West Hollywood

FEATURE: Museums of Los Angeles: Part Three

LACMAWe began these spontaneous looks at three of Los Angeles’ cultural icons with The Norton Simon Museum, followed by The Getty Center. Now we come to the third side of the triangle and I am still trying to define LACMA.  Perhaps that is because I am most familiar with it; spend the most time at it. Of the three museums it is the most diverse in content, the most bureaucratic in design and administration, and also perhaps the most ambitious in its reach. You can go to LACMA’s website and discover the history of its birth on your own. Today we again arrive as a stranger with no bigger an agenda than to see what we can see.

PART THREE:  LACMA

THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART

Though the newer buildings get the big “oohhhh” when you first arrive at LACMA, it is the old buildings that I find have held up quite well. The Times Courtyard is a wonderful place to gather with a friend and plan your time and what you want to see. If you don’t have an official agenda, you will be surrounded by choices.

The Japanese Pavilion with its Guggenheim-like spiral, the Hammer Building with the most comprehensive collection of Korean art outside of Korea and Japan, the Arts of the Americas Building which has special exhibits on the 2nd floor while the 3rd and 4th levels will take you through both pre and post European influenced art. There, ancient feathered serpents shake hands with Diego Rivera, David Hockney and Millard Sheets give you differing birds eye views of Los Angeles, American landscapes prove equal to the best of the Barbizon, and social realism reminds us that our relatively short history is filled with powerful human stories—Reginald Marsh’s Third Ave. El, Miki Hayakawa’s Portrait of a Negro, Paul Cadmus’s Coney Islandall are grand fine art, and of these last, sometimes I wish LACMA would give them the greater promotion that they deserve.

The two new stars of the LACMA campus are the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, and the even newer Resnick Pavilion. Both are mega-buck ultra contemporary architectural superstars. BCAM, as the Broad is called, is for those who love or who are at least curious about the cutting edges in Contemporary Art. For those who “get it” no more need be said—they will embrace the silk purse while others will hold their nose at the stench from the sow’s ear—and some will see nothing and insist the emperor is naked.  Rapture or anger, you won’t be bored.

The Resnick Exhibition Pavilion is the newest member of the LACMA family and already has had a major success with Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico.  Renzo Piano’s designs for the BCAM and Resnick structures is all 21st Century optimism, colors and shapes and promises for the eyes. And they reflect LACMA’s focus on the future demographics of Los Angeles.

However it is the Ahmanson building that is still the “museum” building at LACMA…the grand lady where you can find a genuine Egyptian mummy and “Jack the Dripper” just one floor apart, and while running from one to the other, have some Tea with Henri Matisse and gawk at Giacometti and puzzle over Modigliani and don’t miss those weird unhappy German expressionists and why did Picasso make all those women look like horses as he went from Neo Classic to Cubism and then to a fusion of both and how can you not see the big black thing in the lobby. The Ahmanson building has it all, plus Hindus and Buddha and a nod to Islam.

The gallery for the Impressionists/Post-impressionists/Paris School is weak. No way around it. And the reason is simple. The Getty and the Simon are the raucous offspring of wealthy individuals. LACMA is the hesitant creation of a city born of orange groves and dreams, trying to puff up its chest and imitate its East Coast peers. The great examples of European Modern Art were mostly bought and sold before LACMA even existed. However given how late it got into the game, LACMA has rolled the stone up the hill and done worthy job for the tax payers and the museum goers.

I want to end this piece with a treasure hunt for some modest works of art that continue to draw me back again and again. I’ll give you clues but you will have to search for them and find them. In the Art of the Americas building is a trio of works hanging side by side, paintings by two students and their teacher: Miki Hayakawa, Yun Gee and Otis Oldfield. I leave it to you to learn the stories behind them. In the Ahmanson on the 3rd floor are two great little paintings, one hung so high up you might need a step stool to find it. They are Painting and Music by Martin Drolling and Palermo Harbor with a View of Monte Pellegrino by Martinus Rorbye. This last one is very small; actually it was a sketch in oil for a later work. However if you can get close enough to see the amazing detail in even this sketch, you will see that this very small painting is every equal to a much larger nearby masterpiece, View at La-Ferte-Saint-Aubin, Near Orleans by Constant Troyon. Lastly, look for a beautiful and almost life-sized bronze, Seated Hercules by Guillaume Boichot, stare into the face and wonder…in wonder.

LACMA is very big and there is a lot to see, worth seeing, worth sharing with people you care about. It has free jazz concerts on Friday nights, and movie programs, and it has places where you can sit and be alone with a piece of art and take your time getting to know it. And if you do that with just one work of art, then LACMA is a success. You can learn more about the Los Angeles County Museum of Art at their website, www.lacma.org.

- By John Ireland

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Posted in Art, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Exhibitions, Film, Jazz, Museums, Music, Neighborhoods, Painting, Photography, Team FALA, Video Art, West Hollywood, West LA No Comments »

Depths of Inferno

inferno_image02Director Serge Bromberg meets a woman named Inès de Gonzalez in a broken, Parisian elevator. The two get to talking, and Bromberg learns that she is actually the widow of famed French director, Henri-Georges Clouzot. Over the course of their two-hour conversation, Gonzalez reveals that there is over 15 hours of existing footage from Clouzot’s notoriously unfinished film, L’Enfer, or Inferno (or Hell). One imagines a light-bulb flickering on inside Bromberg’s mind just as the elevator rattles back into operation.

It’s a scene straight out of a French thriller, maybe even one directed by Clouzot himself, who, 33 years after his death, is widely regarded as one of the great filmmakers of all time—his dark, psychological crime dramas, The Wages of Fear and Diabolique, garnering frequent comparisons to Hitchcock’s finest work. This Friday, July 30th, at the Laemmle Music Hall in Beverly Hills and the Laemmle Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno, a semi-documentary directed by Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, will make its Los Angeles premiere.

The event marks the first time in which scenes from the disastrous, aborted film from 1964 will be widely screened to West Coast audiences, though gossip from the infamous set has remained a hot topic of debate amongst film nerds and historians for some time. The basic story is as follows:

Columbia Pictures, fresh off the relative success of Stanley Kubrick’s artsy (and blank-check budgeted) satire, Dr. Strangelove, decides to invest in another high-minded flick, this time from a commercially viable French director. Amazingly, they hand over a basically unlimited budget to one Henri-Georges Clouzot, who, despite considerable success from both critics and audiences, had been receiving harsh backlash from those rascally kids of the French New Wave. Clouzot, in turn, was eager to prove his worth. He set about devising a dark, surrealistic psycho-drama—with embedded allusions to Proust and Dante’s The Divine Comedy—about a husband’s extreme jealousy over his seductive wife. International  film star Romy Schneider was cast as the leading lady, and Serge Reggiani was to play her brooding husband. But only a couple weeks into filming— with the increasingly temperamental Clouzot employing three separate crews and over 150 technicians—Reggiani dropped out, the location of the set suffered a record-breaking heat wave, and an artificial lake (essential to the production) was forced to be drained by French authorities. At last, the entire film was shut down when Clouzot was hospitalized due to a near-fatal heart attack.

Such stories of the genius, maniacal film-director making their doomed masterwork  have been told before, and well (The Burden of Dreams, Hearts of Darkness, Lost in La Mancha, Overnight, etc.). But what Bromberg’s movie brings fresh are simply the brilliant—though limited—images from Clouzot’s failed venture. Part black-and-white, part color, the fractured scenes are so stunning and highly experimental for their time, it’s a wonder (and a relief) it was filmed before the advent of digital technology.

It’s a tragic fact that Clouzot never returned to complete L’ Enfer after his recovery, but there’s beauty to be had in the unfinished, the what-could-have-been. After all, if that elevator had not broken down, if it had completed its intended journey on that fated Parisian day when Serge Bromberg met Inès de Gonzalez, there would be no Henri-Georges Inferno—those hours upon hours of gorgeous footage left to rot in some sterile vault—and more importantly, we would be  left with one less choice of what to see this weekend at the movies.

- By Joshua Morrison

Henri-Georges Inferno opens on Friday, July 30th at the Laemmle Music Hall and the Laemmle Sunet 5. For more information, please visit www.clouzotsinferno.com, or www.flickeralley.com. A DVD release of the film is Janurary 2011 through Flicker Alley, LLC.

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Forced Rebellion

4642590394_3ce12defcc_oIn the early 1960’s, special operatives from the CIA secretly recruited and trained over a quarter of the Hmong people—a minority ethnic group who lived in the mountains of Laos and were known for their combat skills—to fight against the north Vietnamese Communists. They were dubbed the “Special Guerrilla Unit,” and by the time of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, over 12,000 of them had died fighting in battle, many more injured. The remaining survivors were left to fend for themselves in Communist territory, and under constant threat of governmental persecution. Many were forced to flee to Thailand, and in the 1990’s-early 2000’s, were again forced to return to Laos. Fearing sustained persecution, thousands of Hmong  fled to the jungles to live a nomadic lifestyle, where they remain targets of attack.

For three weeks in early 2010, artist/photojournalist KC Ortiz willingly joined and lived with the last surviving members of the Hmong people in the jungles of Laos. The process of gaining access to this seclusive, nomadic, and persecuted group took Ortiz two years.

Ortiz’s images—all in black-and-white—which hang in the back room of the newly established Known Gallery on Fairfax under the title “Forced Rebellion,” reveal a stark, multi-generational, Flying Dutchman society. Constantly on the move, the Hmong cannot afford to plant crops, or build permanent shelters; the jungle, their only real home, serves as the background for almost every photograph. Most of the subjects hold AK-47’s in their arms, sometimes alongside a newborn baby. Their entire demeanor is one of defense. They stare into the lens of the camera solemnly, almost judging it—and by extension, the viewer.

Ortiz got his start documenting graffiti artists in the Chicago area (the work of his former subject, Pose, a major name in the street-art movement, is on view in the front room of Known Gallery), and his journey toward covering more remote, often subjugated cultures in the world is one of extreme courage. He has shot photographs of Vietnamese cancer patients, Burmese migrant workers, the Hong Kong lower class, and Delhi Tuberculosis victims. Word has it that his next mission is the Colombian drug trade.

Here in LA, it’s often too easy to dismiss socially conscious photojournalism, as if it were simply some type of clever “hook.” But seeing Ortiz’s work, and reading about what went into it, one can see it is just as personal as any other form of photography—or artwork, for that matter. He, much like the Hmong soldier posing center-frame with his rifle, stands for rebellion: a conscious, slow, determined, little-seen, and worthwhile rebellion.

Known Gallery is located at 441 North Fairfax Avenue. KC  Ortiz’s “Forced Rebellion” is on view until June 12th. For more information, please call (310) 860-6263, or visit www.knowngallery.com.

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Save and Misbehave: Amateurs to Auteurs

9780446550277There are some people who can’t see a film without unleashing their inner critic.  So long as they’re not doing it in your ear during the film, there’s nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism. Studying up on film and all that goes into it can help those critics sound less like Randy Jackson on “American Idol” and more like Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers.  Neil Landau’s book, 101 Things I Learned in Film School is just the kind of thing you need to get up to speed so that your judging the mise-en-scene and the juxtaposition as opposed to the Cameron Diaz’ comedic timing.

Landau will be signing and reading from his book at Book Soup in West Hollywood on Thursday night, giving you a crash course in everything from camera angles to getting financing.  Landau is a screenwriter whose credits include Doogie Howser MD and Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead. We know what you’re thinking, but this book is chock full of actual advice and lessons learned.  In Los Angeles, its smart to know these things even if you work in an entirely different business – it’ll help your client base as a dentist, for example, if you can ask a producer how his or her premiere went or what the latest box office numbers were.  It’s all about the universal language of film.

Neil Landau will be signing and reading from 101 Things I Learned in Film School on Thursday, May 27 at 7pm for FREE.  For more information, please click here.

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Burlesque Part II: Cherry Boom Boom!

KeyClub_14-1When my friends first dragged me to a Cherry Boom Boom show late one night at the Key Club on Sunset, I was more than reluctant.  I’m the type of girl who fights for women to keep their clothes ON in the entertainment industry.  More depictions of powerful women prosecutors, professors and presidents please; not more docile eye candy for the power-bloated male.

But what I discovered at the Key Club that night broke through my ridged outlook of propriety and introduced me to a new era of women’s comedy, creativity, and right to strut their stuff.

Although the leggy ladies of Cherry Boom Boom do embrace some of the imagery of the 1950’s pin-up girl, they are a bevy of powerful 21st century women whose passion and power will overwhelm you and leave you grasping at your seat.  The group combines nouveau cabaret dance vignettes with the gimmicks and humor of old time burlesque and a healthy dose of ‘don’t mess with me!  I’m proud of my body and who I am’. The Boom Booms’ intelligence, flair for storytelling, skill with a whip, and perceptive comic timing, enliven and enlighten the genre I had labeled as ‘stripping’ and judged so harshly from outside the Key Club doors.

Artistic Director and choreographer Lindsley Allen created the group two years ago and began touring small LA venues with the show.  They got such a buzz that Allen was invited to choreograph and co-direct a piece for Dancing With The Stars, starring Cherry Boom Boom and featuring Carmen Elektra. Allen, one of the original Pussycat Dolls, received her BFA in ballet and has had a successful career as a dancer and choreographer.

Cherry Boom Boom’s new show, “The Rendezvous”, opening at the King King Hollywood in May, also utilizes Allen’s background in Commedia Dell’Arte, the 16th century Italian clowning style. Allen studies commedia with Tim Robbins’s world-renowned theater company, The Actors’ Gang, and she chose to bring elements of that style to “The Rendezvous” to utilize the unique characters each of her dancers developed over the past year.  Rather than being a typical dance review, “The Rendezvous” brings to life the timeless commedia story of the thwarted LOVERS.“You get to go on a classic journey,” Allen explained, “All the dance numbers support the story.  I’m so excited to bring dance and commedia together. This show is a love affair between my two favorite worlds”.

The King King’s performance space is ideal for the piece. The multi-leveled stage, VIP lounge seating, and bar accentuate Cherry Boom Boom’s fusion between nightclub cabaret and Broadway show. You will definitely see me in line at the King King, this time dragging some new skeptics along with me.

- By Stephanie Carrie

“The Rendezvous” will perform at the King King on the last Thursday of every month, May-October.  Opening night is Thursday, May 27th.  Doors open at 8pm for a 9pm show. Be sure to stay for the dance party afterwards! For tickets www.kingkinghollywood.com or call (323) 960-9234.

Advance tickets highly recommended.

http://www.cherryboomboom.me/

Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Dance, Fashion, Music, Musical Theatre, Neighborhoods, Performance, Personalities, The Social Scene, West Hollywood No Comments »

SUNDAY FEATURE: A Community of Cars

“If the audience does not ‘get’ the work, it is just as much the fault of the artist, IF NOT MORE.”- Anis Mojgani

LA Weekly’s theatre editor and critic Steven Leigh Morris wrote an interesting—if a tad bit melodramatic—article last week for the magazine’s cover story. It’s called “Why Theater Matters,” and if you get beyond Morris’s initial mish-mash of personal, historical, and statistical references, you find that there is a sincere, thoughtful point he’s trying to make: that Los Angeles can become an economically and artistically thriving theatre town if we focus on what we do well already—produce new work by new writers—and obtain the active support from both government and private donors.

I too believe in the promotion of more experimental and personal theatre, as opposed to the tired revivals from New York-based playwrights. And I too believe that both private and public funding, if kept in check, would do a great service to a struggling community. Yet I see a fundamental flaw in Morris’s thinking (for a far more extensive and intelligent retort to Morris’s arguments, check out the two-part blog from my friend, Andrew Moore, who’s also President of the local theatre company, Theatre Unleashed).

He forgets about the artist’s relationship to the audience—not just the producer.

A good artist/audience relationship can take on two forms. One is literal, meaning you know someone in the play, you’re friends with the writer, or you’re a part of the theatre company (for the record, this is the reason the UCB Theatre has lines around the block on Saturday night). The second form is less tangible, but just as vital, and works for the same reason a literal relationship works; because you care about the performance. And the only way to truly care about a piece of theatre is to empathize with it—to see where it’s coming from, and relate.

Last week, for instance, I had the privilege to see a local show that took on both forms of this artist/audience relationship—the literal and the empathetic—and the power of the relationship was reflected in its opening weekend numbers (full houses). It was the IAMA Fest 2010, which is an annual festival of one-act plays written, directed, designed, and performed by members of the IAMA Theatre community—and it runs until April 11th at the Working Stage Theatre in West Hollywood.

This year’s result is a wonderful collage of twenty-minute vignettes, interspersed with short video introductions, all which take place within this city’s limits, and involve some sort of automobile. There’s “Canyon,” written by Christian Durso: a somber, unnerving piece about two old friends, a truck, a canyon, and a particularly violent shared memory. After that is “Neighborhood Watch,” a delightful throwback to the screwball comedies the 1940’s and 50’s, written by Rick Marin and Ilene Rosenzweig. This one follows a yuppy pair of over-eager, Prius-posing neighborhood-watchers, and what happens when they get bored. “Penelope,” the third piece of the quatrain, is by far the best. It’s a long monologue from scribe Louise Munson, which takes the audience by the hand and leads them through the sexual and emotional exploits of a 20-something female, lost in LA, but mostly in her own head. The fourth and final one-act is a preview of the upcoming play, Accidental Blonde, the sixth installment of the “Seven Deadly Plays” from writer—and basic fuel of the company—Leslye Headland.

The scripts didn’t simply speak for themselves though; one of the strongest connection points between artist and audience—in almost any medium—is that of an actor and viewer. The reason for this is because acting is essentially a hyper-conscious form of life; the artist, at least superficially, is doing nothing that the audience doesn’t do themselves already. Thus, when an actress like Amy Rosoff, who plays the sole character in “Penelope,” stands in front of you, and spills her guts out onto the stage, allowing for only passing hints of her true self, it’s a form of confession. And when she was done, you care about her. You care for her. On the other side of the coin are those more physical, classical performers like Adam Shapiro and Laila Ayad, stars of “Neighborhood Watch.” With them our reality is heightened just far enough from ourselves that we can believe it, yet still laugh.

As far as the set was concerned, the running motif of the car in is no accident. To me, it’s a brilliant metaphor for local, LA theatre itself. Because theatre, like a car in Los Angeles, is a pretty necessary item. They both move us, yet we don’t move while we’re in them. They’re also intensely personal spaces, but still relatable to almost anyone. Also, theatre, like a car, needs fuel to run, but it helps fuel the economy of Los Angeles at the same time. And yes, there’s a future, more fuel efficient theater on the horizon, but for now, we have to deal with the one we have, broken lights, squeaky frames and all. Every day there’s a car crash, and yet we keep on driving. Why? For the same reason that places like IAMA and Theatre Unleashed keep pumping out great work. Because Los Angeles does have a community, an audience if you will. It’s just an audience of cars.

IAMA Fest 2010 runs until April 11th at the Working Stage Theatre. For more information, please visit www.iamatheate.com.

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SUNDAY FEATURE: Westward Ho: Exploring America’s Artistic Frontier

Watson-the-Shark2It’s not hard in this day and age to be disillusioned with the idea of America. Documentaries like Food, Inc., Religulous, and Sicko present ample evidence that we have veered a great distance from the America envisioned by our forefathers. Whether they be social, political, religious, or economic, my generation rarely sees beyond the fissures in our disintegrating national culture, and the art world is no exception. As an Art History major with a focus on 18th Century British and French art, I’m not likely to grab the car keys and rush myself to an American art exhibition. I was playing for team Euro-snob.  But after my visit to LACMA’s newest exhibit, American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915, I’m writing this article with my tail between my legs.

The exhibition’s 75 paintings universally express what it means to be an American, and how artists played a critical role in characterizing the American identity and experience. Wandering from room to room in LACMA’s American Stories, the viewer will observe the progression of American history through art, from the tense and politically charged pre-revolutionary era through the brink of World War I. The exhibit showcases art from a broad range of subject matter, including immigration, exploring new frontiers, industrialization, and family life, all subjects that were popular for American artists seeking to capture the sweeping changes that distinguished the fabric of our nation.

Some of the most revealing early American artists dared to dig beneath the young country’s façade and hint at the darker side of a culture tainted by slavery and violence. John Singleton Copley’sWatson & The Shark” (1778), recounting a young British merchant’s brush with death, is among the more dramatic, attention-grabbing works in the exhibition. The expert depiction of heightening tension, accelerating winds, and a mounting sense of disaster are reminiscent of history paintings of the Great Masters. Beyond the theatrical re-telling of Watson’s spectacular rescue from a shark attack, the painting symbolizes a small community, struggling through crisis to save one of its own. This sense of survival, possible only by the unity of the people, resonates throughout the cannon of American art and history.

Paintings of everyday life and familiar scenes of leisure bring intimacy to the exhibit’s portraits of early America. William McGregor Paxton’sThe Breakfast” (1911) uses a subject matter that appears frivolous to set a mood of loneliness and frustration. Paxton’s sense of humor is tempered by a strong adherence to academic technique that gives his painting a serious and significant tone. A wealthy woman sulks as her husband, unaware of her isolation, reads the morning paper—a symbol of his engagement with the outside world juxtaposed by the conflicting situation of his female companion. She is shielded from the outside world, not only by the drawn blinds and curtains of her breakfast nook, but by the impenetrable domestic sphere that society forced her to inhabit.

While I looked upon “The Breakfast,” two women behind me snickered as one of them did an impression of the aloof husband, “Oh honey. Why are you so upset? Don’t I give you everything you want with your maids and beautiful home?” I couldn’t help but snicker along with them. It was an experience we all could identify with in some way or another, whether it is because we are women, or American, or simply empathetic for a person who sometimes feels seen, but never heard.

Indeed, it was impossible to wander through American Stories without comparing the paintings to my own personal experience of being an American. Familiar scenes that transcend the confines of time, including John Lewis Krimmel’sFourth of July in Centre Square” (1812) and Lilly Martin Spencer’sYoung Husband: First Marketing” (1854), warm the heart with their familiar portrayals of urban daily life. Francis William Edmonds’sThe New Bonnet” (1858) and William Glacken’sThe Shoppers” (1907-08), make one chuckle at the predictable scene of the American woman’s affinity for shopping, while alluding to the rapid growth of mass world consumerism. It is through these strikingly recognizable narratives, most of which are presented with references to slavery, pre-suffragette sexism, and mass consumption, that we are able to further understand our controversial history and absorb the significance of the courageous and distinctive genre of American art.

So whether you’re sporting a “Freedom Isn’t Free” bumper-sticker on the back of your Ford pick-up or reading this article on your iPhone while in line for your cappuccino at Intelligentsia, this exhibition will unquestionably change and expand the way you think about our national art. It is with the highest esteem that I admit that American Stories did me proud.

-By Brittany Krasner

American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765-1915 is on view at LACMA through May 23rd.  For more information on tickets and viewing hours, visit www.lacma.org.

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A New Kind of Street Art

billboard_kerri_tribeThere is something about our daily commute these days that is visibly different.  Actually, now that we think of it, the streets of Los Angeles have changed, and we are thinking this change is for the better.

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House has decided to turn Los Angeles into a gallery space.  Instead of hanging paintings, they commissioned artists to create 21 billboard-sized artworks that will replace normal advertising spots.  So you can get a daily dose of public art without ever leaving the comfort of your car’s leather seats.

The exhibition How Many Billboards? Art In Stead — much like Clockshop’s Billboard Series, which also transformed Los Angeles’ landscape with artist designed billboards — is spread across the city, but is concentrated in West Hollywood and the Pico/Fairfax area.

We are hoping these artist billboards are a habit Los Angeles will keep.

The opening reception is this Saturday, February 27, 1-6pm at the Schindler House.  On Sunday, there will be panel discussions with participating artists from 1-5pm.  Also, make sure to check out their calendar for other programming accompanying the show.  Click here for more information.

Image: Artist Kerri Tribe’s billboard on La Brea Ave., north of Venice Blvd., on the east side of the street, facing north; photo: Gerard Smulevich

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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 »

Anima: Where The Wild Things Are

The relationship between people and animals, domesticated and wild, is endlessly fascinating. Some we admire from afar with awe, like the cuddly-looking but ferocious polar bear, while others play ball with us on the front yard or beg us incessantly for a bite of our burrito.  Living closely with an animal reveals just how intelligent, emotional, and unabashedly different they are.  Currently, Louis Stern Fine Arts is hosting an exhibition that through a number of critically acclaimed black and white photographs, captures the physical reality of animals with remarkable emotion.Anima:The Photography of Jean Francois Spricigo explores the relationship between animals and nature, but also provokes the viewer to contemplate our place amongst these wonderful creatures.

Belgian-born Spricigo, winner of the 2008 Laureate of the Prix de Photographie de l’Academie des Beaux-Arts, is one of the art world’s most eloquently outspoken animal advocates.  His admiration and respect for his subjects is evident in his photography.  Many popular animal photographers subject the animal to human confines a la Hallmark (kittens in picnic baskets), but Spricigo’s photographs capture more candid and intimate moments.  It’s easy to forget that he and his camera were present—his photographs evoke such an untouched solitude.

The first images that I experienced on entering the gallery were a combination of animals and natural objects, displayed in a double-triptych form.  This series of six images, some of abstract landscapes, others of animals in motion, immediately set the stage for the exhibition’s narrative. Two ducks swim along their way, utterly oblivious to the camera, while the sweet and vulnerable eyes of a dog stare right at the viewer, beckoning compassion and understanding.  In another photograph, a single dog almost lost in a blanket of night sky, offset by blurred city lights in the distance, serves as a harsh reminder of the divide that separates the manufactured human world from the visceral animal world.

The cats, dogs, birds, leopards, horses and cows represented in Spricigo’s work are captured as if caught off guard.  Spricigo’s photographs reveal a deep, soulful quality in his otherwise “common” subjects.  One piece captures the hearty laugh of a bah-ing billy goat with such depth that you feel as if you’re in on the joke.  Other heartwarming images include a fluffy, tiny, inquisitive square-shaped bird, and a playful, rambunctious dog, equipped with a stick and ready for the chase.  These images call to mind feelings of companionship, and at times lend a “family portrait”-like quality to the exhibition.

The interesting thing about Spricigo’s approach to his subject matter is that while his photography does call to mind the connection we have for animals, it also exposes them in moments of isolation and reflection.  Many of his photographs resemble impressionistic paintings in that they are mildly surrealist, blurred, and depict the animals in their natural, daily, and often private activities.  The third room of the exhibition houses the greatest number of these photographs, where Spricigo’s skill is just as impressive as his subject matter.  A lone horse at pasture is practically absorbed into the mist—something Spricigo depicts as hundreds of softly focused dots, while across the room, a sharply focused shot of a bird’s feet on a fence seamlessly coexists.  It is this diversity and range, not only in the photographs of Anima but also in the natural world, that make the psychological complexity of animals so enthralling.

-by Brittany Krasner

After a two month run at the Palais de l’Institute de France, Anima: The Photography of Jean Francois Spricigo has made quite a splash at its American debut in West Hollywood and is on view at Louis Stern Fine Arts through February 13. For more information, please call (310) 276-0147 or click here.

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