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Quixote
Feb 28, 2007, 7:21 AM
Bohemian Today, High-Rent Tomorrow
Creative types are essential to urban and regional economic growth. Here's why—and the cities artists should flock to now
by Maya Roney

Want to know where a great place to invest in real estate will be five or 10 years from now? Look at where artists are living now.

Sociologists and policymakers have long been touting art and culture as the cure-all to economically depressed neighborhoods, cities, and regions. The reason? It has been proven that artists—defined as self-employed visual artists, actors, musicians, writers, etc.—can stimulate local economies in a number of ways.

Artists are often an early sign of neighborhood gentrification. "Artists are the advance guard of what's hip and cool," says Bert Sperling, founder and president of Portland (Ore.)-based Sperling's Best Places and compiler of BusinessWeek.com's list of the Best Places for Artists in America.

Creativity Leads to Growth
Artists, because of their typically lower incomes, usually need to seek out less expensive, developing neighborhoods where they can afford the rent. But because of their creativity they are able to fix up these areas, eventually attracting hip boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Not all artists are starving. While some are able to achieve success writing, acting, painting, or dancing, others get tired of scraping by as waiters or bartenders and sometimes apply their abilities in more entrepreneurial ways.

Anne Markusen, an economist and professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and a leading researcher on the effects of the arts on regional economics, once profiled an abstract painter whose work is now displayed on ceilings and in MRI machines in hospitals across the country. In Markusen's research, artists have also been found to stimulate innovation on the part of their suppliers. A painter may need a certain type of frame that is not manufactured, forcing the frame maker to create a new design that happens to also work well for other artists.

But Markusen also maintains that artists bring more than culture to a community. "Businesses don't often understand the extent to which art affects them," Markusen says. "[Artists] are just as important as science and technology companies."

Nonarts businesses also use artist contractors to improve product design, help with marketing, or even use dramatic theory to solve employee relationship issues. Being a cultural center also helps local businesses attract employees who want to be able to regularly go to the ballet or the theater, hear authors read from their latest books, or attend art gallery openings.

Follow the Money
Due to the individual nature and economics of their work, artists are also some of the most itinerant professionals out there. When relocating, they often look for cities and towns that already have high concentrations of artists and a young, racially and ethnically diverse population. The presence of a nurturing art community in the form of art societies and centers is also essential, especially to young artists.

A low cost of living is important, but many artists make financial sacrifices to live near an art-rich urban center or live in a cheaper neighborhood. Few struggling artists can afford to live in neighborhoods like New York's SoHo and Greenwich Village, or even Williamsburg, which once were artistic havens before attracting wealthier residents. Now you are more likely to find New York-based artists in the Bronx, Brooklyn, or even Philadelphia.

In addition to the presence of like-minded individuals, proximity to wealth is also important. The fact of the matter is that artists can seldom earn a living, let alone become rich, selling to other artists. They need wealthy benefactors to buy their paintings or support their local symphony, which explains why each of the places in the U.S. that we found to be the best for artists are in or located near centers of wealth. Los Angeles, No. 1 on our list, is most commonly associated with the film industry. While the city provides great opportunities for actors and directors, there are equally rich prospects for musicians, artists, writers, and dancers. Of course, the majority of these people can't afford to live in Beverly Hills—at least not until they get their big break—and instead opt for more affordable digs in areas like Echo Park.

Where to Go Now
BusinessWeek.com and Sperling's Best Places came up with a list of the best places for artists in the U.S. by identifying the metro areas that have the highest concentrations of artistic establishments. We also looked at the percentage of young people age 25 to 34, population diversity, and concentration of museums, philharmonic orchestras, dance companies, theater troupes, library resources, and college arts programs. Lower cost of living played a part in the selection of some cities but had to be overlooked in others because of other very favorable factors.

Some of the top ten are traditional art "super cities"—one of the reasons Los Angeles leads the list is because it has 56 artistic establishments for every 100,000 people, a diversity index of 84.2, and an arts and culture index of 100 (on a scale of 1 to 100). New York City and San Francisco are also in the top ten. Other places are midsize cities, like hippie havens Santa Fe and Boulder, and country-music nucleus Nashville. Smaller, less-obvious additions include Carson City, Nev., which ranks third for its high concentration of art establishments, and the city of Kingston in New York's Hudson River Valley.

Ready to quit your day job and make art your profession? These metro areas are good places to start. And with all the economic benefits you'll be providing, they should welcome you with open arms.

Click here to see the Best Places for Artists in America.
http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/feb2007/db20070226_149427.htm
Roney is Real Estate writer for BusinessWeek.com.

dragonsky
Mar 4, 2007, 4:21 PM
Hindus show their Holi colors
The religious festival celebrates the coming of spring, the triumph of good over evil and the playful antics of the god Krishna.
By Tami Abdollah, Times Staff Writer
March 4, 2007

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28219817.jpg
http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28221081.jpg

Six-year-old Ishika Muchhal trembles with excitement as she hides near the park's picnic benches, her face smeared with powdered paints: green, pink and red, with a splotch of blue on her forehead and a hint of yellow on her nose.

Earlier, she had been hit directly between the shoulders by a boy she calls "an enemy of mine." There's even a yellow and green drenched spot as proof.

She tells her tale gleefully, reenacting the scene with a smile and a hint of the dramatic. "I got sprayed in the back and I couldn't even see the person spraying me," Ishika says. "Now he doesn't know where I am."

Meanwhile, giggles and shrieks are heard as toddlers, teenagers and adults rub paint onto one another's faces, arms and clothes. Children run, spraying water guns, drenching one another and making the colors run.

About 150 people from Southern California gathered Saturday at Arcadia Park to celebrate Holi — the Pan-Indian "festival of colors," a holiday celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and some Muslims that rejoices in the coming of spring and the triumph of good over evil. It is considered a major Hindu festival.

The celebration was organized by the Hindu Temple and Heritage Foundation of Pasadena.

Manish Khemani, 24, of Northridge came to the United States from Mumbai, India, about two years ago, and this was his first Holi celebration in his new home. "It's different," he said, "Holi is much more intense in India — more water, more colors, water balloons."

But Khemani said he was pleasantly surprised and felt a little nostalgic.

The holiday falls on the full moon in the Hindu month of Falgun, usually around March. Traditionally celebrated over five days, it has been condensed in modern times to about two days. At night a bonfire is held, and people usually "play colors" the next day.

According to Hindu stories, the holiday commemorates the death of Holika, who represents evil, and the saving of her nephew Prehlad, who represents good.

One version of the tale tells of Prehlad's father, Hiranyakshipu, an evil man who wanted Prehlad to worship him, not the Hindu god Vishnu. After many attempts to change his son's mind, Hiranyakshipu decides to burn him to death, and his aunt, Holika, is to help. In the end, Holika is burned to death and Prehlad is saved.

Another story is about the Hindu god Krishna, who is said to have lived 5,000 years ago. He enjoyed dalliances with the milkmaids, especially Radha. On Holi, Krishna asked his mother why his skin was darker than Radha's. His mother told him to rub paint on her. She retaliated and eventually, all the villagers joined in. Since then, Holi has also been celebrated with colors.

A holiday known for merriment and boisterousness, Holi is a special day, especially in India, because social restrictions and caste norms are relaxed.

"One of the things that Holi lets you do is let loose," said Vinay Lal, a professor of history and Asian American studies at UCLA. "Holi is something anybody can take part in because you do not need anything, just water and color. You can go to the home of an upper-caste person and throw water at them and rub color on them. But the following day, everything reverts back to normal."

In the United States, celebrants said it was a good day to take time off from hectic days of work, relax with friends and family and to renew friendships.

"If you are on bad terms with someone, you don't need to speak words to them," said Sonia Anand, 35, of Arcadia. "Sometimes the words hold you back, and all you need is some color and a hug."

citywatch
Mar 6, 2007, 6:55 AM
NY Times, March 6, 2007

Big Corporate Gift Expected for Los Angeles County Museum of Art

By EDWARD WYATT

LOS ANGELES, March 5 — The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is expected to announce a corporate gift of more than $10 million on Tuesday that it will use to finance a building project, a person close to the museum said yesterday. The gift, for new exhibition space, arrives as the museum pursues a sweeping renovation of its 20-acre campus, and its director, Michael Govan, aggressively seeks to step up fund-raising and transform the museum’s somewhat dowdy image.

The museum, on Wilshire Boulevard in Hancock Park, next to La Brea Tar Pits, has been working since 2004 with the Italian architect Renzo Piano on the renovation plan. The first phase includes the construction of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which is already under way and is being paid for by a $60 million gift from the philanthropist Eli Broad. That building, along with a new grand entrance pavilion and an underground parking garage, is expected to open in about a year.

Allison Agsten, a spokeswoman for the museum, declined to comment on any potential announcement. But the person close to the museum, who declined to be identified because the institution had not authorized disclosure of the gift, said the donation was expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars. That the gift is from a corporation is likely to stir some excitement in the art world, given recent cutbacks in companies’ contributions to nonprofit institutions.

As part of his attempt to raise the museum’s profile Mr. Govan has helped recruit several new members of its board, including some business figures. Among those named to the board in recent months are Terry Semel, the chief executive of Yahoo; David Bohnett, a technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist; Chris DeWolfe, the co-founder and chief executive of MySpace.com; and Anthony N. Pritzker, a co-founder of the Pritzker Group, an investment firm, and part of the family that founded the Hyatt hotel chain.

The museum has been trying to raise money to finance the second and third phases of its rebuilding plan, which are to include a renovation of a building that formerly housed the May Company department store on the western edge of the museum campus. That building will include exhibition space and a children’s gallery, a restaurant, bookstore and administrative offices.

In an interview last week Mr. Govan said the later phases of the project would include “a new exhibition facility” on the west side of the campus, near the May Company building. Last month he described plans for a giant moving sculpture at the museum’s new entrance: a 161-foot-tall sculpture by Jeff Koons that is essentially a working 1940s locomotive suspended from a crane.

BrighamYen
Mar 6, 2007, 8:43 AM
^ Hmmm, I wonder if the "new exhibition facility" on the western edge of the campus is NORTH of the May Co. building ON FAIRFAX? That would be fantastic!

AND! From what I was told by someone who works at LACMA awhile ago, the Ahmanson wing which currently exhibits most of the museums permanent collection (and the famed Klimt exhibit), will be used for administrative purposes. This is good news since that building is not only outdated, but extremely unimpressive.

We need to raise the standard here in LA to newer heights. After visiting the Met in NYC, your views on what is "acceptable" changes for a museum of LACMA's caliber. Although we're definitely not at the Met's level when it comes to classical collections, we should present ourselves in the utmost architecturally sophisticated way to "fool" people that it is better than what it really is. I mean, when you go to the Getty, the museum itself becomes the art and elevates the position of the museum as a result.

BrighamYen
Mar 6, 2007, 8:55 AM
I wonder if Spielberg will ever donate at least part of his collection to LA-based museums, esp. LACMA. He seems to have some kind of loyalty for the East Coast. Hopefully many of his paintings will end up at LACMA in a "Steven Spielberg Wing" someday. :)


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http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28207623.jpg

Stolen painting found in Spielberg's collection
The director, a major collector of works by Rockwell, contacts the FBI. An agent calls the movie mogul an 'unknowing victim.'
By Greg Krikorian and Ashraf Khalil
Times Staff Writers

March 3, 2007

A Norman Rockwell painting stolen from a Missouri gallery 34 years ago was recovered and authenticated Friday in the collection of movie mogul Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy, said the director's staff contacted the FBI several weeks ago after seeing a bulletin from the agency's Art Crime Team seeking clues about the theft of the "Russian Schoolroom" oil painting.

"The second anybody said, 'I think we have that painting,' [our] office got a hold of the FBI," Levy said.

Special Agent Chris Calarco of the FBI's Art Crime Team and Jessica Todd Smith, curator of American art for the Huntington Library, inspected the painting Friday afternoon at Spielberg's offices on the Universal Studios lot. The filmmaker was not present.

"He's an absolutely unknowing victim in this," Calarco said of Spielberg.

Calarco declined to speculate on the painting's value, but two sources close to the investigation said it is worth between $700,000 and $1 million.

The painting, depicting schoolchildren in a classroom looking at a bust of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, was stolen during an exhibit at a small art gallery in Clayton, Mo., in June 1973.

According to the FBI, its whereabouts were unknown until 1988, when it was sold at an auction in New Orleans for about $70,000.

Spielberg bought the painting from an art dealer in 1989 for an undisclosed sum, Calarco said.

The director is a high-profile Rockwell collector who helped found the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.

As of last fall, he was listed as the museum's third vice president and a member of its board of trustees.

"He's certainly one of the collectors of Rockwell," said Levy, who wasn't sure how many Rockwell paintings Spielberg owns or where he kept "Russian Schoolroom." "We have a few in our office on the Universal lot."

The probe into the original theft lay dormant until 2004, when art crime investigators determined that the painting had been advertised for sale at a Norman Rockwell exhibit in New York in 1989.

Agents in the New York and Los Angeles field offices began putting out bulletins in art circles and tracking down known Rockwell collectors.

"We were basically just about to figure it out when the Spielberg people made the connection," Calarco said.

Linda Pero, curator of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass., said: "I think it's really wonderful."

The FBI made the Spielberg link public late Friday, after an earlier notice — published in today's Calendar section — that the painting may have been found.

For now, the painting will remain in Spielberg's possession.

"I just advised them to hold on to it. It's safe there," Calarco said.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
greg.krikorian@latimes.com ashraf.khalil@latimes.com

LA/OC/London
Mar 6, 2007, 9:16 PM
Seriously - stop donating cool art to New York Museums and galleries- LACMA is a great institution and could use some love :)

That said, I think LACMA is in a nice transition phase right now and its collection will only continue to improve with time. Hopefully some of our local collectors will donate more of their pieces to local galleries.

BrighamYen
Mar 6, 2007, 9:51 PM
NY Times, March 6, 2007

Big Corporate Gift Expected for Los Angeles County Museum of Art

By EDWARD WYATT

LOS ANGELES, March 5 — The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is expected to announce a corporate gift of more than $10 million on Tuesday that it will use to finance a building project, a person close to the museum said yesterday. The gift, for new exhibition space, arrives as the museum pursues a sweeping renovation of its 20-acre campus, and its director, Michael Govan, aggressively seeks to step up fund-raising and transform the museum’s somewhat dowdy image.

The museum, on Wilshire Boulevard in Hancock Park, next to La Brea Tar Pits, has been working since 2004 with the Italian architect Renzo Piano on the renovation plan. The first phase includes the construction of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which is already under way and is being paid for by a $60 million gift from the philanthropist Eli Broad. That building, along with a new grand entrance pavilion and an underground parking garage, is expected to open in about a year.

Allison Agsten, a spokeswoman for the museum, declined to comment on any potential announcement. But the person close to the museum, who declined to be identified because the institution had not authorized disclosure of the gift, said the donation was expected to be in the tens of millions of dollars. That the gift is from a corporation is likely to stir some excitement in the art world, given recent cutbacks in companies’ contributions to nonprofit institutions.

As part of his attempt to raise the museum’s profile Mr. Govan has helped recruit several new members of its board, including some business figures. Among those named to the board in recent months are Terry Semel, the chief executive of Yahoo; David Bohnett, a technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist; Chris DeWolfe, the co-founder and chief executive of MySpace.com; and Anthony N. Pritzker, a co-founder of the Pritzker Group, an investment firm, and part of the family that founded the Hyatt hotel chain.

The museum has been trying to raise money to finance the second and third phases of its rebuilding plan, which are to include a renovation of a building that formerly housed the May Company department store on the western edge of the museum campus. That building will include exhibition space and a children’s gallery, a restaurant, bookstore and administrative offices.

In an interview last week Mr. Govan said the later phases of the project would include “a new exhibition facility” on the west side of the campus, near the May Company building. Last month he described plans for a giant moving sculpture at the museum’s new entrance: a 161-foot-tall sculpture by Jeff Koons that is essentially a working 1940s locomotive suspended from a crane.


BP Gives $25 Million to L.A. Art Museum for Expansion (Update1)

By Michael Janofsky

March 6 (Bloomberg) -- Oil company BP Plc is donating $25 million to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to help complete the first phase of an expansion project.

Museum officials say the gift is the largest single corporate donation to an arts institution in Southern California.

The money from BP, which bought Los Angeles-based Arco in 2000, will be used to build a solar-paneled entry -- the BP Grand Entrance -- connecting the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum to LACMA's existing building, the museum said.

The new building, which is being designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and is scheduled to open in 11 months, will house the art collection of Eli Broad, a billionaire businessman and one of Los Angeles's leading philanthropists and collectors of modern and contemporary art.

Broad, who built his fortune through a home-building company and insurance group, donated $60 million to LACMA in 2004 -- $50 million for the new building and $10 million for acquisitions.

The BP donation brings the total in private donations for the current building campaign to almost $200 million, Michael Govan, LACMA's director and chief executive officer, said at a news conference.

Decline in Corporate Gifts

The gift from London-based BP occurs at a time when most of the larger donations to museums come from wealthy private collectors or foundations rather than corporations, which have scaled back donations for the arts. Among the largest gifts in recent years, the Dallas Museum of Art received three private collections in 2005 valued at the time at $400 million. The same year, David Rockefeller pledged $100 million to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Robert Malone, president of BP America, said his company has donated to the arts consistently in recent years, even with fluctuations in energy prices. The gifts include $125 million in arts donations throughout California over the past 10 years.

``We've given when oil prices are high and when oil prices have been low,'' he said in an interview. ``When your income stream is better, it makes the bigger grants easier, but we've made them in bad times and good.''

Even so, ``there is a lot of concern among arts organizations that corporate giving has really gone down,'' said Ian Wilhelm, a reporter for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, adding that ``the size of the BP gift is significant.''

Nancy Daly Riordan, the LACMA board chairwoman, said in a statement that BP's gift ``demonstrates a tangible commitment to the Los Angeles community and will have a significant impact on the future of LACMA.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Janofsky in Los Angeles at mjanofsky@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: March 6, 2007 15:53 EST

citywatch
Mar 7, 2007, 2:34 AM
BP Gives $25 Million to LACMA

The BP donation will go toward a solar entrance that the British oil firm hopes will invoke energy innovation.

By Mike Boehm, Times Staff Writer

A $25-million donation from BP has capped phase one of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's three-part expansion and renovation campaign. Solar panels atop a new entry pavilion named for the British oil company will signal BP's wish to be seen as an environmental innovator. LACMA plans to announce today that the glass-encased structure will be called the BP Grand Entrance. It's under construction along with the adjacent Broad Contemporary Art Museum, with both additions to the museum's Wilshire Boulevard campus projected to open next February. The entrance is a key point in architect Renzo Piano's plan to unify LACMA's sprawling, often confusing layout of buildings.

Bob Malone, chairman and president of Houston-based BP America, said the gift betokens a commitment to the arts and a steady philanthropic role in Los Angeles. Before it was merged into BP in 2000, L.A.-based Arco was hailed locally for its philanthropy, including a $10-million donation in 1997 for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. To allay concerns over the merger, BP promised to donate at least $100 million to California charities within 10 years. Malone said that BP's gift to LACMA is free-standing and won't be counted toward the $100 million. He said the same goes for a recently announced $500-million, 10-year research grant to UC Berkeley and other institutions to develop alternative, cleaner-burning fuels.

Since 2002, BP has agreed to more than $125 million in legal settlements with state and regional agencies over pollution problems. BP reported profits of $22 billion in 2006 and a record $22.3 billion in 2005. The $25 million for LACMA matches Walt Disney Co.'s 1997 gift for Disney Hall as the biggest corporate donation to the arts in Los Angeles' recent memory. It comes as the arts recede as a cause for big corporations. A survey by the Conference Board, a nonprofit business research organization, showed a 6.1% drop in average arts giving from 2002 to 2005, according to figures from the Americans for the Arts advocacy group.

Malone said he became a LACMA fan while president of BP's L.A.-based Western regional office from 2000 to 2002, before his four-year transfer to London. "There's a huge need not to lose the arts" as a focus for corporate philanthropy, said Malone, who announced a three-year, $3.4-million BP grant to the Chicago Symphony in November. He said that Eli Broad, who gave $60 million to LACMA's campaign with his wife, Edythe, was a rainmaker for the donation. More than a year ago, BP first gave $1 million to LACMA's endowment campaign. Malone said he subsequently called Broad after being put in charge of U.S. operations, asking him to recommend causes in L.A. "where we could make a difference."

In courting the gift from BP's top executives in London, LACMA Director Michael Govan said he emphasized "access and energy" as hallmarks of the new museum entrance that would be a symbolic fit for a gasoline seller (BP's brands in California are Arco and Thrifty) interested in making art more available to the public. It was BP's idea to make the energy connection literal. The solar panels will help feed the museum's power needs.

Last year, LACMA announced it was going to name the new entrance the Lynda and Stewart Resnick Grand Entrance Pavilion, in honor of their $25-million gift early in the campaign. Lynda Resnick, a vice chair on LACMA's board said they were happy to step aside to clear the pipeline for BP's millions; they'll instead apply their donation — and more — to an as-yet-unannounced, "really exciting" new feature in the second phase.

Without giving details, Govan, hired just over a year ago, said he had "expanded the ambition" of LACMA's pay-as-you-go overhaul and expansion. The first-phase goal was $150 million when announced two years ago; BP's gift closes out first-phase fundraising at $191 million. Govan said that "although we exceeded our goal," factors such as financing and rising construction costs do not mean that LACMA has a $41-million windfall.

For BP, environmentally tinged largess comes after several years of environmental mishaps in California. In 2002, BP paid the state $45.8 million to settle a suit over pollution from leaking gasoline storage tanks. Later, air quality regulators sued over leakage of smog-forming chemicals at BP's Carson refinery. BP settled for $81 million. "Yes, we've had some incidents ... we deeply regret, and we're in action to get those right," Malone said. Topping a structure like the LACMA entrance with solar panels sends a message that BP and California are serious about setting a green example, he said.

And putting an oil company's name on LACMA's doorway brings an unusually high potential for controversy, Govan acknowledged. "What was convincing to me was their commitment to sustainable energy.... We won't make the transition without the help and cooperation of these major corporations."

dragonsky
Mar 8, 2007, 2:43 AM
Art of the new
How a previously industrial area in Culver City morphed into the latest gallery hotspot.

http://www.calendarlive.com/media/photo/2007-03/28284447.jpg

By Dean Kuipers, Special to The Times

The crowd for the opening at Lightbox gallery was pretty impressive, for what is still an emerging space in a new part of town. The reception for painter and collagist Stefan Hirsig's pop-influenced exhibition, "There Is Water at the Bottom of the Ocean," was full of established L.A. art figures who gallerists love to see. In the milling crowd were artists Chris Wilder, Rachel Lachowicz, Charles Gaines and George Stoll, rock 'n' roll designer Henry Duarte, actress Marisa Tomei, war photographer David Butow, art dealer Dan Hug and Artillery magazine editor Tulsa Kinney.

It was a stormy Saturday night, and owner Kim Light seemed pleased at the turnout, achieving a kind of rock-star vibe herself in jeans and a leather shirt. Hirsig's work and her reputation are part of the draw, but finally, so is the location. She is among several high-profile art dealers to have settled an industrialized stretch of South La Cienega, technically in the city of Los Angeles, but across the street from a piece of Culver City now officially designated as the Culver City Art District.

Since 2003, when art world heavyweights Blum & Poe relocated to La Cienega, only a few doors down from what would become Lightbox, more than 30 galleries have moved to the district. Why here? For starters: lots of big, empty spaces and cheap rent, in a locale just off the Santa Monica Freeway and adjacent to wealthy Westside neighborhoods where art collectors live. But it was also the chance to remake an entire area, organically, just for visual art, bringing a vitality and commonality of experience the art world can claim as its own.

Or maybe it was just the chance to party.

"On opening nights, it's like Westwood in the '80s," said BLK/ MRKT Gallery co-owner Jana DesForges. "People have their wine and wander down the street. It gets packed."

Seemingly overnight, the district has achieved the kind of critical mass that makes it chic to be in, say, Berlin, and mention how you were just in Culver City. Two years ago they would have asked you where that was. Now they've heard it enough times to pretend they know.

"You can't not go here anymore," said Tim Blum, one half of Blum & Poe. "It's definitely entrenched. It's a real community being promoted extensively all over the world."

And there's a nice dividend: Locals are getting turned onto art. There's the collectors swinging by at all hours, the museum curators sniffing around, but plenty of the Saturday patrons are newbies — people from the neighborhood, often out with their kids — and they're not only gawking. They're buying.

Like a magnet

The spot on La Cienega that is now Mandrake has always been a bar — a gay bar before this, a series of delightful dives — but never exactly trendy.

At 10 on the night of Light's opening, Mandrake is packed with hipsters and pretty young things who've spilled out of now-closed galleries looking for somewhere to go. Artist Frances Stark and Dot Dot Dot design magazine's Stuart Bailey are DJing; artist DJs, in fact, are a staple of the place. Patrons huddle in intense te^te-a`-te^tes. Crowds push past the bright blue bar and a Raymond Pettibon drawing that laments, "I thought California would be different," and into a large exhibition/happening room hung with a collection of tote bags from art events — a show assembled by Drew Heitzler, one of Mandrake's three co-owners.

"Justin [Beal], Drew and I are all artists. That's our world," said co-owner Flora Wiegmann, who is married to Heitzler. "So we have myriad events that go on here. It ranges from a very formalized film series that's happening every other week for an entire year, to a knitting group or whatever."

Mandrake opened in September and has been integral to the area's expansion, and that's no accident. The bar "was to serve as a sort of anchor for the neighborhood," said Wiegmann, who, along with Heitzler, used to run a space around the corner on Comey Avenue called Champion Fine Art. "We just felt like the street needed a place where people could convene and take a break."

Blum and Jeff Poe agreed, and became the principal investors in the space. "It's a great neighborhood bar," Poe said.

It's doubtful Culver City's Art District would have happened at all without Blum and Poe. In January 2003, the two were looking to move their gallery from a smaller, 1,200-square-foot space on Broadway in Santa Monica and couldn't find the right place. Other areas, from Santa Monica to Chinatown, were too expensive, too establishment or had too much of an art student vibe. They even tried to buy a building in Chinatown, but the deal fell through. For "some weird reason," Blum said, they looked at a stretch of commercial buildings on La Cienega just south of the 10 freeway, totally removed from other established gallery areas.

The corner at Washington and La Cienega was entirely industrial, a series of windowless brick buildings straddling the concrete ditch of Ballona Creek and surrounded by tire stores, an industrial lighting house and a lumberyard. But here they found a clean brick building and 5,000 square feet of space.

"The space was available, and we just said, 'Screw it. Let's go for it,' " Blum said.

This was no small event, however. Blum & Poe represents a roster of internationally renowned artists including Sam Durant, Takashi Murakami, Jennifer Bornstein, Sharon Lockhart and Mark Grotjahn. Blum said he and Poe were pretty sure the collectors would come. But would anyone else?

"You can't script that. We're not developers," Blum said.

But come they did. Kim Light got a call from Poe, who once worked with her, and ended up taking another of the spaces. And then, quickly, came Lauri Firstenberg at LAXART, a nonprofit institution that had also been looking in Chinatown and Koreatown but not seeing anything it liked.

"Culver City was an incredible opportunity, since there are so many artists' and architects' studios here," said Firstenberg, who teaches at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc).

Susanne Vielmetter brought in her gallery; Lizabeth Oliveria came — one after another, all taking adjacent buildings. Two galleries — Western Project and Fresh Paint — had already been established a few blocks away in downtown Culver City.

"These warehouses or factories — mine used to be a glass and mirror factory — you could just do a lot of things," gallery owner Anna Helwing said. "And then, convenience — it's right in the middle of everything.

"You have to grow up in L.A. to get it," Poe said. "The freeway access is huge. People will come here. It's easy to get to."

New, emerging galleries followed the established dealers, including many from what Blum and others call a "parallel" art world, such as Billy Shire Fine Arts (Shire also owns the ultra-hip La Luz de Jesus Gallery and Soap Plant store).

Lesser-known contemporary galleries brought a lot of art fans and buyers eager to come to openings and get in the game. Crowds drew more crowds, and the area exploded.

"Another good restaurant in this area would be great, so put that in your story!" Helwing said with a laugh.

With open arms

On a quiet Thursday afternoon, Sci-Arc students Jarod Poenisch, Sam Keville and Anthony Lagnay stopped in at BLK/ MRKT Gallery to check out a group show. The work is graphic novel-inspired, mostly figurative paintings with a razor-sharp urban edge. The trio had come to see an art-in-architecture show called "Entropy" at the nearby Koplin Del Rio Gallery, and it was their first time in the district.

"I've definitely heard a lot about it," Keville said.

"Even my parents — they're thinking about moving to L.A., and they're interested in Culver City. They live in Austin," Poenisch added.

Chances are they'll find some decent restaurants too, despite the pleas of Helwing. Patrons can retire to Beacon, a popular Asian cafe, or the bright La Dijonnaise, or get their fine dining at Wilson, the newest restaurant from Piccolo chef Michael Wilson. Surfas, the tremendously popular gourmet shop, is a favorite stop for lunch. A more recent arrival, further into downtown, is the red-hot steakhouse Ford's Filling Station. Restaurants a few blocks from the district's hub at Washington and La Cienega haven't seen a hike in business so far. But Vincent Trevino, owner of Bluebird Cafe' on National Boulevard, sees the potential. He soon plans to extend his Monday-through-Friday schedule into the weekends.

"With the Art District and the Ballona Creek trailhead, which is right here, and then the Exposition Line stopping right here, the weekends are going to get big," Trevino said.

The arrival of the Exposition light-rail line, which will link downtown with the district by 2010, is not lost on Culver City officials, who are working up a plan to keep an "artist influence" in the development planned around the line's terminus at National and Washington. This is indicative of the city's reaction to the gallery influx — it welcomed it with open arms.

City officials piggybacked on what Blum & Poe and others had created on the L.A. side of La Cienega by waiving some permit fees or shepherding new galleries through permitting processes on the Culver City side of the line. "It's not like we sat down and consciously said three years ago that this was going to be an art district in Culver City. It evolved," said Christine Byers, public art and historic preservation coordinator for the city, and one half of its Cultural Division.

It was a quick evolution — mostly within 24 months — and in June 2006, Byers and her colleague Susan Obrow, Culver City's performing arts and special events coordinator, began a community event called Artwalk Culver City. They contacted businesses, put musicians in the street and sent brochures home with Culver City schoolkids. In the end, they had what looked to be a new tradition. This year's Artwalk will be June 2.

"We ended up, we think, having 1,500 people wandering the streets. And it was one of the hottest weekends to date, hitting 90 degrees," said Obrow, who added that one of the galleries reported selling 21 pieces that day. "There was economic impact for the galleries and for Culver City. They seemed pleased with the response."

"Culver City gets it," Poe said. "Much better than the city of Los Angeles. They don't do much, culturally. But Culver City has been good."

How good? Poe said he was now seeing the surest sign of success: The low real estate prices that lured the galleries are starting to catch up with them. "I'm hearing about gallery spaces here going up to $2.40 a foot. Pretty soon it'll be too expensive to be around here too." He smiled briefly. "Then there'll have to be a new area. That's the way it goes."

*

Getting to the art of the matter

The Culver City gallery scene has exploded in just the last few years — but, in fact, a good chunk of it is in Los Angeles too. To get to the heart of it, just take the La Cienega Boulevard exit off the 10 Freeway. Here's a look at some gallery and dining options:

Galleries

1. Blum & Poe, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com
Tim Blum and Jeff Poe helped pioneer the area, moving in in 2003.

2. Anna Helwing Gallery, 2766 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. (310) 202-2213, annahelwinggallery.com
Another early settler.

3. Angstrom Gallery, 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 204-3334, angstromgallery.com
New branch of a Dallas gallery.

4. Bandini Art, 2635 S. Fairfax Ave., Culver City, (310) 837-6230, bandiniart.com
Approaching its first anniversary.

5. Billy Shire Fine Arts, 5790 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 297-0600, billyshirefinearts.com
A Westside outpost from a champion of the lowbrow.

6. BLK/MRKT Gallery, 6009 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 837-1989, blkmrktgallery.com
An early arrival on the scene.

7. Cardwell Jimmerson, 8568 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1100, cardwelljimmerson.com
Newcomer in postwar art.

8. Cherry and Martin (not on map), 12611 Venice Blvd., L.A., (310) 398-7404, cherryandmartin.com
Southwest of the scene, but part of the Culver City Artwalk.

9. Corey Helford Gallery, 8522 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 287-2340, coreyhelfordgallery.com
Opened in April.

10. d.e.n. contemporary, 6023 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-3023, dencontemporaryart.com
Focuses on abstract art.

11. Denizen Design Gallery, 8600 Venice Blvd., L.A., (310) 838-1959, denizendesigngallery.com
Art meets furniture and household.

12. Fresh Paint Art Advisors, 9355 Culver Blvd., Suite B, Culver City, (310) 558-9355, freshpaintart.com
Gallery and consultancy.

13. George Billis Gallery L.A., 2716 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 838-3685, georgebillis.com
From the Chelsea district to L.A.

14. Gregg Fleishman, 3850 Main St., Culver City, (310) 202-6108, greggfleishman.com
Furniture, architecture and art.

15. Harvey Levine Gallery, 5902 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 614-7642, levinegallery.com
Emerging artists; space may move.

16. Hedi Khorsand Gallery, 3850 Main St., Culver City, (323) 650-8980, hkfineartgallery.com
A West Hollywood transplant.

17. Kinkead Contemporary, 6029 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 838-7400, kinkeadcontemporary.com
Made the scene in September.

18. Koplin Del Rio, 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-9055, koplindelrio.com
Another WeHo transplant.

19. The Lab 101 Gallery, 8530-B Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-0911, thelab101.com
Moved from Santa Monica in 2004.

20. L.A. Contemporary, 2634 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-6200, lacontemporary.com
A recent arrival.

21. LAXart, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-0166, laxart.orgA leading L.A. nonprofit.

22. Lightbox, 2656 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-1111, lightbox.tv
Another high-profile gallery.

23. Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 837-1073, lizabetholiveria.com
In the heart of "gallery row."

24. MC, 6086 Comey Ave., L.A., (323) 939-3777, mckunst.com
Part of the early wave.

25. Museum of Design Art and Architecture, 8609 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-0902, modaagallery.com
Emphasizes art and architecture's "symbiotic relationship."

26. The Museum of Jurassic Technology, 9341 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (310) 836-6131, mjt.org
Off-the-wall curiosities.

27. Overtones Gallery (not on map), 11306 Venice Blvd., L.A., (310) 915-0346, overtones.org
Southwest of the scene, but on Culver City Artwalk.

28. Project, 8545 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-0200, project.bz
Launched in 2005.

29. Sandroni.Rey, 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 280-0111, sandronirey.com
Relocated from Venice in 2004.

30. sixspace, 5803 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 932-6200, sixspace.com
Moved from downtown L.A. in '05.

31. Susanne Vielmetter, 5795 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (323) 933-2117, vielmetter.com
A veteran gallerist.

32. Taylor De Cordoba, 2660 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 559-9156, taylordecordoba.com
Founded in April 2006.

33. walter maciel gallery, 2642 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 839-1840, waltermacielgallery.com
Newcomer with SF roots.

34. Western Project, 3830 Main St., Culver City, (310) 838-0609, western-project.com
On the scene in 2003.

Bars and Restaurants

35. Mandrake
2692 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 837-3297, mandrakebar.com
A hub where artists kick back.

36. Bluebird Cafe', 8572 National Blvd., Culver City, (310) 841-0939, bluebirdcafela.com
Sandwiches, salads, cupcakes.

37. La Dijonaise, 8703 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 287-2770, ladijonaise.com
Croissants and more.

38. Beacon, 3280 Helms Ave., L.A., (310) 838-7500, beacon-la.com
Celebrated Asian cuisine.

39. Wilson, 8631 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 287-2093, wilsonfoodandwine.com
Michael Wilson's adventurous fare.

40. Tea Forest, 8686 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1723, teaforest.com
A cute tea shop.

41. Cafe' Surfas, 8777 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 558-1458, cafesurfas.com
The restaurant supply store's cafe.

42. Ford's Filling Station, 9531 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 202-1470, fordsfillingstation.net
Ben Ford's "gastropub."

dragonsky
Mar 9, 2007, 3:04 AM
March 9, 2007

LACMA director changes plan for new entrance
Citing the city's fine weather, director Michael Govan opts for an open-air design instead of a 'glass box.'


By Mike Boehm, Times Staff Writer

Visitors to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will get an alfresco welcome when its new entrance pavilion opens next winter, instead of the glassed-in greeting initially envisioned two years ago by architect Renzo Piano.

The switch comes at the behest of museum director Michael Govan who, after being hired away from New York's Dia Art Foundation a year ago, decided that a glass pavilion would be a waste of good Southern California weather. The BP Grand Entrance, named Tuesday in honor of a $25-million gift from the oil company, will have a roof for rare rainy days and solar panels to exploit the many sunny ones. Otherwise, it will be an open-air structure, a sort of mega-gazebo on the museum's doorstep, supported by steel beams painted a bright red-orange.

"I come from New York, and it would kill me to go into a glass box" instead of enjoying the weather while milling outside the museum, Govan quipped in an interview after announcing the BP donation from a podium set up in front of the entrance's steel skeleton.

Along with the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, under construction just west of the new entrance and also expected to open next February, the BP Grand Entrance is a signature feature of Phase One of the museum's incremental renovation and expansion. Two additional phases are projected, but only after enough money is raised for each part; fundraising is now complete for the first phase at $191 million, which will cover construction and a boost to LACMA's endowment.

Other new features of the first phase are a park behind the Broad building, dotted with large sculptures, and an underground parking garage. Construction expenses, including architects' fees and other "soft costs," are projected at $156 million, LACMA officials said.

Omitting glass walls and doors saved $2.5 million, but Govan said the change to the entrance is "not about savings, it's about efficiency and meaning." The signal he hopes visitors will get by being outside on arrival is that the museum is an outdoor experience as well as an indoor pursuit, "a kind of town square for Los Angeles" — with the park and its sculptures to be enjoyed along with the works inside the seven exhibition buildings strung along Wilshire Boulevard.

Make that eight, if Govan has his way with another new element: an additional museum building that would be planted over the parking garage during the LACMA makeover's second phase. He wants more space to show off the collection, which ranges from ancient to contemporary art, and to give the museum more flexibility for hosting traveling exhibitions.

Govan said that architect Piano has made preliminary schematic drawings for the building, and that its planning is being funded with part of the $25 million that LACMA backers Lynda and Stewart Resnick initially gave for the first phase, but decided to apply to Phase Two after BP stepped forward with its gift. Phase Two also includes renovations to the former May Co. department store building known as LACMA West.

Govan said the new Phase Two museum of his dreams would be comparable to Dia:Beacon, the skylit former factory on the Hudson River in Beacon, N.Y., whose renovation he had overseen. The hallmarks, he said, would include lots of natural light, flexibility and a spacious "generosity of feeling ... elegant and functional."

Chase Unperson
Mar 9, 2007, 3:21 AM
I have been a frequent attendee of Culver City openings since "back in the day" of 2004. I had no idea it was in its nascent phase then, but man has it grown. It's awesome, free taco trucks, free tecate beer and some of the worldwide major players in the gallery scene along with creative start-ups and transplants from cities with faltering art scenes (e.g. lizabeth oliveria gallery).

dragonsky
Mar 10, 2007, 2:44 AM
Pasadena artist goes out on a limb
A tree in the Rose Bowl parking lot has become the project and passion of artist Joel Tauber.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28328534.jpg

By Sharon Mizota, Special to The Times

Artist Joel Tauber was captivated the first time he laid eyes on the little sycamore in the middle of the Rose Bowl parking lot. "It struck me on a metaphorical level," he says. "It just seemed like this forgotten figure in this sea of asphalt, and that seemed indicative of where we are environmentally."

Since that day two years ago, Tauber has devoted his life and art to the tree. He began watering it and installed metal railings to protect it from cars. Now he is helping it reproduce. With the assistance of the Theodore Payne Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of native California plants, he has collected its seeds and grown "tree babies."

Tauber has documented his efforts with similar dedication. Titled "Sick-Amour," the project includes a documentary film, a video installation and, most ambitiously, a permanent "tree museum." The plan for the latter calls for replacing the asphalt in a roughly 1,900-square-foot rectangle around the tree with mulch and river stones, to increase oxygen and water flow. A "necklace" of boulders will protect the tree and display educational plaques. To top it off, Tauber has sculpted a whimsical pair of "earrings" to hang from the branches.

"When he told me that he had fallen in love with a tree, I wasn't surprised," says Susanne Vielmetter, whose Culver City gallery represents Tauber. In previous projects the L.A.-based artist has transposed underwater diving into music and flown over the desert suspended from helium balloons while playing a bagpipe. "You think it's funny and a little nutty, and sweet," Vielmetter continued, but "Sick-Amour" really addresses a much larger issue, "in this case, fundamentally, what our relationship to nature is."

The video installation, which will have its debut at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects on March 17, consists of 12 segments. Arranged in the shape of a tree, each is a personal meditation on some aspect of the sycamore. In one, Tauber lauds the tree as an "invisible worker" thanklessly cleaning the air and Earth; in another he laments the pests that attack it, comparing their exploits to the abuses of capitalism. Backed by scientific research and narrated in a passionate, though often humorous, voice, Tauber's videos urge viewers to consider the environ-mental toll of urban development and to better care for the natural features that survive within it.

"I think of it as a modern, video 'Walden,' " he ventures, referring to Henry David Thoreau's treatise on nature and society, "but not out in the wilderness, out in a parking lot."

Accordingly, "Sick-Amour" has far-reaching ethical and philosophical goals. The tree is "something that I'm striving to understand in as full a way as possible, and that process brings me very close to it," Tauber says. "If you understand the other — whether it's the divine or someone else — that allows empathy to occur, and it allows a place for some kind of spiritual connection and love." In asking people to empathize with the struggles of a single tree, he hopes to instill in them a heartfelt sense of responsibility, not only to theenvironment but also to one another.

For Tauber, Rose Bowl Parking Lot K is an example of what happens when people shirk this responsibility. Traversed on a Tuesday afternoon by the occasional jogger and a fire engine practicing maneuvers, the lot is an asphalt peninsula between the hills and the concrete-lined Arroyo Seco river. The "Sick-Amour" tree stands not far from the entrance, at Seco Street and West Drive, and the Rose Bowl has already replaced a 400-square-foot area of pavement around it with mulch.

Tauber, compact and energetic, strides enthusiastically around a wider perimeter that he hopes will contain the tree museum.

Getting this far has been a daunting bureaucratic undertaking, involving coordination with the Rose Bowl, the city of Pasadena and LAXART, a nonprofit arts organization that is helping with fundraising. But Tauber says he has met with surprisingly little resistance.

Vice Mayor Steve Madison, an early supporter, sees the project as emblematic of Pasadena's movement toward becoming a "green" city. "I thought it was a neat idea that this one tree could be symbolic of trees in Pasadena and open space," he says. Rose Bowl General Manager Darryl Dunn is open-minded but cautious: "We still have to function as a stadium, but we're trying to integrate his vision with our need to have a parking lot." The plan requires approval from the Rose Bowl's board of directors, which is scheduled to review it later this spring.

Still, fundraising for the project, which Tauber estimates will cost $22,000, has been challenging. "We've been coming up against perceptions of what constitutes art, what is public art," says Lauri Firstenberg, LAXART's director and curator. "We've been diversifying our approach."

Tauber has solicited donations and says he plans to use proceeds from the sale of the tree babies and an edition of earrings — for humans, made of gold-plated leaves and fruit from the tree — to help fund the museum.

In the meantime, his beloved sycamore has sprouted new leaves and fruit. Tauber says, "It's a beautiful tree, and people are drawn to it. It's casting its spell."

bobcat
Mar 10, 2007, 6:18 PM
More national coverage of the LA art scene.
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Fine Art Flourishes in Tinseltown.(Off Hours: Leisure Pursuits for--and by--Entrepreneurs). Jason Tanz.
FSB 17.2 (March 2007): p96.



Full Text:COPYRIGHT 2007 Time, Inc.

Byline: Jason Tanz/Los Angeles

L.A. may be known for starlets and freeways, but lately art collectors are flocking to the city's galleries.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS LOOK ripped from the pages of National Geographic. I'm standing upstairs at Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills, staring at five-foot-tall images of sumptuous landscapes: a pier glowing in the moonlight; a golden desert, so lifelike that my mouth gets dry just gazing at it. I'm instantly drawn by the fine detail of the shots and relaxed by the silent scenery. Until I notice the bodies. A corpse dressed in a ball gown sprawls next to the Santa Monica pier. Near the desert sagebrush, two stiletto-heeled feet jut out of a barrel. Similarly grim figures inhabit the other images surrounding me.

MELANIE PULLEN, WHO TOOK THE PICTURES, stands next to me, beaming. And why not? At 31, the self-taught photographer is preparing her second show here at Ace Gallery (acegallery.net), one of the most prestigious art venues in the area. Pullen explains to me that her works are recreations of crime-scene photographs from the first half of the 20th century. She has placed couture-draped fashion models where the original victims once lay. "The main idea behind it is exploring where the news has taken us as a society," she says. "We're so desensitized to violence that it's become commercial. This series became a way of playing with exploitation."

I have come to Los Angeles to see why so many art aficionados are flocking here. I'm also pretending that I have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on art, to experience the process of building a collection. And I can't help but wonder: After coming home from a long day at the office, do I really want to plunk down on the couch and unwind under an image of a dead woman stuffed in a barrel?

This is not a question I am about to ask out loud, because it is exactly the kind of query--along with "Can I get something in maroon to match my La-Z-Boy?"--that would mark me as a grade-A philistine. Michelle Isenberg, an art advisor who introduced me to Pullen, warned me as much this morning. "The best art can be difficult or challenging," she said. "If you hate something, or if it's disturbing to you, oftentimes that's a good sign."

If that advice seems counterintuitive, so might the prospect of traveling to Los Angeles to purchase fine art. Woody Allen once quipped that L.A.'s greatest cultural advantage was the opportunity to make a right turn at a red light, and for decades the city has been derided as a hotbed of frivolity. But, fueled by talented graduates from some of the country's most competitive art schools, Los Angeles has started to win recognition as one of the most vibrant art cities in the world. The work of L.A. artists who came of age in the early 1990s--such as Mike Kelley, Lari Pittman, and Jim Shaw--has recently exploded in value, drawing the attention of art collectors to the latest crop. Last year Paris's Pompidou Center launched "Los Angeles 1955- 1985: The Birth of an Artistic Capital," single-handedly raising the city's profile. "This boom has been coming for the last decade-and-a-half," says Michael Duncan, a Los Angeles corresponding editor of the journal Art in America. "The younger generation now is reaping the benefits. There is a lot of speculation going on right now. A lot."

It all adds up to a very dangerous environment for the amateur art collector, especially when you consider that newbies aren't likely to get access to the most desired paintings and sculptures. "A gallery won't offer its best work to someone who hasn't done business with them before," says Bennett Roberts, co-owner of Roberts & Tilton (robertsandtilton.com), a gallery on Wilshire Boulevard. "Getting the best art requires entree."

That's why I hired Isenberg, a 25-year veteran of the Los Angeles art scene and the owner of Isenberg & Associates (misenberg.com), a consultancy for neophytes who want to buy art but don't know where to look. Isenberg will charge me $200 an hour, although she usually charges 10% to 15% of any sale she helps broker. (For more on art advisors, see the "Resources" box on the next page.)

A typical client is Douglas O'Donnell, 40, who owns a small industrial-development company and recently hired Isenberg to help him adorn his new home in Laguna Beach. "I could have done this without a consultant, but I don't think I'd want to," he says. "There's so much value added. I may see a piece of art that I like, but I don't know where it fits historically or how it's going to be looked upon ten, 20, 30 years from now. I like art, but this is still an investment."

ONE WAY TO ENSURE that your investment pays off is to buy from an artist with a proven track record; it's likely to cost a bit more but is also more likely to appreciate. To that end, the first stop in our L.A. art tour takes us to the home and studio of Douglas Busch, who has been creating art for 40 years. Busch designed his light-infused modernist mansion, which rests atop the hills of Malibu, affording inspiring views of the ocean on one side and rolling foothills on the other. When we pull into his driveway, the 55-year-old is talking on his cellphone while a team of contractors mill around his swimming pool. If great art requires suffering, then it's hard to imagine that Busch is producing much great art these days.

But in fact, he is. Busch made his name in the 1980s and '90s with his strikingly detailed black-and-white photographs of landscapes and city buildings. But in 2003, while spending the summer in a small house on the beach, Busch pointed his camera toward the ocean and captured blurred images of waves, sand, and sky, washes of color that look more like Mark Rothko's paintings than Busch's earlier photographs. Today Busch is just about done with his ocean photographs--he's returning to producing smaller black-and-white landscapes--but he says the series has introduced him to an entirely new group of clients. Prices run from $450 for 36 square inches to $25,000 for six feet square.

Busch's Malibu home may inspire him, but younger--and less established--artists usually seek their muses in grimier climes. That helps explain why Culver City, an expanse that features low-slung warehouses, has become a hotbed of galleries. Susanne Vielmetter, 47, was one of the first to move into the area when she opened Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects (vielmetter.com) about three years ago, and today she is renowned for showing, in her words, "work that is a little more challenging, with a strong conceptual base, and that often has political implications."

Take, for example, Rodney McMillian, 38, whose paintings and sculptures often offer a sardonic take on art, race, and culture. Vielmetter showed me slides of a recent show of McMillian's, which included a 130-square-foot painting of a sky that he parceled off and sold for between $150 to $450 per square foot (the price was calculated based on the buyers' income levels); a dilapidated chair; and a collection of carpet samples culled from the churches and storefronts of Los Angeles. The work may be edgy, but it has also won some institutional plaudits; three of McMillian's works were included in a group show at the prestigious Hammer Museum (hammer.ucla.edu) in the Westwood neighborhood. For her part, Isenberg approved. When I expressed interest in a photograph of a formal-looking bust slathered in black paint, she nodded. "I would say to you, buy this. Absolutely." (She was right. The photograph, with frame, cost $3,500 when I first saw it; three weeks later the price was $6,000.)

Vielmetter may find herself drawn to such challenging, abrasive work, but some of her artists' offerings are downright ... pleasant. After we visited Vielmetter's gallery, we took a drive to the Mount Washington neighborhood to visit the home studio of Patrick Wilson, whose motivation is "the hope of adding some beautiful object for the world to look at." His paintings stack squares of color atop one another until they take on the illusion of dimension, almost as if he has dug through the flat surface of the easel to discover further color swatches residing within. Wilson, 37, happily admits that his paintings buck the trend toward conceptualism--"They're meant to be looked at more than to be decoded." Prices start at $4,000 and run as high as $20,000.

Good luck decoding the sculptures of Krysten Cunningham (krystencunningham.com), whom we visited the next morning in her studio in the down-at-heel Arlington Heights neighborhood. Her art appears innocent enough, a melange of yarn and sticks , woven and folded together to create abstract bursts of light and form. Here's how Cunningham, 33, describes it: "I've done some research on the fourth dimension, which is not a proven dimension. But there's a model, a hypercube, which has 16 sides as opposed to six sides. I think. And this is actually a model of a hypercube. This is how a hypercube would look if you could see all the planes at once." Whatever! You don't need to be a theoretical mathematician to appreciate the bold color and angles of Cunningham's sculptures, which go for about $10,000.

Cunningham's art was not the weirdest we saw, not by a long shot. I'll spare you details on the video installation of an amateur aeronaut strapping himself to a bunch of helium balloons while playing the bagpipes, or the re-creation of a fast-food drive-thru menu that listed famous artists instead of hamburgers. I admired those works, but--Isenberg's advice notwithstanding--even if I had tens of thousands of dollars to spend, I wouldn't buy them. I'm not saying it needs to match the couch, but if I'm going to drop $10,000 on a piece of art, can't it at least complement the drapes?

dragonsky
Mar 10, 2007, 11:12 PM
March 10, 2007
LACMA is considering a palm garden

Diane Haithman

On the heels of a vote by city officials to stop planting new fan palm trees in favor of sycamores, oaks and other leafy native species, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art says it is considering adding more palms as part of the redesign of its Wilshire Boulevard campus.

In a conversation with Robert Irwin, designer of the Getty Center gardens, at a museum event Thursday night, LACMA director Michael Govan said the museum was working with Irwin on tentative plans for a palm garden for the 17 acres of parkland behind the museum.

"It's just in process, not definite — there's no funding, no nothing yet," Govan said in an interview Friday. "We're doing research now about collecting palms; we made a few jokes about the mayor getting rid of palms. The thing is, they have so much to do with Los Angeles, they're such visible symbols of the city. One of the reasons Robert Irwin loves the palms is how the beautiful tall trunks hold the light, the sunset and sunrise of L.A."

Govan said the tentative plan called for adding new varieties of palm trees to complement the washingtonian and date palms already standing near the front of the museum campus. "If the palms of the city start to get replaced by oak trees, certainly they'll then find themselves as cultural objects, and it's almost incumbent on the museum to begin to collect them," he said.

dragonsky
Mar 16, 2007, 3:25 AM
L.A.'s killer theater
There’s an edgy breed of dinner theater on the menu — if you don’t mind a little murder with your meal.

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By Margaret Wappler, Times Staff Writer

It's a Saturday night at the French restaurant Taix in Echo Park, and a couple of drag queens named Roxxi Botoxxi and Sandy Mangina are engaging an audience of increasingly tipsy Eastsiders. Mangina, a.k.a. Ben Been, a brunet in a hoop skirt, surveys the male patrons with an overheated up-and-down stare and banters uneasily with the women.

"So what's your story?" she says, audaciously catty.

Before you have time to reply, she breaks off, relaying a piece of seemingly inane gossip about one of her three achingly plucked, padded and powdered castmates in the year-old Drama Queen Theater. By the time the show begins — it's a light murder mystery that includes a dance contest and an Amazonian detective with a name that can't be printed here — all sense of decorum has been lost, or at least redefined.

This is dinner theater, reinvented. The Drama Queens' version of the venerable theatrical institution represents something of the lunatic fringe, to be sure, but throughout the Southland small troupes are applying their own twist to a form that probably saw its heyday in the 1980s but lately has had all the sizzle of a mullet.

The vision of cold, dark places with over-emotive actors in crooked wigs and circles of rouge has been replaced with quick, clever productions that increasingly rely on the formula of the murder mystery. Most invite crowd participation — where else can you be accused of a heinous crime over dessert? And, yes, the performers are generally real people with day jobs involving things like hard drives and research reports, but there's something cathartic about the proximity of audience to actor. It's not as if Laurence Fishburne is going to sit down next to you at the Pasadena Playhouse for an extemporaneous bit.

Traditional dinner theater is still out there, but for now we flitted about the Southland with one question: Whodunit?

The Dinner Detective

If the State, the '90s comedy troupe with Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black, ever reunited to start a dinner theater production, it might have the same vibe as the Dinner Detective, which features a young cast plucked from Improv Olympic, Groundlings and Second City. The show at Cucino Paradiso restaurant in the Palms neighborhood bounces between tongue-in-cheek noir, easy gags and raunchy improv.

Kelly, 31, and Scott O'Brien, 29, met while working for TV guru David E. Kelley, using Scott's experience as a crime researcher for "The Practice" to start the Dinner Detective in 2004. They've sold out nearly every show, which they credit to keeping the script loose. "The actors know when they need to hit this beat or that, but we want it to be able to go in 10 different directions," Scott says. "We want the audience to shape the show."

And the audience — young, extroverted and energetic — is up to the task. Guests make up names, and Joe, the host, hands out sheets with suggested interrogation questions such as "Do I look good in this outfit?" Later, hard-nosed cops played by John Abbott and Ronn Ozuk sidle up to tables and give the guests a hard time. To a tattooed, goateed man from Palmdale, Ozuk barks: "So, Alice in Chains, what secrets do you have to hide?"

As the night unfolds, the detectives continue their teasing, and two women in their 50s who call themselves the Jersey Girls respond in kind, cracking wise at every possible juncture. After the show, one of the actors, Chris Alvarado, claims that one of the Jersey Girls gave him a hug and then licked his ear. "I was not expecting that," he says with a laugh. "But then she also slipped me her card and she's an executive producer at some TV network, so I guess it's OK."

Gourmet Detective

The setting is pure Orange County: The Mezzanine Restaurant is tucked away in a glass-and-steel mini-scraper that is tucked away in an office park. But this Irvine production is charmingly modest — a mix of sloppy theatrics, wink-wink silliness and gentle nostalgia.

It's the brainchild of husband-and-wife team Craig Wilson and Tracy Hulette, who started the Gourmet Detective in 1990 with no theater background. "We're both sort of shy," Wilson says. "We didn't want to create an interactive theater environment that's frightening for the audience."

Unless you have a fear of feather boas, you're safe here. Actress Katherine Prenovost, a UCLA researcher by day, stomps around and plays to a crowd that includes college students in hoodies and a table of chatty couples in their late 30s. The traditional production, "Darling, You Slay Me," is a 1920s throwback that uses the play-within-a-play convention. While the audience dines, characters with names such as Dick March and April June swish around with cigarette holders, pouring stiff drinks, accusing one another in growls and purrs and invoking healthy doses of bawdy-but-PG humor. Have you heard the one about the casting couch?

Keith & Margo's Murder Mystery

Founded in 1985, the longest-running murder-mystery dinner theater outfit in Los Angeles seeks to emulate the satisfying procedural plotting of "Law & Order," but with a big dose of interactive comedy. With actors embedded in the audience, the show is very realistic, which has led to unexpected ramifications in the past. At the weekend murder mystery events the group hosts at hotels, "people break into each other's rooms," co-founder Margo Morrison says. The actors have gone overboard too: On a train-bound event, an actor posing as a real detective reported a "murder" to an Amtrak employee, bringing the locomotive to a halt for two hours.

The dinner show, every Saturday at the sparkling West L.A. restaurant Aphrodisiac, starts with a social hour. The actors, disguised as regular Joes, are there too, but it's difficult to tell who's who.

The main show takes place in the plush dining room. The first murder is surrounded by lots of hullabaloo involving popguns. A tiny woman bursts in, wearing an LAPD jacket. Feisty Anita Goodwin, a Keith & Margo veteran of 10 years, grills members of the audience and reveals a dizzying array of clues, including the unfailingly exciting ransom note. At the end, guests are allowed more time (than at other shows) to pore over the clues and unravel the intricate plot. It's indicative of the kind of fan Keith & Margo's attracts: a serious sleuth who tears into problem-solving like it's a bloody steak.

Mysteries En Brochette

Mysteries En Brochette is the light-rock station of dinner theater — easy, unassuming and safe for work. Situated in Marina del Rey's Harbor House, a moderately classy seafood restaurant, Brochette caters to a crowd that wants to get cheeky on a Friday night but not to the point that it will embarrass Mom.

There are no embedded actors here, only performers in tuxes and gowns, using their best enunciation to play to the intimate room. Brochette founder Muriel Minot, a singing instructor, prefers to keep the action out in the open.

"The more remarkable aspects to us are the scripting, the music and choreography," she says. "When you have red herrings and simultaneous action and embedded actors, that doesn't always play to the whole room." Minot uses what she calls "hand-out characters," i.e., assigning a role to a game audience member, to get the crowd involved.

There are two murders in "Hollywood's Fatal Premiere," one of Brochette's rotating themed productions. But Brochette is more about the music, in a very round-the-campfire kind of way. There are goofy-sweet singalongs to Broadway chestnuts and well-worn radio hits. One of the highlights is Christopher Gehrman's rendition of "Trouble" from "The Music Man" — a marvelously off-kilter version that's a little bit scat, a little bit rap.

Julie Cortez and Aldo Maldonado, a couple in their late 20s from Culver City, are here to celebrate their anniversary. "This is different from just going to a dinner or a club, but I really like it," Cortez says. "I think this means we're getting older."

Drama Queen Theater

From the very beginning, the Drama Queens are not for the faint of heart.

The effervescent hostess, a full-blooded woman in a slinky dress, christens guests with drag queen versions of their real names, and the show races off from there, flirting with full-on chaos at every turn.

The humor is sharp but friendly. "Most people want to be pushed a little bit, but I'm never mean-spirited about it," Ben Been says.

The opening social hour belongs to the queens, who publicly diss each other. The guests are encouraged to mingle as they snack on smoked salmon and fruit, and after the production gets rolling, it's a rambunctious, hyperactive hoot.

There's a dance contest involving the queens and audience members, but the highlight is easily the fierce spectacle of caricatured womanhood, the detective lieutenant. With her popgun and a cinched trench, she commands the room — Sam Spade as channeled by Foxy Brown.

What's on the menu? After a bit of the detective lieutenant's overzealous frisking, who remembers?

*

A selection of the Southland scene:

Gourmet Detective
Mezzanine Restaurant, 19800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. (949) 724-1066; gourmetdetective.com. $65 includes a three-course dinner, show and tax. Mellow and nostalgic, it emphasizes '20s-themed entertainment with its "Bullets Over Broadway"-style show, "Darling, You Slay Me." Bring a feather boa.

The Dinner Detective
Cucina Paradiso, 3387 Motor Ave., L.A. (866) 496-0535; dinnerdetective.com.$62.95 includes a four-course dinner, show, gratuity and live music after the show. Young and spunky with an emphasis on improv, the Dinner Detective offers an interactive, high-energy show. Scripts and actors rotate frequently. And there's a chalk body outline on the floor.

Drama Queen Theater
Taix Restaurant, 1911 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. (310) 949-9255; dqtheater.com. $68 includes a four-course dinner, tax, gratuity and show. Imagine a bunch of drag queens running around, accusing each other of horrible crimes while self-aggrandizing their own fabulousness at every turn.

Keith & Margo's Murder Mystery Dinner Theater
The Witness Room (Aphrodisiac), 10351 Santa Monica Blvd., L.A. (877) 528-9015; murdermystery.com. $78 includes a three-course dinner, tax, gratuity, show and after-show jazz. Like an episode of "Law & Order" but with fewer twists and more high jinks. For fans who take their murder mysteries black and unsweetened.

Curtain Call Dinner Theater
690 El Camino Real, Tustin. (714) 838-1540; curtaincalltheater.com. $36.95 to $47.95 includes a two-course dinner and show. The oldest dinner theater in Southern California opened its doors in April 1980. Now showing "Oklahoma!" Upcoming shows include "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Annie." P.S. The theater doesn't serve alcohol.

Mysteries En Brochette
Harbor House Restaurant, 4211 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey. (310) 399-1507; mysteriesenbrochette.com. $72 includes a four-course dinner, tax, gratuity and show. A mix of bloody murder and show tunes, dusty oldies and whatever else the Brochette gang feels like digging out of the musical trunk.

Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater
455 Foothill Blvd., Claremont. (909) 626-1254; candlelightpavilion.com. $41 to $72 includes a two-course dinner and show. Housed in the old Claremont High School's gymnasium, this is a traditional Vegas-like experience. The 2007 season includes "Suessical the Musical," "My Fair Lady" and "Space Oddity."

Sharpo! Murder Mystery Dinner
Queen Mary, 1126 Queen's Highway, Long Beach. (562) 435-3511. queenmary.com. $70 includes a four-course dinner and show. Does it get any better than a murder mystery aboard a historical ocean liner populated with waterlogged ghosts? Nevermind a life jacket; come with an alibi.

dragonsky
Mar 23, 2007, 2:29 AM
March 22, 2007
Reeling in comedy fans at Big Fish
Unpredictable laughs and general weirdness at D + D's Joke Machine comedy nights.

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By Jonah Flicker, Special to The Times

The words "comedy club" conjure up images of intros to "Seinfeld" episodes, Robin Williams in a frenzied lather at Comic Relief or Sunset Strip joints like the Laugh Factory. There are comedy alternatives in Los Angeles, however, and if you're willing to venture off the beaten path for your laughter fix, you may be richly (and sometimes bizarrely) rewarded.

Take Big Fish, which lies in the industrial wasteland of western Glendale, close to the railroad tracks skirting San Fernando Road. The bar is a fishing expedition-themed dive with cheap beer, stuffed fish adorning the walls and nights devoted to karaoke and "live jams." Tuesday nights, though, are the home of D + D's Joke Machine, an offbeat and sometimes cringe-inducing alt-comedy night.

The weekly event began last August, the creation of comedians Denver Smith and Douggpound (n–e Doug Lussenhop), who is also often host of the show. It regularly draws a mix of aspiring amateurs, more seasoned performers and sad-sack miscreants in search of catharsis. "I always think there must be a mental health clinic around the corner," muses Smith. "There are some sketchy, dark people who come in."

Erratic talent is part of the Joke Machine's charm, although that's not necessarily to Smith's liking. "I always wish it was like Carnegie Hall, a dark theater with people all dressed up," he says. "But it's not. We're fighting against this whole weird Glendale element." Smith and Douggpound book the event, although it's sometimes mistakenly listed as an open-mike. Comedians are provided with a chance to test out new material, and many come armed with notebooks and even jokes written on the palms of their hands.

Two recent nights provided opposite examples of how D + D's Joke Machine can play out. One Tuesday found four people listening to the droll wit of comedian Bennie Arthur, the silence occasionally punctuated by the shrill whistle of a passing train. The following week saw a relatively large and enthusiastic crowd enjoying Matt Braunger's truly hilarious set, which included a bit about lifting weights to the music of the Smiths.

The "weird Glendale element" Smith describes is enhanced by Big Fish's bartender, Cheazer, who provides color commentary during the performances and acts as a de facto id to the proceedings. "It's a very enjoyable night. It's a bonus if [the comedians] are funny," he quips. Of course, Cheazer sees other reasons to attend as well: "It's inexpensive to get drunk and stupid."

D + D's works, not in spite of, but because of, its unpredictability. Although groans and silence may at times outnumber laughs, the stream-of-consciousness rants and uniquely funny jokes make it distinctive. Even without the passing trains.

Big Fish
What: D + D's Joke Machine comedy nights
Where: 5230 San Fernando Road, Glendale
When: Comedy on Tuesdays; bar open daily 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Price: No cover. Drinks: draft beer, $2.75; bottled beer, $4; well drinks, $4
Info: (818) 244-6442

citywatch
Mar 23, 2007, 6:40 AM
West Coast, Beyond The Coast

Hilary Larson - Travel Writer
thejewishweek.com
3/23/2007

Years ago, whenever I found myself in Los Angeles, I always skipped the museums and concert halls and headed for the beach. After all, I reasoned, you might as well focus on the highlights — New York has better art, L.A. has its spectacular coastal scenery. I still hit the beach whenever I’m in California, and on a recent 90-degree day, I splashed happily into the surf at Venice Beach. But with every visit, I am forced to acknowledge more and more that the Left Coast movie land New Yorkers so love to patronize has become a cultural force to be reckoned with.

While East Coast arts institutions tend toward a sort of classical grandeur and eminence, their West Coast counterparts display qualities reflecting a part of the country where everything is new, vast, expansive and open. We have Carnegie Hall; they have Walt Disney Hall’s shimmering metal curves, endless parking and a lingering sunset in which to take it all in.

The weather remains glorious, the smog has scarcely abated and the traffic still snarls up predictably. But the cultural blossoming reflects in part the reality that whole neighborhoods of Los Angeles are changing, gentrifying, acquiring an urban energy that has long been lacking in this suburban burg.

Long-derelict downtown, once the province of lonely office buildings and lonelier bodegas, is sprouting new condominiums to go with its cultural institutions, including Disney Hall. There is a feeling of renaissance here, though the neighborhood has yet to become the center of nightlife (indeed, it is one of Los Angeles’ charms or its curse that the city lacks a definitive center).

The gentrification of the waterfront towns — which are technically the independent cities of Santa Monica, Venice and Marina Del Rey — continues relentlessly. But what is almost certainly a burden for cash-strapped locals is the visitor’s gain, in the form of beautifully landscaped modernist homes along the waterfront, cleaned-up pedestrian areas and an abundance of chic new eateries and shops. Venice, once a bohemian beach town, is now a chic beachside resort, its maze of picturesque canals as serendipitously lovely as ever. Quaint footbridges link narrow, flower-dotted alleyways; a profusion of tropical and desert flora blooms lushly along the water, as locals row canoes. One can easily pass an afternoon wandering aimlessly along the canals, basking in the sunshine and marveling at the diverse Californian architectural styles of the bungalows.

Tourists head for Venice’s famous boardwalk, where silver-jewelry sellers, weightlifters and Rollerbladers still abound. But in the past few years, the parallel inland street Abbot Kinney Road has evolved into a hipster destination, lined with chic boutiques, cafes and a lively sidewalk scene.

On the cultural front, the Skirball Center is an ever-impressive museum and Jewish cultural institution with the kind of diverse exhibitions that find a way to please everybody. This spring’s programming includes Indian dance, African music and two entertaining art exhibits. Movie posters by the graphic designer Saul Bass, the man responsible for the storyboard for the “Psycho” shower scene, are on view through early April; after that is an upcoming show of Israeli travel posters from across the decades, as interesting from a historical point of view as they are lovely to look at.

Music lovers consider the dashing young conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen, to be one of the most dynamic musicians in America, having established a reputation as a champion of new music and even as a composer in his own right. But the compelling reason to hear the orchestra, which has flourished under his creative baton, is the quintessentially non-New York experience of classical music in a brand-new, Frank Gehry-designed concert hall.

April brings the opportunity to hear the extraordinary Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova, who rarely performs in the U.S. anymore, interpret Beethoven. But perhaps the most memorable concerts will be the return of the “Tristan Project,” a re-imagination of the mesmerizing, dramatic Wagner opera in a series of staged acts that take place in separate concerts, each accompanied by video art by Bill Viola. Directed by Peter Sellars and featuring an outstanding cast of performers, this merging of the visual and the auditory, the classic and the avant-garde, seems perfectly at home in Los Angeles — and promises a fresh look at a work that can feel a little too familiar.

Perched high in the green-terraced hills, its glistening white form surrounded by jaw-dropping views over the city, the Getty Center has been the target of more than its share of controversy over the years. It’s not the Met, but its setting alone assures a pleasant experience and is well worth the visit. Those frightened off by early reports of months-long reservation delays will be happy to know that free tickets can be easily ordered online and a frequently available on short notice; parking is plentiful and cheap. The collection, heavy on Western art of the last two centuries, displays some excellent European works in a spacious, light-filled setting. Current exhibitions include two interesting looks at German art: the photographs of Sigmar Polke and a survey entitled “From Caspar David Friedrich to Gerhard Richter: German Paintings from Dresden,” both on view through the end of April.

Last year, the Getty Foundation opened the Getty Villa in Malibu, a lovely Italianate palazzo dedicated to classical art. Those with a more ancient artistic bent will find it worthwhile to check out more than 1,200 Greek, Roman and Etruscan sculptures and artifacts.

And those who prefer sunshine can step outside and stroll down to the always-nearby beach.

bjornson
Mar 23, 2007, 7:37 AM
The gentrification of the waterfront towns — which are technically the independent cities of Santa Monica, Venice and Marina Del Rey — continues relentlessly.

Poor, poor writer. Santa Monica is the only independent city. Venice is a part of the city and Marina del Rey is an unincorporated region!

citywatch
Mar 24, 2007, 7:43 PM
The Art’s Here. Where’s the Crowd?

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By EDWARD WYATT
New York Times
March 25, 2007

LOS ANGELES

JOHN BALDESSARI, the conceptual artist who has long made his home here, for years gave his college art students one piece of advice when they graduated: Go to New York, the capital of the art world. Now, however, Mr. Baldessari has a different view. “I don’t think it matters,” he said recently. “More and more young artists leave school and stay here. The opportunities are better, and the cost of living is cheaper. People involved in art regularly come to L.A. It really doesn’t matter if they live in New York or L.A.”

Two decades after Los Angeles emerged as the nation’s second art capital, the city is reaping the benefits of a migration of artists, galleries, dealers and curators. In recent years more than two artists have moved to this city for every one that moved away, a net rate of gain that is higher than in any metropolitan area in the country, according to an analysis of Census Bureau statistics by Ann Markusen, a professor at the University of Minnesota.

In the process new centers of gravity have emerged for contemporary art and artists in a city that has suffered for years because of its lack of a central arts district. Now there is not one such geographic center but several: downtown, where a thriving gallery district operates in what used to be a nighttime ghost town, as well as in former industrial areas in Culver City and Santa Monica. And a new generation of curators have been lured to the major museums here. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Hammer Museum have each attracted energizing new talent in recent years.

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John Baldessari, a conceptual art-
ist, says he no longer advises art
students to go to New York after
graduating. [Douglas Hill/UCLA
via Bloomberg News]

Of course the city has long since emerged as an important center for the performing arts as well. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, regarded as one of the country’s most dynamic orchestras, gained added allure with its move to Frank Gehry’s 2003 Disney Hall on Grand Avenue, and the Los Angeles Opera is preparing for its first-ever “Ring” cycle next door at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

In architecture Los Angeles has been an incubator not just for Mr. Gehry but for the rising star Thom Mayne, and high-profile commissions by Renzo Piano at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Steven Holl at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County are proceeding apace. And the boom in television and film production in Hollywood has created new opportunities for visual artists and dancers, many of whom also work for companies that perform in or have close ties to Pacific Rim countries.

Yet the city is still struggling to attract cultural tourists. While New York, London and Paris each attract 10 million to 15 million such visitors per year, Los Angeles draws only about 2.5 million, according to a 2004 study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

“Why is that?” asked the philanthropist Eli Broad, the city’s most visible and generous champion of the arts. “Perception. We have not promoted cultural travel. That’s going to start happening, and that’s going to get the city more and more attention.”

Whereas 40 percent of visitors to New York and London take part in some sort of cultural activity — a museum visit, a theatrical performance or the like — and 85 percent of visitors to Paris do so, only about 1 in 10 tourists to Los Angeles visit a cultural site. To remedy that Mr. Broad and other civic leaders are bargaining on their investment in the commercial and cultural districts that are taking shape downtown, like the Grand Avenue Project and L.A. Live, efforts that include hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment centers. “It will mean a big boost to the economy, and a big boost to how our city is viewed internationally,” Mr. Broad said. “It’s not simply sunshine, beaches and Hollywood here.”

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The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center at the University of California
at Los Angeles. [Douglas Hill/UCLA via Bloomberg News]

But that effort hasn’t been easy. Two years ago Mr. Broad tried to raise $10 million in public financing to promote the arts here. While the city promised $2 million, officials at the county, state and federal levels balked, arguing in part that more private money should be raised for that purpose. For now the effort has stalled, although Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa said in an interview that he would like to create a public-private partnership to accomplish what Mr. Broad proposed. The mayor’s initiative, however, awaits his appointment of a new general manager for the city’s cultural affairs department, a job that has gone unfilled since the previous department manager resigned nine months ago.

The department manager will be charged with fashioning a new cultural master plan for the city, a blueprint for encouraging both local investment in the arts and reaching out to areas of the city that are underserved by museums, theaters and the like. The master plan was last revised in 1991. “I think there are a lot of people who want to get involved in the arts, and would if there was a conduit for it,” Mr. Villaraigosa said in an interview.

But that financial conduit is conspicuously absent, especially at a time when corporations are cutting their arts budgets or using them more for marketing than for philanthropy. That problem is aggravated by the relative shortage of major corporations here: Los Angeles has fewer Fortune 500 companies than Richmond, Va., or Charlotte, N.C. Historically, said Kevin F. McCarthy, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corporation who is working on a study of support systems for the arts in cities around the country, Los Angeles has had three sets of business leaders: the first drawn from the downtown corporations, the second from the high-technology and aerospace industries on the west side, and the third from Hollywood.

“You could never get the entertainment industry to work with the other two guys, even though there were some people who had connections in both communities,” Mr. McCarthy said. The problem with Hollywood leaders, he said, is that “they’re so used to publicity and understanding the importance of marketing that they want to be the center of attention on all of this stuff.”

“I think they also have a very short-sighted focus, like much of the corporate sector, on profits,” he added. “And they tend to see this as a zero-sum game.”

Some Hollywood moguls are already big donors of course. David Geffen gave $5 million in 1996 to the Museum of Contemporary Art; it now maintains the Geffen Contemporary galleries as a separate part of its three-campus institution. Mr. Geffen also gave money for the renovation of a theater near the University of California at Los Angeles campus in Westwood that is now called the Geffen Playhouse. And Disney Hall was built with $120 million from corporations and private donors, along with an initial $50 million from Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian, and more than $100 million from Los Angeles County.

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The philanthropist Eli Broad, left,
with Michael Govan, director of
the Los Angeles County Museum
of Art.

Mr. Broad says he is confident that Hollywood’s commitment will increase, in part through the goading of newly arrived museum directors, including Michael Govan. Mr. Govan arrived one year ago from the Dia Art Foundation in New York to take over as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and has forged new connections with Hollywood. Among his additions to the museum’s board are Barbra Streisand; Michael Crichton; Terry Semel, the chief executive of Yahoo and former co-chief executive of Warner Brothers; and Willow Bay, the television reporter who is married to Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney.

Now, however, Mayor Villaraigosa may be in the best position to mobilize money into the arts, galvanize business leaders in Hollywood and beyond, and raise the visibility of the city’s cultural scene. “He’s got the kind of sex appeal that Hollywood wants,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He could bring these guys together,” in a way that the previous mayor, James K. Hahn, could not.

In 2004 Mr. Hahn floated the idea of doing away with the city’s cultural affairs department altogether. That effort was fought by Mr. Villaraigosa, then a councilman, earning him the support of many grass-roots arts organizations, which helped his 2005 election campaign. “I think we can get Hollywood to be more active in the arts,” Mr. Villaraigosa said. “One of the reasons why we’re focused on finding a visionary leader in the area of the arts is because it’s going to take someone who’s got the wherewithal, the respect, the ethos if you will, in the arts community and can rally that community in support of new initiatives,” like cultural programs in the schools and greater citywide spending on the arts.

If anyone knows how hard it can be to attract that support, it is Mr. Broad, who seems to have a hand in almost everything that goes on in the arts. He was the founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and its present location on Grand Avenue downtown, near Disney Hall, is a direct result of his efforts. Mr. Broad is also a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which is currently building the Broad Contemporary Art Museum on its campus on Wilshire Boulevard, thanks to a $60 million gift from Mr. Broad and his wife, Edythe.

The Broads have also made a big impact on the art schools in the Los Angeles area. Last fall U.C.L.A. opened the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, a collection of studios, classrooms, offices and gallery space designed by the architects Richard Meier and Michael Palladino. Outside sits a Richard Serra sculpture commissioned by Mr. Broad for that purpose. And the Broads have donated money for buildings at the two other major art schools in the region, the California Institute of the Arts, known as CalArts, in Valencia, and Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif.

His efforts extend beyond the visual arts. He recently provided a gift to pay for the Los Angeles Opera’s staging of Wagner’s “Ring,” the first time the complete cycle will be produced here.

“Eli Broad really does seem to be the most strategic thinker right now about L.A. and the arts,” said Elizabeth Ondaatje, a Rand Corporation researcher who is directing the institution’s studies of the arts with Mr. McCarthy. “Every other month you read another investment they’ve decided to make.”

Mr. Broad (whose name rhymes with road) has generated a fair amount of resentment in some corners here for his outsized presence on the art scene. His devotion to the downtown projects have been criticized as ignoring pockets of the city that have less access to the arts, like the largely Hispanic sections of East Los Angeles and the areas south of downtown that have large African-American populations. And some of the resistance he faced in his most recent fund-raising effort came from people who wondered why a billionaire was asking for money from taxpayers to promote museums on whose boards he sits.

Ever an optimist, Mr. Broad dismisses those criticisms, saying he prefers to discuss why, despite the relative lack of major corporations here, he still believes that new money can flow to the art world. As evidence, he cited a $25 million donation announced this month by BP, the energy company, to the Los Angeles County Museum to finance a new entrance pavilion.

If it has been hard to attract investment and government support for cultural activities, the city’s vibrant visual arts scene might be seen as its own best advertisement. “The rest of the world is promoting the city as well or better than L.A. does,” said Gary Garrels, the chief curator at the Hammer Museum, who moved here two years ago from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. “All of the curators and galleries that are dynamic are coming to Los Angeles and looking at what’s going on here.”

Downtown, which not too long ago was little more than a ghost town after 5 p.m. on weekdays, now bustles with activity around Fifth and Spring streets on Friday and Saturday nights, when art galleries typically schedule their openings of new shows. Similar scenes unfold around more established galleries on Wilshire Boulevard and among emerging contemporary galleries in Santa Monica and Culver City, the incorporated area south of Interstate 10.

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Visitors at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Last year Los Angeles and its artists were the focus of a major show at the Pompidou Center in Paris, “Los Angeles 1955-1985: The Birth of an Art Capital.” This month the Hammer Museum here will feature 15 contemporary Los Angeles artists in a show exploring what it means to create here, playfully titled “Eden’s Edge.”

As a career art seems more realistic to graduate art students than ever before, said Patrick Painter, who owns a gallery in Santa Monica. “Students graduate here with a feeling they can live in L.A. and make a living in LA.,” he said. “L.A. will never be more important than New York, but it will be equal.”

And naturally some artists adopt Los Angeles precisely because it is not New York. Max Jansons, a Los Angeles painter who is a New York native, graduated from U.C.L.A., then returned to Columbia University for a master’s degree. He now lives in Santa Monica. “I like having time to be in my studio without being surrounded by tons of different voices and seeing all these different shows and being part of that activity,” Mr. Jansons said. “There’s something very focused about your time here in the studio that I never really had in New York when I was there.”

Whereas New York presents more opportunities for the chance meetings with other artists that stimulate discussion, he added, it is easier to isolate oneself and get work done in Los Angeles. “Here you really have to make an effort to be part of something,” he said.

In large part that is because of the sprawl that so defines Los Angeles, said Michael Brand, who came here in 2005 as director of the Getty Museum. “The thing the city lacks is public transport and ease of access,” he said. “That, I think, is a major problem, unlike London, unlike New York, where you can just quickly go to other sorts of cultural organizations. It means people like myself and my colleagues in the end find it harder to maintain a face-to-face dialogue. You’ve got to plan ahead, and at a minimum it’s an afternoon.”

What Angelenos get in the trade of course is physical space. Sherin Guirguis, an artist who was born in Egypt and received her master’s degree from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, said she chose Los Angeles by necessity. “I couldn’t afford to live in New York no matter what, not even in Brooklyn,” she said. “I’m able to have space here. I make very large work, and it’s very expensive to make.”

Meanwhile the path forged by Mr. Baldessari and others has brought a legitimacy to artists here, one that many people believe will be followed by increasing levels of financial aid. “L.A. has been the model for another American city having a spot in the art world,” said Fredric Snitzer, the owner of a gallery in Miami who brought works by several of his artists to the “Art LA” show here in late January. “In the old days California artists were like they were on another planet,” he said. “In the last 20 years that has changed. There are fabulous artists here who have to be reckoned with.”

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 8:18 PM
There are just so many major cultural developments under way right now it's amazing. For large scale building projects there's the LACMA, Autry Museum, and CA Science Center expansions, the AMPAS film museum, Children's Museum, and the Colburn School and Coop Himmelblau HS for the performing arts. Hopefully the Natural History expansion will move forward soon as well. In the performing arts there's the booming LA Opera and the revival of LA Ballet, and future performance venues including Nokia Theatre, Variety Arts Center, Gansevoort Theater, as well as the historic theaters along Broadway among others. Not to mention the hundreds of art galleries springing up around the region. And then there's the Chinese Garden at the Huntington, the Ray Charles Museum, the Plaza de Cultura y Artes in Olvera St...

It's really just a matter of time, IMO, till LA starts to attract the large numbers of cultural tourists as perceptions always lag reality by a decade or more.

dragonsky
Mar 24, 2007, 8:57 PM
Custom-car fans do brake for Barris
The creator of the Batmobile and Munsters Koach, still revving strong at 85, has a block named after him.
By Bob Pool, Times Staff Writer
March 24, 2007

His eye-popping autos have been traffic stoppers for more than 60 years.

On Friday, though, it was car customizer George Barris himself who was causing the huge traffic jam at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Riverton Avenue in North Hollywood.

There was Barris, perched high above the street in a city cherry picker, being serenaded by a Marilyn Monroe look-alike as hundreds of admirers clustered around examples of his automotive artistry looked on.

Over to the side was the Munsters Koach, built from three Model T bodies for "The Munsters" television series. Parked a few yards away was the General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger on the TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard." Next to it was the Batmobile from the 1960s "Batman" series. On a nearby grassy area was the DeLorean Time Machine from the film "Back to the Future."

With a flourish, Barris, who is in his mid-80s, pulled away a piece of cloth to reveal a sign high up on a street lamp proclaiming the half-block stretch of Riverton next to his customizing shop "George Barris Place."

"From this day forward it will cost you $35 for each 20 minutes to park on this street," quipped TV weather forecaster Fritz Coleman from beneath the commemorative sign.

Car buffs from all over were there to cheer Barris on his big day. Celebrities — some of whom drove or appreciated his cars — were also on hand, including actors Bo Derek, Erik Estrada, John Corbett and John Schneider.

Steven Plunkett flew in from London, Canada. "George is an icon in Canada as well," said Plunkett, whose favorite Barris creation is the Monkeemobile, built from a 1966 Pontiac GTO.

"I can identify with it. As a kid I was a huge Monkees fan."

Alfred DiMora drove in from Palm Springs. "George is a legend in the car-customizing business," said DiMora, himself a car designer and manufacturer whose vehicles include the $2-million Natalia. He produces 75 of them a year.

Admiring the original 1966 Batmobile was Tony Fornaro, a record company executive from Valencia. He was wearing a "Batman" T-shirt as he snapped photos of the sleek black vehicle, which started out as a 1955 Lincoln Futura.

"It's one of two original Batmobiles that have survived," Fornaro said. "Warner Bros. owns the rights to the 'Batman' character, which is why the logo isn't on the doors here. It kind of ruins it for everybody. But it's still awesome. After 40 years it never gets old."

The Batmobile also was North Hollywood-area City Councilman Tom LaBonge's favorite. That's because "it came out of the Bat Cave, which is actually the Bronson Cave in Griffith Park," said LaBonge, who arranged Friday's ceremony and told the crowd that "Southern California loves cars and George Barris has done more for cars than anyone in the world."

Over at the steel-sided, gadget-laden DeLorean, Sharon Novins sat in the driver's seat beneath its open gull-wing door as her husband, Mike Novins, took a snapshot. She struggled to climb out.

"It's really low. 'Back to the Future'? I felt like I was going back in the past — to my childhood," said Novins, who with her husband runs a San Fernando Valley classic-car business.

The DeLorean was also Noah Claxton's top choice.

"It goes up to 88 miles an hour and it goes into the future. It even has hover conversion. Most cars don't have that," explained the 11-year-old Northridge sixth-grader.

Back on the ground, Barris declined to name his favorite. "It's like asking the father of a family of 10 which is his favorite child," he said. "They're all my favorites when I'm working on them."

He allowed that the hardest cars to customize were K.I.T.T. from the "Knight Rider" television series and "The Dukes of Hazzard's" General Lee. They were used in rigorous stunts, and Barris provided his own drivers to baby them.

"I had the best stunt crew in the world," he said.

The orange-colored General Lee, with its distinctive 01 numbering on its doors, brought back memories for Schneider, who portrayed Bo Duke in the original series. "I think the '69 Dodge Charger is by far the sexiest, hottest muscle car ever made," he said.

But he brushed off the notion that the car might have muscled its way into being the real star of the show. When he and Tom Wopat starred in "The Dukes of Hazzard," the series ranked No. 1, Schneider said. When the duo left, it plunged to No. 65, he said.

The ceremony lasted about an hour. But before it ended, some of the custom cars' engines were fired up.

The Munster Koach's 289 Ford Cobra — built with what Barris has described as Jahns high-compression pistons, 10 chrome-plated Stromberg carburetors, an Isky cam and a set of Bobby Barr racing headers — was so loud that it set off the alarm system of an SUV down the street.

Barris grinned at that. When it comes to his cars, he's always liked to go full throttle.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28591673.jpg

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28591677.jpg

Quixote
Mar 24, 2007, 10:00 PM
Yet the city is still struggling to attract cultural tourists. While New York, London and Paris each attract 10 million to 15 million such visitors per year, Los Angeles draws only about 2.5 million, according to a 2004 study by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation.

“Why is that?” asked the philanthropist Eli Broad, the city’s most visible and generous champion of the arts. “Perception. We have not promoted cultural travel. That’s going to start happening, and that’s going to get the city more and more attention.”

Whereas 40 percent of visitors to New York and London take part in some sort of cultural activity — a museum visit, a theatrical performance or the like — and 85 percent of visitors to Paris do so, only about 1 in 10 tourists to Los Angeles visit a cultural site. To remedy that Mr. Broad and other civic leaders are bargaining on their investment in the commercial and cultural districts that are taking shape downtown, like the Grand Avenue Project and L.A. Live, efforts that include hotels, restaurants, shops and entertainment centers. “It will mean a big boost to the economy, and a big boost to how our city is viewed internationally,” Mr. Broad said. “It’s not simply sunshine, beaches and Hollywood here.”


LACMA and Getty Center together account for the majority of those visitors. About 1 million visitors visit LACMA a year and 1.2 million people visit the Getty Center annually.

I highly doubt that 15 million people are involved in any sort of cultural activity when in NYC. Paris? Maybe. The Met attracts about 5 million annually while the Louvre attracts 8 million visitors.

No doubt that LA's cultural status will over time gain in popularity and recognition. In its current state it already is considered a dynamic cultural powerhouse as expressed in the above articles. But LA will never attract the same number of visitors that NYC, London, and Paris do unless people start viewing the city in a whole new light. As Eli Broad states, "It's not simply sunshine, beaches and Hollywood here."

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 10:12 PM
LACMA and Getty Center together account for the majority of those visitors. About 1 million visitors visit LACMA a year and 1.2 million people visit the Getty Center annually.


But I suspect most of those are locals, which don't figure into the numbers.

As it is, LA is certainly recognized as the major cultural destination within the Western US, but people in other parts still see it as Hollywood and Disneyland. But as the West in general continues to grow, so will LA's cultural reputation.

Quixote
Mar 24, 2007, 10:17 PM
Another thing about Los Angeles is decentralization, as expressed in the articles. In Chicago and DC, all the major cultural attractions are located in one area (Museum Campus and National Mall). What Los Angeles needs to do first is to establish Downtown as the true city center. Pretty soon Grand Avenue will be known as being one pf the major cultural centers of the world. But Grand Avenue will still be lacking in museums. We have (or will have) enough performance venues to rival Lincoln Center, but the only museum atop Bunker Hill is MOCA and it still has yet to work its way onto the tourist map. I hope to see MOCA expand possibly into what is currently the Omni Hotel. Bunker Hill just currently lacks the space for more cultural attractions. I would love to see all of those condominiums located behind Hope St. be gone! They eventually will be gone, but whether or not they will be replaced by museums and performance venues is still unknown. Based on the growth of Grand Avenue over the past few years, one CAN assume that is very possible.

fflint
Mar 24, 2007, 10:20 PM
But I suspect most of those are locals, which don't figure into the numbers.

As it is, LA is certainly recognized as the major cultural destination within the Western US, but people in other parts still see it as Hollywood and Disneyland. But as the West in general continues to grow, so will LA's cultural reputation.

Well, no, it isn't--and that's the problem. LA isn't "certainly recognized as the major cultural destination within the Western US." Outside the Southland, that just isn't the common perception--despite the merits of LA's excellent arts scenes. For a city that has a well-earned reputation for advertising itself, LA has done a poor job marketing its museums, galleries and music ensembles. LA really needs to work on that, in order to boost cultural tourism to more appropriate levels.

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 10:28 PM
Well, no, it isn't--and that's the problem. LA isn't "certainly recognized as the major cultural destination within the Western US."

If that's not the case, then which city in the Western US draws the most cultural tourists from within the region? I don't have the numbers but I doubt it's San Francisco.

Quixote
Mar 24, 2007, 10:28 PM
But I suspect most of those are locals, which don't figure into the numbers.

As it is, LA is certainly recognized as the major cultural destination within the Western US, but people in other parts still see it as Hollywood and Disneyland. But as the West in general continues to grow, so will LA's cultural reputation.

I'm sure the same can be said for NYC and Paris. Certainly not everyone who visits the Met and the Louvre are tourists. I always read reviews about the Art Institute of Chicago and many of the reviews are from Chicagoans themselves and all they do is just give it great reviews. The Getty Center seems to impress and a lot more people visit the Getty, LACMA, and La Brea Tar Pits than you believe. According to the LA Music Center's website, the Music Center attracts 1.6 million people annually. That's pretty damn impressive considering Lincoln Center attracts 5 million each year.

LA has just started to emerge as a true world class city over the last 5-10 years IMO. Other world class cities such as NYC, London, and Paris have been the leading cultural centers of the world long before LA was even urbanized. All the other world cities are much older than LA, yet LA managed to make its way up to Alpha world city status in a mere century. Given LA's age, it's pretty damn impressive how quickly LA emerged onto the cultural scene and how quickly it took for it to build its status as being the cultural powerhouse that it is today.

Quixote
Mar 24, 2007, 10:34 PM
If that's not the case, then which city in the Western US draws the most cultural tourists from within the region? I don't have the numbers but I doubt it's San Francisco.

San Francisco has a superior theater scene, but LA overall has a better performing arts scene.

I also believe LA's range of museums is far more varied than SF's museums.

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 10:44 PM
^My point, though is which city draws the most number of cultural tourists, which is the point of the article? When major traveling exhibitions show in only one city, which city is it? When major traveling broadway shows play in only one locale, where is it? Which cultural institutions are the most patronized by visitors from outside its city? (Getty? Disney Hall?)

fflint
Mar 24, 2007, 10:46 PM
If that's not the case, then which city in the Western US draws the most cultural tourists from within the region? I don't have the numbers but I doubt it's San Francisco.
Most? San Francisco? What?

When you wrote your post, did you only mean to say that LA city attracted more cultural tourists than any other individual municipality in the Western US? If so, then I misunderstood you. As it is, it appeared you were making a much more sweeping claim about LA, and one that does not seem to be borne out by the stats in the article.

With the article pointing out only 10% of visitors to the Southland enjoy a (high) cultural activity, it seems obvious there is a mismatch between LA's fine cultural qualities and its lackluster cultural tourism. Which is to say, LA has some work to do to attract suitably larger crowds to its museums, galleries, concert halls, and playhouses.

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 10:49 PM
When you wrote your post, did you only mean to say that LA city attracted more cultural tourists than any other individual municipality in the Western US?
.

This is exactly what I was saying.

fflint
Mar 24, 2007, 10:50 PM
My point, though is which city draws the most number of cultural tourists, which is the point of the article?
That's not what the article is about--it's about how LA is underperforming in the arena of cultural tourism, given its assets. You're the one who wants to try and bitchslap San Francisco, a city that isn't even mentioned in the article. San Francisco is not likely the reason LA hasn't successfully sold its cultural assets to tourists and potential tourists.

When major traveling exhibitions show in only one city, which city is it? When major traveling broadway shows play in only one locale, where is it? Which cultural institutions are the most patronized by visitors from outside its city? (Getty? Disney Hall?)
Las Vegas!

fflint
Mar 24, 2007, 10:54 PM
This is exactly what I was saying.
Ah, okay. When you wrote of LA being "recognized" as a singular cultural attraction in the Western US, it seemed you were making a sweeping claim about how people perceive LA, while the article makes an opposing claim.

It would be fascinating to see how many cultural tourists come to California cities. Got any statistics?

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 10:55 PM
<Sigh> Look, I wasn't trying to "bitchslap" SF. My point was that in the Western US, LA is the largest cultural destination within its region. And as the Western region grows in size LA's reputation will grow as well. The only reason I brought up San Francisco is because it's obviously the only other city in the Western US that could possibly have a claim to that distinction.

fflint
Mar 24, 2007, 11:00 PM
Las Vegas is a Western colossus for big, successful Broadway shows as well as for live comedy and popular music. Indeed, sometimes Vegas has a lock on Broadway plays--it was, contractually, the first and only Western city to show Avenue Q for over two years after the road troupe set off, for example.

bobcat
Mar 24, 2007, 11:02 PM
Las Vegas is a Western colossus for big, successful Broadway shows as well as for live comedy and popular music. Indeed, sometimes Vegas has a lock on Broadway plays--it was, contractually, the first and only Western city to show Avenue Q for over two years after the road troupe set off, for example.

Yes that's been true for some shows.

ocman
Mar 25, 2007, 2:12 AM
People don't come to California for cultural tourism. They go to SF for scenic beauty and dining and LA for the beaches and shopping. Unless California museums can show FAMOUS works of art, or atleast house them in a famous building, the average tourist isn't coming here for cultural tourism. MOCA consistenly has some of the best shows and can draw huge art lovers from around the world visiting Los Angeles, but the common tourist isn't going to be stimulated by Mike Kelley or John Baldassari, contemporary artists most people have never heard of.

So I wonder what dominates cultural tourism. My guess is that it's broadway shows/musicals and European antiquity museums, which are not California's strengths. We don't have the major Rembrandts or Titians.

bobcat
Mar 25, 2007, 2:34 AM
People don't come to California for cultural tourism. They go to SF for scenic beauty and dining and LA for the beaches and shopping.

Hey, don't forget the theme parks!

Seriously, the reason I mentioned LA being the Western cultural destination is that it DOES draw plenty of cultural tourists from within a 1000 mile radius. Ever since the Getty Center opened there has been a huge surge in bus tours from places like Arizona and Nevada just to visit LA's cultural institutions. Remember that the Southwestern US is a mecca for retirees and they love this stuff!

edluva
Mar 25, 2007, 9:23 AM
don't want to get too into this, but i have to say that the article does not seem to consider travelling exhibitions such as broadway shows to be "ownable" by a city which it is merely passing through, just as phoenix is not more a cultural capital by virtue of the fact that Regal's Cinemas is screening the latest hollywood flicks.

fflint
Mar 25, 2007, 4:12 PM
Hey, don't forget the theme parks!

Seriously, the reason I mentioned LA being the Western cultural destination is that it DOES draw plenty of cultural tourists from within a 1000 mile radius. Ever since the Getty Center opened there has been a huge surge in bus tours from places like Arizona and Nevada just to visit LA's cultural institutions. Remember that the Southwestern US is a mecca for retirees and they love this stuff!
I'd love to see the statistics you're using to draw your conclusions here.

citywatch
Mar 25, 2007, 6:15 PM
I just realize the writer of the NY Times article could have inserted a mention of the survey done by Business Week (http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showpost.php?p=2656669&postcount=101). If he didn't know about that story, then excluding it isn't too surprising. But if he did, then leaving it out was a missed opportunity. However, his article seems mainly interested in the way that tourism is affected by a city's cultural scene, so that probably was the key determinant in what was seen as relevant.

bobcat
Mar 25, 2007, 6:30 PM
I'd love to see the statistics you're using to draw your conclusions here.

Here's the complete report on the survey which was referenced in the article.

http://www.seemyla.com/pdf/LACulturalTourismStudy.pdf

dragonsky
Mar 26, 2007, 12:51 AM
Amateurs give dance a whirl at Music Center
Hundreds are eager to get into the swing of a variety of dance styles. After all, lessons are only $1 a session.
By Martha Groves, Times Staff Writer
March 25, 2007

Amateur hoofers turned out by the hundreds Saturday at Music Center plaza for a daylong program aimed at getting people off their duffs and onto the dance floor.

Under a cloudy sky, youngsters from Culver City, college students from Claremont and grandmothers from Los Angeles clogged, tapped, hustled and jitterbugged their way through A Taste of Dance, a Music Center event celebrating diverse ways of moving by offering dance lessons at $1 for a 20-minute session.

Awkward types with two left feet were well in evidence, but so were budding Freds and Gingers.

Yvonne Dowd, 61, a grandmother of three from Hyde Park, and her aunt, June Kimble, also 61, got their grooves on in a modern jazz session taught by Robert Gilliam, a well-regarded Los Angeles dancer and choreographer. They wore jeans and comfortable shoes, the better to glide across the floor and shake their, um, stuff.

"I had come before and had such a great time, so I brought my aunt," Dowd said. "We want to enjoy life. Any time there's an opportunity to do something different, we take it."

"It's good to keep the ol' body moving," Kimble said.

As country music vied for air space with Beyonc–'s "Crazy in Love" and Native American drum music, professional dancers taught the basics of a dozen dance forms, including the Texas two-step and steppin', popularized — in much more raucous form — by the movie "Stomp the Yard."

Leza Williams, 10, and her sister, Nia, 8, of Culver City glowed as they hip-hopped from floor to floor. "It was fun," Nia said.

"You have to have some strength and be flowy," she added, raising her arm gracefully to demonstrate a jazz move.

Hilary Lowe, 21, a senior at Scripps College in Claremont, invited three friends to join her for a dance day in the city. One, Katie Tutwiler, 22, also a Scripps senior, said the two-step lesson reminded her of the Cajun dancing she grew up doing in Louisiana.

Occasionally, tripping the light fantastic took on a literal meaning as children and adults tried out moves better suited to, say, Savion Glover.

A Taste of Dance is part of a year-round Music Center program called Active Arts, which includes Saturday morning drumming sessions and Friday night sing-alongs.

The events, held through December, are designed to get everyday people "singing, dancing, playing their instruments again and telling their stories," said Josephine Ramirez, vice president of programming. "Participatory art-making activities are a way to engage people in civic life."

David Goldstein, 51, whose dance-loving mother accompanied him from Chatsworth, couldn't have agreed more. Wearing a black T-shirt and jeans, he displayed a great deal of enthusiasm, if not always swanlike grace.

"I like the variety of dancers and the smiling faces," he said. "It is wonderful. And for $1 a lesson, you just can't beat it."

fflint
Mar 26, 2007, 9:33 AM
Here's the complete report on the survey which was referenced in the article.

http://www.seemyla.com/pdf/LACulturalTourismStudy.pdf
According to that link, 3 million LA tourists, or 22% of the total, are cultural tourists. Meanwhile, San Diego sees 2.7 million (21%) cultural tourists, and San Francisco sees 2.1 million (25%) cultural tourists. LA has it by the numbers, but SF has it by percentages, and San Diego is a contender in both raw numbers and percentages. The claim that LA is the one singular cultural destination in the Western US is not supported by these numbers.

bobcat
Mar 26, 2007, 5:18 PM
^I tried to clarify my earlier statement by saying I felt that LA drew the largest number of cultural tourists of any city in the Western region, and the data does support that view, although SD does very well also. Good for them. I never meant to say that I thought it drew high percentages of cultural tourists relative to its overall number of visitors because I never believed it did. I always figured that someplace like Santa Fe NM would draw a disproportionately high number of cultural tourists relative to the much larger cities.

dragonsky
Mar 28, 2007, 2:16 AM
March 28, 2007
Resiliency is built into LACMA’s redesign
Renzo Piano calmly proceeds, despite returns to the drawing board and elements pulling focus from his architecture.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-03/28650513.jpg
A $25-million gift from petroleum company BP prompted a new idea: an open-air entry hall with rooftop solar panels.

By Christopher Hawthorne, Times Staff Writer

In the last decade or so, we have learned to think of new museum buildings as a form of architectural entertainment — the more easily understandable, the better. The architecture itself may be elaborate (Libeskind in Denver, Herzog & de Meuron in Minneapolis) or refined (SANAA in New York, Gluckman in San Diego), but the aesthetic statement is almost always straightforward, the authorship of the buildings impossible to miss. Museum directors, as they pursue expansion, have been willing to sell off paintings and even trim their curatorial staffs. But cover up the architectural logo? Never.

That helps explain why the recent changes to Renzo Piano's expansion plans for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art seem so surprising, or at least so resistant to quick analysis. They are likely to make the experience of visiting LACMA richer even as they embrace a pop sensibility and veer close to some New York clich–s about California culture. And in bringing art and corporate identity to the foreground, they dim the spotlight on pricey, name-brand architecture.

The first phase of the expansion, budgeted at $156 million, includes a new parking garage, an expanded garden and two buildings by Piano along Wilshire Boulevard: a simple entry pavilion, which the architect originally modeled on L.A.'s Case Study houses, and the travertine-wrapped Broad Contemporary Art Museum, or BCAM.

Orchestrated by Michael Govan, who took over as LACMA director last year, the updates to the extension operate on two tracks. The first has to do with fundraising and programming. With some help from Eli Broad, Govan landed a $25-million gift from BP that will transform the pavilion into an open-air entry hall with solar panels on the roof — and the British oil company's name on the front. He then persuaded Lynda and Stewart Resnick, whose own $25-million gift was originally earmarked for the pavilion, to direct it instead to the construction of a new single-story gallery building by Piano directly behind BCAM. It will be part of the expansion's second phase, which will also include updates to the former May Co. building at Wilshire and Fairfax, known as LACMA West.

Even while executing that sleight of hand, Govan was recruiting artists to fill in the spaces around and in front of Piano's buildings. Surrounding BCAM like a wreath — or a playful chokehold — will be a palm garden by Robert Irwin, who proved with his garden at the Getty Center that he is hardly shy about confronting architectural celebrity. And just in front of the BP structure will be Jeff Koons' "Train," a massive artwork that includes a 70-foot locomotive dangling from a 160-foot crane.

Compared with Piano's earliest plans, the result, at least as Govan sees it, will be a museum more playful, more colorful and more comfortable with the fact that it is located in Southern California. The open-air pavilion will operate not just as a pathway into the galleries but also as a more conspicuous entry to the museum's parkland and sculpture gardens, which Piano's design extends to the north and west.

Govan's LACMA will also reduce the emphasis on the Piano brand. Recruited by Broad to replace Rem Koolhaas, whose aggressive scheme to remake the museum foundered on fundraising shoals, Piano brought his usual focus on clarity and refinement to the LACMA plan. He drew a thick east-west axis connecting LACMA West to the rest of the museum. And he filled out the BCAM design, the heart of his proposal's first phase, with broad, strong gestures. H-shaped in plan, the building will show art on three high-ceilinged, column-free floors.

But Piano had been working to loosen up his architecture for a Los Angeles audience long before Govan arrived here from the Dia Center for the Arts in New York. Early on, he attached a bright red escalator and stairs to the exterior of the blocky BCAM building and endorsed the idea of draping billboard-scale tapestries across its Wilshire facade. He tried to channel Charles and Ray Eames and Pierre Koenig in the entry pavilion. Not since he and Richard Rogers designed the 1977 Pompidou Center in Paris, Piano said last year, had he so fully embraced levity and color in a museum design.

For Govan, clearly, that effort didn't go far enough. Bringing Irwin and Koons on board will add some pop energy, a sense of humor and a touch of irreverence to the new LACMA buildings. Both the Koons train and the Irwin palm garden — but especially the train — carry heavy symbolic weight and a sensibility that couldn't be more different from Piano's work. The architect's recent projects stress rationality, the careful manipulation of light and a seamless, elegant marriage of technology and design. The train, which hangs perpendicular to the ground, seems to be hurtling straight at the pavement, ready to smash all those ideas to bits.

In part — and there is really no getting around this fact — the new elements also serve to camouflage Piano's architecture.

The architect himself, ever charming and unflappable, betrayed no anxiety about the new plan as he walked through the still-skeletal BCAM recently wearing a white hard hat. He praised Govan as a client, and it's easy to imagine that on an intellectual level, at the very least, the new director is a compelling sparring partner. To a different architect — younger, more aggressive, less sure of himself — Govan's changes might have been deeply threatening and maybe even cause for walking off the job altogether.

But just as there were risks in Piano's attempts to ground his LACMA design in L.A. culture — the connection to the Case Study program, for example, was a bit strained from the start — there are in Govan's as well. Any New York art expert ready to catalog the joys of Southern California — the sunshine! the scent of tropical flowers! all those cars on all those boulevards! — has to be careful not to alienate the locals with that very enthusiasm.

We should be glad, then, that Govan is at least polished enough not to resort to the crumbling clich–s we heard last week from Alanna Heiss, the director of the Queens, N.Y.-based MoMA affiliate P.S. 1. Heiss and P.S. 1 hold an annual competition to pick an architect to decorate the museum's courtyard during the summer. This year, the winner was a team made up of two 38-year-old architects from L.A., Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues.

Praising their design in the New York Times, Heiss said, "It seemed to us East Coast people really a present from the wilderness of California dreams."

We West Coast people hardly know where to begin with that phrase: the wilderness of California dreams. (I would have loved to run it by Milton Wexler, the analyst who worked for so many years with Frank Gehry and died two weeks ago at 98.) At the very least, if anyone wants to organize a conference on the theme of California art and architecture as seen through the lens of New York provincialism, we have a ready title.

Govan arrived in that wilderness last year with a deep supply of architectural credibility, having overseen the planning for Dia's outpost in Beacon, N.Y., along the Hudson River. In that 2003 project, Govan — working with Irwin and the New York architecture firm Open Office — turned an old Nabisco factory into one of the best new museum spaces to open anywhere in the last decade. Avoiding architectural fireworks, it is marked by a keen sense of proportion and light and a scrupulous attention to detail. Its success should buy Govan some time to execute his own vision here.

Still, there are few expansion projects in the country with more moving parts and a more tangled history than the one he has inherited at LACMA. Even if the first two phases come off cleanly — and that remains a pretty big "if" — there is the looming question of how to handle the jumble of buildings to the east: the Ahmanson, the Bing and the Hammer, not to mention the courtyards and staircases that connect and encircle them. Those buildings will be more resistant to architectural unification than the west side of the campus has been; figuring out what do with them is precisely where Govan will earn his keep.

http://www.calendarlive.com/media/photo/2007-02/27712757.jpg

Vangelist
Mar 28, 2007, 9:52 AM
Wow

dragonsky
Mar 29, 2007, 2:52 AM
March 29, 2007
Fake fame, genuine fun
The tribute bands at Burbank Bar & Grille get the crowd excited.

http://www.calendarlive.com/media/photo/2007-03/28667969.jpg

By Lina Lecaro, Special to The Times

Who doesn't love tribute bands? OK, a lot of people. Seems as if half the world thinks the wigs and costumes and zany personas, if not the music, are cheesy. And the other half is in retro heaven, especially if the performers are charismatic and the covers are tight. There certainly are more of the latter on Fridays and Saturdays at the Burbank Bar & Grille. In fact, the crowds are every bit as animated for '80s band Video Star (Fridays) and multi-era wonders Decades (Saturdays) as they are in Hollywood for Metal Skool Mondays at the Key Club and the Spazzmatics Sundays at the Dragonfly.

Only this is Burbank.

Located along San Fernando Boulevard, a street dotted by eateries and shops, the 10-year-old BB&G is a place where office workers stop by after work to sip cocktails and nibble on appetizers. As the night goes on, a mix of local twenty- to fortysomethings stop in looking for dancing — and, judging from the body language at the bar — romancing.

There is karaoke Sundays and Thursdays, and for those who prefer a mellower vibe, owner Tom Shayman provides a patio area featuring acoustic music seven nights a week.

But it's the flashing lights and familiar anthems that burst from BB&G's corner stage that make the room hustle.

The new wave, pop and rock of the '80s still seem to be the favorite (Video Star attracts the biggest crowd), but Decades' concept is far more interesting. The band, essentially the same lineup as Friday, offers three sets sporting three distinct looks — '70s songs complete with bell-bottoms, '80s music with Duran Duran hairdos and '90s hip-hop hits done rock 'n' roll style.

On a recent Saturday, Decades got the tiny dance floor pumping and chuckling with lots of zany repartee, particularly during the '80s set. The pouty singer applied lip gloss on stage, while the bassist cracked wise, then the group launched into the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun." It's silly, but after a few beers, amusing. It would fall flat if the band weren't spot on.

Guitarist Matt Fuller, whose "real" rock band Spy Camera plays clubs like Viper Room and Safari Sam's, says it's fun to let loose in Burbank. "People from Hollywood might not come here too often," he says, "but people from all over the city do — the Valley, Pasadena, Whittier, South Bay. It's a real mix."

Shayman says much of his daytime and early evening crowds tend to be from nearby studios: Warner Bros., Disney, DreamWorks, NBC. "After tapings, this is where they all come," he says.

And with the madcap time machine after dark, it's no wonder many come back for more.

Burbank Bar & Grille
Where: 112 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank
When: Open 11 a.m. to close seven days a week
What: Full dinner menu; late-night appetizers, $4 to $18; draft beer, $4; well drinks, $3
Info: (818) 848-9611; www.bbgrocks.com

dragonsky
Mar 30, 2007, 1:50 AM
USC innovation institute reinventing itself
Officials expand effort begun in 2004 to nurture ideas that will benefit all sectors of society, rather than just focusing on engineering.
By Angie Green, Times Staff Writer
March 29, 2007

University of Southern California officials say they have a new way of developing creative ideas that their students and faculty dream up. School officials announced Wednesday that USC is the first major research university with an institute that acts as a university-wide, centralized hub for nurturing inventions as well as inventors.

The institute — which was previously called the USC Stevens Institute for Technology Commercialization — was renamed the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation to reflect its shift to include innovations from all academic disciplines.

Established in 2004, the institute was originally designed to help advance engineering after USC alumnus and venture capitalist Mark Stevens and his wife, Mary, donated $22 million to the campus unit.

Stevens said Wednesday that over the next two years the idea grew to a larger vision with a "broader and more aggressive role" for the institute.

"We decided to make this a campuswide resource," said Stevens, who acknowledged that the institute's new mission and plans are still in the early stages. "This is a start-up." He added that the project is "full of unknowns, but that's what makes it exciting."

Traditionally, schools tend to focus on inventions and ideas connected to science and technology and ignore others, but officials said all disciplines must be included for maximum benefit to the public's quality of life. Innovative ideas could also include nonprofit organizations that aid a community. For example, many years ago, a USC professor from the School of Policy, Planning and Development developed the concept of the neighborhood council, according to the institute's director.

The institute's 17-member staff will help develop ideas from various areas, such as media, social work, fine arts and medicine.

The mission is about "nurturing ideas and inventions that would benefit society the most," USC President Steven B. Sample said.

An example of that objective was on display Wednesday as USC School of Dentistry professor Paul C. Denny chatted about how he developed a saliva test that predicts a child's genetic-based propensity for developing cavities.

The invention is being reviewed by the FDA for approval.

"It was my opportunity to do something for people," Denny said. "It was like it was a gift."

About a dozen other inventions by faculty members, some which have been years in the works, were on display at the Davidson Conference Center on Wednesday. The institute has supported the projects through promotion and licensing.

One invention teaches U.S. soldiers cultural awareness through an interactive, 3-D videogame that simulates real social interactions with Iraqi civilians. The invention, which has been used by members of the U.S. military, shows soldiers nonverbal gestures and norms, such as placing your hand over your heart when greeting an Iraqi.

In the spirit of innovation, Provost C.L. Max Nikias also announced he wants to develop in the next year a minor in innovation for all doctoral students, regardless of their discipline.

"I want innovation to be the signature for the USC PhD diploma," Nikias said.

To oversee the institute's new effort, USC officials last year recruited Krisztina Holly, a former director of an innovation center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Holly, a vice provost who said plans call for the USC institute to grow to a 30-member staff by 2008, said one of the institute's main goals will be to develop the creative thinking — and not just the inventions — of students and faculty.

If one of USC's 33,000 students has an idea, he or she should contact the institute that is housed in the Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering and speak with an innovator developer to determine if the idea has merit.

Staff at the institute may then encourage the student to take a course in innovation or entrepreneurship or attend one of the institute's workshops.

The institute staff also plans to offer advice on how to protect, license and patent the idea as well as introduce inventors to volunteer mentors from the community. Awards, grants and educational programs will soon be announced to support student innovators, Holly said.

However, while the institute has several ambitious plans, Holly admits most are in their conceptual stage.

"It is operating in unchartered territory," Holly said to a crowd of about 100 students, faculty members and school officials who came to hear the institute's new plans. "We have no road map, and we think that's great."

dragonsky
Apr 5, 2007, 2:11 AM
April 5, 2007
Sleight is a real sight
It'll be magicians out of a hat when the Academy of Magical Arts hands out awards.

http://www.calendarlive.com/media/photo/2007-04/28819356.jpg

By Geoff Boucher, Times Staff Writer

It was easier in the old days. Wave the wand, pull a rabbit out of the hat, saw a showgirl in half and, presto, the crowd went nuts.

But in the era of digital disbelief, magic is a much tougher sell. How do you make it better than the science of CGI, Photoshop and virtual reality?

Fortunately, a few old-school prestidigitators and illusionists still have something up their sleeve: A&E's "Criss Angel Mindfreak," Penn & Teller, David Blaine's quirky, public isolationist stunts, and assorted Las Vegas magic-themed spectacles come to mind. And then there's the Academy of Magical Arts. Based at the Magic Castle, a private club with a storied Hollywood history (Johnny Carson, Cary Grant and Steve Martin are among the "celebrity hobbyists" who have performed there), the academy has been the hub of the magic industry since the 1960s. And this Saturday, it will host its 39th Annual Academy of Magical Arts Awards Show at the Beverly Hilton, with tickets available to the public.

Celebrity presenters will include Martin, Mandy Patinkin, Buzz Aldrin, J.J. Abrams, Doris Roberts and Eric Roberts. But the real star is magic, with performances by Shimshi (whose specialty is "high-energy manipulation and cutting-edge illusion"), comedy magician Chris Kenner, and cabaret magician Paul Potassy, an acclaimed figure in magic circles who lives in the Philippines and has not performed in the United States for five decades.

Variety is the watchword; there will be exhibitions by classic illusionist and "dove-worker" Chen Kai from Mexico and John Cassidy, who is billed as balloon sculptor of highest order. Carl Ballantine, the popular comedy magician (familiar to rerun-watchers as a cast member of "McHale's Navy") will receive a lifetime achievement honor. Another familiar television star, Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame, is a nominee in the category of parlor magic after his recent sold-out performances at the Castle.

The award show's executive producer, Dale R. Hindman, said the public fascination with stage magic is cyclical and, to his eyes, is building toward another peak. The "Harry Potter" books and films get some credit for piquing the interest of young, would-be sorcerers, but to Hindman the biggest force of magic right now is the Internet. "Just look at what Cyril has done."

That would be Cyril Takayama, who will be honored Saturday with the prestigious magician of the year award. Takayama is "Magic's first Cyber-Celebrity," according to Magic magazine, and he has used the short-form ethos of YouTube and other websites to create quick-hit magic marvels. A big draw in Japan and a presence on Korean television, his success is a local story too: Takayama is a graduate of the Castle's juniors program: "We call it the real Hogwarts," noted Hindman.

The magician community is a quirky fraternity, and the Castle and the awards show put a premium on preserving its history, which is why you can find Harry Houdini's manacles and straitjacket in one room of the Castle as well as one of the world's premier libraries of magic. But beware dissing that history: When Blaine didn't show up to receive his magician of the year honor in 2002, the award was banished to a Castle bathroom, where it still awaits him. When the "Masked Magician" had a Fox series revealing the methods behind famous tricks, the taboo-breaker was drummed out of the industry. "I hope he made a lot of money off that show, because he's not making any more in magic," Hindman said.

Last week, Hindman watched a jaw-dropping lunchtime performance by Bob Jardine, a magician who's a familiar face in Vegas circles. The performance was about as low-tech as magic gets — a deck of cards, a couple of rubber bands and a fork — but it was an irresistible display of classic, up-close magic. Hindman believes that timeless fascination with sleight of hand endures despite the evolution of special effects: "When you're there watching a magician on stage, you know there's no CGI and it's as entertaining as it always has been. This year we have real international representation at the show, and one of the reasons is magic translates to all languages and every generation."

dragonsky
Apr 6, 2007, 5:26 AM
New York Times
Friday, April 6, 2007
A Museum Takes StepsTo Collect Houses
By EDWARD WYATT
Published: March 15, 2007

Shortly after moving here last year to take over as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Michael Govan started looking at houses -- not as a place for him to live but as potential museum pieces.

His idea -- one that has rarely, if ever, been tried on a large scale by a major museum -- is to collect significant pieces of midcentury residential architecture, including houses by Rudolf M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright, and to treat them as both museum objects and as residences for curators.

While he has yet to acquire any properties, Mr. Govan said this week that he certainly had his eye on some, including Frank Gehry's landmark residence in Santa Monica, a collage of tilting forms. In an interview Mr. Gehry confirmed that Mr. Govan had discussed the idea with him but said that no agreements about the house's future had been reached.

Mr. Govan, who moved here in March 2006 from New York, where he directed the Dia Art Foundation, said his project had been driven by the immediate impression that in Los Angeles, a city defined by outdoor spaces, architecture is inseparable from art.

''It started with an effort to rethink the museum, looking at the resources that are both locally powerful and internationally relevant,'' he said. ''It's clear that the most important architecture in Los Angeles is largely its domestic architecture. I've talked certainly to a number of people who have interesting architecture, and I'm beginning to talk to other people about raising funds to preserve these works.''

The potential cost of the houses varies widely. Many of the most distinctive properties, in Beverly Hills or the Hollywood Hills, have most recently sold for millions of dollars. Others, like Schindler's Buck House, on Eighth Street, barely two blocks from the museum, sold for less than half a million dollars in 1995, although it clearly would be worth more than double that today.

Mr. Govan was reluctant to discuss his plans in detail, partly because he has taken only ''baby steps,'' he said, but also because he does not want to set off bidding wars for houses in which he is interested. He said he hoped the museum could either buy houses or have them donated, the same ways that a museum would go about acquiring paintings or sculptures.

''This whole initiative will depend on generosity,'' he said. ''In the same way that someone would donate a Picasso, we want people to think of ways to see these houses as works of art and to think about ways to preserve them.''

Although he said he had received an ''enthusiastic response'' when he presented the idea to the museum's trustees, ''we have no funds at the moment'' dedicated to the effort, he added.

But the idea has already started to generate chatter in the architecture community here. Richard Koshalek, president of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, said Mr. Govan's effort was ''not only crucial for the city of Los Angeles but for the history of modern architecture.''

''Architects learn from other architects,'' Mr. Koshalek said. ''This history will be lost if people like Michael do not take this kind of initiative.''

While owning an architecturally significant house in Los Angeles has long carried a certain cachet, many potentially valuable works have fallen into disrepair or been greatly altered by renovations undertaken by a succession of owners.

''A number of them haven't been touched,'' Mr. Govan said. ''But many have been badly renovated and fundamentally changed. So I think it's kind of the last chance to try to preserve a group of these as a collection.''

Mr. Govan's idea is perhaps all the more remarkable because the Los Angeles County Museum does not have a department of architecture or design, unlike some older institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

But one of the museum's first acquisitions after Mr. Govan moved to Los Angeles, after 12 years as director of Dia, was a high-rise office interior by the Modernist architect John Lautner.

The Lautner office was formerly owned by James F. Goldstein, a real-estate investor who had Lautner design the space in 1987 for the 20th floor in a building in Century City, the commercial development on Santa Monica Boulevard in west Los Angeles.

In 2005 Mr. Goldstein was informed that his lease for the space would not be renewed, and a foundation devoted to saving Lautner works began seeking a patron who would preserve the space.

The Los Angeles County Museum initially turned down the proposal because museum officials felt it did not have the room to display the 800-square-foot office. But once Mr. Govan arrived, he seized the opportunity to acquire the work for an undisclosed amount and use it not as an exhibit but as an office -- specifically, his.

The museum now plans to install the office, which includes copper walls, a wood ceiling and a floor of black slate, as part of the renovation of the May Company building, a former department store that is on the western edge of the museum's 20-acre campus on Wilshire Boulevard. That renovation is planned for 2008 or 2009, and Mr. Govan said he hoped to use the space as his regular office, allowing visitors access to it as an exhibit on weekends.

Similarly, he said he hoped to use the houses that he collects not strictly as museum pieces but as housing for museum staff members, a perk that he said he believed would help the museum attract new curatorial talent.

''A lot of curators here have sought out interesting houses,'' he said. ''I thought, 'You could just have house tours on a regular basis to allow the public to have access to them.' ''

Although it does not have a design collection as such, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has hardly ignored the city's architectural history. In 1987 it organized a tour in the Silver Lake community of houses by Schindler, Neutra and other architects of the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s. In 1965 the museum published ''A Guide to Southern California Architecture,'' a book that, although out of print, is prized by real-estate agents here who specialize in architectural gems.

Various Los Angeles organizations have also sponsored tours of houses that were built as part of the Case Study program: two dozen prototypes of modern architecture, by Charles and Ray Eames, Neutra and Pierre Koenig, among others, that were commissioned by Art & Architecture magazine and built from 1945 to 1964.

Silver Lake, an area around a man-made reservoir in the hills east of Hollywood, is the site of dozens of houses that would be potential acquisitions for the museum. The 2200 block of Silver Lake Boulevard, for example, has no fewer than five houses by Neutra, who was encouraged to migrate from Vienna to Los Angeles by Schindler, who was himself born in Austria and had worked in Chicago and Los Angeles as a construction supervisor for Frank Lloyd Wright.

Schindler's work is also ubiquitous around Los Angeles. In 2001 the magazine ArtForum listed 32 significant works by Schindler, several in the parts of Los Angeles that visitors to the city rarely get to, including Torrance, Glendale, South Central and Woodland Hills.

Mr. Govan said that because the institution was a county museum, he did not intend to limit his collection to the area immediately around the museum's west Los Angeles location.

With Mr. Govan's plans already being discussed in architecture and real estate circles, the museum is certain to face some competition to acquire properties, including that ofMr. Gehry. His Santa Monica house, built in 1978 and remodeled in 1993, is known for its distinctive exteriors, which include corrugated metal, plywood and chain-link fencing.

It is also in the sights of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mr. Gehry said, which has talked to him about its registering the house or acquiring it once he completes a new residence in nearby Venice, Calif.

''In the meantime,'' Mr. Gehry said, ''I'm living in it.''

ocman
Apr 6, 2007, 5:34 AM
New York Times
Friday, April 6, 2007
A Museum Takes StepsTo Collect Houses
By EDWARD WYATT
Published: March 15, 2007

Shortly after moving here last year to take over as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Michael Govan started looking at houses -- not as a place for him to live but as potential museum pieces.

His idea -- one that has rarely, if ever, been tried on a large scale by a major museum -- is to collect significant pieces of midcentury residential architecture, including houses by Rudolf M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright, and to treat them as both museum objects and as residences for curators.

While he has yet to acquire any properties, Mr. Govan said this week that he certainly had his eye on some, including Frank Gehry's landmark residence in Santa Monica, a collage of tilting forms. In an interview Mr. Gehry confirmed that Mr. Govan had discussed the idea with him but said that no agreements about the house's future had been reached.

Mr. Govan, who moved here in March 2006 from New York, where he directed the Dia Art Foundation, said his project had been driven by the immediate impression that in Los Angeles, a city defined by outdoor spaces, architecture is inseparable from art.

''It started with an effort to rethink the museum, looking at the resources that are both locally powerful and internationally relevant,'' he said. ''It's clear that the most important architecture in Los Angeles is largely its domestic architecture. I've talked certainly to a number of people who have interesting architecture, and I'm beginning to talk to other people about raising funds to preserve these works.''

The potential cost of the houses varies widely. Many of the most distinctive properties, in Beverly Hills or the Hollywood Hills, have most recently sold for millions of dollars. Others, like Schindler's Buck House, on Eighth Street, barely two blocks from the museum, sold for less than half a million dollars in 1995, although it clearly would be worth more than double that today.

Mr. Govan was reluctant to discuss his plans in detail, partly because he has taken only ''baby steps,'' he said, but also because he does not want to set off bidding wars for houses in which he is interested. He said he hoped the museum could either buy houses or have them donated, the same ways that a museum would go about acquiring paintings or sculptures.

''This whole initiative will depend on generosity,'' he said. ''In the same way that someone would donate a Picasso, we want people to think of ways to see these houses as works of art and to think about ways to preserve them.''

Although he said he had received an ''enthusiastic response'' when he presented the idea to the museum's trustees, ''we have no funds at the moment'' dedicated to the effort, he added.

But the idea has already started to generate chatter in the architecture community here. Richard Koshalek, president of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a former director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, said Mr. Govan's effort was ''not only crucial for the city of Los Angeles but for the history of modern architecture.''

''Architects learn from other architects,'' Mr. Koshalek said. ''This history will be lost if people like Michael do not take this kind of initiative.''

While owning an architecturally significant house in Los Angeles has long carried a certain cachet, many potentially valuable works have fallen into disrepair or been greatly altered by renovations undertaken by a succession of owners.

''A number of them haven't been touched,'' Mr. Govan said. ''But many have been badly renovated and fundamentally changed. So I think it's kind of the last chance to try to preserve a group of these as a collection.''

Mr. Govan's idea is perhaps all the more remarkable because the Los Angeles County Museum does not have a department of architecture or design, unlike some older institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

But one of the museum's first acquisitions after Mr. Govan moved to Los Angeles, after 12 years as director of Dia, was a high-rise office interior by the Modernist architect John Lautner.

The Lautner office was formerly owned by James F. Goldstein, a real-estate investor who had Lautner design the space in 1987 for the 20th floor in a building in Century City, the commercial development on Santa Monica Boulevard in west Los Angeles.

In 2005 Mr. Goldstein was informed that his lease for the space would not be renewed, and a foundation devoted to saving Lautner works began seeking a patron who would preserve the space.

The Los Angeles County Museum initially turned down the proposal because museum officials felt it did not have the room to display the 800-square-foot office. But once Mr. Govan arrived, he seized the opportunity to acquire the work for an undisclosed amount and use it not as an exhibit but as an office -- specifically, his.

The museum now plans to install the office, which includes copper walls, a wood ceiling and a floor of black slate, as part of the renovation of the May Company building, a former department store that is on the western edge of the museum's 20-acre campus on Wilshire Boulevard. That renovation is planned for 2008 or 2009, and Mr. Govan said he hoped to use the space as his regular office, allowing visitors access to it as an exhibit on weekends.

Similarly, he said he hoped to use the houses that he collects not strictly as museum pieces but as housing for museum staff members, a perk that he said he believed would help the museum attract new curatorial talent.

''A lot of curators here have sought out interesting houses,'' he said. ''I thought, 'You could just have house tours on a regular basis to allow the public to have access to them.' ''

Although it does not have a design collection as such, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has hardly ignored the city's architectural history. In 1987 it organized a tour in the Silver Lake community of houses by Schindler, Neutra and other architects of the 1920s, '30s, '40s and '50s. In 1965 the museum published ''A Guide to Southern California Architecture,'' a book that, although out of print, is prized by real-estate agents here who specialize in architectural gems.

Various Los Angeles organizations have also sponsored tours of houses that were built as part of the Case Study program: two dozen prototypes of modern architecture, by Charles and Ray Eames, Neutra and Pierre Koenig, among others, that were commissioned by Art & Architecture magazine and built from 1945 to 1964.

Silver Lake, an area around a man-made reservoir in the hills east of Hollywood, is the site of dozens of houses that would be potential acquisitions for the museum. The 2200 block of Silver Lake Boulevard, for example, has no fewer than five houses by Neutra, who was encouraged to migrate from Vienna to Los Angeles by Schindler, who was himself born in Austria and had worked in Chicago and Los Angeles as a construction supervisor for Frank Lloyd Wright.

Schindler's work is also ubiquitous around Los Angeles. In 2001 the magazine ArtForum listed 32 significant works by Schindler, several in the parts of Los Angeles that visitors to the city rarely get to, including Torrance, Glendale, South Central and Woodland Hills.

Mr. Govan said that because the institution was a county museum, he did not intend to limit his collection to the area immediately around the museum's west Los Angeles location.

With Mr. Govan's plans already being discussed in architecture and real estate circles, the museum is certain to face some competition to acquire properties, including that ofMr. Gehry. His Santa Monica house, built in 1978 and remodeled in 1993, is known for its distinctive exteriors, which include corrugated metal, plywood and chain-link fencing.

It is also in the sights of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mr. Gehry said, which has talked to him about its registering the house or acquiring it once he completes a new residence in nearby Venice, Calif.

''In the meantime,'' Mr. Gehry said, ''I'm living in it.''

A few Neutras a couple years back were selling for 2 million, which is a steal. I'd love for LACMA to acquire the Case Study series and open it up to the public. So many private gems in LA that few know about. It would bring to the forefront the importance of LA modernism.

ocman
Apr 10, 2007, 4:15 AM
Esa-Pekka Solonen last season with the LA Philharmonic will be next year. The good news is that we didn't lose him to another orchestra or city. Ha! Other good news is that they already hired a music director, 26 year old Gustavo Dudamel.

About his guest conducting last week with Chicago.

From Tribune:

"But it's no act. Dudamel is for real, a serious musician through and through, the most gifted and exciting newcomer to make music with our orchestra in a very long time. CSO players have been singing his praises all week and Thursday they delivered their very best for a conductor they clearly admire."


From Sun-Times:

"Barely 26, Gustavo Dudamel hails from Venezuela, a land more associated with baseball and the politics of oil than classical music. But when he made his local debut Thursday night at Symphony Center, 2,400 jaws dropped, including those of many members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.This was a once-in-a-generation event: A conductor showed what happens when talent, charisma, excitement, daring and believe it or not in a world of Olympian egos, warmth and kindness take the stage. An electrical charge ran through the hall and its buzz didn't stop even after a wild, long ovation."




Maestro of Los Angeles Philharmonic to Pass the Baton to a Wunderkind

By DANIEL J. WAKIN
Published: April 9, 2007

Esa-Pekka Salonen, the onetime wunderkind from Finland who has led the Los Angeles Philharmonic as music director for 15 seasons, has decided to leave the orchestra when his term ends in 2009. His successor? A wunderkind from Venezuela named Gustavo Dudamel, one of the hottest — and youngest — conducting properties around.


Gustavo Dudamel

Mr. Dudamel, 26, is a product of his country’s extraordinary youth orchestra system, founded three decades ago to help disadvantaged youngsters. It has grown into a network of scores of ensembles, training hundreds of thousands of musicians. He is music director of its capstone, the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, which he joined as a violinist at 11.

In the last few years Mr. Dudamel, who becomes principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony of Sweden next season, has had the world’s major orchestras in hot pursuit. He has had, or is scheduled to have, guest appearances at the Berlin, New York and Vienna Philharmonics, the London Philharmonia and the Boston and Chicago Symphonies. He also records for Deutsche Grammophon. His United States debut came with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at the Hollywood Bowl, in 2005.

His influential mentors include the conductors Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Claudio Abbado.

When he takes over as music director in Los Angeles in September 2009, Mr. Dudamel will be all of 28, three years younger than Mr. Salonen was when he won the job.

Mr. Salonen, now 48 and also the product of a country that places great weight on musical education, said he wanted to devote more time to composition. Under his leadership the orchestra has won acclaim for its playing and inventive programming.

The change was reported yesterday in The Los Angeles Times.

Other major American orchestras are in the throes of a conductor search, including the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the choice of Mr. Dudamel may put pressure on them to come up with daring and youthful choices of their own.

Mr. Dudamel’s contract is for five years. He begins in September 2009. In his first season he will conduct for 10 weeks and increase to 14 weeks after that.

ocman
Apr 11, 2007, 5:49 AM
http://www.calendarlive.com/music/la-et-phil11apr11,0,3694976.story?coll=cl-music

Sorry, Chicago, L.A.'s got Dudamel

The L.A. Philharmonic's signing of the coveted Venezuelan conductor sets the classical music world abuzz.

By Chris Pasles, Times Staff Writer

The appointment of 26-year-old Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, beginning in 2009, is already having a ripple effect.

"No!" read several e-mails from disappointed Chicago Symphony musicians, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday. Wrote one of that orchestra's major donors: "I read this story — and wept."

Dudamel, as it happened, had conducted the Chicago Symphony — one of a number of U.S. orchestras searching for a new music director — for the first time last week. Critic Andrew Patner, who reported those reactions, had concluded his review by hoping the orchestra's board members were "carrying pens and contract paper to share with Dudamel before he leaves town."

It was too late. Dudamel had already signed a five-year contract to succeed Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Philharmonic's current music director, who had decided he wanted to devote more time to composing and less to conducting. The orchestra had given Dudamel his U.S. conducting debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 2005 after he won the inaugural Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany, in 2004.

Elsewhere in the classical world, reaction to Dudamel's appointment has been notably positive.

"I think what is happening in L.A. is like an earthquake," composer Osvaldo Golijov said Tuesday. "I admire Esa-Pekka Salonen perhaps more than any other musician of my generation, and I think he has the potential to be the most important composer of the generation. And Gustavo has a charisma we haven't seen since Leonard Bernstein."

Leon Botstein, conductor and president of Bard College, who was a jury member at the Mahler competition, said he and his fellow jurors spotted Dudamel as "a kind of fireball of energy and enthusiasm and talent, and a couple of us had the instinct that he also had that extra zip and personality to make a career.

"The real problem for him, for any wunderkind," Botstein said Tuesday, "is the narcotic of corruption, of attention. He needs to do what J.D. Salinger did, what Philip Roth did: control, if not shun, the limelight, not succumb to it.

"Being a great musician is a matter of time," Botstein added. "Leonard Bernstein was a great conductor — at the end of his life. He was a gifted fireball at the beginning. But this is a wonderful, refreshing appointment. It's good for L.A. and good for him."

"Los Angeles has a history of appointing music directors in their 20s who do very well," said Zarin Mehta, executive director of the New York Philharmonic, whose brother Zubin led the L.A. Phil from 1962 to 1978.

"Gustavo is only 26, but he has a fair amount of experience already. By the time 2009 rolls around, he'll have even more experience. He's a man with his head screwed on right. I'm very impressed with him. He will fit in wonderfully."

At a news conference Monday officially announcing Dudamel's appointment, Salonen said, "I was moved to tears, and so was practically everyone else," by Dudamel's performance of Mahler's Fifth Symphony at the Mahler competition. "We realized this was a rare and natural talent that happens every now and then in history, but not very often."

That impression was confirmed, Salonen said, by not only Dudamel's Bowl debut but also a performance of Kodály, Rachmaninoff and Bartók at Walt Disney Concert Hall in January.

"Halfway through the first piece," Salonen said, "I whispered to my wife, 'Jane, this is the man. There's absolutely no question about it.' "

"I'm not a good speaker," Dudamel said at the news conference, where he appeared with his wife, Eloisa. "My English is improving. I hope in one year and a half, two years, it will be really, I hope, a lot better."

Dudamel noted that, though young, he had begun conducting at the age of 12. At 13, he became an assistant conductor and at 17 music director of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, the flagship of the country's extensive music education system.

"I conducted 90 concerts a year," he said. "That gives me some experience, and I am grateful for those opportunities."

He also is principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden and is scheduled to make his debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and the New York Philharmonic next season.

Dudamel said that he wanted to continue Salonen's line of innovative programming but that his own plans for the orchestra would emerge gradually.

"We need to have our honeymoon together to make children. Then we have plenty of time to think about what we want to do," he said. "In the meantime, I will study, eat, run a little bit, maybe swim."

Although formal discussions between Dudamel and the Philharmonic began in January, the search process started "long before that," orchestra President Deborah Borda said in an interview Monday.

"We review every single guest conductor every single time they step on the podium," she said. "I always say, 'Taxes and the music director leaving are inevitable.' Both will happen. You constantly need to be thinking about this and prepare the way so that you have what I call an organic search.

"When the moment comes when the music director steps down for whatever reason, you're in a position to deal with that on an immediate basis. I don't believe in a public horse race. It's very unfortunate for a guest conductor to be publicly evaluated and potentially rejected."

Along with Chicago, the New York Philharmonic is among at least five other U.S. orchestras that will have to continue to look for music directors. Although Mehta refused to talk about its search — including rumors that Dudamel had been in the running — he did wonder whether Salonen might be interested "in taking another directorship."

"I know he said he wants to compose," Mehta said. "But in two years' time, would he want to do that exclusively? Who knows?"

BrighamYen
Apr 11, 2007, 11:51 PM
^ Judging by the reactions from the critics of Dudamel, I am extremely excited for the LA Phil and can only hope that LA's reputation as a classical music center continues to climb up toward the top ranking symphonies in the world. I think as the Colburn School and the LAUSD Performing Arts School gain recognition, it will also help to bring saliency to Grand Ave. as the next cultural mecca of the United States. Finally, LA will not only be considered a center of pop culture/Hollywood, but also a metropolis of sophistication and refined high-culture.

citywatch
Apr 12, 2007, 12:30 AM
^ I saw the following about that bit of news, & have to say it may make up for what probably will happen this Saturday, when a certain town in the US is announced as this country's choice to host the 2016 Olympics. Either that, or it will be a case of rubbing salt in the wound.


‘Say it isn't so' music fans lament
Gustavo Dudamel's triumphant local debut makes pain of losing him worse

April 10, 2007
BY ANDREW PATNER

It was a heartbreak of record speed and strength. Faster than the collapse of the ’69 Cubs. As sad as the sight of the tall girl in ninth grade dancing with that other guy. Thursday night at Symphony Center, Gustavo Dudamel, the sensational 26-year-old Venezuelan conductor, made his Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut with a performance of Mahler’s First Symphony that grabbed the audience members by the shoulders and lifted them collectively from their seats. The reviews were once-in-a-decade raves.

The phenomenon was repeated on Friday afternoon and Saturday evening. Backstage was jumping with well-wishers, agents, heads of other orchestras and the CSO’s own musicians as it hadn’t since Daniel Barenboim’s farewell concerts or Georg Solti’s retirement as music director.

The Internet was abuzz and speculation was rife that the CSO might be able to work out some arrangement with Dudamel — perhaps a guest conductor role, some residencies, maybe even music director, a daring risk that would have captured the imagination of the classical music world.

And then Easter Sunday morning, the news broke. Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed had the scoop: Esa-Pekka Salonen, a former wunderkind himself, would leave the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director post in two years and would be succeeded by none other than Gustavo Dudamel.

“No!” read several e-mails I received from CSO musicians. “I read this story — and wept,” wrote a major donor to the orchestra. “Come on, this is Easter Sunday, not April Fools’ Day,” WFMT’s morning host Lisa Flynn said when I called her with the news during her shift.

dragonsky
Apr 12, 2007, 1:55 AM
April 12, 2007
Sunset: the boulevard of dreams
Patrick Ecclesine takes Sunset all the way to snap the diverse faces of Angelenos.

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By Shana Ting Lipton, Special to The Times

Sunset Boulevard is undoubtedly one of Los Angeles' most famous streets, but does it serve as a connecting thread for the residents of the diverse neighborhoods it passes through on its way from downtown L.A. to the Pacific Ocean? It's a question photographer Patrick Ecclesine appears poised to answer in his solo exhibit, "Faces of Sunset Boulevard," which opens tonight at Los Angeles City Hall's Bridge Gallery.

In this ongoing personal project consisting of about 100 photographs (24 of which are included in the show), Ecclesine looks to capture L.A.'s dreams, dreamers and, at times, nightmares using the thoroughfare as a focal point for impromptu and set-up portraits of its denizens. He also brought a sound recording device to the photo sessions and did some preliminary interviewing of his subjects to create a fuller story. Quotes from those interviews appear beneath the large prints in the exhibit.

Some of the images capture people on the street — a Bosnian refugee who is now a stand-in on the ABC television show "Grey's Anatomy," a street poet, construction workers, a street vendor. Others depict prominent community workers and leaders such as L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton and attending officers. And still more show Hollywood insiders such as Henry Winkler and writer-producer Steven J. Cannell, as well as a plastic surgeon and a divorce attorney.

Ecclesine describes his hometown as "worlds within worlds within worlds," marveling at what he deems a relatively peaceful coexistence among residents with vast cultural differences.

"To me, Sunset Boulevard is the ultimate representation of that because it's the boulevard of dreams, from the barrio to the beach," he says.

Like Sunset, Ecclesine's life has similarly wound through some diverse quarters. The project has taken him back to his roots. Literally born just off Sunset Boulevard, in the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, he spent the first few years of his life residing in a "terrible beat-up ramshackle neighborhood" off Western Avenue.

"It was like a carnival out there," he recalls. "There were Haitian voodoo ceremonies on Saturday nights. There were drug addicts and prostitutes."

More than two decades later, Ecclesine found himself working amid the world of film and TV as a still photographer on the Fox series "The O.C." He recalls having brought his "Faces of Sunset" portfolio to the set, where he met a camera operator who is the brother of 4th District Councilman Tom LaBonge. Ecclesine had begun the "Sunset" project in 2004, but found it difficult to solicit city officials — until LaBonge gave him a certificate of appreciation for his work. That helped open all the right doors, Ecclesine says.

This enabled him to orchestrate some ambitious set-up photo shoots. The one that he is most proud of involved Bratton. The image is one of the few in the show that was not actually taken on Sunset, but rather at a nearby helicopter facility, the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center. It took months of planning and negotiations, and picture-perfect coordination with a strategically hovering helicopter. The catch: Because of hectic city official schedules, the photographer had only about five minutes to capture his shot.

Ecclesine is also proud of the shoot he conducted with the L.A. County coroners.

"People are obsessed with 'CSI,' yet the coroners have never been photographed that way," he says, describing the detailed set-up of his photo, complete with body bag and trucks. "They loved doing that."

So did Ecclesine, who found the set-up productions to be the most challenging of his 170 Sunset project shoots. In addition, he says that shooting subjects who are in the public eye is a challenge because "they have defense mechanisms already in place, because they've dealt with it so many times."

Conversely, he found it easier to photograph street subjects impromptu because "they're in their humanity, in their element."

Regardless, Ecclesine says he appreciates chronicling all walks of life: They're all "part of Los Angeles — the superficial and the deep."

*

'Faces of Sunset Boulevard'
Where: Los Angeles City Hall, Bridge Gallery, 200 N. Spring St., L.A.
When: Opening reception, 8 p.m. April 12. Regular hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
Ends: May 4
Price: Free, but photo ID required
Info: (323) 314-8000, www.facesofsunset.com

dragonsky
Apr 20, 2007, 2:32 AM
April 18, 2007
Art purchases advance Getty's ambitions
A gilded image of Christ and a classic French portrait bulk up the museum's collection.

By Suzanne Muchnic, Times Staff Writer

A medieval gilt-copper and enamel relief of Christ, thought to have come from a Spanish cathedral, and a 19th century portrait of a lady in her pink velvet dressing gown by French artist James Jacques Joseph Tissot have joined the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The new acquisitions — purchased privately for undisclosed sums in an ongoing effort to build the relatively young institution's art holdings — will go on view in May at the Getty Center in Brentwood.

"This is a fabulous piece," Antonia Bostro"m, curator of sculpture and decorative arts, said of the metal work "Christ in Majesty." About 18 inches tall — an unusually large example of its type — the artwork depicts a seated figure in a glass-jeweled robe, with his right hand raised in a blessing, left hand holding a Bible and feet attached to a rectangular enameled panel. The figure has "a sculptural presence," she says, but it was formed in high relief of a single sheet of copper enhanced by gilding and engraved details.

Made around 1188 in Limoges, France, the artwork was probably designed for the Cathedral of St. Martin in Ourense, in northwest Spain, where Christian pilgrims stopped on their way to Santiago de Compostela, Bostro"m says. The Christ figure is thought to have been part of an altarpiece that was dismantled in the early 19th century, possibly during the Napoleonic Wars. The Getty bought the work from a private collector in Spain.

"Christ in Majesty" initially will be displayed in a gallery of sculpture and decorative arts but it is intended as the centerpiece of a "Cathedral Treasury" expected to open early next year. The installation will be "a sacred space," Bostro"m says, putting the new acquisition in the context of Medieval and Renaissance stained glass, sculpture, decorative arts, paintings and manuscripts.

The Tissot painting, "Portrait of the Marquise de Miramon, ne'e The're`se Feuillant," is an 1866 oil-on-canvas from what scholars call the golden age of fashionable portraiture in France. The 30-year-old subject stands by a fireplace in a room of the Cha^teau de Paulhac in the Auvergne, her husband's family seat. She is dressed in a flowing winter peignoir with ruffled borders and is surrounded by decorative objects favored by the rich — a Japanese screen and ceramics, a terra cotta bust of a family member, a Louis XVI stool holding a pile of needlepoint.

The first painting by Tissot to hang in a public collection in Los Angeles, the work will add an example from the Second Empire (1851-1870) to the museum's portraits. The De Young Museum in San Francisco has a Tissot self-portrait of the same period.

The Getty picture was exhibited only once, at the Paris World's Fair in 1867, curators Scott Schaefer and Mary Morton say. The painting was kept in the sitter's family until the museum bought it, through a French dealer.

"It's as fresh and perfect as they come," says conservator Mark Leonard, who cleaned the picture and removed its only flaw, some patches of yellowed varnish. A swatch of pink velvet from the gown, identical to the painted fabric and passed along to the Getty with the artwork, proves the point.

dragonsky
Apr 27, 2007, 2:10 AM
Coachella magic
Pop music critic Robert Hilburn lists his all-time favorite performances from the festival.
By Robert Hilburn, Special to the Times
April 27, 2007

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The most dramatic moment of this weekend's Coachella festival will surely be when the four members of Rage Against the Machine step on stage together for the first time in seven years, but even that reunion will be hard pressed to match the drama of the politically charged band's initial appearance there.

Rage's tenacious set on the closing night of the inaugural festival in 1999 tops my list of Coachella's memorable moments because the very future of the event hung in the balance.

That first Coachella chapter came just weeks after the trauma of Woodstock 99, a festival in upstate New York so marred by violence that civic authorities and rock fans around the country wondered if massive outdoor concerts were still possible in these hardened times. Even a trace of the lawlessness of Woodstock 99 would have ruled out future Coachellas.

To discourage rowdiness, the festival promoters at Goldenvoice were careful to book quality artists they felt would appeal chiefly to fans who were truly interested in music, not hell-raising. Rage was a superb band that fit the alternative aims of the festival, but it played with such alarming emotion and force that its presence made many who planned to attend Coachella nervous. By the time Rage finished its spectacular performance, however, Coachella's future was secure. It was, in every way, the anti-Woodstock 99.

Here's my best-of-Coachella list:

Rage Against the Machine, 1999. Tension reached a peak near the end of Rage's set as fans in front of the stage moved to the music with alarming force. The band's Zack de la Rocha screamed the closing lines of "Guerrilla Radio," a song about striking back at oppression: "It has to start somewhere / It has to start sometime / What better place than here? / What better time than now?"

With emotions running so high in the audience, the fear was a repeat of the rampaging at Woodstock 99, where, among other things, hundreds of youths set bonfires, tore down at least two 50-foot light towers and attacked vendor trucks. Observers later blamed the rioting in large part on resentment of festival conditions, including overflowing toilets, lack of potable water and high-priced food. At Coachella, the promoters stressed fan comfort, which meant extra toilets, plenty of reasonably priced food and keeping the audience far below the capacity of the grounds to avoid overcrowding.

The key was that the Coachella fans didn't see the event as a target of a song like "Guerrilla Radio." Instead, they saw Coachella as something worth preserving: a haven of music, celebration and even social bonding. Thanks to both great performances such as Rage's and a warm, uplifting spirit, Coachella earned that all-essential element: fan trust. Indeed, the weekend represented a rebirth of the festival concept across the country.

Beck, 1999. This gifted singer-songwriter was another headliner at the opening Coachella festival, and, like Rage, he previewed songs from an upcoming album. In Beck's case, the music from "Midnite Vultures" was a bold step into a funk-driven R&B territory closer to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy" period than Beck's earlier folk-shaded leanings. The slender auteur even wore a fringed flamboyant shirt and went through lots of Prince-inspired dance steps. It was a moment of sheer exhilaration for the 20,000 fans.

Beck also contributed to another special moment in 2004, one that again exemplified the informal spirit of Coachella. Just days before the show, Beck called Goldenvoice's Paul Tollett and asked if he could join the lineup, not on the main stage but in one of the smaller tents. He had been in the studio for months, and he wanted to "shake off some of the studio dust by playing before people." Beck was so relaxed he invited five fans on stage to play tambourine on a good-natured, folk-blues treatment of an old Kinks song. It was fun and disarming.

White Stripes, 2003. American rock 'n' roll was seriously in need of passionate new blood early in the new millennium, and the duo of singer-guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White seemed the one most capable of supplying it. They offered a captivating blend of spectacular sonic textures, superb songwriting and daring instincts. As a fan, I loved that the Stripes had generated enough momentum to land one of the key evening spots on the main stage, but I worried about whether they were up to such a challenge. They had never played an L.A. venue larger than the 900-capacity El Rey, and they'd be facing some 30,000 fans at Coachella. No problem. The set was exhilarating, demonstrating that the Stripes could reach a wide audience without compromising their artful and deeply personal music.

Arcade Fire, 2005. Here's another case of a great band making a triumphant leap. This young, Montreal-based group was playing clubs in town just months before stepping onto one of Coachella's main stages. The songs about loss and resilience on their brilliant "Funeral" album took on added vitality on stage because the band performed with such zest.

Nine Inch Nails, 2005. Coachella has hosted many comebacks but none as thrilling as this one. In the early and mid-'90s, NIN leader Trent Reznor's songs of alienation and self-loathing hit the rock mainstream with an anger and aggression that had rarely been seen. For a while after his "The Downward Spiral" album in 1994, Reznor seemed the likely successor to Kurt Cobain as the voice of a rock generation. But he went through an emotional, drug-driven spiral of his own that left his next album, 1999's "The Fragile," so dark and impenetrable that it all but ended his career. Indeed, he didn't have another album until 2005's "With Teeth."

On stage at Coachella, Reznor was more compelling than ever. In one of the new songs, "The Line Begins to Blur," he shared the confusion of his addiction: "There are things I would never do / There are fears I cannot believe have come true." It was a courageous, life-affirming hour.

BrighamYen
May 13, 2007, 10:58 PM
ART

Michael Govan's bright ideas
There's lots of heat but little friction as the new director lights a fire under LACMA.
By Suzanne Muchnic
Times Staff Writer

May 13, 2007

FIFTEEN months ago, when news of Michael Govan's appointment as director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art rocked the art world, he described L.A. as "the future" — and its central art museum as "a sleeping giant." LACMA, he thought, had lots of possibilities and lots of unfulfilled potential.

The wake-up call came fast. On the job just more than a year, Govan has rejiggered an ambitious expansion and renovation project designed by architect Renzo Piano, recruited high-powered trustees and shaken up the exhibition program. He has envisioned a museum that views its history through Latin America and Asia, and its future through contemporary artists. But his perception of LACMA as a snoozing Goliath hasn't changed.

"It is a sleeping giant," he says. "It's this amazing place. It's got a great collection. It's done great things in the past. But we are the second city in culture, and where does our museum rank? Certainly not No. 2. You have to go down the list a bit."

How far?

"I'll let you do that."

Succeeding Andrea L. Rich, who concentrated on administrative affairs during her 10-year tenure, Govan couldn't have been expected to transform the museum in a year. A prominent figure in New York's elite contemporary art circles, he had risen from second in command at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to the top job at the Dia Art Foundation. At Dia, he led a privately funded cultural institution that collects contemporary art and supports large outdoor projects, and oversaw a $50-million campaign to convert an old Nabisco factory in Beacon, N.Y., into a vast exhibition space. In Los Angeles, he would take charge of the largest encyclopedic art museum in the Western states — a sprawling institution that embraces the entire history of art, maintains a 100,000-piece collection, serves many constituencies, supports itself with a mixture of public and private money and operates on about $44 million a year. Keeping the museum on track would be difficult; steering it onto a higher plane would be a major challenge, especially for a newcomer.

"One of the big things you have to do in Year One is to listen," says Govan, a trim, impeccably groomed 43-year-old who has highly developed social skills but no fear of expressing his opinion. "You need to get to know people and what their objectives are, develop working relationships," he says, sliding into a black leather chair in a colleague's office at the museum while his office undergoes some repairs. But he hasn't wasted time while getting acquainted.

In the first round of an effort to enlarge and strengthen the board of trustees, he has recruited writer and filmmaker Michael Crichton, singer and actress Barbra Streisand, journalist Willow Bay, investor Anthony N. Pritzker and technology entrepreneurs Terry Semel, David Bohnett and Chris DeWolfe, increasing the working membership to 44.

The first phase of Piano's expansion — a $156-million project including the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, funded by LACMA trustee Eli Broad and scheduled to open Feb. 9 — was underway before Govan arrived. But he has taken a hands-on approach, transforming the new entry pavilion to focus on art rather than visitor services and enlisting artists to enliven surrounding spaces. A bold proposal to mark the museum's entrance with Jeff Koons' "Train," a 70-foot replica of a 1943 locomotive dangling from a 160-foot crane, may not go anywhere. But plans for a garden of palm trees by Robert Irwin and an installation of vintage Los Angeles streetlights by Chris Burden are in the works.

Most renovations of existing buildings are scheduled for the second phase of LACMA's redo, intended to unify and update a jumble of mismatched structures. But under Govan's direction, the gallery for Greek and Roman art on the second floor of the Ahmanson Building already has undergone a startling change. A wall that covered large windows on Wilshire Boulevard has been removed, allowing marble sculptures to bask in natural light.

No deal is too done

THE museum's exhibition program is set years in advance, but Govan has put his stamp on that too. He and senior curator Stephanie Barron invited artist John Baldessari to install "Magritte and Contemporary Art: The Treachery of Images," turning what might have been a conventional exhibition into a popular and critical hit. Baldessari effectively turned the galleries upside down by putting a Magritte-style carpet of blue sky and fluffy white clouds on the floor and a modular rendition of a freeway system on the ceiling.

And new exhibitions have been squeezed into the schedule. The largest, opening today, is "Dan Flavin: A Retrospective," a comprehensive traveling survey of the late Minimalist's career, including about 40 of his trademark fluorescent light works. Co-curated by Govan and Tiffany Bell, director of the artist's catalogue raisonné, the show was scheduled to end its tour in Munich, Germany, in March. Govan arranged to bring it to Los Angeles with a new feature — a reconstruction of lighted corridors made for the E.F. Hauserman Co. showroom formerly at L.A.'s Pacific Design Center.

Among other additions, last winter Barron and fellow curator Kevin Salatino quickly organized "Picasso's Greatest Print: The Minotauromachy in All Its States," the first U.S. presentation of the eight etchings. Curator Tim Wride whipped out "Re-SITE-ing the West: Contemporary Photographs From the Permanent Collection" to accompany a long-planned traveling show, "The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890-1950," both of which run through June 3. "SoCal: Southern California Art of the 1960s and '70s From LACMA's Collection," organized by curator Carol S. Eliel, will appear in mid-August.

"The level of activity is intense here," says Nancy Thomas, deputy director. "Michael is planning for the long term, laying a deep and sustainable framework for future growth. That's surprising when we have a major building opening soon and galleries being moved around, but he thinks two steps ahead. I'd say 10 steps ahead."

Jeremy Strick, director of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, says Govan has brought "tremendous energy" to the museum — and the city. "Los Angeles has been seen as a great international art center increasingly over a number of years," Strick says. "I think his arrival at LACMA gave new momentum to that trend. Michael has had success in building LACMA's board and raising expectations for trusteeship. He has expressed determination that LACMA should rise to the standard of a great encyclopedic museum in a great international city. That has a positive impact throughout the community."

Govan is pleased with what's been accomplished, much of which he attributes to long-range plans developed over several years before he arrived. But he's disappointed that he hasn't made much progress with the permanent collection.

"We have had some stunning acquisitions. The Eakins painting was a fabulous addition," he says, referring to "Wrestlers," an 1899 work by American realist Thomas Eakins donated in December by Cecile C. Bartman and the Cecile and Fred Bartman Foundation. "But I have to say I am surprised that there is not more generosity. Look at what the community of Seattle just gave the museum," he says of nearly 1,000 artworks donated to the Seattle Art Museum in honor of its 75th anniversary. "I think they are valued at a billion dollars. The Whitney Museum in New York a few years ago announced a trustee effort to add several hundred million dollars' worth of new art. You would think in a city as wealthy and ambitious as Los Angeles there would be more direct generosity directed to the museums. The idea of building this place for future generations is not really up to the level of the city, at all.

"There are pockets," he says. "The Ahmanson family is a great example. They don't buy for themselves; they buy for the museum. The collection they have given the museum is worth well over a hundred million dollars. But what you notice in other cities is a thrill to go after the very best for the museum. It's not that we don't have a very good collection. It's not that we can't build a great museum. It's just surprising that you don't find more desire to really go after the best pieces and bring them to Los Angeles."

Straight-talker that he may be, Govan is not a complainer.

"Michael is the most optimistic person I have ever worked with," says LACMA President Melody Kanschat. "He really believes anything we set out to do can happen. His focus on the long term, on what something will be when it's complete, has been wonderful for the construction team. It's helped them to see that everybody is working to make something happen, and it will happen. It was very late to insert something like Bob Irwin's palm trees into the project, but because of Michael's optimism, I've got teams of people who should be saying 'No way' saying 'Oh, maybe.' "

True to form, Govan has a bright vision of LACMA's future.

"The big task," he says, "is to frame a narrative of culture and art that is compelling and specific to Los Angeles, but with international relevance. That is what I see as the ultimate objective. A point of view that can be crafted here, looking from where we look at the world. The public is going to see a lot of construction because we absolutely need the physical facilities. Our metropolis has over 10 million people. We need a physical facility that really lives up to that. But it's not just about building buildings. We need a worldview and a viewpoint."

Art in the hands of artists

LIVING artists will help to shape that view, says Govan, who has hosted public discussions with Koons, Irwin and video artist Diana Thater. The spirit of Baldessari's "Magritte" installation lives in the museum's boardroom and in Govan's office, floors of which are covered with some of the sky-like carpet used in the galleries. Koons and Burden have made personal appearances at board meetings, presenting their projects to the trustees.

"After Chris Burden talked, we had the rest of the meeting in the Magritte show," Govan says. "I want to make the board meetings engaging. These are volunteers from the community who are spending a good part of their lives, their time, their intelligence, their resources on this place, so I do want it to be an engaging process."

To those who fear that LACMA may be putting too much focus on contemporary art, Govan says: "All art is made by artists. The dynamic between the art and the artist is a fundamentally interesting territory of investigation. When I look at art history, I am always interested in the circumstances of the work being made. It's not just that it exists as a precious object. Art that's great is always new.

"Artists have an incredible talent to help you work through issues," he says. "In other times and other places, if you were going to build anything, if you were the pope or a politician or a private person, you would always engage artists in the process and the thinking. One of the things I'm trying to bring to this place is that involvement with artists. It's not a new idea. We are just revitalizing it."

Contemporary art will be on center stage in February when the Broad building opens with pieces from LACMA's holdings and the Broad Art Foundation's collection. That's "huge," Govan says, and he isn't talking about size.

"What happens is that the museum property gets consolidated, Ogden Drive disappears, parking goes underground and BCAM gives us something new and of very high quality. It clears the ground, primes the canvas by clarifying the site. Once that is functioning with that level of architecture, clarity and generosity of space for art, that sets the bar for what the museum campus should be overall. Once we have done that for contemporary art, our obligation is to do that for the whole history of art."

LACMA should not pattern itself after East Coast museums that base their worldview on European art history, he says. "We should be leaders. That's where having an edge on contemporary art is a big investment. I'd also like to privilege pre-Columbian art, art of the ancient Americas, as a frame for the past. These are natural ways to reframe art history from a Los Angeles viewpoint, and that is what we are obligated to do.

"The content of the museum should reflect the fact that our community is Wilshire Boulevard, the county of Los Angeles, the state of California, the Western United States. There is an outlook shared by the Western states. I don't mean red versus blue, but culturally coming from wide open space, coming from a relationship to Latin America and Asia. I think we have to broaden our horizons to reflect that. And, hopefully, generosity will also emerge."

*

edluva
May 15, 2007, 9:02 AM
that's always good idea about reframing LACMA toward a multicultural bent, but considering the fate of precolumbian cultures, precolumbian art is not as historically contiguous and probably will never be as relevant to us as european art is, and therefore will never serve to elevate LACMA's collection to AIC or Met's level.

Our society inherits from millenia of a continuous european narrative - and the most profound developments ever documented in human history, which occurred between the reformation and our industrialized present, has been an overwhelmingly european phenomenon. The only way precolumbian and asian art will ever acheive the level of historic relevance that european art does, is through a tremendous shift in global consciousness away from our current euro-centric narrative, and that would require either latin america or asia produce a version of human history to rival the profundity of the last few hundred years since the renaissance - to do something on the level of reinventing republican government, undergoing the french revolution, the world wars, accelerating technological advancement several-fold, and going from the agrarian age to the computer age over the span of 100 years, all over again, because the advancement of art generally parallels the advancement of societies in which the artists function. Highly unlikely anything on that scale will ever repeat itself again.

and anyways, LA's general apathy towards art philanthropy reflects a greater affliction - it's lack of civic-mindedness. And that in turn, reflects LA's general lack of place - it's built env't. So am I being "negative"? Well, if calling it like it is means "negativity", then yes, by all means.

Quixote
Jun 4, 2007, 7:23 AM
33-piece art collection gifted to MOCA

The three-decade collection of works by prominent international artists is donated by the museum's chairman of the board and his wife.

By Suzanne Muchnic, Times Staff Writer

http://www.calendarlive.com/media/photo/2007-05/30190010.jpg
ALL AFLUTTER: Mark Grotjahn’s butterfly-like abstraction in colored pencil is among the 33 pieces pledged to MOCA.
(Mark Grotjahn)

In a pledge that reinforces a philanthropic tradition, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles has received the promise of a gift of 33 pieces from Clifford Einstein, chair of MOCA's board of trustees, and his wife, Madeline. The donation comprises works made over the last three decades by an international slate of prominent artists, including Kiki Smith, Nam June Paik, Mark Grotjahn, Sigmar Polke, Mike Kelley and Lari Pittman.

"MOCA's collection has been defined to a great degree by gifts of significant collections," said Jeremy Strick, the museum's director. "This is one further example, a group of works that complements what we have, reflects the exhibition history of the museum and adds new strength."

A highlight of the donation, Strick said, is Smith's "Train," an installation featuring a wax statue of a nude woman trailed by a stream of beads. The group of works also encompasses "Administrative Landscape," a steel sculpture by Tony Cragg; "Silver Shoes," a mixed-media installation by Yayoi Kusama; "Standing Figure," a resin, sand and steel sculpture by Magdalena Abakanowicz; and a butterfly-like abstraction in colored pencil by Grotjahn.

"We are looking forward to displaying individual works from the gift within the context of our permanent collection," Strick said.

The Einsteins, longtime collectors and MOCA supporters, have donated many individual works to the museum over the years, including pieces by photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, conceptualist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, painter Elizabeth Peyton and assemblagists Edward and Nancy Kienholz.

Their promised gift will join major collections previously donated by other patrons, including Blake Byrne, Rita and Taft Schreiber, Barry Lowen, Marcia Simon Weisman and Beatrice and Philip Gersh.

"The collections that have been gifted to MOCA over the years have set a terrific standard for any museum," Cliff Einstein said in a statement released by the museum. "Mandy and I are very proud to follow in these footsteps."

suzanne.muchnic@latimes.com


http://www.calendarlive.com/galleriesandmuseums/cl-et-moca1jun01,0,5838688.story?coll=cl-art-features

BrighamYen
Jun 19, 2007, 11:59 PM
LACMA Launches Transformative Expansion and Renovation


LOS ANGELES, CA.- In February 2008, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) launches the first phase of Transformation, its comprehensive expansion and renovation project, designed by the internationally acclaimed Renzo Piano Building Workshop. This ambitious ten-year initiative will dramatically transform LACMA’s six-building, twenty-acre campus, laying a strong foundation for future growth of the Museum. When complete, Transformation will unify the LACMA campus into a dynamic whole and significantly improve the experience of the Museum, as visitors move effortlessly through galleries, gardens, and plazas to explore the collections and educational resources.

The highlight of the February inauguration will be the opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) at LACMA, a new building with 60,000 square feet of gallery space specifically designed to exhibit modern and contemporary art. Named in honor of LACMA Trustee and benefactor Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, BCAM is a central component of LACMA’s mission to integrate contemporary art fully into the Museum’s collecting strategy, exhibitions, and public programs, exploring the interplay of the art of our time with that of the past. In fact, LACMA is the first major encyclopedic museum to make contemporary art one of its principal areas of activity, a fitting role for a museum in Los Angeles, which in recent years has emerged as a world capital of contemporary art.

Also opening in February is the BP Grand Entrance. This 8,100 square-foot, open-air pavilion serves as the Museum’s main entrance, orientation space, and public art plaza. Here, Chris Burden’s Urban Light, an installation of more than 200 street lamps from all over Los Angeles, powered by solar panels installed atop the building, will illuminate the entry, providing visitors with one of their first experiences of contemporary art at the Museum.

Along with BCAM and the BP Grand Entrance, the initial stage of Transformation includes the creation of new exhibition galleries, public spaces, and gardens. Key elements include:

· The Dona S. and Dwight M. Kendall Concourse, a covered walkway linking the western and eastern sections of the 1/3-mile-long campus;

· Renovation of the Ahmanson Building, featuring reinstallations and revitalizations of galleries, major refurbishments to the central atrium, and the addition of a grand staircase that will reorganize the flow of visitors through the building;

· A new parking garage on two underground levels allowing for the expansion of Hancock Park and connected green spaces above ground; and

· Public plazas opening onto Wilshire Boulevard to the south and Hancock Park to the north.

In addition to creating new and improved facilities, the Museum will undertake a significant reorganization and reinstallation of major areas of its renowned collection to reflect the strong ties of Los Angeles residents to both Latin America and Asia. In a departure from the traditional Euro-centric installation of an encyclopedic museum, LACMA’s collection will be installed so that Latin America and Asia also provide historical lenses through which human creativity may be viewed. Visitors may also choose to traverse time from contemporary art back to ancient art, completing the journey at the end of the Hancock Park campus at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Beyond the creation of BCAM, major art spaces being created in this first stage include:

· The Art of the Americas Building, formerly the Modern and Contemporary Building, with galleries for art from North, Central, and South America;

· Masterpiece in Focus Gallery, located on the Atrium level of the Ahmanson Building, with rotating highlights from the permanent collection;

· Increased display areas for African art and modern art in the Ahmanson Building; and

· Various artworks and artist-designed installations sited outdoors across the campus, including works by Robert Irwin and Chris Burden.

Phase Two
The second phase of Transformation will complete the unification of LACMA’s vast campus. It is scheduled to include expanded facilities for special exhibitions as well as the complete rehabilitation of LACMA West, the 1939, 300,000-square-foot former May Company building, which will be used to create galleries, public amenities, administrative offices, and space for additional educational and public programming. LACMA will work with artists from around the world, including Jorge Pardo and James Turrell, to develop the architectural concepts that will inform many of the designs.
The anticipated components include:

· Construction of a free-standing, single story, 244-by-230-foot glass building with exhibition galleries, located directly behind BCAM; this light-filled building will feature an open floor plan;

· Additional artworks and artist-designed outdoor installations sited across the campus, creating a park-like atmosphere; Robert Irwin’s installation of palm trees will be interspersed around BCAM, the special exhibition pavilion, and the other buildings on LACMA’s campus;

· The following improvements to LACMA West:
· Up to 20,000 square feet of additional gallery space;
· Expansion of the Boone Children’s Gallery, with associated workshops and programs tailored for children, young people, and families;

· A video and new-media lab;

· Reconfigured spaces for LACMA’s library and study collections, with a goal of enhancing accessibility and use by students, scholars, and the public;

· Curatorial and administrative offices; and
· Public amenities such as a restaurant, retail space, and bookstore.

Phase Three
While still in the planning period, it is anticipated that the third stage of Transformation will include re-envisioning and possibly rehabilitating the buildings located on the eastern portion of the campus. Planners are working with Trustees and executive staff to explore the use of these structures for innovative displays of the permanent collection. The work that will already have been completed will enable collection installations to remain on view during this third stage.

Fundraising: LACMA has raised nearly $200 million for the initial phase of Transformation, exceeding its original goal of $150 million. Principal gifts have come from Eli and Edythe Broad, with $60 million; Lynda and Stewart Resnick, with $25 million; and BP Foundation, with $25 million. Other significant gifts include: $15 million from the County of Los Angeles, $5 million from the Riordans, and $1.6 million from The Ahmanson Foundation.

Bernd
Jun 21, 2007, 3:41 AM
It's very interesting that LACMA will focus so much energy and space on Latin American and Asian art. Exciting. One caveat: I was recently at the Met in NYC (first time there, by the way. A glorious and momentous experience) and the pre-Columbian and Asian galleries, while fabulous, were empty. The Asian wing, the largest I've ever seen, was completely devoid of museumgoers.

Where was everyone? Gawking at the 19th Century masters, of course. People love their Impressionists and that's where LACMA falls short.

BrighamYen
Jun 21, 2007, 5:29 AM
^ LACMA does have the largest collection of Korean art outside of Korea. LOL Anyway, what's popular may not always be "right." It's pointless to pressure LACMA to chase after art that is so limited in supply now. Having a "defeatist" mentality isn't going to be the most productive way to take LACMA into a new exciting direction. Personally, given the challenges that face LACMA (incoherancy, lack of a strong collection, etc.), I think Michael Govan is doing a fantastic job leading LACMA in the right kind of direction. Instead of ALWAYS incessantly chasing after NYC, sometimes it's time to just plan your own party.

BrighamYen
Jun 21, 2007, 5:30 AM
Jules Verne Festival Comes Halfway Around the World
By ANNE RILEY-KATZ - 6/18/2007
Los Angeles Business Journal Staff

An American version of the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival, a fixture in Paris for 15 years, will make its debut Dec. 10-15 in Los Angeles.


The sponsors hope to make the U.S. celebration of the French science fiction writer an annual event at the Shrine Auditorium.


The festival, themed “from the abyss to the stars,” is an extension of the Paris event based on, or in, the spirit of Verne’s novels, like “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” and “Around the World in 80 Days.” Organizers, led by legendary U.S. astronaut Buzz Aldrin, presented their plans to Los Angeles recently.


Jean-Christophe Jeauffre, co-founder of the 15-year-old French festival, said that the decision to come to Los Angeles was driven in part by the city’s status as the entertainment industry’s home, but for other reasons as well.


“For more than two years we were going back and forth between selecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, but we realized San Francisco was not what we were expecting in terms of size and cultural background,” Jeauffre said. “We were going to speak about conservation and San Francisco was already well-versed, plus we needed a bigger city.”


The festival already has some sponsors lined up, among them Mum’s Champagne, The Men’s Wearhouse, Clear Channel and local CW affiliate KTLA.


Organizers said last week that they were hoping to pull in 100,000 L.A. attendees the first year – an ambitious goal given the 41,000 that attend the annual show in Paris.


“It’s a lot but I really think we can do it over the five days,” Jeauffre said.


The festival budget is $1 million for the first year, and an estimated 80 percent to 90 percent of that will come from sponsors.


“We think that it’ll stabilize in years two, three, four and five to $2 million and stay there,” Jeauffre said, noting that the income will be largely from sponsorship for the inaugural event, though ticket sales could increasingly be a factor if the festival succeeds in Los Angeles. At the annual festival in Paris, ticket sales represent one-third of the income.


TV Convergence


The convergence of mainstream broadcast and cable and the emerging Internet sector is a hot topic in television.


When the thousands of executives and TV hopefuls are drawn by the weeklong National Association of Television Program Executives convention, it could turn out to be a hot party, too.


The Los Angeles Television Festival and the Independent Television Festival will co-host a gala on July 24 at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood that will kick off the big week.


LATV Festival will run from July 25-27 at several locations including the House of Blues West Hollywood, the Comedy Store, Pacific Design Center and at the Hollywood and Highlands complex.


The ITV Fest, which targets nascent TV writers and producers, will be held July 27-29 at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood.


The leadership of the two events met in April and worked out a schedule that should benefit both.


“With NATPE’s LATV Festival running back-to-back with ITV Fest, this opening night party is an excellent networking opportunity for participants in both events,” said NATPE chief executive Rick Feldman. “These are very exciting times for the new and emerging generations of independent content producers who can come together for a night of valuable interaction and fun.”


The LATV Festival is an extension of NATPE’s annual TV Producers’ Boot Camp. The event offers workshops, screenings, clinics and demos showcasing the work of Los Angeles’ multi-platform production community.


This summer’s ITV Fest, in its second year, features original pilot screenings, as well as daily interactive panels covering topics including the convergence of mainstream and Internet-based entertainment, as well as the ins and out of the process from pitch to production. Comcast Corp. is awarding $100,000 for the overall festival winner and $10,000 for each category winner.


Going Hollywood


Global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP hopes to raise its entertainment industry profile through the creation of Cantor Entertainment. The L.A. based operation will offer information, marketing, advisory and financial services for the entertainment industry. Andrew Wing will serve as the unit’s president and chief executive officer.


Currently, Cantor’s primary entertainment initiative is the proprietary technology it developed to drive the Hollywood Stock Exchange, a virtual market and predictive service for the entertainment industry.


“We will bridge the worlds of media and finance, offering value-added resources and services to participants in the entertainment sector,” said Howard Lutnick, chairman and chief executive officer of Cantor Fitzgerald in a release last week.


The company franchise now includes institutional equity and fixed income sales and trading, investment banking, private equity, and asset management, as well as Cantor LifeMarkets, Cantor Gaming, Cantor Index and other businesses and ventures.


Big Cheese


A 25-foot-tall wedge of cheese may sound like an unusual marketing ploy, but it could be an effective one.


Marketing outfit the Becker Group Inc.’s latest creation – a 25-foot inflatable wedge of cheese that doubles as a fun slide – was designed to bring attention to the upcoming animated comedy from Pixar and Disney, “Ratatouille.” The attraction is on what’s been dubbed “The Big Cheese Tour,” and will appear at 10 outdoor festivals and taste fests across the country. The film opens June 29.


Becker has worked with the Walt Disney Co. on comparable projects before, including a road trip campaign for “Cars” and a simulated snow bubble attraction for “Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”


Staff reporter Anne Riley-Katz can be reached at ariley-katz@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225 ext. 225.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Los Angeles Business Journal, Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved.

ocman
Jun 21, 2007, 8:08 AM
Question and answer session with Michael Govan. http://www.laweekly.com/general/features/the-encyclopedic-city/16642/?page=3

Lots of good stuff, only a fraction of which I have posted.


L.A. WEEKLY:So a year ago you’re at Dia:Beacon, on top of a certain part of the art world, and you decide to take the job you weren’t ready for 10 years earlier. What made the difference?

MICHAEL GOVAN: Fifteen years ago, when I was going to school here, I talked to John Baldessari and he told his students to go to New York. But eight years ago, he said, “Don’t go to New York.” That’s it in a nutshell. There are a thousand factors — critical mass, or New York’s demise as the place for artists due to expensive real estate — but I don’t think that’s why John said it. He said it because there’s enough energy in L.A.

The West has been growing, obviously. It’s also the generational thing. I almost think Los Angeles is at the point where there’s no such thing as L.A. artists anymore. Like New York, there was a point when there were New York artists, then all of a sudden it was just artists. I feel like that’s starting to happen here. Doing an L.A. show now would be almost a nonstarter, I think, because of the diversity of practices and the number of artists.

Also, the fact that L.A. hasn’t yet hit critical mass attracts somebody like me because the museums are behind, like way behind.

You just look at L.A. and you start thinking, it’s going to catch up, right? How could it not — there’s not been a city in history that hasn’t had personal wealth, ethnic diversity, thriving business and good geopolitical location that hasn’t competed on that level.


The energy generated by a community of working artists — why is that important to the director of a big, encyclopedic museum?

For a thousand reasons. One, if you want to go back to ancient times, concentrations of artists and artisans are always harbingers of incredible cultural growth. All the great cultural capitals have had concentrations of artists — Paris and Moscow at the beginning of the century, New York for a thousand reasons, including people fleeing Europe. And we’re talking serious concentration here. L.A. is crawling with artists. And if you extend the boundary of what an artist is, to what’s happening in film and photography and advertising, and you think of it as creative visual arts, man, this place is rocking. There are probably more images coming out of Los Angeles, visual images, than any place in the world.

So then you start to think, okay, a museum has two functions. One is to be a library to learn. Everybody needs one. And then the second function a museum has is to be part of expressing the culture at large and helping to facilitate the making of culture, or point of view. You know, the Met is a point of view for New York, even if it’s largely a Eurocentric point of view. And so artists play a big role in thinking about the growth and future potential of the city.

But an encyclopedic museum, what is it? It’s a library of all these objects from all time and all places. You know, critical theory over the last 20 years has dismantled the notion of the real encyclopedia because the world is too big. And the encyclopedic museum was a bias of the French Enlightenment as it spread through Europe, and got copied by museums in America. So then you think that encyclopedic museums are outdated and outmoded. Fair enough, yet in a global world where an endless city speaks 90 languages, all of a sudden the encyclopedic museum is an interesting asset.

But, again, what is a museum? It’s a vehicle to create a worldview, right? So I figure the worldview in L.A. in the 21st century has got to be different. We’ve progressed some. Oh, I don’t know if we’ve progressed. We’ve changed.

So the growth is going to happen. The question is, How do you shape the growth? That is the huge opportunity.

Eli Broad tells you L.A. is going to be the central cultural capital and in a sense the capital for contemporary art. And then I always say, Oh, that’s great, then you can be a big chamber-of-commerce promoter, but the fact is, we’re not yet. Nobody [should] mistake all the talk for reality. We’re not [there] yet, and what I’ve said to people is that the exciting part, then, is the uncertainty, not the certainty.

Do you mean city leaders?

City leaders, philanthropists, people with money. I don’t think philanthropy is a weird word, but you’ll find people will only use the word investment. They don’t like the idea of just giving away things. But on the other hand, a lot of people invest in their museums and in their cities on that level, I think largely for themselves. I mean for their sense of self, because your sense of self is that you come from and inhabit a great city. And they contribute to it so that they can share in the pleasure of it.


It’s not so easy here.

It’s not so easy here.


Why is that?

I don’t know. In New York, they’ll tell me, “Oh, L.A. can never be a New York and can never be a great cultural capital because it’s not like New York and it’s all spread out.” How many times do you hear that?


Once a day.

Once a day. Well, as far as I can see, cities have often changed their compositions over many ancient centuries to the present. And there’s always been culture and great cities, and it’s taken different forms depending on the kind of shape the city took. So let’s say all the future cities look like L.A. New York looks like Europe, but [what] was the last city you saw that was like New York? Shanghai, Beijing, Mexico City, Seoul — they all look like L.A. And so there’s going to be a different model. We’re just going to be part of that.

Another thing you hear is “Well, you can’t have that kind of attendance because [LACMA] is too hard to get to.” I hear that all the time. And every Saturday I walk over to the Grove with my 21⁄2-year-old daughter. Eighteen million people or something like that went to the Grove last year.


More than Disneyland, right?

Yeah, so it’s two blocks away. So now I look at people and say, “Okay, now tell me again you can’t get here.” Then they say, “People aren’t generous enough.” In terms of giving. I actually argue from what I can see in the last 15 years, in the fields of medicine, increasingly in education, L.A. is catching up with all the big cities. And so it lags in art. So then you would say it’s just a matter of time and maturity.

But why do we still have this embarrassing problem of people like Edward Broida giving their art collections to MoMA? That’s obviously something that has to change.

That is hugely embarrassing. And it should be the headline: “Why?” We have people on our board who have given more to the National Gallery [of Art] than to LACMA. One person has given more to the Museum of Modern Art than to LACMA. You know why.


It’s prestige.

Right. Until you reach a critical mass of prestige, you don’t get there. And that’s continuously eluded this museum in particular, and other museums in the sense that Broida could have given his collection to MOCA too, but we just don’t have the prestige that the Museum of Modern Art has. Now, we’re not going to get it instantly. You’re going to have to build it over time. It’s just a matter of investment. It’s a classic chicken-and-egg problem.

If everyone with a good art collection in L.A. donated their art collection here, for example, critical mass would be instant. I’m not saying that’s going to happen tomorrow, but what you can see increasingly, given the interest in art collectors growing here, is that you don’t have to go far.

BrighamYen
Jul 7, 2007, 9:19 AM
Here's a nice visual of LACMA and the first phase:

http://img260.imageshack.us/img260/6113/lacmamap07dp0.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Bernd
Jul 11, 2007, 4:46 AM
http://www.startribune.com/1513/story/1286601.html

Art and culture glimmer in inner L.A.
On weekends, empty streets help visitors zip from one high-brow venue to another.

By Anne Chalfant, McClatchy News Service
Last update: July 06, 2007 – 1:14 PM

LOS ANGELES - Strappy high heels were the wrong shoes.
So said my feet as I climbed the stairway to a cocktail party at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The party was just the beginning of my foray into Los Angeles culture by night. Next stop: a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall. After that, rooftop dancing at a nightclub.

Although I hated the idea of mingling with L.A.'s beautiful people in a pair of flats, I decided that if I could quickly grab a taxi for a hasty shoe switch back in my hotel room, I'd forfeit glamour.

The notion that I could get anywhere quickly in Los Angeles does defy what we know about its traffic. But downtown on a Saturday night, the vehicles that plague this city with exhaust-choking crawl on weekdays have all gone home. The only cars coming down the four-lane street in front of the pavilion were a couple of lonely cabs.

I grabbed one, made the shoe switch and was sipping cocktails at the Chandler Pavilion in less than 20 minutes.

The absence of downtown buzz is odd. Los Angeles can claim title to being the West's richest art and culture treasure chest. The city boasts the most art- and artifact-laden museums west of Chicago, with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art -- despite its lackluster name -- being one of the nation's best-stocked museums.

Museums expand, reopen

These days LACMA, in uber-expansion mode, is in the process of growing to a five-building complex in Hancock Park.

Another recent cultural coup was the reopening of the Getty Villa in 2006 in Malibu. The $275 million remodeled villa houses 45,000 artifacts of Greek, Roman and Etruscan culture, a hugely important collection made possible by the richest man of the 20th century. Its sister museum, the Getty Center, is regally located on a hilltop north of downtown (ed. the hell?), boasting a collection of Western art and a sweeping view of L.A. that bestirs sane people to declare, "How gorgeous!"

Back downtown, there's the Museum of Contemporary Art. Nearby, the architecturally significant Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels has drawn visitors since 2002 to its soaring, nontraditional space.

All this cultural largesse plus redevelopment projects that include splashing fountains, lovely landscaping and people-friendly seating were designed to pull the city back to its center.

But in fact the weekend tourist will find these empty streets more like high noon at Dry Gulch. Make that Dry Gulch with a stunning piece of bling -- the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Glowing like a newly landed meteor, the many-sided architectural masterpiece is so remarkable it can serve as someone's sole reason to visit L.A.

To call it bling is somewhat irreverent. Frank Gehry's architectural eye-catcher is alive with roving lines, swells and undulations.

Concert hall offers tours

By daytime, its stainless-steel exterior blazes with reflected sunshine. And the medium is the message: Acoustical brightness and crispness is what you hear inside. The hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

A visit to the Disney Hall should allow enough time to walk around and admire the unusual structure. Tours of the building are as popular as concerts. Sunset is a good time to gaze at the building; by daylight it's so bright that neighbors in nearby condos complained they couldn't sit on their decks with their eyes open. Some of the stainless-steel panels had to be sanded to a dull finish.

Following the show at Disney Hall, our group headed to the rooftop bar of the Standard hotel -- and yes, somehow I did pass by the velvet rope even without high heels.

The rooftop setting gives a 360-degree view of the twinkly lights of Los Angeles, an intriguing spot for a drink and some dancing in the soft Los Angeles night air.

But the crowd was very young -- hardly the haute couture set of the far trendier rooftop bar at the Standard in West Hollywood.

As I walked back to the hotel, the streets were empty -- but for a few lost souls and the walking companion whose company provided an essential measure of safety.

ocman
Jul 22, 2007, 12:01 AM
From LA Downtownnews

Downtown's Best-Kept Secret

How the Los Angeles Philharmonic Signed Gustavo Dudamel Without Anyone Finding Out

by Lea Lion

When the Los Angeles Philharmonic announced last April that Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen will pass the baton to 26-year-old Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel in 2009, the classical music world uttered a collective gasp (and, perhaps, broke a string or two).
Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen (left), 26-year-old conductor Gustavo Dudamel and Phil President Deborah Borda at the April 9 press conference announcing that Dudamel will replace Salonen in 2009. Photo by Gary Leonard.

The shock was twofold: First, the news that Salonen, who is widely credited with elevating the Phil into a world-class organization, was stepping down. Second, the announcement that the company had already signed a five-year contract with Dudamel, one of the most sought-after young conductors on the circuit.

At an April 9 press conference on the Walt Disney Concert Hall stage, Salonen, Dudamel and L.A. Phil President Deborah Borda were all smiles as they broke the news to a cadre of reporters from across the country.

"I realized that there's this rare and natural talent that happens every now and then in history," Salonen said at the event. "I spoke to some of the orchestra members... and they said it felt as if this man had been conducting for 50 years."

While Philharmonic members exchanged congratulations and posed for photographs, other orchestras surely counted their woes. Especially the ones in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Detroit, Pittsburgh and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., which were looking for new music directors at the time.

Traditionally, music director selections are long, drawn-out processes. Although the wheels started turning years ago, no one outside the L.A. Phil inner circle knew about the Salonen/Dudamel swap until the last minute.
*

"It's a huge coup for this orchestra, for Los Angeles, for the United States, actually, to have Gustavo at an American orchestra," the Phil's director of public relations, Adam Crane, said during a recent phone conversation.

So how exactly did the Phil pull off the best-kept secret in Downtown Los Angeles - one of the biggest coups the classical music world has ever seen?

According to Chad Smith, the Phil's vice president of artistic planning, it was "organic."

"One of the ways that [Borda] always described this search was that it was a stealth search," Smith said. "It was a very organic process, it was a quiet process, we were able to do it while our colleague orchestras around the country were in a very public way going through a music director search. We were able to travel around the world and really court Gustavo Dudamel."

The Down-Low


The story that was revealed to the public last spring actually began in 2004, when Dudamel won the Bamberger Symphoniker Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition, where Salonen and former L.A. Phil General Manager Ernest Fleischmann were jury members. At the April press event, Salonen recounted how he was moved to tears the first time that he saw Dudamel perform.

The following year, Dudamel made his U.S. debut with the Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, an event Crane described as an "artistic administrator circus" thanks to the buzz surrounding the young conductor.

During the performance, Salonen recounted at the press event, he leaned over and told his wife Jane, "This is the one." (Selections from the performance were released last week on iTunes.)

In the ensuing years, Dudamel conducted some of the world's most prominent orchestras, including his first concert leading the Phil at Disney Hall in January 2007. After that event, things shifted into high gear. Within the tightly knit Philharmonic community, Salonen, a 17-year veteran of the organization, made it known that he wanted to focus on composing.

"He hinted that this might be the time for him to step down and he wouldn't do that unless he was comfortable with the successor," Crane said.

"Obviously we weren't on anybody's radar in terms of a music director search," Crane added, noting that Salonen was on a year-to-year contract at the time. "The spotlight was really on other orchestras looking for music directors and Gustavo was a name that kept popping up on the short list."

Borda began attending Dudamel's concerts around the world. Since it is her job to stay on top of the classical music scene and keep an eye out for a new music director, she did not attract any unwanted attention, Crane explained.

"She was able to seamlessly work it out behind the scenes," he added. "We came to an agreement. It was like the perfect storm, everything just seemed to work."

Dudamel inked a five-year contract with the L.A. Phil in March (Borda flew to Lucerne, Switzerland, and the contract was signed at 2 a.m., Smith said). Next season, he will become the principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden. He will take the reins of the L.A. Phil for the 2009-10 season.

Judging by how well they can keep a secret, it makes one wonder what else the L.A. Philharmonic has in store.

BrighamYen
Jul 22, 2007, 12:14 PM
^ I can't wait to see him and the LA Phil perform at the Disney Hall. It'll be when LA Live is completely done and the Grand Ave. Project would be close to finishing (2011). It'll be a great year for LA!

Bernd
Jul 22, 2007, 9:28 PM
Dudamel's signing becomes even more extraordinary when you consider the NY Phil's recent appointment of Alan Gilbert as musical director. Gilbert, a native New Yorker, is well respected by the orchestra, but is little known by the public or outside the insular New York classical scene.

Certainly when Dudamel and Gilbert take over their respective positions in '09 it'll be the L.A. Phil that'll get the most international attention.

ocman
Jul 23, 2007, 3:04 AM
Dudamel's signing becomes even more extraordinary when you consider the NY Phil's recent appointment of Alan Gilbert as musical director. Gilbert, a native New Yorker, is well respected by the orchestra, but is little known by the public or outside the insular New York classical scene.

Certainly when Dudamel and Gilbert take over their respective positions in '09 it'll be the L.A. Phil that'll get the most international attention.

Are they both coming in 2009? The attention is going to be equal considering they you won't be able to mention one without comparison to the other.

BrighamYen
Jul 23, 2007, 5:19 AM
^ Rephrase: "...more positive international attention."

ocman
Jul 30, 2007, 4:04 AM
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/magazine/story/0,,2133790,00.html

Simon Rattle describes him as 'the most astonishingly gifted conductor he has ever met'. And yet 26-year-old Gustavo Dudamel grew up in poverty in Venezuela. Ed Vulliamy tells the story of El Sistema - a remarkable youth project which uses Beethoven and Brahms to save the children of the barrios

Sunday July 29, 2007
The Observer

The massed musicians surge towards the climax of the Alpine symphony by Richard Strauss - an epic contemplation of nature, scored for one of the biggest orchestras ever; an evocation of mighty mountains by the composer who occupied some bridge between fin-de-siecle romanticism and the brand of decadent modernism of early 20th-century Vienna.

But the scene outside the concert hall could hardly be in starker counterpoint to Alpine peaks or the final throes of Habsburg Empire. While the young musicians and their audience had mingled during the interval on a balcony, the landscape below was tropical twilight: the concrete jungle of Caracas, capital of Venezuela, during the steaming wet season, salsa throbbing from unrelenting traffic while murals exalt the insurgent President Hugo Chavez. Down the hills that trap the smog tumble makeshift barrios where most of the city's 5m people gouge out a living.

Article continues
Yet Strauss - or the music of any other composer - is rarely played to this standard. Indeed, as major figures in classical music concur, these performers - the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela - are a phenomenon. Named after the man who led the uprisings against the Spanish colonial yoke, these young musicians are beating established European ensembles to record for the world's most regal classical-music label, Deutsche Grammophon. And tonight in Caracas the orchestra, under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, will inaugurate a new $35m Inter-American Center for Social Action Through Music, thereby crowning the city as one of the world capitals of music. But with a difference: these young musicians come for the most part from desperate shantytowns, not the conservatoires of Vienna or Berlin.

Attention has been focused on the 26-year-old prodigy conducting Strauss, with his mop of curls reminiscent of a young Rattle, his passion and electrifying communication with the musicians from among whose ranks he came as a violinist: Gustavo Dudamel. Rattle himself calls Dudamel 'the most astonishingly gifted conductor I have ever come across'. Earlier this year, the musical directorship of the Los Angeles Philharmonic - arguably the best orchestra in America [ ;) ]- became vacant. The orchestra chose Dudamel after a couple of guest appearances during which the Venezuelan shot what the orchestra's president Deborah Borda called 'contagious joy' through the seasoned musicians. 'We had combustion,' she said. 'We knew something remarkable had happened.'

But this is more than the story of one prodigy, himself from a poor family on the outskirts of Barquisimeto in the Venezuelan interior. This is about what Dudamel calls 'music as social saviour'. He and his orchestra are but the apex of a unique enterprise; the zenith of something deeply rooted in Venezuela, formally entitled the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela, but known simply as El Sistema. Inspired and founded in 1975 under the slogan 'Play and fight!' by the extraordinary social crusader Jose Antonio Abreu, El Sistema flourished with a simple dictum: that in the poorest slums of the world, where the pitfalls of drug addiction, crime and despair are many, life can be changed and fulfilled if children can be brought into an orchestra to play the overwhelmingly European classical repertoire.

And that is what happened. The road taken by Dudamel and his orchestra is one along which some 270,000 young Venezuelans are now registered to aspire, playing music across a land seeded with 220 youth orchestras from the Andes to the Caribbean. Rattle, music director of the mighty Berlin Philharmonic, describes El Sistema as 'nothing less than a miracle... From here, I see the future of music for the whole world.' But, adds Sir Simon, 'I see this programme not only as a question of art, but deep down as a social initiative. It has saved many lives, and will continue to save them.'

Across Venezuela, young barrio-dwellers now spend their afternoons practising Beethoven and Brahms. They learn the 'Trauermarsch' from Mahler's fifth symphony while their peers learn to steal and shoot. They are teenagers like Renee Arias, practising Bizet's Carmen Suite at a home for abandoned and abused children, who when asked what he would be doing if he had not taken up the French horn, replies straightforwardly: 'I'd be where I was, only further down the line - either dead or still living on the streets smoking crack, like when I was eight.' Or children like Aluisa Patino, 11, who states plainly that she learns the viola 'to get myself and my mother out of the barrio. It's got to the point around here,' she chirps as she leads us through a maze of alleyways to her humble home, 'where it's much cooler to like Strauss than salsa.'

Dudamel's rehearsals for the Alpine symphony approach their end. It is even more compelling to watch Dudamel in rehearsal than in performance - this combination of intensity and charm, severity and exuberance. Rehearsing the young orchestra that has been his life and is now his springboard, Dudamel always uses the expression 'Let's do this', never 'Do it this way.' He talks the musicians through the piece's meaning as well as its structure: 'Let's consider each bar as part of the whole,' he coaxes, 'as I think Strauss wants us to feel part of the perfect union of the whole - a philosophical reflection by man confronted with nature.' He loves crescendos - 'Let's give it some push!' - and as he rehearses the hushed finale which the musicians must perform in pitch black, he exhales, as the lights dim. 'Let's take it down - right down - slowly - turn it off"... until there is silence and darkness. 'Ah, si!' sighs Dudamel, breaking the spell, and everyone applauds.

Dudamel and I talk in a subterranean cave beneath the new Inter-American Center. Just as painters prefer to talk about colour and light more than about abstractions and personal detail, we begin with his singular interpretation of the Alpine symphony, which he gives an unusually human dimension. 'That,' says Dudamel, 'is exactly the special thing about what we do. We have never played that piece before, not I nor the musicians. How can a group of people encounter one of the great pieces about man and nature without feeling that they matter? We talked the piece through, tried to understand together, and play as we felt. It's about the score, dynamics, tempo and colours, of course - but also about feeling. We play it for the first time, but also as though it were the last - for love.' At the Proms on 19 August, Dudamel and the orchestra will play Shostakovich's 10th symphony - the discourse this time not nature but the most intriguing political narrative in 20th-century culture: Shostakovich's life and work on the rack of Soviet communism. 'Of course, we discuss Shostakovich's life behind the piece,' says Dudamel, 'how he existed under Stalin, introducing nuances and codes in what he wrote, hidden political messages in musical form...'

We continue in this vein until the irrepressible young man recounts his own story. His father, he says, played salsa trombone, 'and that was the sound of my childhood. But there was classical music, too, and in that regard my grandmother was my mentor. Anyway, my arms were too short to play the trombone, however hard I tried.' So Gustavo joined the choir at the local Nucleo - as the Sistema's neighbourhood orchestras are called - then took up the violin before conducting two years later. The salsa never left Dudamel's DNA, however - as he says of leaving Caracas for Los Angeles: 'I'll miss my orchestra, but I will never leave them. They're family; I grew up with them. But Los Angeles is more like meeting a girl at a salsa dance. You have a dance, then meet her again and have another dance which is a little more sexy. Well, one thing leads to another, and eventually you get engaged, then married, and the honeymoon begins...'

One can't help feeling the 'family' remains Dudamel's great love. 'These musicians are my blood,' he says, 'my best friends, my brothers and sisters. I've played with 80 per cent of them; they don't really see me as their conductor, and I don't see myself that way either. There's collective pressure, but in a positive way. If a musician gets ahead of the group, the group must follow - that's how the social aspect of El Sistema feeds the music we make. But from now on, in Los Angeles and Gothenburg [where Dudamel is also principal conductor] it will be different. With every orchestra I work with, I will have to weld a relationship, to understand its special personality, to lead and follow.'

Inevitable comparisons are made between Dudamel and his champion, Rattle. But there is something in the mix of Dudamel's electricity and communication with his orchestra, cranking up that extra notch of commitment, which invokes more the indefatigable Russian Valery Gergiev, only without the ego. (After one of his guest performances in Los Angeles, a cellist, Gloria Lum, remarked: 'There are many conductors who are technically perfect, but they are so taken with themselves as opposed to the music. With Dudamel, there is no artifice, no ego.')

The Alpine symphony is particularly demanding for the bassoon, which Edgar Monroy, 22, packs away, his hair spiked with gel. Edgar's journey home is via Caracas's (estimable) subway, then minibus up a steep, pitted road to the ramshackle barrio of San Andres, into which one climbs, winding step by winding step, past breeze-block shacks with roofs of corrugated iron and zinc crammed together in the humid heat. Edgar's home, which he shares with his parents, sister and baby niece, hides its poverty behind careful upkeep and radiant pride at what Edgar has achieved.

'There are times when the rehearsals end late and I daren't come home - it's just too dangerous; I stay in town,' says Edgar with the puckish grin of any lad his age. He joined the local Nucleo 'and they gave me a bassoon because it was the only instrument for which there was a vacancy'. There were no private classes - nor money for them - just orchestral practice at Caracas racetrack whether or not there was horse racing that day. 'It's hard to say what happened exactly,' says Edgar. 'I fell in love with the music, though it was strange to me. I motivated myself and started to dream this could be my future.

'Our experience is reflected in how we play,' he says. 'Most of us are from the barrios and that's our bond - to rise above what happens where we live.' Edgar still has 'a few friends I used to hang around with' who never joined, even sneered at, El Sistema. 'People I've known since I was a kid who've become delinquents - problems with drugs and crime. Bad things happen every day around here. I don't often keep my instrument at home because it's likely to get stolen. But now most of my friends are musicians; we're a family as well as an orchestra.'

One feature of the Simon Bolivar orchestra is how many of them leave rehearsals hand in hand. 'My girlfriend's a bassoonist, too, called Alejandra,' says Edgar. 'You see, it's not just about music - it's a way of looking at life and yourself. I mean, look at me and where I live. There are kids here who never leave the barrio for weeks, and never will. But I'm off to England, Germany and the USA to play. Maybe it's ironic,' he reflects, 'that the music is classical, from Europe. But it's a strong tradition and has opened up our world, told us who Mozart and Beethoven were, that they could be ours and give us an escape.'

We go for a walk. Some houses don't have roofs at all, and outside one, a young man of Edgar's age sits cross-legged in a plastic chair, his eyes glazed, skin pock-marked, motionless. Edgar hardly notices, chatting as he climbs the steps: 'I like Brahms best - so romantic - but my favourite is Shostakovich's ninth, because of the long bassoon solo!'

Musicians like Edgar are not moulded overnight. They work, need to be worked on, and often begin young. As they do at the Nucleo in the barrio of Sarria, operating after hours at the Jose Marti Bolivarian School. 'In school,' says the Nucleo's director Rafael Elster, 'you don't see the poverty outside. You watch these kids play, but sometimes their parents are the drug dealers and car thieves.' It is in these barrios that Chavez offers one kind of redemption and is heartily supported, while El Sistema offers another, to a mixed reaction.

'At first,' says Gladiani Herrarra, a violin teacher, 'they can reject you and the music. They're afraid of everything in their lives, and it takes time to break down the wall.' 'There was one girl,' recalls Rafael, 'who I asked to shut her eyes to better listen to a piece. She refused, terrified to close her eyes with anyone else in the room.' 'Physical abuse,' says Gladiani, 'is often the first thing to overcome.'

People like Rafael are the spine of El Sistema. He studied trumpet at the Juilliard in New York, has won numerous prizes and could have embarked on a lambent career. 'But I prefer this,' he says. 'I've taught all over the world, but never enjoyed myself more. A lot of them stay to finish other school studies only because of the music. To be honest, some of them scare me at first. But most of them don't have a father. I become a sort of father, and they become my sort of children.' Genesis, 11, says her friends 'keep telling me to quit the orchestra. They think it's shit and go around kissing boys. But I think actually they're jealous.'

Rafael mounts the podium of the school theatre and takes the orchestra through Sibelius's Finlandia symphony. 'These are the young kids,' he cautions. 'There's a critical point around 13. If we can keep them, their lives will change, otherwise we lose them forever.'

Many teenagers living at Los Chorros, a residential shelter for runaway and abused children, recall lives from which few recover. Los Chorros still exudes the aura of its former existence as a 'correctional facility' for arrested street children - there are still bars on the windows of some buildings - but from the main hall come the lilting melodies of Bizet's Carmen Suite. Angel Linarez had explained that he was a car thief before training as a musician and working for El Sistema, and now greets some of the youngsters he taught when they were waifs a decade ago.

Miguel Nino is a swarthy cellist with long hair, but aged six had 'fled my home in Barinas because of physical aggression by my father', and came to the capital to make a home on its streets. 'The police caught me,' he says both simply and evasively, 'and brought me here, where the orchestra caught my attention, something different. And now, I play, study, want to be a professional musician and raise a family. If I hadn't found music? Obviously I'd have gone back on to the streets to steal, beg and take drugs.'

The leader of Los Chorros's orchestra, tipped for a professional future, is Patricia Gujavro. Her face while playing looks as though it knows more than her 17 years should afford, but her lachrymose expression unexpectedly vanishes when she speaks, breezily. Patricia lives in Palo Verde barrio with her two brothers. Her father has 'never been in the family' and her mother disappeared to Ecuador last year. 'I've thought a lot about what my life would have been like if I hadn't started the violin,' she says. 'I suppose I'd be like most 17-year-old girls in Palo Verde - hanging with the gangs and pregnant. One of my friends is 17, with a kid and pregnant again, and no idea how to support them. That... well, that hasn't happened to me yet.' Her ambition, inevitably: 'to join the Simon Bolivar orchestra'- if not, become an engineer, music having 'given me discipline, respect for other people and for myself, unlike the other girls'.

Some of El Sistema's guiding hands have been there since the outset, when beside Jose Antonio Abreu was a teenaged music student called Igor Lanz, who now directs the project. 'The main purpose,' he says, 'is not just to make music for its own sake, but to teach the equilibrium between competition and cooperation. To be great, you must drive towards excellence - but there's no experience like reading off the same score, bar by bar, as everyone else. What amazes me is that this balance is working: the more children join the system, the standard, rather than dilute, gets higher.'

A meeting with maestro Abreu himself is like an encounter with a popular cardinal, between his appointments with children and the powerful - which makes sense, since Abreu's deep Catholic faith has been almost as much a propulsion as his love of music. He exudes a sense of iron will wrapped in wisdom and civility, describing his own childhood experience of music as 'immense joy in a place where life was hard'. Parallel to his studies in Caracas as an organist and composer, Abreu took an economics degree purely, he insists, because he could entwine it around the music curriculum. And through the social work his degree entailed, 'I realised the magnitude of poverty and misery in Venezuela.' Abreu even served as president of the Economic Planning Commission and minister of culture, but a combination of disillusionment and health problems made him leave politics and 'devote myself entirely to music. And I found insidious the situation whereby access to music had become the privilege of the elite. The more I had studied Beethoven the man as well as the composer, the more I realised how outraged he would be by such a situation. Beethoven was a man of profound democratic humanism and thus I set out to create a means whereby music could be a way of vindicating the rights of the masses.'

El Sistema sank roots in Venezuelan society deep enough to survive the winds - hurricanes, indeed - of tumultuous political change, military coups and now the Chavez revolution. El Sistema is probably, and remarkably, the only organism immune to politics in one of the world's most highly politicised societies. Chavez made a point of taking the Simon Bolivar orchestra with him when he attended his first South American heads of state summit in Brazil in 2000, but so, probably, would the conservative opposition if it were in power. 'We are a national asset,' says Abreu, 'whoever rules the country. We are part of the community; local governments compete to have an orchestra as good as the neighbouring one.'

What was the greatest moment, I asked Dudamel, when he had to pinch himself to believe it was happening - Berlin? La Scala? Getting the job in California? 'I think it was when Maestro Abreu called me, told me I was to conduct the youth orchestra, and hung up. I ran down the corridor shouting. Then again, I think it was when I married my wife. But I'm one of those people for whom every moment is the best.'

The rehearsal resumes and focuses on a particularly difficult sequence for trumpets, Dudamel is in dialogue with a remarkable young man called Wilfrido Galarraga who rides his motorbike from the barrio of La Vega to the Caracas university each morning to work on his thesis on the methodology of music teaching before moving on to rehearse. The thesis, he says, 'is about how children can learn from lives of composers like Verdi, with his political views, or Tchaikovsky's romanticism and homosexuality. These are interesting people, and this way we both educate children and break away from the idea that classical music is for the upper classes and the rich.'

La Vega is a barrio both as desperate and defiant as the rest, but Wilfrido insists: 'I don't like this characterisation. Yes, La Vega is economically marginalised and these problems are with us, but most people cross town to work.' However, he says, 'when I joined the children's orchestra, it changed not only my life but the lives of my family. My father was drinking far too much, and all my brothers had dropped out of school. When I got hooked on my instrument, my father stopped drinking, and one by one my brothers went back to school.' We talk about Wilfrido's future, and that of the orchestra, making an analogy with the Brazilian national football team, hardly any of whom play in Brazil. How many will be picked off, like the double bassist Edicson Ruiz, who recently became the youngest musician ever to join the Berlin Philharmonic? 'I think many will stay,' says Wilfrido. 'We're a community. But we are only too aware that for every one of us, there are 10 more young people easily capable of taking our place. I'm not sure where my future lies but I am certain of one thing: that however good people say our orchestra is, the generation coming up behind us will be better than we are.'

· The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra performs at the Edinburgh Festival on 17 August and BBC Proms on 19 August. Their second album on Deutsche Grammophon, Mahler's Symphony No5, is released on 13 August.






UP

Quixote
Dec 12, 2007, 9:35 AM
Huge gift helps LACMA enter the modern age

The museum announces a gift from Janice and Henri Lazarof of 130 works by artists including Picasso, Giacometti, Brancusi and Matisse, greatly improving a weak part of the collection.

By Suzanne Muchnic, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 12, 2007

In a single stroke of philanthropy, two scrupulously private L.A. art collectors have transformed the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's holdings of modern art.

Janice and Henri Lazarof have given the museum 130 works by major artists, LACMA officials said this week. The gift includes 20 works by Pablo Picasso spanning 65 years, seven figurative sculptures and a painting by Alberto Giacometti, and two versions of Constantin Brancusi's signature bronze, "Bird in Space."

The museum did not disclose the value of the artworks, but recent auction sales of similar pieces suggest that the collection is worth more than $100 million. It is the largest single donation of its kind locally and one that will greatly enhance LACMA's collection.

"It's a major deal to get this work in one fell swoop, at a time when the art market has made it nearly impossible for museums to purchase work of this quality," said Michael Govan, LACMA's director. "This significantly expands the modern collection, where we need help. We have major works and landmark things like the Robert Rifkind collection of German Expressionism, but we don't have the richness and depth of modern art that you expect of a museum of this scale. This gift doesn't complete the picture, but it adds a lot."

About 80 works from the collection will go on view Jan. 13, a month before the museum unveils the first phase of an ambitious expansion and renovation program that includes a new contemporary art building financed by Los Angeles collector-philanthropist Eli Broad. The Lazarof donation will debut in three galleries on the plaza level of the Ahmanson Building, in a new 22,000-square-foot showcase for modern art.

Although Henri Lazarof is a veteran composer and his wife, a daughter of the late banker-philanthropist S. Mark Taper, is president of the S. Mark Taper Foundation, the couple have maintained an unusually low profile in art circles. Their names are not on art magazine lists of top collectors, but for about 25 years they have assembled works by a who's who of 20th century figures, including Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and Henry Moore.

Encompassing small pictures designed for intimate viewing as well as large artistic statements, the couple's donation includes two-dimensional works in oil, watercolor, charcoal, pencil and collage, and sculptures of alabaster, marble and steel. Presented as a fractional and promised gift, it makes LACMA a part owner of each piece, with remaining shares to be given over time.

Among the Picassos are 17 portraits, such as a tiny Rose Period painting from 1906; twisted images of the artist's mistress Dora Maar from the 1930s; and a monumental likeness of his wife Jacqueline painted in the early 1960s. About two dozen works by Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Lyonel Feininger represent the influential Bauhaus school in Germany. There are also Impressionist pieces by Edgar Degas and Camille Pissarro, but the gift is primarily a Modernist bonanza.

Stephanie Barron, the museum's senior curator of modern art, who has worked quietly for years to secure the collection for the museum, said the Lazarofs are "incredibly rare" philanthropists who have collected for their own pleasure, completely out of the limelight.

"I watched their collection grow from modest to interesting to remarkable to astonishing, to the point when I felt I had to do everything I could to make the case for it to come to the museum," Barron said. "Not since the David Bright collection came to us in the mid-1960s has there been a single addition that allows the modern collection to turn a corner like this."

Janice Lazarof said she and her husband reached their decision after a lot of thought and exploration of possibilities. Henri Lazarof, who was born in Bulgaria and moved to California in 1959, was a member of UCLA's music faculty from 1962 to 1987.

"As longtime residents of Los Angeles, we have watched the museum being built and going through all of its changes," Janice Lazarof said. "Now there is a whole new change, and we just felt this is where the collection belonged. We wanted to do something that would bring pleasure and last for many generations in a beautiful new home. We wanted to be able to enjoy watching other people enjoy what we had enjoyed for so many years."

The gift is a coup for LACMA, which has lost promised and hoped-for collections in the past, including those of Armand Hammer and Norton Simon, who built their own museums, and actor Edward G. Robinson, who sold his art holdings as part of a divorce settlement.

The Lazarof donation comes at an auspicious time, as LACMA's campus on Wilshire Boulevard is undergoing a sweeping transformation. Phase one of the expansion, which includes the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, will provide a new showcase for recent works. The Ahmanson Building, on the opposite side of a new entry plaza, has been reconfigured to give visitors a more complete sense of art history, Govan said.

"There are many publics in Los Angeles, many tastes," he said. "The museum is expanding on many different levels, and other surprises are coming. This is a good time to reinstall the modern collection in proximity to contemporary art."

Among the donated works

Janice and Henri Lazarof have given the Los Angeles County Museum of Art 130 works by major artists. A selection of significant pieces is shown.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-12/34219109.jpg

"Bird in Space," a 73-inch-tall polished bronze sculpture made by Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi in 1927, is a signature work by this leading Modernist. Highly refined abstractions from nature, the sculpture and a companion piece are the first Brancusis in the museum's collection.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-12/34219153.jpg

"Head of a Woman," a 1906 Rose Period painting by Pablo Picasso, is an archetypal early work by the Spanish artist who dominated 20th century art. The 13 3/4 - by-8 1/2 -inch oil is a mask-like portrait thought to depict the artist's companion Fernande in the style of Iberian sculpture.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-12/34219151.jpg

"The Cage," a 1950 bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, portrays emaciated figures confined in a box-like space. The spare artwork, about 3 feet tall, reflects the postwar sensibility of an artist who focused on human brutality and existential angst.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-12/34219113.jpg

"Glass, Bottle and Playing Card," a 1912 oil by French artist Georges Braque, is a classic Cubist work. A collage-like composition that merges different points of view in a new kind of realism, it blends fragments of ordinary objects into a multifaceted oval.

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2007-12/34219138.jpg

"The Dancers," an 1898 pastel by French Impressionist Edgar Degas, is among the earliest pieces in the Lazarof gift. The abruptly cropped composition is a snapshot-like view of the ballet that epitomizes the artist's talent for stopping motion with extraordinary freedom and verve.

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Source: Los Angeles Times (http://www.calendarlive.com/galleriesandmuseums/la-et-lacma12dec12,0,1860516.story?coll=la-home-center)

LosAngelesSportsFan
Dec 12, 2007, 7:24 PM
wonderful. i wonder what they meant "The museum is expanding on many different levels, and other surprises are coming" im curious.

citywatch
Dec 13, 2007, 6:08 AM
Here's coverage of the story in the NY Times:


For Los Angeles Museum, a ‘Transformative’ Gift of Modernists

By EDWARD WYATT
Published: December 13, 2007

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced Wednesday that it had been promised a gift of 130 mostly Modernist works, including 20 by Picasso, a group of 21 watercolors and paintings by Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky and sculptures by Alberto Giacometti. The museum described the gift as a “transformative addition” to its collection that “in many cases represents Lacma’s first major work by that artist.”

Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art at the museum, said in an interview that the museum now owns a small percentage of every work in the Lazarof collection, and that the remainder would be transferred over time. (Fractional giving tends to benefit donors because the tax deduction for each partial gift rises from year to year as the work appreciates in value.) Museum officials declined to make Mr. or Mrs. Lazarof available for comment, and the couple could not be reached independently.

The gift was announced two months before the institution’s planned opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a building that is part of a continuing renovation and expansion of the museum’s campus. It was designed by the architect Renzo Piano as a showcase for the contemporary art collection of Eli Broad, the Los Angeles philanthropist and billionaire. Mr. Broad has not donated or promised his collection to the museum. The art world has long speculated over whether he will ultimately do so.

In a new release Michael Govan, the museum’s director since 2006, characterized the Lazarof collection as highly significant. “At a time when the art market has made it nearly impossible for museums to purchase works of this quality, this important acquisition brings to the people of Los Angeles works by key figures that define the modern century,” he said.

Selected works from the Lazarof collection will be put on display at the museum beginning Jan. 13 in its Ahmanson Building. A museum spokeswoman declined to comment on how many works would be included in the initial exhibition and when the museum would receive full title to the Lazarof collection. In addition to the Picassos, Kandinskys, Klees and Giacomettis, highlights of the gift include three Cubist canvases by Georges Braque and two sculptures by Henry Moore. The collection is rich in sculpture, with examples by Louise Nevelson, Archipenko and Arp.

Among the works that are a first by an artist in the museum collection are two versions of the sculpture “Bird in Space” by Constantin Brancusi, as well as works by Joseph Csaky, Hannah Höch and Robert Michel. The works will significantly expand what is acknowledged to be an incomplete and spotty collection at the museum. Ms. Barron said that while at any time only about 2 percent of the museum’s total collection is on display, “in the modern collection probably 90 percent of our B-plus and better works are on view.”

“We have a good collection, but we never had a deep collection,” Ms. Barron said. “This gift transforms the depth and breadth of what we have.”

The Lazarof works will extend the reach of the museum’s collection of German artists, which Ms. Barron said had been strong in the early Expressionist period of the 1900s but weaker in the Bauhaus years of the 1920s. Similarly the collection will greatly expand the museum’s Picasso holdings, which had consisted of four paintings, three sculptures and a number of works on paper, Ms. Barron said. The additions include three portraits of Dora Maar, with whom Picasso lived for a decade beginning in the mid-1930s, and “Head of a Woman,” a late Rose-period painting from the fall of 1906.

The gift will also add to the museum new forms of work by artists who are represented in its collections in other ways, including the museum’s first de Kooning sculpture, its first painting by Giacometti and its first sculpture by Joan Miró. The Lazarof collection also includes what will be the museum’s first Futurist work, by Giacomo Balla. Such works, by artists working in Italy on the eve of World War I, “are incredibly rare, unless you were buying them in the ’40s and ’50s,” Ms. Barron said.

ocman
Jan 9, 2008, 7:03 AM
LACMA got totally fucked over!!!!!!!!!!!!

:hell:

Quixote
Jan 11, 2008, 4:58 AM
January 10, 2008

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2102/2183863701_ca355730a4_b.jpg
From Flickr, by Here in Van Nuys

Vangelist
Jan 16, 2008, 6:57 PM
Can't believe none of these haven't been posted yet:

From the Los Angeles Times
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK

Will LACMA's reputation suffer from Broad's change of heart?
Eli Broad's decision to withdraw his donation has serious implications for LACMA's future.
By Christopher Knight
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 11, 2008

The news this week that billionaire art collector Eli Broad has decided not to give any of his 2,000-piece collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where a building bearing his name will open with great fanfare next month, was sort of like hearing that a terminal patient died. You know in your heart it's coming, but expectation does nothing to minimize being nonplused when it does.

Sometimes reality's bluntness does that. Overnight, LACMA became the museum equivalent of Hillary Rodham Clinton. After a buoyant year and a half, the air suddenly went out of the soufflé.

Following Iowa's abrupt collapse, Sen. Clinton rebounded somewhat in New Hampshire. Whether LACMA can too is hard to say.

Why? Because the reinvigoration of the long-sluggish museum has been built around advancing a unique idea: LACMA was poised to become the nation's only encyclopedic museum -- with collections ranging through all historical periods in every part of the globe -- that would also have a major commitment to contemporary art. Since Broad, a LACMA trustee who occupies the stratosphere of the world's contemporary collectors, won't himself make the institutional pledge, that scheme has disintegrated.

Furthermore, if Broad, 73, won't give masterpieces to his own favored museum, why should any other private art collector? Especially not when any gift would be to something called the Broad Contemporary Art Museum.

When LACMA officials announced several years ago that Broad had pledged $50 million to build BCAM on its Wilshire Boulevard campus, his large collection was in the front of the art world's collective mind. LACMA may be encyclopedic, but its strengths have never been in the modern sweep of 19th and 20th century art. For art after 1950, a Broad gift could make a huge difference.

But the reality is this: The philanthropist has a track record as a hugely successful businessman who exchanges project involvement for near-absolute control. Letting go is the single hardest thing for a controlling personality to do.

Apparently, it's impossible to give away art from his two collections -- one personal, numbering about 400 works, now to be merged with an additional 1,600 held in a foundation, with all the attendant personal tax benefits but no loss of power.

Commitment phobia is irrational, and listening to Broad's explanations for his brusque about-face is a plain illustration. In interviews, he cites two main reasons why he's pulling back, after signaling in recent years that his collections would be divided among several museums. Neither explanation makes much sense.

"We don't want [the collection] to remain in storage," Broad told one reporter. He told The Times, "We were concerned that if we gave our collection to one or several museums, 90% or so would be in storage all the time."

This is not a new worry for collectors. In 1980, Burton and Emily Tremaine sold "Three Flags," an iconic early Jasper Johns painting, to the Whitney Museum for $1 million -- then the highest price paid by a museum for a work by a living artist. They could easily have donated the painting, which they paid $900 for in 1959. But Mrs. Tremaine said she figured that the premium price guaranteed that the museum would keep it out of storage and on view.

A lot has changed in the intervening 28 years -- not least an explosive art market, which in retrospect turned the Whitney's record payment into a bargain.

More important, time has passed. That means history has become clearer. We now have a much better idea about what art of the 1950s and 1960s is on track to be remembered by posterity.

For the quality and stature of an encyclopedic museum, that assessment is crucial. I'd be happy to draw up a list of inarguable masterworks, taken only from those expected to be in BCAM's inaugural exhibition.

Start with Robert Rauschenberg's 1954 red abstraction. Add the two Johns flag paintings (1960 and 1967), his mixed-media "Watchman" (1964) and his pivotal 1975 "hatch" painting.

From L.A., there are John Baldessari's two text paintings from 1967-68, Edward Ruscha's first word painting, "Boss" (1961) and his 1964 picture of Norm's La Cienega Boulevard restaurant on fire.

Toss in another slew of Pop Art classics, including three Roy Lichtenstein comic strip paintings (1962-65) and his 1969 abstraction of a mirror. And for Andy Warhol, begin with the advertising image, "Where's your rupture?," continue through two Marilyn Monroe images, 20 of Jackie Kennedy, an Elvis, a dance diagram, a wanted poster, an electric chair and a Campbell's soup can -- clam chowder, Manhattan style -- all from 1961 to 1967.

To push the chronology forward, go to Jeff Koons. There are the sculptor's fluorescent-lighted vacuum cleaners (1981), floating basketballs and bronze lifeboat (both 1985), stainless-steel bunny rabbit (1986) and life-size porcelain portrait of Michael Jackson and his pet chimpanzee (1988).

Finish with a dozen 1977-80 photographs by Cindy Sherman, in which the artist-chameleon assumes clichéd poses echoing movie stills.

With a list like that, I'd be willing to bet my dog's life that a LACMA gift would go straight into museum galleries until the end of time. The bet is as sure as for the great Carter collection of 17th century Dutch painting a few years back or the cream of the recently acquired Lazarof collection of Modern art. The Broad gift would catapult the museum in rank to having the nation's greatest collection of American Pop Art -- a status especially appropriate to Los Angeles, pop culture capital of the known universe.

Since strength draws strength, there's no telling what other related works might then come LACMA's way through other collectors' (and perhaps artists') generosity. That's how great museum collections are built and how the claim of an encyclopedic museum with a commitment to contemporary art becomes more than vacuous sloganeering.

Which brings us to Broad's second nonsensical idea. He thinks museums should collectively share works of art -- an administrative and curatorial nightmare, which makes museum professionals cringe -- and that functioning as a "lending library" of art to institutions is "a new paradigm and a model for other private collectors."

The Broad Art Foundation has been doing that since 1984. Yet the circulating loan concept is clever only for art that has not yet settled into historical certainty about its importance. Ninety percent of the foundation's collection lies in that ambiguous zone, which explains the worry over museum storage. But 25 years from now, that mystery will begin to be solved. Gifts could be made as knowledge evolves. Culturally, that would be an authentic public service.

But now, BCAM just looks like a savvy business deal. The foundation's modest Santa Monica digs have shifted to a prime spot of free real estate on Wilshire Boulevard adjacent to the most important encyclopedic art museum west of Chicago, all for the bargain price of $50 million. That's about twice what Broad paid for one David Smith sculpture two years ago. And LACMA's infrastructure will be picking up the tab to maintain a collection the museum doesn't own.

Of course, if the Broad Foundation next decides to set up shop in new quarters elsewhere in town, giving the best of the collection to LACMA now would have a detrimental effect. It could anchor a private museum and be its primary public draw. Broad says he has no plans for his own museum -- but then, he also said he would give his collection to one or more museums. We know how that plan turned out.

The response to the cruel news has been withering. Most succinct was Time magazine's Richard Lacayo, who wrote on his blog, "LACMA got screwed." Folks at the Getty will tell you that bad behavior by staff members can seriously bruise a museum's reputation. But when a trustee is responsible, the wound is deeper.

christopher.knight@latimes.com

ART REVIEW
LACMA's classy redesign puts focus on Modern art
Unveiling of a stunning gift lights up LACMA's restyled showroom.
By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 12, 2008
THE contrast couldn't be starker.

Earlier this week came disappointing news that prominent collectors Eli and Edythe Broad had reversed gear, deciding against giving any of their contemporary art to the building bearing their name that will open at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art next month. Meanwhile, on Sunday, LACMA will unveil a smashing new installation of its permanent collection of Modern art, including the extraordinarily munificent gift of 130 works from Janice and Henri Lazarof, hitherto virtually anonymous Los Angeles collectors.

Talk about night and day. A perusal of the new installation is a clear demonstration that a new building is nice, and it can have beneficial effects for art, but a transformative art collection is infinitely superior.

LACMA's Modern collection doesn't have a new building, but it does have 22,000 square feet of expansive, handsomely redesigned galleries that take up the entire plaza level of the Ahmanson Building. (The collection was formerly in the awkward Anderson Building, which is becoming the new home to art of the Americas.) An airily uncluttered entry, dark wood floors, pale gray walls and high ceilings painted jet black yield a pleasant surprise.

These rooms, sober but not somber, possess an unexpected degree of elegant stateliness. Interior architectural design has been marshaled to say, "This matters." The design privileges art, not itself. Neatly done.

And soon, the atrium that pierces the Ahmanson Building's heart will reopen with a new grand staircase, running the width of the space. It leads from the plaza entrance down to ground level and the pathway to a fresh entry pavilion next door; beyond is the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, opening next month. Marvelously rethought by architect Renzo Piano, who is rearranging LACMA's master plan, this historically awkward atrium -- a volume of nothingness, slicing through the museum's core -- has become a sleek, modern processional space.

The plaza level galleries used to hold a jumble of ancient and American art, and before that a hodgepodge of English silver and Italian decorative art. The Modern collection streamlines things. It begins with 20th century European art and continues into postwar American abstraction, through the early 1970s.

Curator Stephanie Barron has arranged the collection in a predictable but nonetheless atypical way. As a rule, Modern art history is told from a French perspective. But LACMA has an enviable track record with presentations that look east toward avant-garde developments in Germany, Austria and Russia. Two entrances flanking the atrium direct visitors into the suite of galleries, one beginning with Paris, the other with Berlin, Vienna and Moscow. Parity is asserted -- and it certainly holds up.

The natural circulation path goes left -- which is where the German Expressionist galleries are, thus smartly italicizing LACMA's difference from other large museums. The first room is the first prominent, dedicated space for the impressive graphics collection of the museum's Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies. (Don't miss the clips and surprising vintage photographs from the classic film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," shown in a former utility closet.) The holdings are so extensive that the greatest-hits installation of prints, drawings and posters by Emil Nolde, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, Max Beckmann and many others constitutes the proverbial iceberg's tip.

In the main German Expressionist gallery, announced by a magnificent Schmidt-Rottluff painting of a banshee dance, is the museum's remarkable lineup of four paintings by Ernst-Ludwig Kirchner. A condensed history of the movement between 1910 and 1922 is told through the work of its great Berlin master.

An exceptional Kirchner carved-wood figure, on extended loan from a private collection, adds significantly to the group. It underscores the power of the museum's own sculptural masterpiece, Hermann Scherer's "Sleeping Woman With Boy" (1926), in which a traditional Christian Madonna and Child is reconfigured as a moving totem of pagan urbanity.

There's also the monumental Kurt Schwitters collage "Constellation for Noble Ladies," which looks as if it could date from 1959 rather than 1919. It's perhaps the finest Schwitters in America. The work's incorporation of manufactured objects -- a wheel, a light fixture -- connects to the period furniture and other decorative arts incorporated into the display of painting and sculpture.

The early French Modern art claims some familiar gems, including fine examples by "the big three." A brooding Blue Period Picasso and Matisse's five bronze heads of Jeannette (1910-13), plus his great 1919 garden painting, "Tea," are well known. But it's easy to forget that five years ago, LACMA acquired the artist's proof of Marcel Duchamp's clever Dada edition "With Hidden Noise" (1916/64).

A ball of twine is held between brass plates, with an unknown object concealed inside. It's like a child's rattle, mocking the internal, secret mysteries of art.

The German and French galleries lead to rooms that display the exceptional collection of the Lazarofs, whose important paintings, drawings and sculptures by Kandinsky, Klee, Schwitters, Picasso, Brancusi, Léger and others are instrumental in greatly elevating the museum's Modern holdings. Take Brancusi's iconic "Bird," the attenuated, phallic bronze form atop a white marble cylinder.

There are two versions, one from 1925-26 and the other from 1927, and the subtle variations between them are fascinating. The sizes differ, and some proportions, but so do the scale relationships between figure and pedestal. One sculpture feels balanced, poised, like an elegant creature in liftoff; the other almost broods, with a quiet, precarious drama.

These are the first works by Brancusi to enter LACMA's collection. To have that long-awaited addition happen in this unusual, provocative pairing is remarkable.

The 20 Picasso drawings and paintings span the artist's working life. A small 1905 ink drawing, "Blind Beggar," shows a poor youth with a black inkblot for an eye, his pants open and his genitals exposed, as if sex will be his worldly avenue of perception.

Nearby hangs the large 1969 painting "Man and Woman," dominated by an electrifying palette of chrome yellow, black and white. The vivid, almost violent rendering of sexual congress completes the six-decade-long arc begun with the beggar.

In between is my immediate favorite -- a modest, Iberian-style head of a woman, made in the run-up to 1907's landmark painting, "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon." It's surprising for its gentle poignancy. Blue, Rose and imminent Cubist-period Picasso seem jampacked inside.

And speaking of Cubism, Georges Braque's gorgeous little 1912 still life, rendered on an oval canvas that recalls both a cafe tabletop and a mirror, is a marvelous complement to LACMA's 1913 Cubist Braque oval still life. The latter is larger and more imposing, but a bit dull, while the new addition sparkles.

As the Brancusi works might suggest, the collection is exceptionally rich in sculpture. Matisse's classical, even archaic 1929 bronze head, "Henriette III," amplifies the five heads of Jeannette already in the collection. A comparable elaboration is something that happens time and again here, not least with Alberto Giacometti.

Seven Giacometti bronzes, spanning 1934 to 1960, now join the two standing women LACMA owned. (One quibble: The platform on which the extraordinary group is shown should be moved out from the wall, so a visitor could see the attenuated sculptures in the round.) The earliest is a small Cubist skull, a death's head crossed with an almost geological formation, like a rock, and the most recent is a waist-high man's head that mysteriously billows up from the floor.

Surprisingly, the object labels reveal that LACMA acquired the Lazarof collection in 2005 -- news kept under wraps until its public announcement Dec. 12. The museum had no place to show the works then, and waiting for this reinstallation was a good idea.

The three Lazarof galleries will remain for the foreseeable future, since works on paper need to be rotated for conservation purposes, and that will give us a welcome chance to get acquainted with the gift. (About 80 of the 130 works are currently up.) But there are no restrictions on integrating the collection into LACMA's holdings.

European Modern art is not exhaustively chronicled, of course, and there is much work left for the museum to do. The collection has no paintings by Kazimir Malevich or Edvard Munch, for example, to name just two prominent missing persons. But it's certainly more than respectable, and in some areas considerably more. The distinctive parity granted Eastern and Western Europe is a breath of fresh air.

Perhaps someday that breeze will blow through the postwar Modern American galleries, currently overwhelmed with New York School paintings and sculptures, some of them quite fine. In the same way LACMA gives equivalence to France and Germany before the war, making for a curiously appealing presentation, it would be a singular achievement to track postwar American avant-garde developments on the East and West Coasts.

There is a nice nook with terrific Bay Area figurative paintings by David Park and Joan Brown, capped by Jay DeFeo's monumental 1959 starburst, "The Jewel." And since abstract painting and sculpture is the focus, it's nice that the sequence ends with three excellent Hard-edge paintings by the great John McLaughlin.

He was L.A.'s premier postwar master. From there, head on over to the Hammer Wing, where "SoCal: Southern California Art of the 1960s and 70s From LACMA's Collection" is on view through March 30.

christopher.knight@ latimes.com

Vangelist
Jan 16, 2008, 6:59 PM
LACMA's loss that isn't

Though the Broads are only loaning their artworks, the museum stands to gain.
By Thomas Hoving
January 14, 2008
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Eli Broad,

Congratulations to you both for your dynamic, imaginative, innovative decision not to donate outright your marvelous modern and contemporary art collection to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and others, but to make great loans in perpetuity!

I love your brave decision for a lot of reasons -- if only because it is the refreshing opposite of a will-dangling donor playing one museum off against another for the best deal. Now, hundreds of worthy institutions and dozens of diverse audiences can enjoy your unarguable treasures for years to come.

Don't be dismayed or daunted by those who knock your plan. (I was especially taken by the profound guy who thoughtfully opined "LACMA got screwed.") Any innovation in the stodgy art museum world is bound to be greeted with howls, whimpers, groans and hisses. The more screams you get, the more you know you're doing the right shaking and baking.

In time, even LACMA will cheer the news. Your statement that its needs and desires will be favored means LACMA will have first crack at the best in your collection without having to spend multimillions to acquire it (the usual alternative if art isn't donated outright) or pay scads to maintain it and store it (storage is a lot more expensive than anyone outside the museum world realizes). I mean, it's free access to Ali Baba's art cave without having to clean up and take out the garbage.

You may not know this, but another Californian, Norton Simon, proposed virtually the same scheme with the massive collection of Old Masters, Impressionism, modern and Asian art his shareholders had paid for and wily old Norton had picked up on the sly. When I was running the Metropolitan Museum in the early 1970s, Simon approached me with the stunning idea of paying for a building in one of the Met's light wells that would be a state-of-the-art unit for servicing loans of his masterworks to museums around the globe. Then the mercurial conglomerateur changed his mind and the project collapsed (he took over the Pasadena Museum and reopened it as the Norton Simon Museum in 1975).

I have been waiting decades for someone with the vision and guts to do something like Simon's loan scheme, and here you are.

Let me share with you some of the things Simon and I talked about years ago, things that are crucial if your idea is to live up to its potential:

First, service the "host" museum well -- in Simon's case, that would have been the Met, and in your case, it is the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, the new building you paid for that will open at LACMA next month. You don't really need me to tell you this: You have already been a spectacular donor to the Los Angeles museum and your promise that BCAM will have first and best draw is on the record. With BCAM, think of some pieces as indefinite loans, for museums do need permanent collections.

Make a list of museums across America -- and especially those in small communities and at colleges and universities -- where loans of your works will make indelible impressions. Be courageous and include libraries when an art museum does not exist. Do not be shackled by loaning only to institutions approved by the American Assn. of Museums.

Don't simply sit back and wait for requests. Have your staff propose specific works and even exciting theme shows for specific museums. Play to the museum's strengths and weaknesses.

Make some of these loans long term -- I mean four years at least, to increase the impact. Become teachers and evangelists about your art. Most Americans look on both modern and contemporary art with suspicion, fear and even contempt. Educate them that your treasures are equal to anything mankind has created. But do it in straight English and not art-historical jargon, (although a bit of the jargon might be amusing for the public, especially if it is translated).

Consider new ways to loan works. For example, you could work with college and university museums to mount a loan show for a semester that would form the heart of an ambitious art history course.

Have your staff prepare educational materials to go with your loans aimed at audiences that include first-graders to postgraduates. Of course there should be a catalog -- that goes if even one work is loaned. In that catalog, be honest. Give the entire history of a piece, including the story of various restorations. Even tell the public what you paid for the work and what it is worth today. After all, art has become money, like it or not.

Organize lectures and seminars about the loans. Publish what was discussed at the seminars. Make films about the artists in your collection and distribute them on DVDs. Arrange for focus groups and "town hall meetings" about the loans.

Above all, pick up all costs. I mean wall-to-wall expenses, nail-to-nail, including packing, shipping, painting of a gallery wall where the works will go, new lights, insurance, the catalog and other teaching materials, extra guards if needed -- hey, even the costs of an opening gala.

What I think is so compelling about your idea is that, unlike all art museums that have complicated missions, you can focus purely on two basic and surpassingly important tasks: collecting more works that you love, and sharing them freely with the world. That is truly thrilling.

P.S. I have recently become associated with a small but gorgeous museum in Naples, Fla. Would it be OK if I called you? We could use a loan of a few Pop Art goodies.

Thomas Hoving was director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977. He is the author of many books on art and the head of the museum consulting firm Hoving Associates.

Finding the silver lining Moving on to Plan B
LACMA's director insists the museum has a bright future and doesn't need title to the Broad Collection to make it happen.
By Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
January 15, 2008
When you're director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, talking money from billionaires is part of the job description. But now LACMA Director Michael Govan faces a tougher task: hailing Eli Broad's generosity and opening LACMA's new Broad Museum of Contemporary Art while Broad tells the world how he decided not to give the museum his art collection.

"Eli has never changed his story with LACMA," Govan said on the afternoon after Broad's decision hit the headlines last week. "He has never promised something he hasn't delivered. . . . He's made a huge investment in this place."

Indeed, Broad footed the $56-million cost of putting up the new building and put up about $10 million more to buy two artworks for the inside. But LACMA's connection with Broad is "an evolving relationship," Govan said.

On Feb. 16, LACMA will unveil the building, nicknamed BCAM, with its interiors dominated by 220 pieces borrowed from Broad and his Broad Art Foundation.

Through years of plan-laying and fundraising for LACMA's expansion, Broad, a LACMA trustee, said that those and about 1,800 other artworks in his control would probably go to one or more museums eventually. But last week he declared a new strategy: Have his foundation keep all the artworks but lend them frequently.

LACMA officials say their agreement with Broad says the museum can borrow and display up to 200 works at a time from Broad and the Broad Art Foundation during Eli Broad's lifetime.

"I do imagine that many of these works will live at LACMA," said Govan. "Will they be owned by LACMA? I'm not sure it matters."

Govan and LACMA contemporary art curator Lynn Zelevansky maintain that Broad's decision was no surprise to them, but it was to the rest of the art world, which has seen LACMA left in the lurch by would-be donors including Norton Simon (who started his own museum in 1975) and Armand Hammer (who started his own museum in 1990).

Honestly, Govan was asked, who wouldn't rather have ownership than a long-term loan?

"It's just not an easy question with a collection this large," the director insisted, noting the cost of storing and caring for the works, many of which are very large, as their roles in art history grow and shrink. Ultimately, Govan said, "you want the masterpiece on view, for the public, at LACMA."

In the larger picture, "the museum can't lose," said Govan. "We've not risked anything."

He even found a "silver lining" to Broad's decision to hold on to his art: This "should make it easier" to woo other collectors, who may have felt that LACMA's new space was Broad's exclusive playground, Govan said. "The working assumption out there was that this was just for the Broad Collection."

Still, Govan's duties in getting BCAM open now include facing pointed questions over what Broad is giving and getting.By the time Govan arrived at LACMA in early 2006 -- in large part because of Broad's support -- plans for BCAM were well underway. Broad had already pledged $50 million for the new building and $10 million for art to go inside, and he selected architect Renzo Piano. (Although the building cost grew by $6 million, LACMA officials note, Broad has promised to pay the entire cost.)

Govan noted that the unorthodox decision to call Broad's building a "museum" within a museum was made by predecessor Andrea Rich.

Would Govan have made that decision?

"I don't know. I've gone back and forth on it," the director said.

The most important part of BCAM's opening, Govan said, is that Los Angeles is about to have 58,000 square feet of contemporary art exhibition space that it didn't have before, thanks to Broad. (The museum is also unveiling a new $25-million entrance pavilion bankrolled by energy company BP.)

Broad, 74, amassed his fortune in the housing and financial-services industries and has been a philanthropic force nationwide for more than two decades, channeling money to cultural, education and scientific causes. In business and philanthropy, he has been known as a deal maker who makes the most of his leverage.

In describing his move last week, he said that one option he considered was "to build our own museum as others have done. We chose not to do that. But we were concerned that if we gave our collection to one or several museums, 90% or so would be in storage all the time."

Pieces borrowed from Broad and his Broad Art Foundation will dominate the new space for the next year, Govan said, but after that, LACMA is free to display whatever it wants to -- not only works from Broad but also special exhibitions such as a planned 2009 show on German art during the Cold War, which is likely to rely heavily on artworks borrowed from institutions worldwide.

Govan envisions that one-third of BCAM's space will be devoted to items that will largely stay put, another one-third to exhibitions changing every six to 12 months and another one-third to temporary exhibitions lasting roughly three months.

What, apart from massive tax deductions, does Broad get out of this? His name is up on signs all over. His art-capital campaign gets a big boost. His collection's market value could rise -- but Broad has said the works will not go back on the market, and Govan says he has Broad's "100% solemn oath" on that subject.

BCAM also gives Broad a chance to show his works in a building by the architect of his choosing, without having to buy real estate. And for the next year that Broad's pieces are on view at LACMA, the museum will be paying to insure them, at a time when art insurance rates have been soaring. LACMA officials say their art-insurance costs (which fluctuate depending on what's on loan) were $1.04 million in 2006 and $307,000 in 2007 -- and will be $1.4 million in 2008.

"The future will be different," said Govan, noting that LACMA and Broad have until February 2009 to make new insurance plans.

Govan estimates that the expansion will add about $3 million yearly to LACMA's operating expenses, a rise of about 7%. To make ends meet, Govan said, he's counting on increases in donations, membership and attendance, which was 616,491 for the year that ended June 30.

On Jan. 1, LACMA raised its admission fees for non-member adults from $10 to $12. And it's boosting parking prices from $5 to $7 for self-parking and $10 for valet parking, and adding 525 self-parking and 750 valet spaces to the current 220 spaces at Wilshire Boulevard and Spaulding Avenue.

Govan wouldn't say how many more visitors he's hoping to attract. But he did note that he has his eyes on the numbers at the Museum of Contemporary and Art in Los Angeles (316,000 visitors in 2007) and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (360,000 visitors). . "I'd like to see LACMA double its attendance over the next few years," he said.

One element that seemed to separate BCAM from LACMA at first was the $10 million Broad offered for acquisitions and the new board that was to oversee those acquisitions. But that first $10 million has now been spent, Govan said, on a Richard Serra sculpture and less costly works by Alighiero Boetti and Chris Burden (a joint acquisition with MOCA), all of which Govan said he was eager to get. Govan said he considers that acquisition board dissolved, with future acquisitions to be decided the same way that they are for other LACMA departments.

Now, apart from BCAM's title, said LACMA President Melody Kanschat, "nothing makes it different" from the museum's other buildings "except it's newer and it doesn't leak."

"And," added Govan, "it's got great light."

christopher.reynolds @latimes.com

Vangelist
Jan 16, 2008, 7:03 PM
Surprise name on bill at BCAM
Jane and Marc Nathanson gave $10 million and will see their names on a gallery.
By Suzanne Muchnic
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

(it's funny to contrast this with the "and anyways, LA's general apathy towards art philanthropy reflects a greater affliction - it's lack of civic-mindedness. And that in turn, reflects LA's general lack of place - it's built env't. So am I being "negative"? Well, if calling it like it is means "negativity", then yes, by all means." quote above :)


January 16, 2008

A new name is going up at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's soon-to-open Broad Contemporary Art Museum.

LACMA trustee Jane Nathanson and her husband, communication and investment mogul Marc Nathanson, will have a ground-floor gallery in the building named for them in recognition of a $10-million gift to the museum to be announced today. The donation is earmarked for contemporary art programs and acquisitions.

"It's going to be one of the best spaces in the world to show contemporary art. It's perfection," Jane Nathanson said of BCAM, as the Broad building is being called. "I'm a museum rat. I travel all around the world just to go to museums and art shows. We are so impressed with this building that it is where we chose to name a major gallery."

Putting donors' names on art galleries is not new at American museums, and LACMA has its share of galleries honoring collectors and supporters, such as Edward and Hannah Carter, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, and Steve Martin. But the practice might not be expected at the edifice so strongly identified with philanthropist and collector Eli Broad, who paid for the $56-million structure (to be unveiled Feb. 16), provided a $10-million fund for the acquisition of artworks and lent 220 pieces to the inaugural exhibition.

Michael Govan, director of LACMA, said that naming galleries at BCAM was not a given.

"Eli's gift was so large that it was at his discretion," said the director, who took charge of LACMA early in 2006 after the Broad building was underway. "He wants us to have the freedom to attract other donors. He told me from Day One to go out and get gifts, get the community involved. This is a sign that he wants the museum to be public."

Galleries at LACMA do not have specific price tags in terms of money or art, Govan said. "We are raising money to fuel the museum's growth and endowment. Once you settle on what people think they can give, you come up with appropriate recognition. The Nathansons wanted to be recognized at the Broad building."

Govan characterized the couple's gift as "another example of the sort of power the community has to offer. These are people who are major collectors, civically minded, involved in museums. They are an incredible credit to Los Angeles."

The Nathansons -- whose Los Angeles home is filled with contemporary art collected over the last 40 years, including major works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, George Segal, Barbara Kruger and Jennifer Steinkamp -- support many of the city's arts and educational institutions. Jane, a psychologist who is organizing BCAM's opening gala fundraiser, often plays a similar role at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art, where she is also a trustee and, with her husband, underwrote MOCA's upcoming exhibition "Collecting Collections." Marc is a member of boards at UCLA, USC and the L.A. Philharmonic.

Their gift to LACMA was negotiated some time ago, but the announcement comes after news that Broad plans to keep his collection in a foundation that functions as a lending library, instead of giving the works to museums, as he had planned to do for many years.

Although he never promised additional art gifts and museum officials say the change of strategy was not a surprise, his involvement with LACMA, where he is also a trustee, raised hopes that the cream of the collection would eventually go there. Under the current arrangement, LACMA can borrow up to 200 works from the foundation's 2,000-piece holdings at any given time during Broad's lifetime.

A statement released last week by Broad said: "We believe that LACMA is a great 21st century encyclopedic museum, and as a result, LACMA is our key partner and favored institution in showing works from our collections."

The controversy that erupted over Broad's change of plans is a sensitive issue for the Nathansons, who say they intend to give most of their collection to LACMA and MOCA but are not ready to make that commitment.

"No good deed goes unpunished," Jane Nathanson said. "Eli is one of the great philanthropists in this city. I think it is unfortunate that the lending foundation was made to seem as if it is a negative for LACMA, which it is not. We are more than thrilled that Eli stepped forward and underwrote the Broad Contemporary Art Museum when not too many people were stepping forward.

"The Broad Contemporary Art Museum gives LACMA space where good contemporary shows will take place and people will begin to give their collections. I would not be at all surprised in the future if Eli gives some of his."

Marc Nathanson said he is equally excited about what's going on at LACMA, although Jane is playing their family's lead role at the Wilshire Boulevard institution.

"I think it's a whole renaissance for the museum and Los Angeles," he said. "Los Angeles has lost many Fortune 500 headquarters. We rely on entrepreneurs and philanthropy. We need to encourage them, not discourage them, because we don't have the Arcos and the Security Pacific Banks that were very supportive of the arts in their time."

suzanne.muchnic@ latimes.com

Quixote
Jan 19, 2008, 10:53 PM
January 3, 2008

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January 7, 2008

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From Flickr, by btmeacham

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From Flickr, by btmeacham

January 19, 2008

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From Flickr, by rodknee_ty2003

Quixote
Jan 20, 2008, 6:18 AM
LA County Museum of Art Receives $10 Million Gift

January 16, 2008

LOS ANGELES (CBS) ― The Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced Wednesday a $10 million gift to support art programs and acquisitions at its soon-to-open Broad Contemporary Art Museum.

A first-floor gallery at BCAM, which is scheduled to open next month at the redesigned LACMA campus on Wilshire Boulevard, will be named after Jane and Marc Nathanson to honor the gift from their foundation, a LACMA statement said.

The Nathanson's gift comes at a time when LACMA says it is waging a campaign to make contemporary art one of its primary areas of focus. "With our ongoing involvement in contemporary art in Los Angeles, Marc and I felt the time was right to participate in LACMA's campaign," said Jane Nathanson, adding that with BCAM's forthcoming opening, "L.A. is on its way to becoming one of the contemporary art capitals of the world."

Jane Nathanson, a psychologist and family therapist, is a LACMA Board of Trustee member as well as a trustee for UCLA Medical Center, and, along with her husband, she has been a supporter of the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles. On Feb. 9, she will preside at the opening gala for BCAM, which opens to the public on Feb. 16.

Marc Nathanson, a cable TV pioneer, is vice chairman of Charter Communications, the company to which he sold Falcon Cable TV, which he founded in 1975. He also chairs Mapleton Communications, which owns and operates 40 radio stations in the western United States, and sits on boards at UCLA, USC and the L.A. Philharmonic.

BCAM, a 70,000-square foot structure that cost $56 million to build, was paid for by Los Angeles philanthropist and collector Eli Broad, who also provided a $10 million fund for the acquisition of artworks and lent 220 pieces for the inaugural exhibition.

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Source: cbs2.com (http://cbs2.com/local/lacma.Jane.and.2.630712.html)

ocman
Jan 21, 2008, 12:56 AM
What's frustrating about this Piano building is that from every angle you suspect that there is something more interesting to look at on the other side, but every side turns out to be the back of the building.

edluva
Jan 21, 2008, 4:30 AM
^yeah, and when compared to his other buildings, this one's a disappointment. it's essentially a stone cube. i've never been a huge fan of piano anyhow, he's good at manipulating natural light, and his buildings are refined and subdued, but even BCAM is underwhelming by piano's standards. and i'm not a fan of that tangled-mess of a staircase. it's way out of scale relative to the small size of BCAM. it's a bit unlike piano to do such a thing. whenever a famous architect builds something in los angeles, it usually ends up being second-tier work. los angeles has this consistent tendency to beat the greatness out of anything. people here love to quote buildings as examples of LA's architectural legacy, where in fact, while LA may have a hollyhock, it does not have guggenheim, and where LA may have disney, it does not have bilbao. Great architecture is not like a brand name article of clothing - recognition requires more than the label alone. It's the individual work that matters...seminal works which say something about their city as well as their architect.

vangelist - you should expand your world-view beyond los angeles if you honestly think a single gift demonstrates that angeleno's are big arts patrons. big number to you, perhaps, but peanuts in the timeline of big-city arts philantrhopy. it doesn't take a genius, or michael govan himself, to admit that unlike other big cities, los angeles has always been a private city, and that this phenomenon has impacted all arenas of civic culture, including arts philanthropy. you may enjoy framing this as an "outdated" interpretation, but on the contrary, it is very much our reality. for the number of prominent collectors and billionaires, los angeles is a pathetic city.

KarLarRec1
Jan 21, 2008, 5:17 AM
It looks like the outside of a high school gym.

Vangelist
Jan 21, 2008, 6:27 AM
edluva, for you to hold "not having a Bilbao" et al against LA is a bit silly and disingenuous, for how many American cities can claim one? That's a bit like arguing that any of these cities are lacking because they don't have more Asian architecture, not judging them on their own terms. I know that we're living in a city sorely missing in the philanthropy dep't, no dissent there - but I just thought it amusing to contrast some charitable news, even meagre, with your characteristically dour comment above on the same page.

And I don't have to criticize your latest dismissal as "outdated," since this one's subjective: to you Hollyhock or Disney or Neutra or whatever architectural piece that hundreds of critics recognize in LA as being legitimate or notable and worthy of adulation as "second-tier," but until you can post some serious art credentials it's just another irrelevant, amateur opinion. We all have our specific likes and dislikes with regards to form and design, and your broad attempts to categorically dismiss all LA architecture as lacking grace or gravitas are meaningless. That being said I'm disappointed in this building myself, as it's both hulking and impenetrable ...and also doesn't evoke any indications of what BCAM's supposed to exhibit

edluva
Jan 21, 2008, 7:51 AM
okay then, your claim that hollyhock is equally iconic, both as a wright masterpiece as well as a symbol of los angeles architecture, as the guggenheim museum in new york will rest for others to judge for themselves. you're exactly right. i don't need you to directly qualify my statement at all.

and you forget again, i'm not contrasting LA with "how many american cities can claim" bilbao...i'm not denigrating LA's architecture perse, at least not in this instance... i'm addressing all those boosters, possibly you included, who do make the assertion that LA is some major architectural powerhouse on the basis that we can "claim" a piano, a ghery, a meier, etc etc. those people who readily gobble up anything with a starchitect's name on it, paying little attention to the actual building itself. i'm saying that it's not the brand, it's the building. seattle is home to an enormous though much ridiculed ghery (experience proj) and a koolhaas (pub library) - does that then make Seattle 67% the architectural powerhouse that LA is? and if you're one of those simpleton boosters who'll answer yes, then can you name me a major movement of architecture which LA can be said to have largely cultivated in the last century like new york and chicago have for modernism? or are you not "credentialized" enough to answer my simple challenge? (because we all know good art is about the good diplomas...just like great architecture is about the great names :rolleyes: )

anyways, the fact that you even bring up my "artistic credentials" as a means of defending hollyhock vs guggenheim is ridiculous, and reveals your apparent ignorance of architecture at a basic level. it's clear you bullsht a lot. you're a decent writer though. you write with "gravitas", big words. sure sounds like you know something.

Quixote
Jan 21, 2008, 8:04 AM
January 19, 2008

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From Flickr, by cc10

Quixote
Jan 21, 2008, 8:25 AM
January 13, 2008

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2035/2192919498_4ff774747b_b.jpg
From Flickr, by MondaynightLA

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2300/2192130861_ba27c8bac0_b.jpg
From Flickr, by MondaynightLA

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From Flickr, by MondaynightLA

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From Flickr, by MondaynightLA

edluva
Jan 21, 2008, 8:33 AM
^thanks for the pics. the pavilion with its cinder-block looking walls and fencing reminds me of costco's outdoor dining area. or some middle-school lunch yard from my distant childhood. classy. first-tier-piano.

overall though, i can't say the building is ugly either. just nothing special. can't wait to see the inside though. i've read good things about it.

Vangelist
Jan 21, 2008, 9:12 AM
Edluva: you misread me once again, almost as if you have a basic comprehension problem. Can't you see that I only listed the examples of LA architecture that *you* did ? I was only trying to say that your loud dissenting opinion that the bldgs that LA is known for (in a positive manner I might add, for I'm sure we're infamous for various trash), are not deserving of the praise they get, is in conspicuous contrast to the innumerable art critics out there (and if you're an iconoclastic, as-of-yet closeted art crit posting on here, prove it: that's what I meant regarding the credentials. I enjoy dissenting opinions, but not when they're baseless). Where in my post did I mention that Hollyhock is the precise equivalent to Guggenheim? But you're extrapolating that and distorting a defense of the Hollyhock (which I only mentioned coz you did first) to make your point that I'm mindlessly boost(er)ing LA arch. into the highest echelons of world-greatness. Who's really full of bullshit? (Oh and thanks for mocking my writing style, it adds that final touch of class to your post.)

"LA not being a global arch. powerhouse" does not exactly = "LA is this teeming, unsightly quicksand that unequivocally sinks even the noblest of architects' works into the sticky residue of mediocrity." Most here would admit the former statement, even the hyper-boosters, but you seem to have been articulating the second sentiment, as if it was a closed argument. As to whether LA has had a major arch. movement, no, but then this city has had severe height and building restrictions for most of its significant history, (and to compare any American city to Chicago or NY in that regard is kind of pointless)...and yet it still produced at least one indigenous arch. style: Googie (which fits well with the other pop and modern art that LA has foregrounded). Most American cities can't even claim that.

And for the external facade of a museum of contemp. art to resemble costco's outdoor dining area seems appropriately befitting, don't you think? What could be more LA than bringing "high art" (not that BCAM will be, but...) down to that level of consumerism and functionality? With the absurdist, massive suspended-train that was planned to be planted outside, I think the disposable-pomo aspect of the bldg will duly be complete and "ready to go." :)

ocman
Jan 21, 2008, 8:25 PM
Piano really hates LA. It's the only rational conclusion I can come up with because this isn't just a half-assed work. It's as if he deliberately sabotaged it. Anyway, I got a sense of Piano from his previous interviews that he really couldn't care less about this project.

There are so many things about this work that are almost condescending, like the pointlessly wasted walls of precious travertine while using cheap material for everything else. cement walkways and cinder block walls? Piano is experienced enough to know how awful that is. He designed a middle school. Are the metal fences part of the project? I can't tell. The middle finger is that he lined the front of the building with palm trees to distract us.

With Gehry, I think he did give LA his best building, at least as a stand-alone object. It's a more mature work: the gestures are less aimless and more recurrent, and the overall form is less broken up than Bilbao. It also helps that the acoustician was so successful and that it's visually very beautiful. It's just that the context of Bilbao is something that Bunker Hill can't compete with.

Vangelist
Jan 21, 2008, 11:36 PM
I think the high school gym analogy is the best. It just seems like a anonymous, dull, near-featureless building. There's nothing about it that indicates it was designed by a notable "starchitect," ...whether as an intentional middle finger or not

citywatch
Jan 22, 2008, 1:18 AM
Oh, sheesh!

Thanks for the pics, westsidelife (& the ppl on flickr.com who snapped them), but many portions of the new addition looks cheap! Then again, the budget for the new wing really wasn't as high as would have been necessary to do a totally first class job. But things like the old fashioned LA light posts all lined up in rows, or the palm trees, are purely the creative choice of the artist comissioned for such features or the landscaper. IOW, they have nothing to do with $$.

The main entryway originally was going to be a fully enclosed space, but some brilliant ppl at the museum said they wanted it to be open air, to take advantage of LA's weather. Never mind all the days it will be colder, or hotter or windier than desired for ppl to sit or lounge around comfortably under that roof.

And, yea, the main entryway also reminds me of an elementary school, or the area next to the cafeteria, where a patio & tables are located for kids to sit at during lunch.

And cuz it's an open air setup, look at the great looking objects that will be used for the ticket booths: Click on "27"----"this is not a shipping container" (http://www.lacma.org/info/flash/).

The deconstructionist look is OK for a loft in DT, or for a totally contemporary art museum or a gallery in the OBD. But for a museum like LACMA? :no:

Vangelist
Jan 22, 2008, 1:41 AM
WAIT: are those light posts just going to SIT THERE LIKE THAT....I thought they were supposed to be dispersed and distributed somewhere?! Not just sitting lined up together like that?

Hahahahah this is sad

jlrobe
Jan 23, 2008, 1:37 AM
^yeah, and when compared to his other buildings, this one's a disappointment. it's essentially a stone cube. i've never been a huge fan of piano anyhow, he's good at manipulating natural light, and his buildings are refined and subdued, but even BCAM is underwhelming by piano's standards. and i'm not a fan of that tangled-mess of a staircase. it's way out of scale relative to the small size of BCAM. it's a bit unlike piano to do such a thing. whenever a famous architect builds something in los angeles, it usually ends up being second-tier work. los angeles has this consistent tendency to beat the greatness out of anything. people here love to quote buildings as examples of LA's architectural legacy, where in fact, while LA may have a hollyhock, it does not have guggenheim, and where LA may have disney, it does not have bilbao. Great architecture is not like a brand name article of clothing - recognition requires more than the label alone. It's the individual work that matters...seminal works which say something about their city as well as their architect.

vangelist - you should expand your world-view beyond los angeles if you honestly think a single gift demonstrates that angeleno's are big arts patrons. big number to you, perhaps, but peanuts in the timeline of big-city arts philantrhopy. it doesn't take a genius, or michael govan himself, to admit that unlike other big cities, los angeles has always been a private city, and that this phenomenon has impacted all arenas of civic culture, including arts philanthropy. you may enjoy framing this as an "outdated" interpretation, but on the contrary, it is very much our reality. for the number of prominent collectors and billionaires, los angeles is a pathetic city.


you make good points edluva. LA has a pathetic amount of philantropy compared to other cities, but LA is a distant second only to NYC in terms of total art action across LA county. I know you will challenge this, but lets just agree to disagree. LA area also has almost 50 billionaires, so if LA had the same level of art donation as NYC, it would be seriously threatening NYC's hold as the contemporary art capital of the world. New Yorkers are probably glad that LA's elite is so private, because if they contributed to the city like New Yorkers....WOW

Unfortunately, LA doesnt get as much love, so it remains a VERY DISTANT second to NYC.

jlrobe
Jan 23, 2008, 1:49 AM
and if you're one of those simpleton boosters who'll answer yes, then can you name me a major movement of architecture which LA can be said to have largely cultivated in the last century like new york and chicago have for modernism? .

Wow, before he even remotely began sounding like a booster, you put "hypothetical" words into his mouth just so you could declare him a booster.

Wow.

Let me just volunteer this. Just assume anyone who doesnt vehemently loathe LA like you do is booster.

No but seriously, I think most of us make good points, and very few of us are actual boosters. We arent going to compare LA to NYC or even Barcelona in terms of civic design, but we arent going to compare it to Omaha like you probably prefer.

I think we all know LA isnt known for its excellent city planning or iconic cityscape. Let's just move past it already.