November, 2009

Gunpowder, Guy Fawkes, and the Geffen…

Contrary to what we all might think, political dramas and fabled truths didn’t start with George W. Bush.  Those in power have long controlled the versions of the truth that end up in our news reports or history books.  Back in the day, Shakespeare’s day to be precise, there was once a foiled plot against the established government, known as the Gunpowder Plot, in which the houses of Parliament would be blown up while King James and his largely Protestant cabinet were inside.  Brits now celebrate the day as Guy Fawkes Day because it was Guy Fawkes who was sent late at night on November 5, 1605 to light the fuse beneath the house of Parliament.  It was also he who was captured and killed on behalf of his team.  It seems that we can all relate to the events that followed…

King James told his emissary, Robert Cecil, to hire the best playwright around to tell the story of the Gunpowder Plot.  Shakespeare, who was currently rehearsing King Lear with his troupe, was approached and accepted the challenge of telling the world King James’ version of the truth.  As he and his troupe struggled with the difference between fact and fiction, they come to realize the real power of the establishment.  And so did playwright Bill Cain in his Equivocation opening this week at the Geffen Playhouse.

All about this storied event (in more ways than one), Equivocation touches on Shakespeare himself, his troupe, and his relationship with his daughter. We were recently lucky enough to sit down with the entire cast of the show.  Our video interview is chock full of the cast’s favorite scenes, how they feel about Guy Fawkes Day, and how they feel about yours truly…

We’re not the only lucky ones, though.  The Geffen Playhouse is offering Fine Arts LA readers an exclusive ticket offer!  In the interest of killing two birds with one stone (drinking wine, seeing the play) our readers can purchase tickets for $35 to see the play on one of the Geffen’s Wine Down Sundays – you get tickets to the show and a chance to enjoy complimentary wines beforehand.  Talk about enhancing your theatre-going experience!

The following Sundays are eligible for this sweet, wine-soaked deal: Nov 22, Nov 29, Dec 6, Dec 13, and Dec 20.  To enjoy this offer, call the Geffen box office and mention this code: FAE35 – enjoy!

Bill Cain’s Equivocation runs at the Geffen Playhouse from November 10 – December 20, 2009.  For more information, please click here or call (310) 208-5454.

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Who Says You Need Money To Have A Good Night in LA?

Tuesday night.  Hollywood Boulevard.  AFI Fest 2009: while standing in the rush line to see Werner Herzog’s remake of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I half-jokingly propose to a German girl I barely know.  She laughs and says I should have asked two months ago.  The movie’s filled to capacity so we dash across Hollywood Boulevard, dodging behind an illuminated red carpet and lots of star-struck tourists to make the rush line for the latest Cormac McCarthy adaptation, The Road. Thanks to a friendly AFI attendant named Leonard—who thinks the German girl looks like Natalie Portman—we get into the movie last minute, just in time to catch a pre-film tribute and live interview with Viggo Mortensen, star of The Road.  Viggo chats it up, the German girl takes pictures, the director John Hillcoat introduces the film, it’s every bit as bleak and beautiful as the novel, the movie ends and we’re about to get up when we notice that a good portion of the cast and crew is sitting in the row directly behind us.  Oh, and did I mention this entire night was free?

In case you missed the first eight days of the alarmingly stacked 2009 AFI Fest—which included the premieres of such films as the final Heath Ledger vehicle, The Imagnarium of Dr. Parnassus, Wes Andersen’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, and Kirk Jones’ Everybody’s Fine—you’ve got one last day of free movies, courtesy of AFI.

This Saturday November 7th, at the Laemmle Theatre in Santa Monica, start off your morning with an 11:00am screening of A Town Called Panic, the absurdist, Belgian, stop-motion animation picture about the misadventures of Cowboy, Indian, and Horse.  Immediately following that, at 1:00pm, the Harvard University duo of Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Lisa Barbash bring you their poetic, observational documentary about sheep-herders in Montanta, entitled Sweetgrass.  At 3:00pm: a tribute to veteran actor Christopher Plummer, along with a second chance to catch his incredible performance in Michael Hoffman’s The Last Station, a look at the dying days of novelist Leo Tolstoy, also starring James McAvoy, Paul Giammati, and Helen Mirren.  Finally, at 5:00 PM, the 2009 Fest comes to a close with the world premiere of After.Life, newby director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo’s creepy throwback to 1950s horror films, starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, and the ever-present Justin Long who’s sure to be in attendance.

Which reminds me: at the end of my AFI night on Tuesday, I ask the German girl if she had fun and this time she proposes…that we go again this weekend.

The 2009 AFI Fest ends on Saturday, November 7th at the Laemelle Theatre in Santa Monica.  For more information, please visit www.afifest.com or call 866-AFI-FEST.

Posted in Bring Your Flask, Festival, Film, Hollywood, Santa Monica No Comments »

Poisonous! (In The Best Possible Way)

Opera lovers tend to fall in a number of different camps.  There are staunch Wagner lovers who sit for three hours just to get to “Leibestod,” the final aria from Tristan und Isolde.  There are those who swear by Puccini for life and who don’t speak Italian, but can say, “Yes, they call me Mimi, but my real name is Lucia” with a perfect accent. Everyone can agree, however, that love triangles, revenge plots, and small vials of poison will never go out of style – especially not at the opera.  We can also agree that opera singers all have this thrilling ability to steal you from your everyday and throw you into a world of daggers and betrothals.

Baroque composer extraordinaire George Handel’s Tamerlano is in good company. A three-act opera in Italian that follows the story of Bajazet, his daughter Asteria, the evil Emperor Tamerlano, love-struck Andronico, and the confused Irene; it’s more than just a love triangle.

LA Opera’s Tamerlano, which opens November 21, will feature General Director Placido Domingo in the role of Turkish Sultan Bajazet – the gallant father trying to prevent his daughter’s marriage to the malicious Tamerlano. Audiences will undoubtedly be listening for every note that leaves Placido’s famous lips – he has bridged the gap between famous opera singer and household name.  The title character will be played by countertenor Bejun Mehta who has performed at the Royal Opera House in London, the Opera National de Paris, and who marks his return to LA Opera with this role.  Asteria, played by Sarah Coburn, is a part that features some of opera’s most enticing, electric, and technically challenging singing.

While Bajazet sits in chains in Tamerlano’s court, the emperor devises a plan to marry Asteria – he asks Andronico (also in love with Asteria) to relay his message to Bajazet: give me your daughter’s hand in marriage in return for your freedom.  He sweetens the deal by promising his own fiancée, Irene, to Andronico for his trouble.  When Tamerlano reveals his scheme to Asteria, she is shocked and dismayed – mostly by Andronico’s seeming betrayal.  What follows is an operatic series of suicide notes, changes of mind and heart, and a healthy amount of poison.  Handel proves again that it’s not the Italian that can trip you up at the opera, it’s the story itself!

LA Opera’s Tamerlano runs November 21 through December 1.  We recommend getting your tickets early – Placido’s in this one, it will sell out!  Please call (213) 972-8001 or click here for more information.

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Portrait Day: Comtesse d’ Haussonville at the Norton Simon

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), Comtesse d’Haussonville, dated 1845; Oil on canvas, 51 ⅞ x 36 ¼ inches (131.8 x 92); The Frick Collection, New York. Photo; Michael Bodycomb

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), Comtesse d’Haussonville, dated 1845; Oil on canvas, 51 ⅞ x 36 ¼ inches (131.8 x 92); The Frick Collection, New York. Photo; Michael Bodycomb

School portraits.  You either loved ‘em or hated ‘em.  Mostly you love them now because they are a time-stamp of the then-you.  My silly senior photo was complete with red lipstick and black, thick bangs à la Louise Brooks.  Call it cliché or call it high school; once you discard those glasses, braces, and bad skin, portraits are a signifier of not only you, but also the world around you.  And who would have thought flannel shirts would have ever made their way back into school portraits nearly twenty years after Nirvana hit the airwaves…

The Norton Simon and The Frick Collection have a portrait they are dying to share with you.  And might I say, it’s not one of those awkward portraits of teenage yesteryear.  Instead, it’s a jewel of their collection– the Comtesse d’ Haussonville painted by none other than Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.

The portrait of Louise-Albertine de Broglie, Comtesse d’Haussonville, depicts the young woman in her fashionable blue robe de petit diner standing before a fireplace and mirror.  Ingres’s treatment of  both her face and dress are expert as well as the way he manipulated the light and colors.

The face of the sitter, 27-year-old Princess de Broglie, is softly molded with a smooth, creamy complexion.  Eyes gaze contemplatively and calmly towards the viewer showing that she is “confident, thoughtful, and refined.” She was the daughter of the Duc de Broglie and the wife of Comte d’ Haussonville.

Her pose, an S-curve, harks back to ancient sculptures of deities and to canonical women’s portrait poses of the 19th century.  Her left hand cradled underneath her chin and her right arm resting across her waist forms an X-shape that invites the viewer to continue the compositional line downwards to admire the gorgeous and finely detailed drapery of her frock.  Her silk dress by itself is stunning with a multitude of delicate ruffles near the arms and pleats of the skirt.

The painting’s light comes from an unknown source.  It brushes down the Comtesse’s face, arms, and across her dress to form drapery of a caliber suited to ancient sculptors.  The cool light makes her golden jewelry glisten.

Furthermore, the colors are divine.  The entire painting is made up of a multitude of blues, from the rich, royal blue of the fireplace cover, the creamy color of her dress, to the dash of turquoise in her Cleopatra-style jewelry.  A shock of red hits the canvas in the form of a ribbon tied into her hair.

The furniture behind the Comtesse appears compressed and unusually positioned, although very luxurious.  Opera glasses and calling cards set upon the fireplace as well as  thrown away shawl on the chair next to her signals the beginning or, most likely, the end of an evening at the opera.

It is a sneak peek into the grandeur of Ingres – a master of painting.  Unlike your school photographer, Ingres is known for anatomical impossibilities that create a stronger composition and aesthetic value.  No Photoshop to be seen, try to spot the things that your school photographer could never do.

Ingres’s Comtesse d’Haussonville will close January 25, 2010.  For more information about the exhibition, please click here.

Posted in Art, Museums, Old School, Painting, Pasadena No Comments »

Extra! Extra! Discover Beethoven’s Fifth

When it comes to recognizing classical music, we know you’re a pro.  You don’t even have to be in the same room when a British Airways commercial comes on to pinpoint their constant use of the “Flower Duet” from LakméAlain Lombard, Danielle Millet, Mady Mesplé & Orchestre du Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique - 100 Best Classics - Lakmé (Act I): Flower Duet We’d be the first to admit, however, that it can be difficult to catch every live performance of all the musical masterpieces in your listening repertoire– when LA Opera, the LA Phil, and the LA Chamber Orchestra are all on the same night as Top Chef, it leaves you in a very difficult position.  Having never heard Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony Alain Lombard & Orchestre national Bordeaux Aquitaine - Ludwig Van Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 In D, Op. 36 - Symphony No. 5 In C Minor, Op. 67 (Beethoven's Fifth) - Allegro Con Brio performed live, for example, is an unfortunate consequence that comes with living in a world of so many options.  It is also a musical crime.  However, LA Chamber Orchestra is here to help.

Their “Discover” concert series continues this Saturday, November 7 at 8pm with “Discover Beethoven’s 5th” at the Ambassador Auditorium.  The well-known, powerful, majestic symphony will be played in full during the second half of the concert after what could be considered the world’s shortest and most intense lesson on Beethoven and his music.  Perhaps we shouldn’t call it a lesson so much as a bonus – the first half of the concert will include excerpts from the Fifth alongside a number of Beethoven’s other symphonies, solo piano works, and our personal favorite – bits of his “Moonlight” and “Pathetique” sonatas.  Hearing all of these works performed live under the direction of Jeffrey Kahane will prove a truly grand experience… made all the better by the fact that Fine Arts LA has got some tickets to spare that we’re itching to give away to our faithful, music-loving readers!  Welcome to our latest Extra! Extra! raffle…

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, and email address and voila – you’ll be blown away.

(Click here if you’d rather not risk it and want to buy your own tickets.)

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A Whole New (LA Art) World

We’d be very surprised if this is true of any of our readers, but it seems that some Angelenos are less than familiar with the art scene in Atwater Village.

Okay, so we are admittedly less than familiar with how to even get to Atwater Village not to mention how we’d start exploring it’s art scene.  The problem is that, well, it’s far.  Then, we don’t know where to go once we’re there – what if we miss the best spot? After all that stress, we’ll surely be hungry and we’re at a loss for where to get a good snack in the neighborhood.  Alas, we tend to just stay in our close environs.

This weekend, November 7-8, however, none of us have a good excuse to skip out on the “spaghetti side” of town, so called because once you get over there, the streets are so windy and confusing, they’re akin to driving around a plate of spaghetti.  The 12th Annual Silver Lake Art Crawl is here again to present you with a whole bunch of things you’d likely not do otherwise: spend time scouring the more eastern side of our fair city, try freshly harvested fish tacos as a result of an art/food experiment, and, well, actually walking somewhere.  There’s also a big celebration at Barnsdall Art Park on Sunday at 1pm, which will feature music, art, dancing, and plenty of food trucks like Cool Haus, Let’s Be Frank, Dosa Truck, Tiago Coffee, and a host of others.

To give us a better idea of all that the Silver Lake Art Crawl has to offer, we recently sat down with the festival’s director Drew Baldwin.  Lucky for you, we taped the whole thing.  Check out our video and definitely head east this weekend – you won’t regret coming across some new local artists nor will you be able to forget the deliciousness that is Lamill Coffee or Café Stella.  Turns out, it’s worth braving the eastbound traffic from time to time.

The Silver Lake Art Crawl is this weekend, November 7-8 from 11am to 9pm both days.  For more information, please click here.

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Exhibitions, Festival, Galleries, Installation, Mixed media, Music, Neighborhoods, Silverlake/Los Feliz No Comments »

A Whole New (LA Art) World

We’d be very surprised if this is true of any of our readers, but it seems that some Angelenos are less than familiar with the art scene in Atwater Village.

Okay, so we are admittedly less than familiar with how to even get to Atwater Village not to mention how we’d start exploring it’s art scene.  The problem is that, well, it’s far.  Then, we don’t know where to go once we’re there – what if we miss the best spot? After all that stress, we’ll surely be hungry and we’re at a loss for where to get a good snack in the neighborhood.  Alas, we tend to just stay in our close environs.

This weekend, November 7-8, however, none of us have a good excuse to skip out on the “spaghetti side” of town, so called because once you get over there, the streets are so windy and confusing, they’re akin to driving around a plate of spaghetti.  The 12th Annual Silver Lake Art Crawl is here again to present you with a whole bunch of things you’d likely not do otherwise: spend time scouring the more eastern side of our fair city, try freshly harvested fish tacos as a result of an art/food experiment, and, well, actually walking somewhere.  There’s also a big celebration at Barnsdall Art Park on Sunday at 1pm, which will feature music, art, dancing, and plenty of food trucks like Cool Haus, Let’s Be Frank, Dosa Truck, Tiago Coffee, and a host of others.

To give us a better idea of all that the Silver Lake Art Crawl has to offer, we recently sat down with the festival’s director Drew Baldwin.  Lucky for you, we taped the whole thing.  Check out our video and definitely head east this weekend – you won’t regret coming across some new local artists nor will you be able to forget the deliciousness that is Lamill Coffee or Café Stella.  Turns out, it’s worth braving the eastbound traffic from time to time.

The Silver Lake Art Crawl is this weekend, November 7-8 from 11am to 9pm both days.  For more information, please click here.

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Get Your Holidays In Check

23956Halloween has come and gone — you’ve hung up your wigs and put away the sumo wrestler fat suits.  It’s high time to return to thinking seriously about the coming months.  By seriously, we mean – it’s time to think about all the openings and parties you’ll be heading to through the holiday season.

Lady Gaga isn’t someone you’d readily associate with Los Angeles’ contemporary art scene, but Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli would like to politely disagree.  For MOCA’s 30th Anniversary Gala, Vezzoli will put on the first and only performance of his Ballet Russe Italian Style (The Shortest Musical You Will Never See Again) starring Lady Gaga and dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet.  Also on offer at the gala will be a preview of “Collection: MOCA’s First Thirty Years,” featuring 500 works from the museum’s permanent collection by such luminaries as Jeff Koons, Ed Moses, Nancy Rubins, and Ed Ruscha.  The exhibition itself opens to the public on November 15, but you’ll want to see Ms. Gaga’s performance on the 14th, just to see if she still gets dressed in the dark.  There is also an Engagement Party event on November 21 for MOCA members featuring My Barbarian’s The Fourth Wall to celebrate the museums second 29th birthday.

Los Angeles Philharmonic has decided to keep things interesting this fall with their “Eureka! West Coast, Left Coast Festival.” A celebration of the culture of California and how it works to inspire musical and artistic masterpieces, the festival will run from November 21 through December 8 and will include such performances as Kronos Quartet led by Leonard Slatkin in a world premiere by film music composer Thomas Newman and multifaceted Mike Einziger in a solo performance with a number of guest collaborators.  Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the LA Phil in Esa-Pekka Salonen’s LA Variations and also, the festival will include a slew of multidisciplinary events.

The gallery scene doesn’t disappoint this season either with a number of openings that should fit well in your schedule.  Roberts and Tilton in Culver City will bring Delphine Courtillot and her cinematic, almost Californian paintings back for her second exhibit in their space on November 21.  On November 7, you can celebrate the opening of Tomoo Gokita’s exhibit “Heaven” at Honor Fraser Gallery in Culver City.  Photographer (and Fine Arts LA team member) Gray Malin’s work will be shown at David Streets Gallery in Beverly Hills now through the holiday season.  LA><ART will throw their Third Biannual Benefit Auction on Sunday, November 15 featuring participating artists like John Baldessari, Dave Muller, and Allen Ruppersberg.

In case the Luis Melendez exhibit at LACMA has been making you nothing but hungry, November 18 sees a rare chance to head to the museum on a Wednesday (when they’re normally closed).  They present “The Art of Wine and Food: Spain in the Time of Luis Melendez” featuring a buffet inspired by what Melendez might have munched on during painting breaks.

Make sure to keep a couple of your Saturdays open.  We’ll be back with more where this came from… So stay tuned!

(Image by Tomoo Gokita)

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