October, 2009

This Halloween, It’s Different — Round Two

hallThe countdown is truly on to throw together your Halloween costume and plans for the evening.  Time’s ticking!  We have a few last minute ideas to point you in the right direction in case you have left it to the absolute last minute.  Tsk, tsk, tsk…

If you really want to be scared without the fake blood or sound effects, the Natural History Museum presents the Spider Pavilion until the beginning of November.  The enclosed habitat that was once the Butterfly Pavilion is transformed into an arachnophobe’s worst nightmare with different species of spiders roaming around for your creeping, crawling pleasure, including the golden silk spider and jewel garden spider.  Please know that all spiders are not poisonous and shy away from leaving their webs, but there is no guarantee that they won’t give you a solid case of the willies.

Playing it low key, probably the most frightening of locales for tonight’s festivities includes a romp through a graveyard at night.  Interested?  Cinespia presents another screening at Hollywood Forever Cemetery and will be showing John Carpenter’s Halloween.  A psychotic slasher film at a cemetery on Halloween?  This is nothing short than traumatic.  Prepare to have someone tuck you in tonight.

Feeling like playing dress-up?  LACMA, Santa Monica Museum of Art, KCRW, and the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre are throwing their own versions of a costume party.  LACMA’s Muse Costume Ball is inspired by the exhibition Heroes and Villains: The Battle for Good in India’s Comic and will be including a lot of art, projections, and music throughout the night while patrons dress up as their favorite hero…or villain.  I’m looking at you, Cruella Deville.  The Santa Monica Museum of Art’s Halla Gala requires a costume or a mask at the very least.  Dress as your secret self, or perhaps another personality from a past life.  KCRW’s Masquerade Ball at the Park Plaza Hotel includes live performances by Sea Wolf and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros as well as DJs spinning all night long.  And finally, there’s only one word that can describe the festivities that will ensue at Cinefamily’s party: Bollywood.  Take that and run with it there and all the way home.  Happy Halloween!!

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Reinventing The Theatre

A mother prepares dinner in a sumptuously decorated upper-middle-class apartment, her movements slow and deliberate as she moves among the cold, stainless steel appliances of the kitchen, preparing dinner for her son waiting nearby. Their conversation is banal, barely audible. Despite the seemingly commonplace setting and actions, however, an eerie tension grows, almost palpable as we wait for some sort of a release. Much of the action in Purgatorio, Romeo Castellucci’s experimental approach to Dante Alighieri’s second part of the Divine Comedy, stretches on in this manner for the majority of the play, with a sense of sadness that grows so greatly under the pressure of the monotony, one hardly flinches when it finally bursts.

The play’s Italian-born writer and director, Romeo Castellucci, debuted at the age of 20 as a theatrical producer, quickly establishing the Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio with Chiara Guidi and Claudia Castellucci in 1981. He went on to write and produce a litany of other productions, including, notably, the 37th Venice Biennale’s theater section, titled Pompeii: The Novel of the Ash, for which he received a UBU award in 2006. He is a prolific writer, having published numerous books and essays on his personal theories of stagecraft and dramaturgy.  His ideas for a new kind of theater have earned him international notoriety. Castellucci’s chief aim has been to liken theater to more integrally perceptible arts, such as music or painting, that can be appreciated on a level that exists somewhere above spoken language.

The play, co-produced by UCLA Live and showing at the Freud Playhouse until tomorrow night, certainly embodies Castellucci’s vision for this new kind of theater. It is intensely personal, taking the themes of sin and forgiveness so integral to Alighieri’s Purgatorio and twisting them into a play that is both surprisingly devoid of action yet intensely moving and disturbing.  While Dante’s journey through purgatory is a literal climb up a mountain in which he sheds the sins of his life in order to gain redemption, Castellucci’s modern rendering, centered around father, mother, and son  (perhaps the holy trinity?)  feels like a slide down into sin, with redemption coming when one least expects it, if at all.

Castellucci’s denial of a clear narrative allows him to delve into the dreamlike world of the story’s son and grapple with issues of morality abstractly rather than directly. We are moved not by the action but the lack thereof, the empty dialogue, the formal yet soft warmth of Castellucci’s lighting and set design supported by Scott Gibbon’s at once delicate and abrasive musical score. It is deliberate and rich and methodical. It is extraordinarily painful. It is profoundly beautiful. It is playing in America for the first time and not for long, so take advantage of a kind of theater you are unlikely to experience again any time soon.

- By Helen Kearns

Societas Raffaello Sanzio’s Purgatorio runs at UCLA Live’s Freud Playhouse through tomorrow evening, October 31 at 8pm.  For more information, please call (310) 825-2000 or click here.

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This Halloween, It’s Different

We’re sorry to break this to you, but…we think you’ve gotten a little too old to trick-or-treat.  When you show up at a stranger’s front door decked out in your very innovative homemade costume and they ask where your kids are – it’s a sign.  We’re not saying you have to throw away the pumpkin earrings or even your witch’s hat, we just thought we’d present you with a few, more adult suggestions to celebrate this most flamboyant of holidays.  There are tricks and treats to be had throughout this city and we wouldn’t want you to miss even one…

For the old-fashioned in all of us – Halloween night screenings abound!  Nosferatu will be screened with musical accompaniment at Walt Disney Concert Hall at 8pm and with culinary accompaniment at Vinoteque on Melrose at 7pm and again at 9pm.  Tomorrow night, at the Egyptian Theatre, you’ll experience the 50th anniversary of the Twilight Zone – a screening of some of the series’ most acclaimed episodes should start your night off right at 8pm.  It might be hard to hit them all, but you do have that broom stick…

For the slasher film fan in all of us – it’s as if someone read your mind!  Sspooky!  Starting tonight, there is a three-day lineup full to the brim with blood and gore.  Tonight’s Slasherpalooza!: A Night of Gonzo Slasher Films includes screenings of Hatchet, Shakma, and Night of the Demon.  Not to be outdone, Friday night’s The Strange World of Coffin Joe series features Embodiment of Evil alongside Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (which may be scarily reminiscent of your last therapy session).  Then, if you’re not all screamed out by Saturday, there’s a (family friendly) Bollyween party and fundraiser.  The Dosa truck will be there providing sustenance, there will be costume prizes, a couple of DJs spinning, a phantom photo booth, and tarot card readings – if you dare!

For the attention-seeker in all of us – Halloween isn’t about other people’s costumes, nor is it about how scary Jack Nicholson is in The Shining.  It’s about just how loud and on-pitch you can howl…er, sing.  The Music Center hosts a Friday Night Sing-Along on the plaza complete with lyric sheets and live accompaniment.  Just make sure your costume doesn’t outshine your voice…

nosferatuint01For the art freak in all of us – the Santa Monica Museum of Art is hosting their Halla Gala for which they recommend you dress as your “secret self” (Batman?) for an evening of mingling, a special exhibition, a particularly scary photobooth, Fellini-style movies, a Magic Carpet walk-off (those attention seekers would appreciate this too), as well as some capricious cocktails and delicious delectables to nibble on.

Fishnet stockings and character shoes don’t make a costume (and gentlemen, neither does a box surrounding your genitals) – so go get creative and send us photos of your most outrageous work.

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Downtown, Exhibitions, Film, Food & Drink, High Brow, Hollywood, Low Brow, Museums, Music, Old School, Performance, Personalities, Santa Monica, West Hollywood No Comments »

A Decidedly Hepburn Halloween

audrey-hepburn-20061009-167758This Halloween, there’s bound to be a host of dead actors and actresses milling about the streets of LA – most of whom you’d rather not see again.  One has only to walk down Melrose on a fine, sunny day, though, to see a slew of petite, young women donning over-sized sunglasses, cropped pixie hair cuts, and sleek sleeveless dresses to catch a glimpse of an actress as alive in our culture as ever, both in fashion and general demeanor.  That actress is, of course, Audrey Hepburn.

She, more than any other actor, actress, or celebrity, haunts the Hollywood unconscious on a day-to-day basis.  So it comes as no surprise that LACMA has chosen the Halloween season to present their film series on the legendary starlet, aptly titled “Audrey Hepburn: Then, Now, and Forever.” Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s screened earlier last week, but if you missed those, don’t fret: many of her most memorable roles are still to come.  On Friday, Halloween Eve at 7:30 PM is Sabrina, followed by Love in the Afternoon at 9:35 PM.  The following weekend, on November 6, catch showings of Charade and Wait Until Dark. Then on November 7: King Vidor’s epic adaptation of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  And finally, on November 13, the screening closes with Hepburn’s much-adored musical turn in George Cuckor’s My Fair Lady.

Whether you’re Hepbrun for Halloween or simply Hepburn in everyday life, there’s sure to be some Audrey in you—male or female, young or old, whether you’ve seen her films or not (if you haven’t, your next stop is LACMA on Friday night).  Frankly, it’s downright spooky how much of her spirit still enchants Hollywood and its forthcoming starlets.

“Audrey Hepburn: Then, Now, and Forever” runs until November 13 at LACMA.  To buy tickets or for more information, please call (323) 857-6010 or visit www.lacma.org.

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Cause + Effect

I know most of you shy away from the cold, hard world of science, but unfortunately, there are some scientific laws you just can’t escape.  Einstein and Newton had a few up their sleeves.  Throw in quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and chemistry, and you’re not speaking my language anymore.  But nevertheless, you have experienced cause and effect in full force.  For every action, there is a reaction (i.e. for every glass of wine you drink, there will be stronger consequences later in the evening — usually drunk dialing, texting, emailing, and/or facebooking).  Cause and effect is a nasty fact, but imagine learning about this law of science in a venue that is much more comfortable for you art lovers: the gallery.

In the form of a group exhibition, LM Projects explores the theme of cause and effect by gathering the work of six artists — Nova Jiang, Len Lye, Robert Rauschenberg, Jacob Tonski, and Peter Fischli & David Weiss – that have the commonality of mechanical, temporal, and movement-based components.  Cause and Effect provides a nice change from the usual work-on-the-wall shows you are used to, as it is mostly comprised of video-based performances and kinetic sculpture from the mid-1960s to the present.

After seeing this exhibition, heed warning and don’t bee a victim of cause and effect this Halloween.  Please ask your best friend to hide your iPhone before you head out.

Cause and Effect closes at LM Projects November 14th.  For more information about this exhibition, please click here.

Posted in Contemporary Art, Downtown, Galleries, Installation, Performance, Video Art No Comments »

David Fahey Has Got a Story or Two

They say it’s smart to have a niche: find what differentiates you from the pack and run with it.  That has been quite true for the owners of Fahey/Klein Gallery on La Brea Blvd.  Focusing entirely on the medium of photography has proven quite the challenge what with a new exhibit that must go up every five weeks, but as David Fahey, co-owner of the gallery mentioned, it’s been well worth it.  We recently sat down with Fahey to discuss Los Angeles’ art scene, photography, and wild times with Peter Beard.  How many other people can you name off the top of your head who can recount stories about Irving Penn, Alfred Stieglitz, Helmut Newton, and Herb Ritts?  We can name only one: David Fahey.

On now through December 5 at the gallery is an exhibition of nudes featuring two distinct artists: Ralph Gibson and Rasmus Mogensen.  A tried and true genre, according to Fahey, these artists really take their work to a new level of innovation.  Gibson’s architectural, piece-by-piece look at the female form implements shadows, light, towels, and stockings to find a host of new, intriguing shapes.  On the other hand, Mogensen’s larger-than-life photographs of nude women posing in nothing but high heels are reminiscent of Helmut Newton with a unique Mogensen touch.  Called “Perfectly Natural”, each photograph in the series has been altered in some minor way to create the artist’s idea of a perfect woman – look closely at them and you’ll see the Photoshop-ed discrepancies.

Having stayed in the same gallery space for twenty-three years, it’s safe to say the owners of Fahey/Klein Gallery know a thing or two about Los Angeles’ changing artistic landscape.  We took a seat and listened to the expert – check out our video to hear what he had to say.

Ralph Gibson and Rasmus Mogensen’s work will be up at Fahey/Klein Gallery through December 5, 2009.  For more information, please call (323) 934-2250 or click here.

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An Angeleno in London

Frieze-signLast week, I (and the rest of the art world) descended upon London for the annual Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park. Though the fair is the impetus for the October emigration, it is one of only a hundred events in the art aficionados’ diary for the week. In many respects, the star of this year’s event was the city of Los Angeles, with iconic LA artists Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari having major retrospectives at the Hayward Gallery and Tate Modern, respectively, but also in the West End galleries with Ruscha at Gagosian Davies Street, Baldessari at Spruth Magers, and Walead Beshty at Thomas Dane Gallery. In addition, younger Angelenos fared prominently in the exhibition Abstract America at the new Saatchi Gallery, including Mark Bradford, Jedediah Caesar, Mark Grotjahn, Amanda Ross-Ho, and Sterling Ruby.

The fair itself has been thoroughly covered by the media, so I’ll only record a few observations here. As one would expect, artists with concurrent museum exhibitions were well-represented—Ruscha (Hayward), Baldessari (Tate Modern), Anish Kapoor (Royal Academy), and Antony Gormley (Trafalgar Square), as well as the “usual suspects”—Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, Gilbert & George, etc. The words ‘somber’ and ‘gravitas’ were thrown around the aisles of the fair quite a lot to describe this year’s selection, one of my favorite examples being Gavin Brown’s installation of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s large-scale, newspaper-covered canvases with large, brightly-colored letters spelling out the apocalyptic proclamation “THE DAYS OF THIS SOCIETY IS NUMBERED.”

Jim Lambie, Untitled, 2009 installed in The Modern Institute’s booth at Frieze Art Fair, 2009.

Jim Lambie, Untitled, 2009 installed in The Modern Institute’s booth at Frieze Art Fair, 2009.

The exception—that perhaps proves the rule—was a mirrored chair by Jim Lambie hung diagonally on the wall at The Modern Institute’s booth. Christian Jankowski was by no means the only artist to comment on the shriveling economy, but his video, Strip The Auctioneer, which played on an LCD monitor at Lisson Gallery, was particularly poignant because he utilized the art world’s main marketplace, the auction house, to address the issue. The video was a recording of a June 2009 event held at Christie’s Amsterdam where a well-dressed auctioneer sells his clothes item by item until (in his underwear) he sells his hammer.

 

 

 

 

 

With the usual London rain conspicuously absent, the adjacent Frieze Sculpture Park was a favorite among fair visitors—myself included. Graham Hudson utilized the contentious ground of Regent’s Park, which had been appropriated by Henry VIII for hunting ground, to erect the first ever monument for Edward VIII—the abdicated king is the only monarch without a commemorative monument or statue in England. Hudson is in good company with works by Bourgeois, McCarthy, Eva Rothschild (concurrently the Duveens’ Commission at Tate Britain), Zhan Wang, and Erwin Wurm’s nearby.

The most talked about sculpture in town was miles away in Trafalgar Square: the Fourth Plinth project by Antony Gormley. Originally intended for a typical equestrian monument to the king, the fourth plinth on the northwest corner of the square remained empty for more than a century before the Royal Society of Arts began commissioning artists to create a work to temporarily occupy the space. Gormley didn’t cast a bronze or carve a marble; instead, he placed a different person on the plinth for one hour 24 hours a day for 100 days. All told, 2400 people became living sculptures on Gormley’s performative plinth, a poignant commentary on the multi-faceted society in which we live. I visited the plinth several times during my stay, watching a woman protest the outlandish spending of the MP’s and on another day, a different person lay down sod on the entire area of the plinth. On the penultimate day, people queued to have their photograph taken by Sarah Pye from atop the plinth. She then printed the photo and attached it to a lollipop doll, which she parachuted from the plinth via grocery bag. As I waited down below for my photo doll, Sky News was asking visitors the age old question, “Yes, but is it art?” Absolutely.

- By Rebecca Taylor

All photos taken by Rebecca Taylor.

Posted in Contemporary Art, Exhibitions, Festival, Galleries, Installation, Performance No Comments »

Extra! Extra! The Golem at REDCAT

There are many directions you could take your Halloween experience this year. You could take the sweet ‘trick-or-treat amongst the children’ route, the ‘excuse to dress like a slut’ route, or the truly ghoulish, creepy, scary route.  If you are looking for any excuse to participate in the latter, REDCAT is the place to be on Friday, October 30 or Saturday, October 31.

It’s been proven time and again that it doesn’t take much to be thoroughly spooked.  In a great many very effective horror films, you may not even catch a glimpse of the monster until more than halfway through.  This weekend at REDCAT, prepare yourself for a truly original, horrifying experience: The Golem with live musical accompaniment under the direction of Brian LeBarton (otherwise known as Beck’s producer) for your pleasure.  Made in 1920 by Paul Wegener and shot by Karl Freund (of Metropolis fame), The Golem is the story of a statue brought to life by a Rabbi in 16th century Prague.  While the Rabbi’s intentions are noble, the experiment goes awry and the Golem ends up committing horrible crimes and kidnapping the Rabbi’s daughter.

We’d be ruining Halloween for everyone if we gave away the ending, but we do have something else to give away… tickets!  Fine Arts LA has got some tickets for both screenings of this spectacularly spooky piece of cinema and we’re just dying to give them away.

As always, some Extra! Extra! details you’ll want to keep in mind: by entering into this raffle, you’re automatically entered to win the next three we’ve got going on.  All we need is your first name, last name, email address, and voila – you’ll be off to REDCAT this weekend.  Try not to scream too loud!

(Click here if you don’t want to risk it and would rather just buy your own tickets.)

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Posted in Bring Your Flask, Downtown, Extra! Extra!, Film, High Brow, Low Brow, Music, Old School No Comments »

When You Wish Upon A Star…

Think back to a time when, whether or not you were asked, you’d explain that when you grew up, your name would be all lit up on Broadway.  No matter where you’re from (except New York), you were headed straight to the city that never sleeps to prove the adage that if you can make it there, you’d make it anywhere. Somewhere along the way, for any number of reasons, those dreams changed – perhaps your name is now written in sky blue on personalized stationary or is embossed on your business card.  For a select few, that dream has become a brightly lit reality.  Those are the ones who, while singing in some very green makeup, for example, keep the dream alive for kids of every ilk.

Everyone from the ingénue to the witch has a role to play in the theatre and this Saturday night, there are some big names coming together to make sure kids are still dreaming big.  Make-A-Wish Orange County president Mark Pilone and theatre producer Robert Krueger have joined forces to not only raise money for Make-A-Wish, but to do so in a way that, as Pilon says, “goes beyond the chicken dinners in a hotel ballroom.”  Their lineup includes Broadway heavyweights like Norm Lewis (Les Miserables, Little Mermaid), Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde), Kate Shindle (Legally Blonde), Tim Howar (Rent), and the girls from Wicked that we recently sat down with: Megan Hilty and Eden Espinosa.  According to associate producer Elyse Barton, their opening act will be a “very special performance by a local star.”  We are sure that Saturday night will be the truest form of wish fulfillment!

Make-A-Wish Orange County is one of the hardest working chapters in the country.  With 300 local wishes a year and 425 wishes they coordinate for kids across the nation, the organization decided to branch out with this “Broadway Wishes” concert in order to reach new supporters and a new audience.  They developed a team of local volunteers, producers, and familiar names to come together and remind Southern California how worthy and inspirational this cause really is.

Each performer will get on stage and do just what it is that he or she does best; Megan Hilty and Eden Espinosa will be singing tunes from Wicked, Kate Shindle and Laura Bell Bundy,we have a hunch, will perform a selection from Legally Blonde, and so on – think of it as their “greatest hits.”  What better way to make sure kids are inspired by the performing arts – get a bunch of brightly lit names on stage, give them all microphones, and by the way, they’re here to support Make-A-Wish.  They say we should all dream big… Mission accomplished.

P.S. We got a chance to chat with Megan Hilty and Eden Espinosa from Wicked about why they’re passionate about this performance, what made them want to do what they do, and why they still love it.  Check it out!

“Broadway Wishes” is on Saturday, October 24 at 7:30pm at the Orange County Pavilion.  For more information, please call or click here.  To buy your tickets, please click here.

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Cartoons and Their Spooky Side

There are plenty things we’d all research more if we weren’t too busy toggling between Googling every question that pops into our heads and updating our Facebook statuses.  International animation, for example, is at the top of our list (yours too, we’re sure) of things that just fall by the wayside of daily internet research.  We are all so lucky, then, to have Jerry Beck.  Founder of the site Cartoon Research and host of a monthly animation series at the Silent Movie Theatre, Beck knows more about cartoons than a room full of seven year olds on a Sunday morning.

On Tuesday, October 6 at 8:00pm, he’ll be introducing us to a selection of the silliest and spookiest cartoons the world has to offer just in time to get us in the mood for Halloween costume shopping.   These aren’t your kids cartoons, though, and Dora the Explorer will be nowhere in sight.  Beck’s selection will feature old and new cartoons with all the usual suspects: “witches, warlocks, goblins, pumpkin-heads, black cats, and friendly (or not so friendly) ghosts.”  Some of these ghoulishly inspired animators will be on hand to explain their creations – which might actually take some of the magic out of it.  Just like extensive research tends to do…

Jerry Beck’s Animation Tuesdays are the first Tuesday of every month.  This month is Jerry Beck’s Animated Spook-tacular on Tuesday, October 6 at 8pm.  For more information, please call (323) 655-2510 or click here.

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