. As always, lots to see.


CB1 Gallery in the Arts District will close after the current show, and after various artists publicly alleged nonpayment for works sold by the gallery. Los Angeles Times

— How Sanle Sory’s studio portraits from Burkina Faso mark an important postcolonial moment. New Republic

— Critic Ben Davis says Marcel Duchamp did not invent the readymade. The idea of appropriation, he reports, may be as old as civilization. Artnet

Mary Miller, the first female dean of Yale College and the current director of the Yale Institute for Preservation of Cultural Heritage, will join the Getty Research Institute as its new director. ARTnews

Frances Anderton has a terrific report on the unusual intersection of art and gentrification in Boyle Heights. The opposing sides might not be as opposite as they might seem. Design and Architecture

— Architecture critic Mark Lamster looks at how tiny houses and shipping containers could help solve the housing crisis. Dallas Morning News

Frank Gehry donates $1 million to schools in underserved communities along the Los Angeles River. Architects Newspaper

Frank Gehry at his office in Los Angeles.
(Claire Hannah Collins / Los Angeles Times )

— Tickets go on sale Monday for the Shakespeare Center’s production of “Henry IV,” starring Tom Hanks. Los Angeles Times

— “A hot mess shot through with moments of guilty pleasure.” Karen D’Souza reviews the Go-Go’s musical “Head Over Heels” at San Francisco’s Curran Theater. San Jose Mercury News

— Open call for “Annie” at the Hollywood Bowl: Director Michael Arden is inviting kids to submit video of themselves singing “Tomorrow” or “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Have at it, El Lay. Los Angeles Times

Marina Harss has a great interview with choreographer Lar Lubovitch, who among other things discusses how go-go dancing shaped his practice. New York Times


This tribalera remix of Walmart yodeler boy — whom The Times’ Gerrick Kennedy watched at the 11-year-old’s Coachella debut at the Sahara Tent with electronic dance artist Whethan — is the sort of thing that makes the internet worth keeping. Twitter

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