May, 2009

Breaking News…Fine Arts LA is on Twitter!

rttvvkLadies and gentlemen…we are proud to announce that Fine Arts LA has joined the rest of the world on that online social networking site that you all love to hate — Twitter. And we thought we were all hip and with it having a Facebook page. Check us out on Twitter just a-twitterin’ away!

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Getting With The Program-matic Architecture

Programmatic architecture — you either love it or hate it. Purely kitsch, programmatic architecture is a building depicting a product sold or something associated. It was a mid-century nod towards Los Angeles’ foundation in the industry, car culture, and novelty. Now that architectural interests have developed past this tralala, few of these buildings remain in their original form today. Many have disappeared off the map due to conversion/demolition for new development projects, sadly enough…

But don’t cry too hard, there are still a few gems left. And if you haven’t driven by one of these iconic, programmatic buildings, marveling at its garish beauty and beaming with Angeleno pride, chances are high you have seen one in the background of a movie or a Simpsons episode. Here are a few of our favorites…

Fine Arts LA Randy’s Donuts

Randy’s Donuts (805 West Manchester Ave.) is a donut and coffee stop on the way back from the airport. Big, bold, and delicious, Randy’s Donuts is the darling of Angeleno programmatic architecture, mostly due to it being an actual donut shop for over fifty years.

Fine Arts LA The Darkroom historic

The Darkroom (5364 Wilshire Blvd.) was once the photographic supply store of choice with a 9-foot tall camera storefront. Built in the early ‘30s, it is now the home of El Toro Cantina.

Fine Arts LA Brown Derby

The original Brown Derby restaurant (3377 Wilshire Blvd.), birthplace of the Cobb salad, once sat across the street from the Ambassador Hotel (RIP) and was the happening spot for Cocoanut Grove after parties back in the day. Now the dome of the brown derby hat sits on top of a Koreatown town mini mall, a mere shell of its former self.

Fine Arts LA Pink Cadillac building

A little outside Los Angeles proper, the Pink Cadillac building (19611 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, CA) is awe inspiring due to its kitsch value. We bow down.

Fine Arts LA Tail O’ the Pup

Our next favorite, Tail O’ the Pup (329 N. San Vicente Blvd.), has recently disappeared. It was genius and adorable. We heard rumors the storefront is in storage because Tail O’ Pup lost the right to use its parking lot. It is also rumored to make its way back due to high demand.

Fine Arts LA Cafe Jack

Café Jack (508 S. Western Ave.), a boat-shaped Titanic-themed café. Need we say more?

In a city where not very many buildings can be described as old, we hold dearly those that stand out in a big way from our already varied architectural landscape. With Frank Lloyd Wrights, Gehrys, and Neutras abound, it is nice to go to a donut-shaped donut every once in a while…just for fun.

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The Getty Gem Show 2009

If your jewelry box is anything like mine — filled to the top with luxurious jewels — perhaps you have taken a moment not only to admire their handiwork as you swim around in your pool of money like Scrooge McDuck, but also wondered how they were carved into such detailed relief.

The J. Paul Getty’s exhibition Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems at the Getty Villa leads you to the right spot to find out.  Featuring many intaglios and cameos, you discover what intaglios and cameos exactly are and the many techniques ancients used to carve into these stones to form portraits, icons, and narrative scenes.  Let me give you a hint  — it requires a few tools, an abrasive powder, and A LOT of time.

The show includes carved beauties by ancient master carvers so that you can see the real thing compared with some oh-so-close knock-offs.  (Usually a slight deviation in style or imagery gives the forged counterpart away.)  Sometimes forged carved gems are counterfeits of ancient masters made for profit; others seem to be created as a form of emulation to learn the craft of carving.  But considering you have hundreds…no wait, thousands of carved gems in your high security vault, you probably knew that already, Uncle Moneybags.

Break open that champagne and caviar, it’s Saturday!  And RSVP  your free tickets to the Getty Villa for next week.  Tell your assistant it’s high priority.

You’re lucky even if your schedule is booked until the end of August because this show closes September 7th.

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Bingo With the Indians, at Rogue Machine

How far will an artist go in order to fulfill his passion to make art?

A coke-addicted actor, a sociopath playwright, and a self-impressed lesbian auteur – “the most underappreciated director south of 14 Street” – fester as they await a fateful phone call in a shabby New England motel. Their mission – to “raise” the money they need to mount a production back in Noo Yawk, by robbing the local church bingo game on Abenaki Indian Night.

Thus begins Pulitzer-nominated playwright Adam Rapp’s pitch-dark comedy, Bingo with the Indians, the inaugural “Off The Clock” late-night offering now playing at Rogue Machine Theatre.

Deftly directed by Andrew Block, Rapp’s in-your-face one-act imaginatively inhabits Rogue Machine’s newly-renovated black box Second Stage, with actors literally in the audience’s faces for much of the play. The powerhouse performances from a uniformly excellent ensemble cast make such proximity both thrilling and unsettling.

Melissa Paladino is a formidable, commanding presence as Dee, the lesbian mastermind and driving force of the enterprise. Paladino’s steely voice and seething physicality leave no room for discussion, much less independent thought, from Dee’s groveling posse. A wild-eyed Patrick Flanagan fascinates and repels as the needy, masochistic actor Stash on a careening trajectory of self-destruction.  Rounding out the trio of misfits is West Liang as Wilson, the troupe’s psychotic stage manager and erstwhile playwright. Understated, seductive charm and detached intelligence mark Liang’s spider-like predator.

As the three artistes gradually unravel, the motel owners’ son, Steve, comes knocking. Brian Norris is heartbreaking as the stage-struck teenager, all hopeful eagerness and fatal bravado. An actor made for the close-up intimacy of this venue, Norris’s pliant face and eloquent eyes create a haunting portrait of shattered innocence.

When Dee and Stash finally head out to knock off the bingo game, Steve falls prey to Wilson’s sadistic manipulation. Their horrific ‘love scene’ is interrupted by the arrival of Steve’s mother, Mrs. Woods. Played by Ann Bronston, this sad creature’s brief forays from her vague otherworld into reality only intensify her uncomprehending grief. Somehow, Bronston wrings the biggest laughs of the evening from her character’s bottomless despair.

Corryn Cummins, as Steve’s former girlfriend, and Native American actor Ron Joseph as a mysterious Indian shaman, complete the cast. The cheap-motel-room set is wonderfully real under Michael Redfield’s evocative lighting.  Not recommended for younger viewers, due to mature subject matter, graphic violence, sexual situations and strong language.

- By Penny Orloff

Bingo With the Indians plays Fridays/Saturdays at 10:30 pm; Sundays at 4 pm through June 7, 2009 at Rogue Machine Theatre. Please call 323-960-7774 or visit for more information.

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Save and Misbehave: Yelp’s 1st Annual Restaurant Week

We must give sincere accolades to Yelp for thinking this one up.

With the delights of two artwalks in one week, Yelp follows up the Miracle Mile Artwalk a.k.a. the LACMA Muse Artwalk with some deals and straight up steals.Combining both artwalk lunch specials this Saturday with discounts throughout the week of May 31st – June 5th, the 1st Annual Restaurant Week (yesssss!!!) lets you eat your way through the Miracle Mile at tasty spots such as Luna Park, Sante La Brea, Amalfi, Cube, Tasca, Sofi, Electric Karma, Little Next Door…need I go on?  Susina, Busby’s, El Toro Cantina, Ngoma, and Messob.

Click here to get the full list.

With specials being updated all the time, to miss them would be the only crime. Viva Restaurant Week!

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The Devil Made Me Do It

Painter, photographer, gearhead, Japanese toy collector, and all-around-nice-guy COOP will celebrate the opening of his new solo show at Corey Helford Gallery this Friday, May 29 from 7-10pm. You have most likely seen COOP before – commercially working with MTV and Altoids, or showing at the Gallery Sixspace, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, or La Luz de Jesus Gallery (all in Los Angeles). Maybe you recognize his trademark style from one of the now classic gig posters he created for seminal bands from the ’90s.

The subject matter is masculine and all-American, which is to say it’s vintage Coop. The canvases are littered with voluptuous vixens, trademark Coop characters, and hot rod ephemera. This is “pop art” in the best sense; “lowbrow” at its most enjoyable — original recipe, finger-licking good, super-charged with nitrous-oxide.

The new works on display in this Culver City gallery are more visually dense and layered than previous works. This comes as more of a logical progression rather than any sort of departure. New techniques and materials are on display, most notably stencils and spray paint. The colors are vibrant and bold; the compositions are tightly controlled as always.

With an original score by film composer and musical legend Mark Mothersbaugh, the opening promises to be a double barrel of fun. If Corey Helford’s previous hootenannies are any barometer, there should be a generous assortment of snacks (err, hors d’ oeuvres) and an open bar. Stay thirsty, my friends.

-By Peter Lee

COOP’s new show opens this Friday, May 29, 7 – 10 pm at the Corey Helford Gallery, 8522 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232. The show closes June 20th.

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A Crime Wave Never Looked So Good

Some say film noir, a French term meaning “black film,” is less a genre than a cycle.  The common characteristics of these films—high-contrast lighting, bleak fatalism, crime-plots, sultry eroticism, a dingy urban setting, and a hard-boiled detective to name a few—simply seem to pop up every once in a while, like a recession or a crime wave.  This definition makes a lot of sense, too, when you look at the evolution of film noir.  It was started mainly by European filmmakers who had migrated to America in the late 1930’s and early 40’s, enjoyed a full-on boom during the 1950’s, then was adopted and further defined by the French in the 1950’s and 60’s, briefly brought back to America in the 1970’s, etc.

The latest cycle starts on May 29 at LACMA and takes on the form of a film retrospective—the ultimate in cyclical practices.  It’s called “French Crime Wave” and features 14 films from 8 different directors spanning 26 years of French noir mastery.  From the early and oddly comic Bob le Flambeur by director Jean-Pierre Melville—often considered the ‘father of the French crime film—to Bertrand Tavernier’s 1981 Coup de torchon, a clever adaptation of a 1960’s American pulp novel, the film series itself runs in a cycle, one director influencing the next and back again.

Don’t miss the first two nights of the series, featuring Alain Corneau’s Série Noire and Police Python 357, the latter of which Corneau will be in attendance for an onstage Q&A session, and conversation with LA Weekly film editor, Scott Foundas.  After all, he may just inspire you to pick up a camera and start shooting up the next noir crime wave yourself.

The “French Crime Wave” film series runs at LACMA from May 29 to June 20.   For more information, please call (323) 857-6010 or visit

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Walking The Artwalk

With the Downtown Artwalk every second Thursday of the month, the ritualistic artwalk is becoming ingrained into Angeleno culture.  Paralleling those exceptional Saturday evenings in which groups of neighboring galleries have opening receptions on the same night, the artwalk is not only the home of rising talents from local and international artists, but also a place for sipping a Tecate or two  — the gallery opening drink of choice here in LA.

This Saturday, we have two more artwalks to schedule into your iCal: the 4th annual ARTWALK Culver City and Art Walk 2009 in the Miracle Mile.  In terms of Angeleno traffic, the two locales are nothing more than a hop, skip, and a jump away from each other on La Cienega.

Culver City is the place to be for galleries.  Running all the way up La Cienega in between Venice and Washington, you can catch all those exhibition spaces, which are technically in Los Angeles if you go by zip code.  And for those that need to ease into Culver City culture, just hang a quick right onto Washington to catch another slew of galleries. Starting up at noon, the Culver City arts district will be bumpin’ until 8.  From 5 until 8, members of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective will be performing all along Washington in between La Cienega and Fairfax.

The Miracle Mile Artwalk is the place for museums with not one,  not two, but four of them giving free general admission all day long. LACMA, the Craft and Folk Art Museum, the Page Museum, and the Petersen Automotive Museum along with galleries up and down Wilshire and La Brea open their doors to this self-guided tour in and about the Miracle Mile. Extra bonuses include  a Kogi taco truck pitstop and a performance by Bollywood Step Dance.

You can’t be at two places at once, but you can go to two artwalks on a Saturday.

The Culver City Artwalk and Miracle Mile Artwalk both run from 12 – 8 and the Miracle Mile Artwalk  ends with LACMA’s MUSE afterparty at El Rey.  Tickets are $40. Visit both websites for each artwalk to download a schedule of events and map.

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Goodnight and Good Luck

Tom Brokaw has enjoyed a long and fantastic career in broadcast journalism and is one name in that field that audiences continue to trust.  That could be because he’s not spray tanned beyond repair, but I think it has more to do with the fact that he reports the news rather than simply reading it from a teleprompter.  Known best for his work on the NBC Nightly News, Brokaw was born in South Dakota.  His humble upbringing enables him to bridge the gap between elitist academics and the “Joe six-packs” of our country.

His news coverage has taken us from Watergate to interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin to extensive reporting on September 11, 2001.  In case you still aren’t impressed, he is also the author of five best-selling books.  His latest book, “Boom! Voices of the Sixties” covers the baby boom era via interviews with such household names as Karl Rove and Hillary Clinton in a more personal manner than on Meet The Press.

Speaking this Thursday afternoon at the Central Library with USC Annenberg School of Journalism’s director Geneva Overholser, Brokaw will shed some light on what it has been like to live through such an illustrious career.  He is in town to receive the 2009 Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award and is no stranger to receiving accolades.  He’s pocketed the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award, a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award, a Peabody, and a number of honorary degrees from such institutions as Dartmouth, Fordham, Skidmore, and Northwestern.  With a life that includes so many groundbreaking firsts in broadcast journalism, if anyone’s bound to have a good couple of stories to tell, it’s Brokaw.


Tom Brokaw and Geneva Overholser will speak at the Central Library as part of the Aloud LA series on Thursday, May 28 at noon.  For more information, click here or please call (213) 228-7025.

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We’ve Got a New Reputation to Uphold

I think our nation is on the brink of something we haven’t experienced in nearly a decade.  Our country is loosening its white-knuckle grip on the global status of “stupid Americans” or the “crazy country that elected Bush twice”.  Other nations around the world are slowly forgetting that most recent history thanks to Barack and Michelle Obama.  His foreign policy changes have been revered, he’s working to close Guantanamo, and he’s made Hugo Chavez blush.  Michelle Obama has inspired children in classrooms across the US and the UK, she’s proven that (as Barack said at the White House Correspondent’s dinner) she’s got the right to bare arms, and now she’s the unofficial arts ambassador to the White House.

Causing quite a stir, the Obamas are making calls to museums and galleries with plans to make major shifts in the art that lines the walls of the private residence of the White House.  The general plan is to move away from the still lifes and portraits of old white ladies and move toward contemporary works by African-American, Asian, Hispanic, and female artists.  The reworking of their private residences began when LA native interior designer Michael S. Smith was invited to redecorate.  From there, the phone calls began and with them the potential for a new era where the American communities of politics and arts are no longer on opposite sides of the spectrum.

So far, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington has loaned them seven works including African-American artist Alma Thomas’ “Sky Light and Watusi (Hard Edge)”.  They’ve chosen a piece in deep red with the words “I think maybe I’ll…” by Ed Ruscha, Richard Diebenkorn’s “Berkeley No. 52”, and Jasper John’s “Numerals, 0 through 9” all from the National Gallery of Art.  Their other choices so far include works by Robert Rauschenberg, Nicolas de Stael, Edgar Degas, and Josef Albers.

To get a taste of the history that goes into the artistic choices for his new digs, there’s an exhibit on view starting May 28 at the M+B Gallery in West Hollywood called “Barack Obama: The Freshman”.  The photographs, taken twenty years ago by Lisa Jack, then a student at Occidental College, were taken on one roll of film and have never been shown at a gallery until now – probably because the subject of her photographs recently became the President.  The artist admitted that after the shoot, she’d hoped that Obama would ask her out on a date.  He didn’t, but I think she’s happy with how the photos turned out anyway.  If you look closely, maybe we’ll get an idea of what goes into making some of his aesthetic choices.  All we need is an album of Michelle Obama’s photos from college.  Too bad Facebook wasn’t around then.


“Barack Obama: The Freshman” is on view from May 28 through July 18, 2009 at the M+B Gallery.  Please visit their website or call (310) 550-0050 for more information.

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