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Newsletter: Essential Arts & Culture: Vampire weekend, a Mexican masterpiece reemerges (sort of), the rising Academy museum

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29, 2015 -- Philip Glass, third from left, and the Kronos Quartet perform
Philip Glass, center, and the Kronos Quartet performing as “Dracula” screened at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in 2015. They are reviving the performance this Halloween weekend at Orange County’s Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Music for Dracula. The very low profile of an 18th century Mexican masterpiece. Checking in with Renzo Piano’s Academy Museum. And a last stand for artists in the Arts District. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, with your artisanally crafted, gluten-free arts newsletter:


… and I’m busy preparing with repeat viewings of “Donnie Darko” and “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.” If you want something extra special, however, you can always swoop into the Segerstrom Center for the Arts this weekend, where Philip Glass and the Kronos Quartet will perform Glass’ original score for Bela Lugosi’s “Dracula” as the film screens. As Glass tells Times contributor Tim Greiving, “I think it’s pure gold.” Los Angeles Times

If you haven’t had enough Glass this Halloween weekend, the composer has rescored Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bete” as a classical opera. The 1946 film screens at the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Saturday (with admission to the Ace’s Beastly Ball), Sunday and Tuesday (with a Halloween after-party and costume contest) with a live performance of the Philip Glass Ensemble conducted by Michael Riesman and featuring vocalists synched with actors in the movie. L.A. Opera


LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29, 2015 -- Philip Glass, third from left, and the Kronos Quartet perform
Philip Glass, center, and the Kronos Quartet perform at a screening of Dracula in 2015.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times )

Plus, an exhibition in Hollywood looks at the history of Anton LaVey and L.A.’s very own Church of Satan. L.A. Weekly


This one sounds like it’s straight out of a Hollywood art thriller: a missing 18th century masterpiece, thought lost for more than century, has apparently been hanging somewhere in L.A. since the ’50s. Times art critic Christopher Knight chases down clues to where “Española,” a master work of the 18th century casta painting series by Miguel Cabrera, might be. Nobody seems to know. But a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been receiving some pretty strange mail. Must-read. Los Angeles Times


A detail from Miguel Cabrera's "3. From Spaniard and Castiza, Spanish Girl," 1763.


Some of the last few artist buildings in L.A.’s Arts District are facing rent hikes and evictions. I have a report on what this might imply for art in L.A.: “The case of the Arts District raises the question of whether Los Angeles will continue to be a city hospitable to the ad-hoc artist communities from which bubble up groundbreaking ideas that shift currents and shape movements. Think of those paradigm-shifting California light-and-space artists clustered in Venice Beach in the 1960s.” Los Angeles Times

Artists place a sign protesting evictions in the Arts District outside of artist lofts on Seaton Street.
(Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)


Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne paid a visit to Renzo Piano’s in-progress Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which will occupy the 1939 May Co. Building and feature a sci-fi looking, spherical theater. The building, he reports, will not reach some of Piano’s loftier architectural achievements, such as the Menil in Houston. But recent updates to the plan add up to a “design that seems more grounded, rational and sure of itself.” Los Angeles Times

A rendering of Renzo Piano's Academy Museum, due to open in 2019.
(Renzo Piano Building Workshop / Academy Museum )

Speaking of museums, there are fresh renderings of Peter Zumthor’s proposed building for LACMA. Urbanize.LA



Times theater critic Charles McNulty says it’s worth it to brave traffic for the “wrenching new revival” of August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean” at South Coast Repertory in Orange County. The play — set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1904 when “slavery is still a living memory” — isn’t the playwright’s best, reports McNulty. But “‘Gem of the Ocean’ exhorts us to meet the responsibility of truth that citizenship demands.” Los Angeles Times

South Coast Repertory presents August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean” directed by Kent Gash. Cast:
Preston Butler III and L. Scott Caldwell in "Gem of the Ocean" at South Coast Repertory.
(Jordan Kubat / South Coast Repertory )

Also on McNulty’s theatrical docket: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s country musical “Bright Star,” which just opened at the Ahmanson Theatre. The show, he writes, features some top-drawer performances — including lead Carmen Cusack, who has “just the right amount of vinegar.” But, the production, he writes, fails at the level of story: “As dramatists, Martin and Brickell fall readily into clichés.” Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 11, 2017: Carmen Cusack performs in Steve Martin’s musical Bright Star at
Carmen Cusack in "Bright Star," the Steve Martin-Edie Brickell musical.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times )


A couple of recent concerts — the kickoff for the Santa Monica new music series Jacaranda and a performance led by French composer Pascale Criton at REDCAT — has Times classical music critic Mark Swed thinking about microtones (and the resonances they might have with climate change). Those in-between sounds that inhabit the spaces between the notes can alter perception. “After a while,” he writes, “what first seems out of tune eventually starts to sound right.” Los Angeles Times

Performers tackle Lou Harrison's "Varied Quintet" at the Jacaranda new music series.
(Michael Owen Baker / Jacaranda )

Swed also reports on how violinist Gidon Kremer, who has spent a lifetime championing the work of adventurous composers, was back at Disney Hall with a program that included a “most worthy” cause: the music of neglected Soviet composer Miecszyslaw Weinberg. At the baton was rising conductor Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. The show, writes Swed, “was yet one more highlight of a highlight-overloaded L.A. Phil year.” Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES, CA October 19, 2017: Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, left, conducts the LA Phil and Gidon Kre
Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, left, conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic and soloist Gidon Kremer at Disney Hall.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times )


The Guggenheim’s “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World” generated headlines for including works that featured live animals and video of fighting dogs on treadmills — works that were ultimately removed. Times contributor Scarlet Cheng looks at what the remaining works in the show tell us about China during that tumultuous period. She also speaks to the artists involved. “More than 700,000 people are opposed to this work that involves living animals,” says Huang Young Ping, “but how many of those people have really looked at and understood this work?” Los Angeles Times

A visitor passes a series of photographs by Ai Weiwei at the Guggenheim Museum.
(Jewel Samad / AFP/ Getty Images )


Accompanying the blazingly hot Yayoi Kusama show at the Broad is an extensive public program that will explore the artist’s legacy. This will begin with three nights of concerts in November by the Joshua Light Show (who performed with Kusama in the 1960s) and a performance by Ron Athey in January that will delve into the Japanese artist’s ideas of obliteration. Los Angeles Times

Darkside and the Joshua Light Show at the 2013 Trancender Festival in London.
(Mark Sethi / Joshua White )


Stretched-out photo collages channel unresolvable conflicts in Dinh Q. Lê’s exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica. They are works, writes Times reviewer Leah Ollman, where “visual logic is subverted in what feels, viscerally, like an urgent bad dream.” Los Angeles Times

An installation view of Dinh Dinh Q. Lê's "The Scrolls: Distortion" at Shoshana Wayne Gallery.
(Shoshana Wayne Gallery )

She also pays a visit to Jordan Nassar’s one-man show at Anat Ebgi, which features a series of works inspired by Palestinian tatreez cross-stitch embroidery. It is a show, she writes, that is “politically charged and impassioned” but also “whisper-quiet.” Los Angeles Times


A young woman who worked at Artforum has filed suit against the magazine’s publisher, Knight Landesman, in New York Superior Court over alleged sexual harassment. Amanda Schmitt claims that Landesman touched her inappropriately and that he made sexually explicit overtures to her. He resigned on Wednesday, and the magazine issued a statement that “we will do everything in our ability to bring our workplace in line with our editorial mission.” New York Times

Artforum publisher Knight Landesman at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2012.
(Aaron Davidson / Getty Images )

Rachel Corbett reports on other women who have come forward with allegations against Landesman. Artnet

In the wake of the lawsuit, the Artforum’s editor in chief, Michelle Kuo, has resigned. ARTnews

And employees of the magazine have signed an open letter saying they “condemn the way the allegations against Knight Landesman have been handled by our publishers.” Artforum

Plus, former New Republic culture editor Leon Wieseltier issued an apology after being accused of sexual harassment. The Atlantic


— Dancer Steve Paxton, who made a name for himself as part of Merce Cunningham’s company, is returning to the stage for a three-night gig in New York. New York Times

“Mean Girls” is being turned into a musical. Washington Post

— Times music writer Randall Roberts attended a car concert. Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES-CA-OCTOBER 15, 2017: As part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival Los Angeles, renowned ar
Artist Ryoji Ikeda presented a composition in collaboration with 100 automobile owners.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times )

Jori Finkel argues for considering Jimmie Durham’s work, not just his ancestry. The Art Newspaper

— L.A. artist Cassils created an installation out of urine as a protest against transgender bathroom policies. Out

Martin Wong, the late (and overlooked) San Francisco painter, is the subject of a major retrospective at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. San Francisco Chronicle

— Speaking of Berkeley, scientists there are using optical scanning to recover sound from fragile wax cylinders that contain recordings of indigenous people. Hyperallergic

— Proving that bad ideas often live on like Rasputin: Pier 55, the $250-million waterfront park designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick for Manhattan, is back on. Curbed

— Architects Reza Daneshmir and Catherine Spiridonoff have designed a Tehran mosque that is controversial for not having minarets. The Guardian

Freeways are falling out of fashion. (Shhh, don’t tell the 405.) New York Times

— Critic Allison Arieff, on designing a more inclusive city. New York Times


What was L.A. like the last time the Dodgers were in the World Series? Reagan was president, Tom Bradley was mayor, Chevy Chase had hosted the Academy Awards. Meanwhile, I was a junior in high school and for sure thought I’d be a history professor with a side gig producing a public access show about cooking. LAist

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