Roundup: Watts and culture, art and Instagram, photo bombing the 'Today' show

Roundup: Watts and culture, art and Instagram, photo bombing the 'Today' show
The 50th anniversary of the Watts riots has inspired an interesting look at the place of Watts in our culture. Seen here: The Watts Towers at dusk. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

The musical life of an unassuming L.A. roller rink, the auteur crowdsourcing his latest epic film and what Frank Gehry has in store for the Los Angeles River (nothing to do with undulating titanium). Plus: the cultural legacy that Watts wrought. That, and much more, in the Roundup:

— The 50th anniversary of the Watts riots has inspired a wave of interesting reports on its cultural ramifications: book critic David Ulin and book writer Carolyn Kellogg explore the influence of Watts on literature, Christopher Knight looks at how Watts changed art, and KCRW's "Press Play" examines Watts in the popular culture, from comedies such as "Sanford & Son" to the star-studded Wattstax music festival. Interestingly, the uprising's legacy doesn't extend to Hollywood — where it has been historically absent.


The story of Skateland, the Compton roller rink that was the birthplace of West Coast rap.

— Former Guggenheim director Thomas Krens has unveiled a plan for a new museum in Western Massachusetts that would be privately owned by a group of for-profit investors. Sounds like it will be a great place for big britches collectors to park their works and coat them with a patina of prestige. (ARTnews)

— "El Topo" director Alejandro Jodorowsky is crowdsourcing his latest film, "Endless Poetry," about his youth in Santiago. Let's get this made, people! (Jodorowsky's Indiegogo pitch video/rant is totally worthwhile. In fact, it may inspire me to run off to Chile to volunteer for his crew.)

— Patti Smith's "Just Kids," her memoir of her life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, will be turned into a miniseries on Showtime.

— Chicago artist Theaster Gates bought a derelict theater on the city's South Side for $1 in 2012. It is set to open as an arts center in October — and it will be stocked with everything from lantern slides to DJ Frankie Knuckles' collection of vinyl.

— China has a new sculpture that looks suspiciously like Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" (aka "the bean") in Chicago.

London's National Gallery is hit with strikes as it attempts to privatize a number of positions, including security jobs.

— Annette Michelson, the founding editor of the arts journal October, has donated her papers to the Getty Research Institute.

— Peak Instagram: Arts institutions are increasingly catering to popular users of the social media app, and one New York artist has made work specifically to be viewed on the platform.

— Out of years of accumulated detritus, a New York City sanitation worker has built a work of art.

— A profile of LACMA board co-chairwoman Elaine Wynn on life post divorce (from casino mogul Steve Wynn), raising money for the museum's Peter Zumthor-designed building plan and that incredibly expensive Francis Bacon triptych she may or may not have paid taxes on.

— I'm still trying to decide whether the design for the Petersen Automotive Museum on Fairfax looks more Flying Spaghetti Monster or Nicolas Cage in "Ghost Rider."

— A pretty terrific podcast from 99% Visible about brutalist architecture — complete with a connection to James Bond.


— The Architect's Newspaper gets reactions to the announcement that Frank Gehry has been secretly at work on the L.A. River master plan. Plus: KCRW's Frances Anderton speaks to Gehry about the plan.

— Speaking of L.A. byways: the city's new mobility plan is going to mean more bike and bus lanes and less space for individual drivers. One street in Silver Lake may offer a measure of how that could work.

— Photographer NK Guy captures the pop-up architecture of Burning Man.

— A reason to turn down the lights: it's messing with nature (not to mention your circadian rhythms).


— Your moment of L.A. by drone.

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.