March, 2009

Calling All Dames and Jobbies

For those in need of a break from sunny spring days and blue skies, the American Cinematheque presents its 11th annual film noir festival “Deadline: Noir City” from April 2-19 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

It isn’t surprising that Tinsel Town is the birthplace of film noir.  Film noir (literally, “black film” in French) evolved out of American hard-boiled detective novels and the cinematic influence of German Expressionism.  For every Hollywood fairytale produced during the 40s and 50s — a time when the puritanical, anti-communist Hays Production Code was strictly enforced — there was a film noir doppelganger, a fever dream full of danger, despair, and depravity.

The American Cinematheque’s film noir line-up includes several rare gems which have yet to make it to DVD, as well as cleverly paired double-features and director’s nights for Anthony Mann and Fritz Lang.  The Jane Greer double-feature is especially top notch in every respect.  Greer’s mere presence elevates any film she is in, but her lovely looks are used to full effect in making suckers out of Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas in the noir masterpiece Out of the Past.

All you femme fatales and tough guys better get wise.

-By Peter Lee

 The Egyptian Theare will be presenting “Deadline: Noir City” from April 2 – 19.

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There’s Been A Change In Schedule…

Every year, true Los Angelenos, both natives and transplants, mentally mark key cultural events way before they are formally announced.  The Los Angeles Art Show and Art LA have already come and gone in January.  The LA Times’ Festival of Books is quickly approaching at the end of April for all those bibliophiles. We are even preparing our picnic baskets (and bottles of wine) for the opening of the Hollywood Bowl’s summer season.  But to make sure you, my fellow Angeleno, don’t miss out on something relatively new on the calendar, make sure to pencil the Los Angeles Art Weekend into your schedule come April 2 – 5.  That is, if you haven’t already.

Coming in for its second round, the Los Angeles Art Weekend is a four-day event highlighting the city’s foremost cultural events and creative talents.  Looking through its itinerary, maybe you can understand why Fine Arts LA is formally in love.  Some highlights include our beloved designer Valentino swinging by Taschen for a book signing, Edgar Arceneaux lecturing at Otis on the Watts House Project, and at the Getty Center, Kehinde Wiley sitting down to discuss his work.  That’s just on Thursday!

Summoning art institutions large and small, Los Angeles Art Weekend is produced and presented by ForYourArt, the same people who serve up the best in the art world with weekly emails and cheat sheet maps, and BlackFrame, a creative hub and production agency. It all began as a pilot program developed by Brian Phillips of BlackFrame for visiting journalists to survey the entire Los Angeles arts scene in one weekend.  And although it seemed impossible, the Los Angeles Art Weekend provides even the passerby a taste of what makes up this city’s sabor besides taco trucks and freeway car chases.

The vast amount of production that goes into this event is humbling.  As we hear of budgets being trimmed all the way down the line, an overarching theme of strength in numbers keeps many cultural institutions afloat.  Los Angeles Art Weekend creates a much-needed sense of camaraderie between organizations to draw patrons out.  As every person searches for ways to tighten his or her belt, we must venture to those places that make up this cultural scene now to simply enjoy them or else…they might not be there later. And we can’t have that, right?

As many of our kindred spirits at SXSW attempted to navigate through a similar cultural blast, we too must make choices as the weekend countdown begins.  It all starts with deciding where we want to go and knowing where we need to be.

-By Danyel Madrid

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The Emperor’s New Close

Oh that red bag… Or to be more precise for all those fashion lovers and pop culture addicts, oh rosso Valentino…  Rosso Valentino is a trademark color that has adorned such cultural icons as Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret. This color has been symbolically linked to legendary designer Valentino Garavani and his fashion house, much like the little blue box is to Tiffany’s. The red that we associate with the designer has never been so encapsulating…until now.

Premiering at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival,  Valentino: The Last Emperor is a feature length film that documents the life of Valentino. Produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, the film gives us a glimpse into the last years of Valentino’s creative direction of his maison de couture. Shot from June 2005 to July 2007, the documentary is an intimate portrait of what was to be Valentino’s final curtain bow at his 2007 Ready-to-Wear show in Paris.

The film explores the depths of the company and its future, while taking us on a personal journey of the man behind the legend, from his early development as a young apprentice in Italy to a rather humorous wall-to-wall take on the icon’s singular vision and world. And what a world it is. At the core of the film is the relationship and love that Valentino shares with his longtime business and relationship partner Giancarlo Giammetti as the two men face a 50 year career milestone being on the top of one of fashion’s most recognizable houses, confronting the last two years of his creative control, and even his astounding admiration for his six pugs. Rosso Valentino is a combination of 100% magenta, 100% yellow and 10% black. Valentino: The Last Emperor is a combination of art, life, career, love, but more importantly, it is 100% Valentino and we can’t wait to slip into that.

-By Eric Zamorez

Valentino: The Last Emperor opens on Friday, April 3, at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

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Geometry Never Looked So Cool

Art and math don’t get along entirely well.  In school, the kids who do best in one tend to have trouble in the other.  That a mathematician, namely George Boole (creator of the Venn diagram), has made it to Fine Arts LA is an accomplishment if for no other reason than a personal bias against mathematics.  He provided inspiration to former Rhode Island School of Design classmates Adam Silverman, a potter, and Nader Tehrani, an architect, familiar with Mr. Boole’s logic that uses geometry to define where objects intersect.

Their collaborative effort now on view at MOCA at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, called the Boolean Valley, is an installation of about 400 clay objects cut and glazed into black and cobalt blue round shapes that form a topographic, sculptural landscape within the room.  The landscape was designed by Terhani, whose Boston-based architecture firm, Office dA, has worked on projects from Massachusetts to Korea including performing arts centers, libraries, and private homes.  His role in Boolean Valley was to develop a space specific to the museum’s architecture on which Silverman’s little dome sculptures could find their appropriate place.  They were all cut and formed to fit into Tehrani’s particular, undulating landscape.  It is not just a collaboration between two RISD graduates who understand what George Boole was talking about; it’s a show that displays the artistic merging of digital technology and handcrafted pieces.


Boolean Valley is on at MOCA Pacific Design Center through July 5, 2009.  For more information, please call (310) 289-5223.

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Reinvent This!

The Hammer Museum continues its tradition of biannual exhibitions with Nine Lives: Visionary Artists From LA, which illuminates the concept of reinvention–the one thing that never ceases in this city.  The show, much like its predecessors, Eden’s Edge, Thing, International Paper, and Snapshot, focuses on artists working in Los Angeles. But this time around, curator Ali Subotnick said, “In approaching this exhibition, I chose to concentrate on nine idiosyncratic artists who struck me as being especially hard to define or categorize.” Forming one narrative, the nine sections of the gallery are filled with new work by Lisa Anne Auerbach, Julie Becker, Llyn Foulkes, Charles Irvin, Hirsch Perlman, Victoria Reynolds, Kaari Upson, Jeffrey Vallance, and Charlie White. The exhibition includes video, paintings, drawings, photography, textiles, and two new sculptural installations; some highlights include Auerbach’s subversive sweaters, Reynold’s strangely delicate renderings of raw meat, and Upson’s recreation of the Playboy mansion’s grotto.

Subotnick continues, “The artists are intriguing because they dive so deeply into their own fabricated worlds that a kind of myopic vision occurs, which very viscerally communicates their fears, dreams, and anxieties, fantasies, curiosities, and moral concerns.” All in all, you may not be able to figure out what makes this group tick, but you’ll have a good time trying.

Nine Lives: Visionary Artists From LA continues until May 31 at the Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024).

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The Most Important Police Sketch Of All Time

Annibale Carracci, a famous Bolognese painter of the late sixteenth century, was once the victim of an attempted burglary; his father’s house robbed by thieves.  Carracci was so skilled at depicting the realistic features of humans in his work,  his own sketches of the robbers led to their eventual identification and arrest.

While impressive in its own right, this anecdote also serves as a brilliant symbol for the artistic revolution started by Carracci and his family in Bologna, Italy during the late sixteenth to early eighteenth centuries, which focused on enriching the dramas of Renaissance paintings with the naturalistic details of real life.  Forty-three of these works, by Carracci and many others, can be found on display at The Getty Center until May 3under the apt title of “Captured Emotions: Baroque Paintings in Bologna, 1575-1725.”  The exhibition is co-organized by the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) in Dresden, who contributed twenty-seven of the pieces, a lot of which have never been seen before in North America.

What separates the Bolognese works, by painters such as Guido Reni, Guercino, and Giuseppe Maria Crespi, from their Renaissance-era predecessors is not the subject matter.  They mostly all stick to the traditional and biblical scenes of ages past—the Virgin Mary and her child, Christ on the cross, angels and saints, etc.—but they are markedly more ‘fleshed out,’ both literally and figuratively.  The artists, all influenced by the skill of Carracci and Co., add intricate color and texture to the surfaces of their subjects, while simultaneously imbuing them with greater depth and emotion.

What Carracci likely discovered when he sketched out the faces of his own robbers is that same connection between naturalism and emotion; that the realities of exterior life can bring forth deep, melodramatic sentiments, and vice versa.  And whether he knew it or not, he lit fire to a debate about the tenets of realism in art that still goes on today.

- By Josh Morrison

“Captured Emotions: Baroque Paintings in Bologna, 1575-1725” can be viewed at The Getty Center located at 1200 Getty Center Drive until May 3.  For more information on the exhibit, along with directions, hours, and much, much more, please visit or call (310) 440-7300.

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The Kidjo Theory

magine the look on the face of Angelique Kidjo, Beninese singer, songwriter, and activist, when an American scientist contacted this songstress while conducting a study of the effect of music on the brain.  According to the Time Magazine’s feature of Kidjo, Inuit fishermen under the scientist’s research registered thought patterns of overwhelming serenity while listening to her music.  That’s indicative of something special.

Angelique Kidjo has an element of peace surrounding her.  Not to mention being a five-time Grammy nominee and a 2008 winner for Best Contemporary World Music Album, Kidjo has been a UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador since 2002 and she launched the growing Batonga Foundation.  This non-profit was founded as a result of Kidjo’s childhood of political/economic turbulence in her native Benin and the lack of advocacy for the education of African girls and women.  Working internationally, her tenacity for a global change infuses her music, an Afro-funk fusion with elements of American R&B, jazz, and Latin American beats.  Her music changes from smooth to bold with rhythms twisting quickly from the safe to out-of-control.  Pairing with legends Carlos Santana and Gilberto Gil, as well as Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, and Josh Groban, Kidjo has something for everyone, especially when she sings solo.  Now that’s a pattern to register.

-By Danyel Madrid

Angelique Kidjo will be performing at USC’s Bovard Auditorium March 26, 7.00. Contact USC Spectrum for more information: 213.740.2167.

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We Need To Talk

Having a serious talk can be a scary undertaking.  You can go in thinking its about one thing and be sidelined when its actually about something else and you’ve come completely unprepared.  In the media lately, there have been many necessary serious talks – Bernie Madoff needed a sit-down, this mess with AIG, and the truth behind all the mysterious injuries on “Dancing with the Stars”.

This Friday, March 27, at the Grammy Museum downtown will be no exception.  Damian Marley, an award winning reggae musician and son of the legendary Bob Marley, and acclaimed hip hop artist Nas will be interviewed by the museum’s Executive Director Robert Santelli on topics such as the musicians’ upcoming musical project, humanitarian work, and their individual careers in music.  After the discussion, they’ll be performing a number of songs together.  Considering this is in the Grammy Museum’s 200-seat “Sound Stage”, this will be a very intimate conversation.  After the initial interview, the artists will be taking questions from the audience.  The subject matter won’t change, though, so you can come prepared.



- By Nicole Campoy-Leffler


The conversation and performance with Damian Marley and Nas will be Friday, March 27 at 8:00pm at the Grammy Museum.  For more information, please call (213) 765-6803.

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Wish You Were Here! Love, the LA Phil

There’s something about being recognized, isn’t there?  In this town, we know quite a bit about whom we should or shouldn’t recognize, when to approach people, what to say, and definitely what not to say.  Native Angelenos rarely ask for autographs, but we do relish the question so many reporters and TMZ manages to ask budding celebrities: “when was the first time someone recognized you on the street?”  That said, the time and place for the recognition of a very important group of people in Los Angeles came to the fore recently.  Considering that this website is called Fine Arts LA, it may not come as any shock that I’m referring to our beloved LA Philharmonic.

Under the incoming Gustavo Dudamel, for whom nobody is more excited than yours truly, the LA Philharmonic has been invited to be one of five international orchestras to take residency at the Barbican Centre in London.  I am tempted to refer to the LA Philharmonic as “we” out of pride throughout the rest of this article, but I’ll abstain.  They have been recognized as having such international presence and prestige that arguably the largest center for performing arts in Europe has offered them the opportunity to be one of their five “International Associates.”

When someone mentions “taking up residency” its normal to feel that familiar pang of commitment anxiety or, on the other hand, perhaps a note of jealousy.  Worry not; since orchestras are such a large group of moving parts, this residency refers to what the Barbican’s artistic director, Graham Sheffield, calls a “deeper relationship” than just that of a touring orchestra, which usually involves one performance at a particular venue and then moving on to a different city or country.  Along with the LA Phil, the orchestras that make up the “International Associates” include the New York Philharmonic, New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Royal Concertgebouw of Amsterdam, and Germany’s Leipzig Gewndhaus Orchestra.   They all will play three concerts through the course of a week and will do so on a regular basis – like once a year. We can share, right?

Are you wondering why this is a big deal?  Recognition.  The Barbican, a prominent, influential voice in the performing arts worldwide has recognized the LA Phil, among those others, as the enormously talented group of musicians that they are.  The Barbican is effectively showing the world of classical music what many of us natives already knew – that our resident orchestra is one to be reckoned with.  With the coming of Dudamel, we’ll begin a new era, albeit one that couldn’t have existed without the dedicated effort that Esa-Pekka Salonen has graciously provided since 1992.  Perhaps now the people who have only seen the side of LA shown on, admittedly addictive, reality TV will recognize our classical music side, too.


- By Nicole Campoy-Leffler

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On Broadway: Amstel Quartet + The Bradbury

Oh the Bradbury Building… Besides its oh-so convenient location on Broadway across the street from the Grand Central Market, it is a must see stop for those in the know in downtown LA due to its architectural genius.  If that weren’t reason enough to head to the eastside, for one night only, its dramatic five story interior courtyard will be the stage to the young Amstel Quartet, a group of four saxophone players.  The Bradbury’s magnificent external cage elevators and detailed wrought iron furnishings featured in films Chinatown and Blade Runner will reverberate with the notes of this group named for the Amstel River, Amsterdam’s historical birthplace.  The Amstel Quartet compares itself to that river, an ever-changing waterscape, as they don’t adhere to one musical style. Although, unlike the river, they are rooted in the traditions of chamber music…with saxophones. This varied program includes Arvo Pärt’s Fratres; César Franck’s Prelude, Fugue, and Variation; Alexander Glazunov’s Quartet in B-flat; and works by Philip Glass (Saxophone Quartet) and Rabih Abou-Khalil (Arabian Waltz).

The Da Camera Society’s program of Chamber Music in Historic Sites consistently hits the mark matching the sounds of world-class musicians with stunning, non-traditional venues of Los Angeles.  The Amstel Quartet is no stranger to collaborations with artists from other disciplines–dance, musical theatre, and cinema–and this time with a national historic landmark.  The inventive and beautiful sounds of the Amstel Quartet will make the futuristic Bradbury Building come alive, which, if you’ve seen Blade Runner, is a pretty exciting prospect.

-By Danyel Madrid

The Amstel Quartet will perform tomorrow at 2.00 and 4.00. Please call the Da Camera Society for more information: 213.477.2929.

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