Newsletter: Essential Arts & Culture: Picasso lost and found, Bernstein at the Bowl, Estefans on stage, Trump baby

Times Mirror CEO Franklin Murphy, left, and director Peter S. Bing, talk in the boardroom featuring a painting by Helen Frankenthaler.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

Finding the lost Picassos of the Los Angeles Times and kicking off summer with a little Leonard Bernstein. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your weekly dose of what’s good in the culture:


For the record:

7:30 a.m. July 14, 2018An earlier version of this newsletter referred to Verdi’s “Othello” at the Hollywood Bowl. The opera’s name is “Otello.”

When the William Pereira-designed corporate headquarters of the Times Mirror Co., a former parent company of the Los Angeles Times, opened in downtown L.A. in 1973, among its various luxurious features was a corporate dining room decorated with lithographs by Pablo Picasso. Over the years, as the paper has been transferred from one corporate entity to another, the Picassos were scattered. Until recently, a suite of five prints hung in The Times community room. Then they disappeared. Times reporter Daniel Miller tracks down what became of the fabled Picasso Room — a tale that involves a grocery cart, rumors of prudery and an enterprising bureau chief who hid art from a foulmouthed Chicago executive. It doesn’t get better than this. Los Angeles Times



Aug. 25 marks the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, and Times classical music critic Mark Swed says it’s time to “brace yourself for the Leonard Bernstein summer.” To that end, Swed caught the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s summer opening at the Hollywood Bowl, which featured an all-Bernstein program. Though L.A. Phil musical director Gustavo Dudamel seems to have been born with Bernstein’s musical DNA in his bones, writes Swed, “the program lacked freshness” and featured “heavy-handed amplification.” Los Angeles Times

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, left, and singers Sutton Foster and Brian Stokes Mitchell perform at the Hollywood Bowl.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)


Since we’re on the subject of the Hollywood Bowl, Times assistant managing editor Mary McNamara recently attended a screening of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” with a live score performed by the L.A. Phil. Composed by Patrick Doyle, the original score, she notes, “is a bit darker and, at times, more startling, than the swooping, swirling strings of the first three films,” which were scored by John Williams. Los Angeles Times

Justin Freer conducts the L.A. Phil in a performance of music from the motion picture “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Need more performance? Matt Cooper has his weekend picks ready to roll — including American Ballet Theatre’s “La Bayadère” at the Music Center and Verdi’s “Otello” at the Hollywood Bowl. Los Angeles Times


“It seems appropriate that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art would debut “Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada) 2014” on the heels of a record-breaking heat wave,” writes Times culture reporter Deborah Vankin. John Gerrard’s digital installation, a simulation of a solar thermal power plant in the Nevada desert, tackles issues of conservation as well as the sun’s more mythical qualities. The work, purchased for the museum by Leonardo DiCaprio, will be displayed on a massive LED wall in the museum’s courtyard. Los Angeles Times

A detail from John Gerrard’s “Solar Reserve (Tonopah, Nevada) 2014.”
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)


Times contributing reviewer Sharon Mizota has been doing the white cube thing. This week, she checks out a show by Young Joo Lee at Ochi Projects that explores how the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea has become a nature preserve of sorts. She also examines a show of paintings by Forrest Kirk at Chimento Contemporary that serve as “indictments of police violence.”

Plus, in a series of collaged photographs at Meliksetian Briggs, Los Angeles artist Todd Gray explores questions of diaspora among African Americans. “The work communicates the ways in which people may migrate into unexpected places,” Mizota writes, “but also the ways in which places, or reductive ideas about them, get projected onto people.”


Audiobook and podcast company Audible is branching into theater — recording one-person productions that might generally be accessible only to limited audiences. The Times’ Jessica Gelt sat in a recording session with actor John Lithgow as he taped his solo show, “Stories by Heart.” As Audible founder and CEO Don Katz tells her, “In a matter of seconds, more people can be listening to an Audible original than can pack a 1,000-seat theater eight times per week for half a century.” Los Angeles Times


Between the Latin pop tunes and their intriguing lives, the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan is practically ready-made for a musical. The Times’ Daryl H. Miller checked out the production of “On Your Feet!” currently on view at the Pantages Theatre. At its best, he writes, the musical “explodes off the stage” with pulsating rhythms and talented dancing. But the narrative has some clichés that “flatten out and homogenize a remarkable story.” Los Angeles Times

Plus: Times contributor Margaret Gray profiles Christie Prades and Mauricio Martínez, who play the musical icons. Los Angeles Times

Miller also reviews “Big Fish,” the 2013 stage musical that’s currently on view at the Chance Theater in Anaheim. The production is “quite wonderful,” but “problems with the story’s construction” and “weakness in the cast” deflate aspects of the work. Los Angeles Times


— A federal appeals court has ruled that artists are not entitled to royalties from the sale of their works in California. New York Times

— The floating sculpture the whole world is talking about: President Trump as a 20-foot baby. Los Angeles Times

A baby blimp of U.S. President Donald Trump is flown as a protest against his visit in London.
(Matt Dunham / AP)

— Speaking of which, the Trump baby internet memes are rolling in. Hyperallergic

— Closely related: Norman Rosenthal, the former exhibitions secretary at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, criticized Blenheim Palace for hosting the American president for a banquet. The Art Newspaper

— And because we seem to be on a politics kick: The president reportedly wants to give Air Force One a “more American look.” The editors at Task & Purpose would like to see your ideas. Task & Purpose

— The University of Kansas has removed an American flag artwork by Josephine Meckseper after the state governor call it “beyond disrespectful.” Frieze

— Large, colorful and in possession of “wall power”: an analysis of the most Instagrammed artworks at the most recent Art Basel Miami Beach fair. Artsy

Janet Malcolm writes about the ways a simple snapshot can deceive. New York Review of Books

“Beyond the Streets,” a graffiti and street art show organized by Roger Gastman, has extended its Los Angeles run until Aug. 26. Los Angeles Times

ICA LA curator Jamillah James will co-curate the fifth edition of the New Museum Triennial. Artforum

Paul Goldberger tells the whole crazy tale of how Los Angeles ended up with George Lucas’ museum. Vanity Fair

— Architecture critic Mark Lamster is totally over the architecture of CVS. Dallas Morning News

Misty Copeland reviews books on dance. New York Times


In his story about Leonard Bernstein, Mark Swed refers to the rollicking versions of Bernstein’s “Mambo” directed by Gustavo Dudamel when he was still at the Simón Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela. It’s just what you need to roll into the weekend. YouTube

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