Newsletter: Esssential Arts & Culture: An operatic Steve Jobs, a museum of O.J. ephemera, Dudamel and Venezuela’s crisis


An opera tackles the life (and ego) of Apple’s founder. O.J. Simpson gets a pop-up museum. And the crisis in Venezuela hits home. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your essential culture roundup:

A ‘winning’ Steve Jobs opera

Times classical music critic Mark Swed caught a performance of Mason Bates’ “The (R)revolution of Steve Jobs,” the opera inspired by the life of Apple’s founder, at the Santa Fe Opera. “It is true to Jobs in being slick,” writes Swed. “It is true to old-fashioned opera in being sentimental. It is true to Apple in Bates’ applying technology, combining electronica and frisky orchestral music and lyrical vocal lines, in as friendly a way as possible.” Los Angeles Times


Swed also tuned into the new “symphonic version” of “Sondheim on Sondheim” at the Hollywood Bowl, featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (which he describes as a coup de théâtre). The performance, Swed writes, took an intimately scaled show and made it “larger than life.” Los Angeles Times

Music in a time of turmoil

Mark Swed also speaks with L.A. Phil musical director Gustavo Dudamel about a pair of editorials he wrote about the situation in his native Venezuela — one in Spanish for Spain’s El Pais and another in English for the New York Times. “We have arrived at a point where you have to say something,” says Dudamel. Los Angeles Times

Gustavo Dudamel at a showcase performance of El Sistema students in Caracas.
(Mark Swed / Los Angeles Times)

Plus, Swed attends a performance of the Take a Stand symposium, a gathering of educators around the country involved in music training programs such as the Youth Los Angeles Orchestra, and looks at how the youth on stage may shake up the classical music of the future. Los Angeles Times

Sensational music, shaky story

“Born for This,” now on view at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, tells the story of the rise of the brother and sister gospel dynamos BeBe and CeCe Winans, who rose to fame on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise the Lord television network. The musical’s singing, writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty, is “divinely inspired.” But, unfortunately, “the storytelling sticks to the surface.” Los Angeles Times

Museum of O.J.

If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Or turn it into a gallery show, reports The Times’ Deborah Vankin. The Chinatown gallery Coagula Curatorial is planning a five-day pop-up exhibition at the end of August that will explore the fan culture that surrounds the O.J. Simpson murder trial. This will include 300 artifacts, including art inspired by the case and replicas of his old football jerseys. Los Angeles Times

O.J. Simpson on trial for murder in 1995. His case has inspired vernacular art production.
(Vince Bucci / AFP / Getty Images)

Santa Monica’s grand bargain

Since 1960, the population of Santa Monica has grown by 8%. In that same time, L.A. County’s population has grown by 60%. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne looks at the question of housing in one of L.A.’s most coveted enclaves. “Santa Monica,” he writes, “has done a very good job insulating itself from growth while reaping the benefits of economic development across the region as a whole.” Hawthorne speaks with Santa Monica city manager Rick Cole about how new planning regulations for downtown may finally make it easier to build desperately needed housing. Los Angeles Times

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel and Bungalows located on Ocean Avenue at Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Powerful photos and tokens of power

In the ’70s and ’80s, British photographer Chris Killip recorded life in the dying industrial towns of northern England. “They are at the tough end of things, the people in my photographs,” he tells me. “It’s about the struggle for work, being out of work, fighting for work.” The Getty Museum has brought together a poignant exhibition of those images. I speak with Killip about the stories behind them. Los Angeles Times

And because I’m on a photography bender, I spoke with the legendary Graciela Iturbide at her home in Mexico City. The artist, known for capturing the myriad layers of Mexican culture in her work, will figure in two Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles / Latin America exhibitions this fall. We talk photography, Frida Kahlo and the cholos of L.A.’s Eastside. Los Angeles Times

Plus, the Craft & Folk Art Museum has a tight little exhibition of Betye Saar’s washboard assemblages. Many of these feature stereotypical mammy figurines brandishing weapons, “toxic kitsch transformed by the hands of an artist into trenchant tokens of power.” Los Angeles Times

A festival of dance

Bakersfield native Tiler Peck, a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, is back in SoCal as the curator of BalletNow at the Music Center, a series of programs that will bring together top dancers from her own company, as well as the American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet, the Royal Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet — as well as a few modern surprises. (Think: hip-hop and tap.) Los Angeles Times

Tiler Peck, at L.A.'s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, prepares for BalletNow.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Around the performing arts

Hershey Felder’s one-man show “Our Great Tchaikovsky” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts looks at the tumultuous life of the great Russian composer — who hid his sexuality out of fear of persecution. Times reviewer Rick Schultz reports that the show has moments both assured and contrived. But it has been beloved by audiences, who have flocked to see the show. Los Angeles Times

Plus, Times contributor Catherine Womack reports on the 70th anniversary of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. The academy may be entering grand dame age, but its events are nonetheless in high demand. Los Angeles Times

And Liesl Bradner has a look at an exhibition of costumes and set designs by the famed Russian-French painter Marc Chagall at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles Times

In other news…

Microsoft Paint may not be long for this world. Los Angeles Times

— Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart is facing 30 years in prison for being critical of Erdogan. Bleeding Cool News

Ariel Dorfman looks at how torture is portrayed in Shakespeare’s “Othello,” and what that says about us. New York Times

Michael Moore is hitting Broadway. New York Times

— A sculpture in New York pays tribute to E. coli. Citylab

Francesco Giusti’s photographs of the pachucos of Juarez. Roads & Kingdoms

— How the work of early 20th century photographer Edward Curtis captured elements of Native American life and ritual. Glasstire

— A dance festival in Toronto showcases indigenous dance. The Toronto Star

— Visual artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz recently received the UCLA Medal. The artist gave a very moving speech, which has been posted online. UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

— On the unusual history behind the architecture — dubbed “neo-Judaic” — of L.A.’s newly revitalized Ford Theatres in Hollywood. KCET Artbound

— The long history of the coffee house in urban life — and its frequent association with the leisure class. Pacific Standard

— Speaking of which, Saul Gonzalez covers the protests against coffee shops and art galleries in Boyle Heights. NPR

101 architecture accounts to follow on Twitter. Architizer

And last but not least…

What the world needs now is a buncha dogs chillin’ in front of Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” at LACMA. Instagram

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