Miracle Mile

What’s What in the Art World at Large (And What To Do in LA)

yves_saint_laurentWe may be geographically far from, well, everywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep up with all the arts endeavors across every which pond.  So here’s a bit of news (for the very serious and elite readers) and a bonus round of what’s going on in LA that really deserves your attention (for those who care about little outside LA county).

First, a stop in Paris at the Petit Palais.  The Parisian museum brings to the fore the artistic achievements of none other than Yves Saint Laurent.  Curated by Florence Muller and Farid Chenoune, the exhibit, called Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective features gowns, menswear, some of the designer’s treasured personal items used in creative pursuits, and it highlight themes used throughout the many collections in Saint Laurent’s illustrious career.  One ticket to France, please! {Global Post}

Onto Italy.  In Milan, our very own Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition has commenced.  Founded in 1993, Domingo’s opera competition is meant to find the cream of the crop amongst new talent in opera.  The singers represent not only a range of vocal categories (from coloratura soprano to the lowest bass), but also an array of countries around the world.  The competition ends May 2 (this Saturday), so you’ll have a new vocalist’s career to follow starting Sunday, May 3rd.  We have a feeling it will be meteoric.  {Culture Monster}

Not to shower the French with too much attention, though they don’t mind, Sotheby’s has made quite the announcement prior to the upcoming auction season.  The storied (and once thought lost) private collection of legendary Parisian art dealer Amrboise Vollard is set to meet the auction block.  His career was spent promoting such up-and-comers as Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir and Vollard’s collection includes not only paintings, but such enticing items as prints, drawings, and artist books.  The sale will be held in London on June 22, so brush up on your British colloquialisms.  {ArtInfo}

Back at home, there is much to celebrate.  Dig into your pockets just a bit to buy yourself a ticket to the Architecture and Design Museum’s official Grand Opening!  For $75, you’ll mingle with a veritable who’s who of the architecture and design world in LA at the reception tomorrow night (April 27), (hint: you can also find them anywhere from Father’s Office to Tar Pit on weeknights), check out the first exhibit, and bid on things at the silent auction.  {A+D Museum}  Also, if you haven’t uploaded his schedule into your iCal already, Gustavo Dudamel has returned to the LA Phil – he’s conducting pretty regularly from now through May 8 on a number of concerts all worthy of splurging for tickets.  {LA Phil} This is your last chance to see LACMA’s exhibit Renoir in the 20th Century.  The exhibit closes May 9. {LACMA} Last, but certainly not least, turns out that parodies of Wagner and his Ring Cycle abound.  LA Times’ Culture Monster shows us the best of the best. {Culture Monster}

Posted in Architecture, Art, Bring Your Flask, Classical Music, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Downtown, Exhibitions, Fashion, Festival, Food & Drink, Galleries, Miracle Mile, Museums, Music, Neighborhoods, Old School, Painting, Personalities, Photography, The Social Scene No Comments »

The Fool’s Journey

FoolDuring stressful weeks, it is always recommended that you check in with your nearest and dearest psychic(s) at least once if not twice.  You’ll never know how to handle your many doting suitors, luxurious travel plans, and multi-million business deals without a little help from your friends.

But, if stepping into darkened, incense infused rooms isn’t exactly your cup of tea, get a healthy dose of insight and art the next time you are in the Miracle Mile.  The Craft and Folk Art Museum just opened The Fool’s Journey: The History and Symbolism of the Tarot, an exhibition that draws together the imagery, history, and iconography of tarot cards over time.  This show will highlight the 22 cards of the Tarot’s major Arcana – from the Fool to the World — and will present historic and modern examples from stylistically different decks.  Also, plan to see how tarot cards have influenced the imagery of other works of art.

See?  Isn’t it already making better sense now?  At least you have part of your weekend plans squared away.

The Fool’s Journey: The History and Symbolism of the Tarot will close at the Craft and Folk Art Museum May 9th.  Please click here for more info.

Posted in Exhibitions, Miracle Mile, Museums No Comments »

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!!

Posted in Bring Your Flask, Festival, Food & Drink, High Brow, Hollywood, Low Brow, Miracle Mile, Personalities, Santa Monica 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.

Posted in Festival, Film, Miracle Mile, Museums, Personalities 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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Posted in Art, Exhibitions, Galleries, Miracle Mile, Personalities, Photography, Team FALA No Comments »

Making the Museum Dash

I know that a good portion of you have been itching to reenact the scene from Jean Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders where the main characters Arthur, Franz, and Odile dash through the Louvre in 9 minutes and 43 seconds. No doubt most museums would frown upon that type of behavior.  (But not us!  Actually, give us a call if you are about to do this…)

To stay within the good graces of the fine cultural institutions in this city, we have a proposal.  Instead of making a mad dash through one museum, this weekend you can gather a few of your best friends and have your pick of pretty much any museum within this land to sit, stroll, walk — or run!  This weekend, twenty-four Los Angeles and Orange County museums are opening their doors without charging any admission costs.  Zip. Zero. Nada! So making that mad dash from door to door and museum to museum is  much easier and won’t hurt your wallet one bit.  And since the bill isn’t on you, you can feel free to stop by those few museums that you have been meaning to.

See how many places you can motor through.  I know both Godard and Bernardo Bertolucci would be proud.

Please click here to see a list of participating museums and information.

Posted in Downtown, Film, Miracle Mile, Museums, Pasadena, Santa Monica No Comments »

(Not) The Last Picture Show

On July 28, an email popped into my inbox. The subject screamed: “WHAT?” Ten minutes later, in a mild state of shock, I dialed LACMA director Michael Govan’s office and left a strongly worded message expressing my displeasure at the museum’s abrupt cancellation of its 40-year-old classic film program.

A month later, as co-head of a coalition called Save Film at LACMA, I faced Mr. Govan across a conference table for a “popcorn summit.”  After delivering the thick print-out of our 3,000-signature on-line petition, I spoke on behalf of the 4,000 “fans” registered on our Facebook page. 

Ramping up this extraordinary grassroots movement was at times surreal and at others as disciplined as a war game. It lived almost entirely in cyberspace. Our real-world success, measured by the museum’s reversal of its decision for one year, boils down to passionate dedication and good writing.

In the days following the initial cancellation, I connected by email and blog to my founding partners. The initial team – a corporate public relations manager, a film critic, and I – forged a formidable communications effort, our individual skills melding powerfully. As a corporate writer specialized in marketing communications for investment firms, I know how to use language to entice and sell. I’m also a critic writing about dance and film.  

We rolled out Save Film at LACMA across several internet platforms. Film critic Doug Cummings and I each leveraged our blogs:  filmjourney.org and artsmeme.com. We started a Facebook page and launched our petition. We connected immediately with the press, issuing engaging and informative press releases. A volunteer wrote and videotaped a humorous protest song and posted it on youtube.com, which many blogs and publications re-published on their websites.

On every channel we provided, people poured forth their feelings, proclaiming their deep personal attachment to the film program and their discontent over the unforeseen way it was terminated. 

The key elements of the campaign’s success were:

  • Good writing. Our team included three strong writers who co-wrote every significant communication. Every blog post, Facebook comment and press release was literate and readable.
  • Tonality. The campaign hit the right note for its audience: a serious, educated group of art and film lovers. The tone was light, positive, inclusive, and humorous.  All comments were astonishingly courteous and passionate. (We only ranted behind the scenes!)
  • High-profile participation. Our greatest success and the cornerstone of our campaign was a beautifully written letter by Martin Scorsese published in the Los Angeles Times.  Peter Bogdanovich and directors Bertrand Tavernier, Alexander Payne, and Curtis Hanson also chimed in. This gave our movement clout, credibility, exposure and gravitas.
  • Hewing to the message. Our clear position was that the film program wasn’t broken; it was in dire need of proper marketing. We adhered to this message in the face of the museum’s counter assertions that the program was pathetic, fading away, suffering from a diminishing audience of geezers.
  • Social Networking. Facebook (now 4,000 fans) is a hungry animal demanding constant monitoring and care (I fed the beast for a month!). But it was key to spreading the word worldwide.  We also put out a Twitter feed (now 200+) on all significant press coverage.
  • Online petition (now nearly 3,000 signatures). We almost wept at the fervent messages some of the signatories wrote above their names.
  • Blog.  Our Save Film at LACMA blog let us publish and control our message.
  • Press/media relations. We achieved a coverage trifecta: Los Angeles Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. We also got covered in a broad swath of industry-focused publications and blogs.

As other causes seek my help with similar grassroots movements, I muse on my still-fresh experience. I believe that our template is only replicable by a passionate advocate pushing on a daily basis, urgently fostering creative ideas, never being dissuaded, and fervently believing in the righteousness of the cause.  Yes, Save Film at LACMA succeeded based on a strong set of skills, but the secret sauce has been passion.

- By Debra Levine

(www.artsmeme.com and Save Film at LACMA)

Posted in Film, Miracle Mile, Museums, Personalities No Comments »

From 3D to 2D

Those familiar with the non-Indiana Jones side of archaeology feel at home poring over geographical and architectural maps.  Getting a good feel of the land surrounding a site as well as plotting the fragments of ancient buildings on paper are key to preparing your findings for publication – fingers crossed!

It takes skill to envision lines, dots, and dashes on a two-dimensional map as a living and breathing structure.  But these kind of works and more fleshed out architectural drawings allow people to gather data about civilizations past as well as contemporary architecture.  For every commercial and residential structure, there are thousands of pieces of draft paper scribbled upon and meticulously drawn in the various stages of building.  These papers give insight into the thought process of an architect at work.

For those who need a little light to hone that skill, the Edward Cella Art + Architecture gallery is currently showing Drawings and Objects by Architects, a drawing-based exhibition that highlights the original drawings of buildings and architectural details by Frank Gehry, Richard Neutra, Lebbeus Woods, Frank Lloyd Wright, and many others.  Included in this show are buildings of two of the most famous skyscrapers – the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center.  Mostly filled with black and white drawings, colorful splashes brighten up the exhibition space as you walk, wonder, and see this other side of architecture that is usually stuck in a sketchpad somewhere.

 Drawings and Objects by Architects closes October 10th at Edward Cella Art + Architecture.

Posted in Architecture, Exhibitions, Galleries, Miracle Mile, Music No Comments »

Saving the Day

The Fine Arts LA team would like to congratulate the lovely people behind Save Film at LACMA whose efforts have proved successful and fruitful for our entire city!  Thank you for fighting to keep LACMA’s illustrious and beloved film program – we’d have less to look forward to without it and we’re truly inspired by the way you pulled this together with such efficiency and grace! Bravo!

Click here for more information about LACMA’s now reversed decision to shutter their film program.  Click here for more information about Save Film at LACMA.

Posted in Film, Miracle Mile, Museums, Personalities No Comments »

Lolita: The Original Saucy Minx

If there was ever an equal book-to-film adaptation, then Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov and Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film adaptation, would be the definitive one.  Playing Saturday, August 1st, 7:30pm as part of LACMA’s “Weekend Series: James Manson on Film,” it’s not to be missed. Manson’s performance as Humbert Humbert in the pre-pubescent sexual thriller marked the age of progressive cinema where boundaries were pushed to their moral limits without superfluously explicit sex-scenes. Manson left nothing– and yet everything– to the imagination, in the quest of his sexual obsession with the young, sexually inclined teenaged Lolita, making his performance one of the most legendary of all time.

In this film, it is as if the words themselves became the images; images, which respected the entity of Nabokov’s controversial best-selling novel by means of a great director and sound screenplay adaptation. Celebrated French nouvelle vague director Jean-Luc Godard, once called Kubrick’s film, “a simple, lucid film, precisely written, which reveals America and American sex better than Melville.”  For those who have never seen the film and for those who relish to see it again, large and in all its glory, this screening is your chance.  Perhaps this time on the big screen, you’ll discover something new in Humbert Humbert or in his love for Lolita. 

You might like to note: In addition to LolitaLACMA is also screening a variety of other renowned 1950-1970 films, which are sure to spark your interest. If you go to a double feature, the second film is just $5!

- By Andrea F. Pagliai 

Lolita will be screened at LACMA this Saturday, August 1 at 7:30pm. For more information, please call (323) 857-6010 or click here.

Posted in Film, Miracle Mile, Museums No Comments »