Mar 16, 2009, 9:56 PM
According to this list from 2007, Eli Broad is one of the top art collectors in the world. And although his art may never end up at LACMA, the fact that his art will reside in LA is a boon to this city nevertheless. Like Fisher building his own museum at the Presidio in SF, Broad will build his at Wilshire/Santa Monica.
Mar 17, 2009, 1:25 AM
yea, it's too bad 90% of his collection is art from new york. but i can't blame him demand for non-angeleno art is hotter
Mar 17, 2009, 8:40 AM
I'm sure it's worth hundreds of millions of dollars too! :slob: I'm not impressed. His collection is so impersonal. He chooses pieces that he feels are a good investment but there's not much more to it. There's no taste. It's about what's in, what's trendy, and who's famous. Just a bunch of expensive recognizable objects that can't relate to one another. His adviser does a very good job of telling him what to buy. Do we have a soup can? Check. Giant balloon animal? Check. Comic book painting by Lichtenstein? Check. Can't wait for the museum.
Mar 17, 2009, 6:48 PM
From the Los Angeles Times
$20 million donation to Dance at the Music Center
Glorya Kaufman's gift is among the largest endowments ever made to Los Angeles' Music Center and its resident companies.
By Diane Haithman
March 17, 2009
In one of the largest such gifts ever to the Music Center or any of its resident companies, Los Angeles philanthropist Glorya Kaufman is donating $20 million to the Dance at the Music Center program.
The donation, to be announced today, surpasses all but a handful of contributions to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Center Theatre Group or the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
"It's a record -- and, as far as we know, the largest gift to support dance ever in America," Music Center President Stephen D. Rountree said in an interview.
Kaufman can also count among her major gifts to dance $18 million to UCLA to fund the renovation of its historic dance building and $6 million to the New York-based Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, as well as $3.5 million to the Juilliard School in New York to fund the Glorya Kaufman Dance Studio.
She is the widow of Donald Bruce Kaufman, founder with Eli Broad of the home construction and financing firm Kaufman & Broad, now KB Homes.
"We have a terrible economy, and what happens first is that all the arts disappear," Kaufman told The Times. "And to me, dance is one of the most important that there is."
Dance at the Music Center began in the 2003-04 season, when it presented the first self-produced dance series at the center in 39 years. Although the Joffrey Ballet had appeared as a resident company there from 1983 to 1991, that first season, which included San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Chinese company Shen Wei Dance Arts, sharply raised the profile of dance in the city.
More recently, the program has included American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, the José Limon Dance Company, Miami City Ballet and the Kirov Ballet's "Nutcracker." In June, the New York-based Ballet Hispanico will make its Music Center debut.
Kaufman said she chose to support the program instead of donating money to a single dance company partly because of the economic fragility of many dance institutions -- one exception being the well-established Ailey company, whose 50th anniversary tour is bringing it to the Music Center for five days beginning Wednesday. (See accompanying story.) But the main reason for her donation, she said, was that she wanted to do "something for this city." :tup:
"It's the perfect time," Kaufman said, "because everyone is starting to get into the doldrums. They're not spending money, not doing this, not doing that. What this does is, we can have music on the Music Center courtyard, we can have little bands and people learning to dance. . . . Everyone is happy dancing."
In November, the Music Center announced that it would have to cancel the scheduled June 26-28 performances of the Nederlands Dance Theater I, part of the current Music Center dance season, because of a lack of funds.
Kaufman added that she hoped the endowment would generate funds to expand the dance series' educational programs, which already include a collaboration with the Ailey company, known as AileyCamp at the Music Center, funded by the Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation.
The Ailey company has maintained a continuing relationship with the Music Center in recent years, appearing at the Chandler pavilion every other year.
"Her magnificent new gift symbolizes the importance of dance not only in Los Angeles but throughout the United States and the world," Ailey artistic director Judith Jamison said. "And it will bring the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to center stage at the Music Center for many years to come."
Rountree said Kaufman's gift is the largest single donation to the Music Center with the exception of major gifts from the late Lillian Disney, Walt Disney's widow, who launched the construction of the $274.5-million Walt Disney Concert Hall with a $50-million gift.
Including Lillian Disney's gift, the Disney family has donated more than $100 million for the hall, and Walt Disney Co. gave $20 million. The Disney family also made a $25-million gift to the Los Angeles Philharmonic to endow the Walt and Lilly Disney Chair in Conducting.
Rountree said the Music Center dance program already had a modest endowment of $400,000 from various charitable foundations. When that is added to the $20 million, he said, the endowment should generate about $1 million a year in income.
Presenting a dance season of five or six companies a year, Rountree said, costs about $1.5 million. Although the Music Center will still have to raise $500,000 a year, he said, the gift "will allow us to plan dance over a longer horizon."
"For example, Russian companies that want to tour are planning two and three years out, and we haven't had the ability to commit to them because we didn't know about the funding," Rountree said. "Now we have the funding to bring companies to Los Angeles that might have come to New York, but no one on the West Coast could have afforded to bring them here."
Both Rountree and Renae Williams, director of dance presentations at the Music Center, said that, although the donation should provide greater programming flexibility, the income it generated would not be sufficient to develop a resident dance company for the Music Center.
"Right now, we're happy presenting dance and bringing in great dance companies," Rountree said. He added that, although the Music Center might in the future be interested in forging a resident relationship with an existing Los Angeles dance company, the city does not yet "have a dance company that rises to the level of the quality that we want at the Music Center."
Williams said she envisioned Kaufman's grant as a catalyst for allowing the dance program to expand its educational and audience development efforts. Included on her list are technological experiments in live blogging -- perhaps inviting audience members backstage to talk with artists or production staff -- or group discussions at intermission via hand-held devices.
And "we would love for our audience to see the historical connections between dance artists," Williams said. "When someone comes to see Merce Cunningham, we want them to know that he danced with Martha Graham. What better way to do that than through computer-based technology?"
Mar 19, 2009, 8:51 AM
There's no taste. It's about what's in, what's trendy, and who's famous.
that's why he's fitting for our great city. but like i said, where's the substance? people really don't care about substance in LA. here it's more about looking the part than actually playing it. it's really cliche to say that but there is a lot of truth in it. all stereotypes have their origins. that's not necessarily how angelenos are on an individual level, but that's our overarching civic culture. it's the beat we drum to as a city. the way the 2008 mustang is an image of 1964 mustang without any of its spirit. the way an ikea ply chair is to an arne jacobsen. it's all idolatry - worship of the image without any understanding of the thing itself. LA takes truth and repackages it for sale. LA is only profound in that sense. LA is always reacting to the morality of another culture's inventions. but never setting its own paradigms. LA is an interpreter, not an author.
Mar 19, 2009, 3:20 PM
^^ I have often argued that our entire global culture has reached that point. Personally, I'm currently really bored with art/high culture/pop culture/etc. wherever it is. LA just happens to be more obvious about it.
Apr 26, 2009, 3:16 PM
A New Era for the Natural History Museum
Exposition Park Facility Gets $91 Million Upgrade
by Anna Scott
Los Angeles Downtown News
Published: Friday, April 24, 2009 4:27 PM PDT
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Natural History Museum in Exposition Park last week unveiled the first piece of a $91 million renovation, the largest in the 96-year-old institution’s history.
NHM officials on Thursday, April 23, opened the doors to the museum’s newly renovated historic centerpiece, a 1913 building that will eventually house three major exhibits. The renovation marks the first completed phase of a project intended to physically update, and reinvent, one of Los Angeles’ oldest museums.
“The primary thing is transforming the space and changing the way that we do exhibits,” said Paul Haaga, president of the museum’s board of trustees. “If you think of the real old days, natural history museums were curio cabinets: ‘Here’s our stuff, you’re welcome to look at it.’ The new museum we’re inventing really engages you in multiple ways.”
The restored facility will open to the public next summer, with exhibitions in the rotunda just inside the building’s entrance and in its north wing, the Age of Mammals hall. The south wing, the Dinosaur Mysteries hall, is scheduled to debut in 2011. Under the Sun, an exhibition focusing on Southern California’s environmental history, will open in a third wing in 2012. All of the openings will lead up to the museum’s centennial in 2013.
While the NHM for some might evoke memories of elementary school field trips to dark, cavernous rooms lined with dioramas, the upcoming exhibitions will feature interactive and multimedia elements.
“There is going to be a lot of difference in how the public experiences this,” said NHM President and Director Jane Pisano. “We’re looking to help people understand how we know what we know.”
A Natural Evolution
The 1913 building, originally designed by Frank Hudson and William Munsell and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was closed in December 2006. It took more than two years to retrofit, restore and renovate.
“[The museum] has secured its place… as one of this region’s, and beyond that, icons,” said Second District County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose territory includes Exposition Park. “As it moves past the century mark, I think we’ll see that more and more.”
The project’s budget, funded by public and private sources, increased from $84 million to $91 million when officials realized they would also have to seismically strengthen part of the museum’s adjacent 1920s building, which remained open during construction.
Some of the work is invisible to visitors, such as reinforcements inside the walls and new rooftops. But architect Jorge de la Cal of CO Architects and project manager Don Webb of Cordell Corp. and Matt Construction also restored or uncovered many building features, such as the rotunda’s stained glass skylight, the marble walls and mosaics and the gargoyle tiles that ring the building.
Architectural highlights include the arched windows lining the north and south wings. That brightens things, said Haaga.
“One of the halls had the windows blacked out, because at the time it was built, we hadn’t invented glass yet that could protect species and objects from the sun,” he said. “Now we are opening things up.”
In addition to revamping the physical structure, the renovation allows museum officials an opportunity to plan more compelling, modern exhibits.
The Age of Mammals hall, for example, will focus on the evolution of mammals in response to climate change. While the main level will include skeletons, multimedia features and other displays, the mezzanine will be dedicated to explaining the scientific process.
Stephen Petri of Reich + Petch, the Toronto-based firm designing Age of Mammals, said the goal is to put visitors in the role of scientists.
“Museums have traditionally been the purview of explaining the world,” said Petri. “What’s happening here is… we are giving visitors the tools to understand the world.”
Dinosaur Mysteries, designed by Evidence Design, will use fieldwork archives, film footage and movie props alongside skeletons to explore all things dinosaur-related.
Meanwhile, the building’s rotunda will house eight architectural cases that will display a rotating collection of unusual objects — from hairballs (“from our fine collection of hairballs,” said Dr. Margaret Hardin, the museum’s anthropologist and a curator) to old Hollywood sound devices — that visitors will try to identify.
Some of the specimens on display were part of the museum’s founding collection, said Pisano. The goal of the upcoming exhibits is to present them in a new way.
“Before, we presented our mammal fossils just one after another in a gallery with a large mural behind them,” said Pisano. “What we’re doing now is using these specimens to tell a much larger story.”
Some signs of change are already apparent at the museum. To continue drawing visitors with less exhibition space during the renovation, NHM officials focused on programming such as the popular First Fridays series, which pairs museum tours and lectures with wine, DJs and bands. It has lured many visitors in their 20s and 30s.
That effort will continue in the future, said Haaga, as part of a goal to draw visitors who have not been to the facility in years, if not longer.
“When we do surveys, people have wonderful impressions of us, but haven’t been back in a while. They liked it but didn’t feel driven to return. That’s what’s going to change,” he said. “There was no race to get here. Now we’re going to have more programming and more temporary exhibits, which you have to show up for.”
Apr 30, 2009, 5:00 PM
I searched but didn't see this posted anywhere, sorry if its redundant-
On Monday, The Museum of Contemporary Art announced plans for a major three-story, 90,000 sf expansion, to be built in a parking lot adjacent to their current Geffen Contemporary warehouse location in Little Tokyo. Program calls for 18,000 sf of exhibition space, 6,000 sf of educational space, and a whopping 66,000 sf of storage, to help unload some of the pressure at the Grand Ave location. The plan will be presented to the Zoning Administration on April 14 and will require subsequent approval from the Community Redevelopment Agency, which has jurisdiction over downtown development.
An interesting design feature of the museum's plan is a glass partition system enclosing the storage space, allowing visitors to see pieces that aren't on exhibit.
I personally would like to see MOCA sell the Grand Ave location to the Colburn School and consolidate everything at the Geffen location in Little Tokyo. Having everything unified in one location would be less costly to maintain and would be a good catalyst for the continued growth of the LT hood.
Apr 30, 2009, 6:31 PM
MOCA is a shining example of LA's decentralization. I don't know why this museum continues to have two locations within the same neighborhood. The Getty and the NHM/La Brea's cases I can at least partially understand.
May 15, 2009, 8:04 PM
From the LA Times, click the link for the full story-
MOCA sees a new beginning near year's end
Jun 2, 2009, 2:59 AM
American art gets a higher profile in U.S. museums
The Huntington, the Met and museums in Boston, Kansas City and Detroit are showcasing stateside talent with revamped exhibit spaces.
By Suzanne Muchnic
From the Los Angeles Times
May 30, 2009
Long the stepchild of a Eurocentric art world, American art is finding new favor at home as a growing number of institutions showcase work from Colonial times to World War II.
Today, the Huntington in San Marino will join the Metropolitan Museum of Art and museums around the country when it unveils a renovated and expanded gallery devoted to American art.
Stern portraits of the Founding Fathers, Hudson River landscapes and scenes of the Great Depression will take a place of prominence in the 16,379-square-foot Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.
This at a cultural venue best known for 18th century British "grand manner" portraits, such as Thomas Gainsborough's "The Blue Boy," Thomas Lawrence's "Pinkie" and Sir Joshua Reynolds' "Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse."
Experts can't pinpoint why this is happening now. They suggest at least three forces: a national coming of age, a thirst for new artistic territory and a critical mass of American material that has made its way from private homes to public museums.
In the past, says Selma Holo, director of USC's Fisher Museum and the university's International Museum Institute for Advanced Studies and Practice, "our museums featured European and English art as their most prized possessions. They were spinning a cultural lineage which was largely true but also embellished. Now we have reached a stage of maturity where we don't have to rely on Europe, but can look at art made by and for Americans."
Frances K. Pohl, professor of art history at Pomona College and author of "Framing America: A Social History of American Art," says an increasing number of television documentaries on American art and news coverage of controversial sales of American paintings have sparked public interest, along with the practice of using museum collections to teach American history in schools.
Scholars of European art once dismissed the work of American "whippersnappers" as inferior and derivative, says Jessica Todd Smith, the Huntington's curator of American art. There were no graduate courses in American art until the 1960s and literature on the subject is still relatively sparse.
But Pohl says the field is attracting more college students and researchers. "American art was so understudied that people find it easier to do interesting things on brand new topics," she says.
Morrison H. Heckscher, chairman of the Met's extensively remodeled American Wing, says that few people collected American art in the early 20th century.
"They lived with French and English antiques and European portraits of other people's families," he says. "There was no real respect for American art. But that has changed a lot in the last 30 years. There has been a great, growing interest in teaching and collecting it, and that has led to the building renovations and expansions that are cresting now."
Last week, the Met opened the American Wing, part of a $100-million makeover, with great fanfare and the blessing of First Lady Michelle Obama. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., launched an elegant multimillion-dollar expansion of its American galleries last month.
In the last few years, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute of Arts have refurbished their American art spaces. Next May, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond expects to complete a major expansion with added space for American art, including the bequest of a $100-million collection. Later next year in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts plans to open an American Wing as part of a huge building project.
Private collectors are also getting into the act. Wal-Mart heiress Alice L. Walton is paying top prices for American paintings to be housed in Crystal Bridges, a privately funded museum under construction in Bentonville, Ark.
Her biggest purchase, at $35 million, is "Kindred Spirits" by Asher B. Durand, an 1849 painting acquired from the New York Public Library amid controversy over the loss of one of the city's cultural treasures.
Auctions of American art have chalked up records in recent years. Last May, "Green River of Wyoming," an 1878 landscape by Thomas Moran, had a pre-sale estimated price of $3.5 million to $5 million. It was sold to a Pennsylvania art dealer for $17.7 million, more than twice the previous auction record for a 19th century American painting.
Such sums are modest compared with top prices paid for European masterpieces and works by a few leading modern and contemporary figures, at least until the economic crisis. But they represent an astonishing rise for American art.
Other new initiatives are in the works. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are reorganizing their U.S. holdings in a broad context spanning North and South America.
At the Met, founded in 1870, the latest transformation of the American Wing has brought a display of sculpture, mosaics and stained glass in the luminous courtyard; an installation of 1,000 pieces of ceramics, glass, silver and pewter in balcony galleries; and a glass elevator that transports visitors to reconfigured period rooms.
At the 90-year-old Huntington, American art is relatively new. Founder Henry E. Huntington and his wife, Arabella, acquired a few American paintings along with their British portraits. But the institution didn't begin collecting American art until 1979, when it received a gift of 50 paintings from Virginia Steele Scott.
Today, the collection includes 9,400 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, furniture and other decorative arts. Fifteen galleries in the complex offer chronological and thematic displays of fine and decorative arts from the 17th through the mid-20th century.
The new showcase, a $1.6-million project designed to give the Huntington's rapidly growing American art collection more space and visibility, combines the original, 1984 American gallery with the Lois and Robert F. Erburu Gallery, a streamlined, 4-year-old structure by Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum opened in 1933, thanks to William Rockhill Nelson, a civic leader and admirer of European art who left money to buy a collection, and Mary McAfee Atkins, whose bequest paid for the building. Over the years, the museum has compiled one of the nation's strongest American collections, including paintings by Winslow Homer, Thomas Cole, John Singer Sargent and Raphaelle Peale and furniture by leading designers.
The museum's expansion provides a popular 9,000-square-foot sequence of galleries that offers historical and social narratives, curator Margaret C. Conrads says: "It's the American experience."
The current American experience is colored by economic stress.
As Heckscher observes: "It's wonderful that all these museums' initiatives, these new American displays, are getting done or have been done when money was plentiful enough to do it. Going forward, it will be much more difficult to begin any such projects, at least in the immediate future."
Jun 27, 2009, 11:19 PM
Promising news on MOCA...
MOCA has gifts, officers and trustees; pronounces finances fixed
L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art says it has raised $56.9 million in the six months since it accepted a helping hand from Eli Broad, who in a MOCA news release characterizes the feat as "the biggest turnaround of any cultural institution in recent history."
Said Charles E. Young, the museum's chief executive, who was asked by Broad to serve for an interim period while MOCA got back on its financial feet: "I am pleased that we have enabled a successful turnaround in such a short amount of time."
At their board meeting Thursday, MOCA's trustees elected Maria Arena Bell to join incumbent David Johnson as co-chair. Bell, the co-creative producer of "The Young and the Restless" soap opera, has been a longtime MOCA supporter and is co-chairing the museum's 30th anniversary gala in November with Broad. The Bel-Air resident's husband, William J. Bell Jr., was a MOCA trustee from 1997 until last year. She also has affiliations with New York's Guggenheim Museum, the Aspen Art Museum and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington.
Tom Unterman, the investment executive who co-chaired MOCA with film producer Johnson during its crisis, and had led the museum's finance committee, becomes a life trustee -- an honor, also held by Broad, that doesn't include voting rights.
Broad has anted up more than half the $56.9 million himself through the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which pledged $30 million in December as the cornerstone of MOCA's self-rescue plan. The remaining $26.9 million includes $16.4 million in special rescue-giving from members of MOCA's board, $1.9 million in regular board giving toward ongoing operations, $3 million in gifts from patrons who aren't board members, and $5.6 million collected from various other sources, including corporate donations, fundraising events, and the fees paid by museum members.
The $56.9 million total, however, depends on a certain amount of chicken counting of still-unhatched eggs. Of the Broad pledge, half is a regular gift with no strings attached, to be paid over five years, with the money earmarked for funding exhibitions. The other $15 million isn't quite so bankable -- it's contingent on MOCA coming up with a dollar-for-dollar match, with those contributions and the Broad match pegged to replenish an endowment that Broad has said totaled $5 million last December.
Gradual borrowing from what was once a $38 million endowment to pay operating expenses (rather than the Arts Management 101 method that calls for either raising the needed money or cutting spending) is what put MOCA in need of a rescue in the first place.
The recovery bid involves cuts as well as fundraising, as MOCA makes do with an operating budget of $15.5 million, down from pre-crisis budgets that had exceeded $20 million.
At their board meeting Thursday, the museum's trustees appropriated $4.25 million toward the endowment, drawing a matching amount from the Broad Foundation. That leaves MOCA $10.75 million short of having raised the $56.9 million it claims. Still, raising $46.15 million in six months is an accomplishment.
Broadpic As for whether MOCA's financial comeback is "the biggest turnaround of any IrwinJacobs cultural institution in recent history," as Broad, pictured at left, says, there's competition from the San Diego Symphony. That orchestra went silent for 2 1/2 years after going bankrupt in 1996, regrouped, then had its future secured with a staggering $100 million donation and bequest in 2002 from Qualcomm chief executive Irwin Jacobs, pictured at right, and his wife, Joan.
In other MOCA board business Thursday, trustees re-elected Jeffrey Soros as president, and Fred Sands, who recently donated $2 million, was chosen as vice president. Three new trustees were elected: writer-producer Darren Star, whose credits include "Sex and the City," "Melrose Place" and "Beverly Hills, 90210"; Carolyn Clark Powers, who also is on the collectors' committee at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Music Center's dance association; and Marc I. Stern, an investment executive who chairs Los Angeles Opera and is a board member of the Music Center, California Science Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
Young, the MOCA chief executive, said there has been discussion of how to proceed with the board's most crucial task besides fundraising: hiring a new museum director to replace Jeremy Strick, who in December took the fall for the financial distress, but soon landed on his feet as director of the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. So far, Young said, no decisions have been made on a time frame, appointing a search committee of board members, or on whether to hire a search firm to identify possible candidates.
-- Mike Boehm
Jul 2, 2009, 3:56 AM
Autry, Southwest museum feud has echoes of Western duel
The Griffith Park facility's desire to borrow Indian artifacts from its smaller Mount Washington partner sparks worries about the Southwest's future.
By Bob Pool
From the Los Angeles Times
8:24 PM PDT, July 1, 2009
It could have been a scene right out of a Gene Autry horse opera -- a cowboys-versus-Indians-style faceoff, potshots being fired by both sides, a hero riding to the rescue in the final reel.
That seems to be the plot line of the drama that is playing out between backers of the Autry National Center of the American West in Griffith Park and those of the Southwest Museum a few miles away in Mount Washington.
The Autry museum, co-founded 21 years ago by the late singing cowboy, wants to double its size and display some of the Southwest's American Indian artifacts as a way of broadening and diversifying its depiction of the early American West.
Whoa, say Southwest's supporters. They contend that the loss of exhibits and an accompanying diminished role for the museum will lead to the demise of the 95-year-old hillside landmark -- which is the city's oldest museum.
The proposed $95-million Autry project would add 25,000 square feet of new gallery space, four classrooms and several children's rooms to its site at the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot next to the 5 Freeway.
From the beginning, the focus of the Southwest Museum has been Native American culture. Its founder, Charles Lummis, became intrigued by the plight of American Indians in 1884 and '85 when he walked across the country from Cincinnati to Los Angeles, where he became the city editor of The Times.
Lummis built a home that is a landmark in the Arroyo Seco and is now yards from the the Pasadena Freeway. He returned often to Arizona and New Mexico to study Indian culture and assist Native Americans. In 1907 he began planning the Southwest Museum, which opened seven years later.
In recent years, however, the museum struggled financially. Its directors agreed in 2003 to merge with the Autry, which began underwriting the smaller museum's operating costs of more than $100,000 a month.
But a Mount Washington neighborhood group, Friends of the Southwest Museum, has watched warily as Autry museum leaders have planned their expansion. The two sides had a showdown meeting Tuesday at City Hall, when a City Council panel met to sign off on an environment report for the enlarged Griffith Park museum.
Both camps came armed with dueling expansion plan ideas -- Autry with a brochure promising "exciting innovations" that would "transform the visitor experience in Griffith Park," and Southwest backers with one proposing the that 12-acre Mount Washington site be "re-visioned" to take advantage of the nearby Gold Line train station with such features as a new stage, a restaurant, improved parking and expanded gallery space.
The afternoon debate before a standing-room-only crowd extended into the evening hours.
John Gray, the Autry's chief executive, told council members meeting as the city Board of Referred Powers that his museum "always anticipated expansion" in Griffith Park. He disputed suggestions that the Autry was, in essence, looting the Southwest Museum of its artifacts and preparing to convert it for another use.
Architect Brenda Levin explained how the enlarged Autry will scrap its current Spanish motif for a more nonspecific look. It would feature a "convergence canyon" that would integrate artifacts and artwork from the Southwest Museum with those of the Autry's collection, which some critics say has tended to lean heavily toward the pop-culture mythology of the cowboy Wild West.
Opponents of the expansion argued the project was too big, its impact on the Southwest Museum would be too major, and the Autry's compensation to the city for its 12 acres of parkland -- $1 a year -- was too meager.
Nicole Possert, head of a coalition to preserve the Southwest Museum, complained of the "myth consistently spun by the Autry" that the Mount Washington landmark will not be adversely effected by the Autry's expansion.
It was City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the Mount Washington area, who broke the stalemate. He proposed that the city require Autry officials to sign an "airtight" written pledge to protect both the Southwest Museum and its 250,000 artifacts before the expansion proceeds.
The board agreed to delay consideration of the project for a month to give the two museums time, as Councilwoman Janice Hahn put it, "to codify" a future operating agreement.
Nov 16, 2009, 2:32 AM
Eli Broad expands plans for his Westside museum
Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and a third, unnamed Westside location are vying to be the contemporary art institution's home.
By Mike Boehm
The Los Angeles Times
November 16, 2009
Art collector and philanthropist Eli Broad has nearly doubled the size of the museum he intends to build on the Westside for his 2,000-piece collection of contemporary art, and the cities of Beverly Hills and Santa Monica are vying to be its home.
Broad said Saturday that he isn't playing two municipalities against each other -- and he said a third city is in the running that he declined to name. He said he hopes to accelerate the process of building the headquarters for his Broad Art Foundation by talking to several cities.
"We don't know which of those sites are going to work out. None of them are without complications," Broad said as he prepared to preside as co-chair over the local art scene's big event of the season, Saturday night's 30th anniversary gala for the Museum of Contemporary Art.
"We don't want this to go on indefinitely, which can happen when you're dealing with cities," Broad said. "It could be three years, and I'm 76 years of age."
He said he plans to create a $200-million endowment that would generate $12 million a year to operate the privately run nonprofit museum.
The only bigger single cash donation to the arts in Southern California history would be J. Paul Getty's initial $700-million 1976 bequest to establish the J. Paul Getty Trust -- $2.65 billion in today's dollars.
Broad says that establishing another major venue devoted to contemporary art would solidify L.A.'s standing as a leading center for works created since World War II.
MOCA -- to which Broad pledged $30 million after a fiscal crisis that had led its leaders to consider merging with another museum -- has about 75,000 square feet of exhibition space in its two downtown venues.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which shows art from all regions and times, includes the free-standing, 50,000-square-foot Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which opened in early 2008. Broad paid its entire $56-million cost.
But to the disappointment of museum leaders and many art lovers, Broad decided not to donate his collection to LACMA as well. Instead, 1,500 works have remained under his foundation's umbrella, and more than 400 others are in the separate personal collection he owns with his wife, Edythe.
They are made available regularly as part of the Broad Art Foundation's mission as a "lending library" that sends art to museums around the world. Among the artists the Broads have collected in depth are Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol.
L.A.'s third leading contemporary art institution, Westwood's Hammer Museum, has 14,000 square feet of gallery space.Broad said that factoring in his museum, at about 40,000 square feet, Los Angeles "would have more contemporary art space for the public than any place in America."
He said his collection, which he continues to build by buying 25 to 100 pieces a year, is large enough to present a changing array of exhibitions without having to compete with LACMA and MOCA for choice touring shows.
Broad had approached Beverly Hills about building his museum at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard. A year ago, Joanne Heyler, director of the Broad Art Foundation, said two other sites were under consideration, with plans for a 25,000-square-foot museum, plus space for the foundation offices and a storage and research area for all the works not on display.
But conceptual drawings delivered to Beverly Hills officials last month show a much bigger project: a 126,600-square-foot, three-story building with the footprint of an arrow pointing east. Of that, a museum of about 43,000 square feet and an adjoining 6,100-square-foot outdoor sculpture court would occupy the top floor. An additional 67,000 square feet would provide an "archive" for the art not on display and offices for all three Broad foundations -- for art, education and medical research.
An additional 10,000 square feet of commercial space was requested by the city, Broad said, to spur street life along one of the adjoining streets, Little Santa Monica Boulevard; about a third of that retail area would be for the museum's restaurant and store.
Broad said parking is a problem at the Beverly Hills site. The conceptual plan calls for an underground garage with 170 spaces. Also, he said, the city would have to acquire the privately owned property, then lease it to his foundation for a nominal amount. Broad said the city would own the building after the lease is up.
Two or three months ago, Broad said, Santa Monica officials proposed that he build on 2.5 acres of city-owned land next to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The City Council is scheduled to discuss at its meeting Tuesday whether to launch formal negotiations with Broad.
The plan, outlined in a report by City Manager P. Lamont Ewell that was sent to city officials on Friday, calls for the city to lease the land to Broad's foundation for a "token" amount, to kick in about $1 million for design and construction, to provide parking, and to plant and continue to maintain the museum's exterior landscaping.
The report says Broad also wants the city to absorb the project's permit costs and pay for the required environmental impact review. Additionally, Broad and the city will discuss a possible $6-million sale of the existing Broad Art Foundation building in Santa Monica to the city. The 1927 vintage building isn't big enough to house all of Broad's art, and because of parking problems it never has been open to the public.
The tone of Ewell's report is both enthusiastic and urgent.
"The benefits of the proposal are readily apparent," the city manager writes -- "a world-class cultural amenity . . . [that] would significantly advance city policies that strongly favor promoting the arts and fostering cultural opportunities." Broad, Ewell wrote, would hire "an internationally renowned architect."
The city manager added that, because swift action is important as Broad weighs where to plant his museum, it would be wise to avoid bureaucratic red tape, "consistent with complete transparency and full public review."
Cheryl Burnett, the city of Beverly Hills' spokeswoman, issued a statement Saturday making it clear that Beverly Hills will continue to vie for the museum. "While we recognize that the Broad Foundation has many options. . . . There's no better place than Beverly Hills to showcase this world-class contemporary art collection."
Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman, said members learned about the Broad proposal Friday when they received the staff report.
"I'll do everything I can to make this happen," he said, noting that a museum would dovetail with the city's plans to rejuvenate the Civic Auditorium as a performance venue. He said officials are in negotiations with the Nederlander Organization, which operates the Greek Theatre and the Pantages Theatre, to renovate the city-owned auditorium, then book its concerts and theatrical shows.
McKeown downplayed the notion that Santa Monica might face a bidding war with Beverly Hills. "I think they'll do what they can do," he said. "I think what Santa Monica has to offer is an incredible audience, a prime location and willingness to work with the Broads."
John Walsh, former director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, said that, while Broad's art philanthropy has been "very public-spirited," he would rather see the foundation headquarters built and run in partnership with one of L.A.'s existing museums, perhaps fulfilling MOCA's long-standing ambition to have a sizable Westside venue.
A stand-alone Broad museum "might bring a different kind of originality to the scene," Walsh said, but "that depends on the extent to which he is prepared to endow the organization, to ensure it collects competitively and imaginatively, and does major shows and has a first-rate staff, which is expensive. And nobody is going to foot the bill but him. On the whole, I think it's healthier if he uses this great power both to encourage innovation and to back and support the organizations that really need him."
LACMA's director, Michael Govan, said he's not concerned about overcrowding on the contemporary art exhibition scene in L.A. There are "complaints that shows don't make it to L.A. because there are not enough venues," Govan said. "There's a lot of growth potential. I feel like there's plenty of room. The thing is for each institution to distinguish itself with a particular identity and way of working."
Govan said the only drawback would be if Broad were to become insular, focused only on his own museum rather than helping to fund exhibitions and art acquisitions citywide. "I don't think that's the case. I think he'll continue to support us all."
Nov 21, 2009, 4:37 PM
SMALLEST NORTH AMERICAN DINOSAUR DISCOVERED
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s Dr. Luis Chiappe Co-Authors
Paper; Species Named for Museum’s Board of Trustees President
Tiniest Dinosaur in North America Found
October 21, 2009—The tiniest dinosaur in North America weighed less than a teacup Chihuahua, a new study says.
Seen above as an artist's reconstruction in front of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in California, the agile Fruitadens haagarorum was just 28 inches (70 centimeters) long and weighed less than two pounds (one kilogram).
The diminutive dinosaur likely darted among the legs of larger plant-eaters such as Brachiosaurus and predators such as Allosaurus about 150 million years ago, during the late Jurassic period.
Parts of the skulls, vertebrae, arms, and legs from four F. haagarorum specimens were found in the 1970s in Colorado and later stored at the Natural History Museum.
A recent analysis of the fossil leg bones showed not only that the dinosaur is a new species but that the largest of the specimens are full-grown adults.
The discovery knocks Albertonykus borealis, a chicken-size dinosaur identified in 2008, off its pedestal as the tiniest North American dinosaur.
(Related: "Smallest Meat-Eating Dinosaur in N. America Discovered.")
The newfound dinosaur also had an unusual combination of teeth for a reptile: canine-like teeth in the front of its jaws and molar-shaped teeth along its cheeks, according to the October 21 study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
This arrangement and the creature's small stature mean it's likely that F. haagarorum ate plants, eggs, and insects.
The tiny dinosaur was found in Colorado's fossil-rich Fruita Paleontological Area. To find such an unexpected species in a well-studied area suggests it's "still possible to discover completely unique and remarkable [fossil] species," study leader Richard Butler, of the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology in Munich, Germany, said in a statement.
"If dinosaur ecosystems were that diverse, who knows what astonishing beasts are waiting for us to discover?"
Nov 21, 2009, 4:53 PM
"If dinosaur ecosystems were that diverse, who knows what astonishing beasts are waiting for us to discover?" Sounds like the openiing line to a Leno monologue.
The hunt for a Broad Museum location should at least get some architects out with some creative ideas. He shouldn't mind spending a few bucks to help polish his legacy.
Nov 23, 2009, 3:24 AM
N.Y. designers look to L.A.
More New York City designers are drawn to Los Angeles for the creativity and freedom the city offers.
By Nora Zelevansky
The Los Angeles Times
November 22, 2009
In Henri Bendel's new accessory collection, the pie`ce de re'sistance is a travel tote dubbed disturbed stripe. The name could be a metaphor for the iconic New York store's recent campaign to increase relevance through reinvention. Accented with snakeskin-embossed Italian leather, the "disturbed" pattern shatters Bendel's familiar brown stripes (seen on hatboxes and shopping bags) like so many Humpty Dumptys and then fits the pieces haphazardly back together again.
Traditionalists may view "corrupting" this classic as blasphemy akin to adorning Tiffany's eggshell blue with pink polka dots. But haywire stripes are just the beginning, in this change-filled era, when evolution is essential to survival. Blair Waldorfs of the world, hold on to your headbands: Shoppers can now peruse Bendel's collections far from the Manhattan mother ship, at signature accessory and gift locations at carefully selected spots around the country, including shops that opened this month at the Beverly Center and South Coast Plaza.
Bendel's cross-country move is made in good company, as Los Angeles is an increasingly important artistic outlet for New York's fashion world, from boutique designers to established houses. The city serves as a kind of Petri dish-meets-escape, where experimentation thrives sans Big Apple intensity (with lower expenses, fewer watchful eyes, mild winter weather, larger spaces).
"Wherever the focus is for fashion, you have to look to the left to find the creativity," notes Dana Foley of the New York City-based line Foley + Corinna. "When less people are looking, designers feel more comfortable experimenting. New York isn't conservative, but it's more rigid." With the promise of creative freedom and fresh audiences, East Coast designers have been mimicking pioneers of California's past, heading west in search of gold.
Kristen Lee's chic L.A. accessory shop TenOverSix -- housed in quaint red brick on Beverly Boulevard -- would have remained a financial pipe dream in New York, a sad thought for anyone who has covetously perused the vibrant bag and shoe walls. Lee, who also designs an eponymous private shoe label, moved her operation to L.A. three years ago. Then, in August 2008, she and two partners opened TenOverSix, pulling in designers from Brooklyn, Manhattan, Stockholm, London, Paris and L.A. (Scout, Society for Rational Dress, Band of Outsiders). "I thought I'd move right back to New York," she says with a sigh. "But I love it here."
Running her own store invaluably informs Lee's designs, since she can observe customers in action, and makes her an ideal California liaison for a "continual flow" of New York artist pals. TenOverSix permanently hosts a West Coast annex to Brooklyn's the Future Perfect in a pop-up room at the front of the store. It also facilitates sales for Brooklyn lighting designer Lindsey Adelman.
For Lee, L.A.'s creative appeal is obvious: "New York has so much pressure, expense and difficulty. Lack of intensity actually helps unleash creativity here. There's more space for trying exciting things. It's just not as serious."
New York's significant and cutthroat fashion milieu can be at once inspirational and constricting, so L.A. becomes a place to bask not only by palm tree-lined swimming pools but also in the freedom of self-expression and more anonymous dabbling. "L.A. is a bit of a clean slate," muses ROGAN and Loomstate co-founder Scott Mackinlay Hahn, who collaborated with Apartment 9 on temporary pop-ups for both lines. "It's not necessarily forgiving from a business perspective, but there's a liberty of personal expression and individuality, which might tie back to the original culture of being a pioneer that's in California's DNA."
Newcomers introduce themselves via carefully curated stores-within-stores, bolstered by the host boutique's established audience. "Our pop-ups communicate our aesthetic and bring the brand to life in a way that doesn't happen when serving your wholesale market," Mackinlay Hahn says. "Migrating designers are all about creating spaces that appeal to existing customers and also opening new eyes."
Space 15 Twenty, sponsored by Urban Outfitters, opened in November 2008 with the specific intention of collaborating and giving new designers temporary areas to call their own. They chose Hollywood for the destination complex (a` la Fred Segal), but featured designers have been mostly New York-based, including Samantha Pleet, Mary Ping and, recently, Sophomore's Chrissie Miller.
Miller's shop displayed her Scorpio Rising Urban line, Sophomore signatures such as lace-up leather shorts and skirts and burgeoning New York City creative endeavors, including shoe line Madison Harding, the Virgins CDs and books by her artist boyfriend Leo Fitzpatrick.
A New York native, Miller is increasingly bicoastal. "I love visiting L.A., but I don't get all the embellished denim and crazy graphics," she says. But she says she is now selling to more stores in L.A. than in New York, in part because of boutiques here like Confederacy, Creatures of Comfort and Filth Mart. "I wish there were more stores like that in New York," she says.
In L.A.'s moderate climate, customers embrace Miller's casual rocker-evocative aesthetic year-round. But for some designers, survival in a new landscape requires reshuffling.
Sixteen years ago, before Gerard Maione and Seth Weisser officially founded their posh SoHo vintage mecca What Goes Around Comes Around (WGACA), they stashed vintage gems at a friend's house in Los Angeles between regular visits to the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Even back then, they mused about eventually opening a West Coast store. So, when Urban Outfitters offered them a permanent spot at Space 15 Twenty's complex last fall, they jumped at the chance.
"So many people are bicoastal, so we felt an L.A. presence would expand our market," Maione says. But Southern California shopping habits have proved challenging, as has the down economy. Maione's new contemporary line thrives here, but the high-end vintage clothing so successful in New York has been harder to move.
In an attempt to attract and make an impression on potential new customers, Maione creates elaborate displays that tell stories about the brand. "Recently, we created a turn-of-the-century saloon-meets-bordello, Victorian '80s punk-rock environment," Maione says, which seemed to intrigue L.A. shoppers.
What works on this coast: less formal merchandise, such as low heels at TenOverSix, and proactive "clientelling" (informal personal shopping, regularly contacting and actively wooing regulars back to the boutique) at Foley + Corinna. Loomstate's sustainable outdoorsy-angle works too, says Mackinlay Hahn. "We consider factors from raw materials to the waste paradigm, which is very California and definitely represents an 'aspirational' quality of life for a design duo from New York."
Many fashion e'migre's, including Europeans as well as New Yorkers, describe L.A. shopping impulses with terms like "casual" and "car culture," agreeing that Southern California retail is simply a different beast.
"When I discovered L.A.'s different lifestyle and rhythm, as a Parisian, it was like discovering the South of France," says designer Catherine Malandrino (who pioneered a Sunset shop in 2002 and recently built an elaborate 6,000-square-foot maison with cafe' off Melrose Place). "In New York, shopping is quicker and more impulsive. In L.A., it's about a great experience." Malandrino compares L.A. to Cannes, because demands are equal for casual wear and couture.
Anna Corinna and Dana Foley of Foley + Corinna have also found an event niche. "This is where media photographs 'it' girls," Corinna notes. When the partners opened their Melrose store in 2008 (an endeavor inexpensive enough to weather economic storms), they figured that, at the very least, it could serve as a showroom for celebrity, film and TV stylists. Their willingness to adapt has proved invaluable. "At one point," Foley says with a laugh, "I gave my West Coast people license to shorten any of the dresses as much as they felt they needed, and they sold!"
L.A. has a long-standing reputation for bleached, implanted and botoxed blonds in bedazzled magenta tanks (Ed Hardy be damned), but an innovative new group of local designers and artists is seemingly an antidote. "The design communities in areas like Abbot Kinney and Silver Lake are pushing back against that reputation," says Mackinlay Hahn. "People are more thoughtful about what they present, which resonates in fashion, music and art." Designers from elsewhere visit, experience the credibility firsthand and "spread the love."
Thus, L.A.'s style presence is felt globally. Foley raves, "L.A. is driving fashion with casualness: Boyfriend jeans and jackets to me are so L.A." Malandrino agrees, "This cool easiness in clothes, now accepted throughout the world, started from L.A."
Another European designer, Je'ro^me Dreyfuss (known for his beyond-extraordinary bags) is currently carving out his niche, planning to open his first store in February. He sees L.A. as an important future step. "The City of Angels is the town where anything is possible," he says. "L.A. is a concentration of all fantasies."
Nov 30, 2009, 4:33 AM
UC Irvine takes video games to the next level
The hobby will move out of dorm rooms and into classrooms as the university creates a four-year undergraduate program in 'game science,' to debut next fall.
By Tony Barboza
The Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2009
UC Irvine has long sought to be known for preeminence in fields such as engineering, medicine and business. But now the university is embracing a new discipline: video games.
Once ridiculed within university halls as merely a nerdy pastime, computer games are being promoted to a full-fledged academic program at the Irvine campus, a medium as ripe for study as the formats before it: film, radio and television.
This fall UC Irvine established the Center for Computer Games & Virtual Worlds, and construction is underway on a 4,000-square-foot, 20-room "Cyber-Interaction Observatory" for faculty research. Plans call for floor-to-ceiling projection screens, 3-D stereoscopic displays and gesture-based interfaces.
If all goes according to plan, next fall UC Irvine will debut a four-year undergraduate program allowing students to declare "game science" as their major -- an idea that drew snickers when a few professors first proposed it a decade ago.
"There are people who will say we're pandering to a trend," said Dan Frost, an informatics lecturer who teaches a popular computer game development course. "But this really is intellectually justified. Universities are always doing things that seem crazy at first."
It's a fitting development for a campus where some students are so gaga for gaming that they spend sleepless nights writing code for their homespun games and like to unwind with pizza-fueled Street Fighter tournaments and Rock Band contests.
"People go to school to become painters," said James Dalby, 30, a senior information and computer science major and vice president of the campus game development club. "Well, companies need that kind of skill to dream up all the fantastic worlds that they're going to make into a virtual reality."
The Irvine campus is one of a number of schools expanding offerings aimed at a generation that grew up well after the advent of Pac-Man and Pong.
"They're so used to playing with computers that they get bored stiff with plain old textbooks," said Magda El Zarki, a computer science professor and director of the center.
Computer game studies are growing in popularity at other universities. USC, for instance, admitted 31 students this fall majoring in computer science (games).
But the cadre of video game fanatics behind UCI's new center, including dozens of students and 20 faculty members from different disciplines, has had to battle an obvious perception: that what they're studying is just fun and games.
Not everyone, after all, sees the analysis of Halo or Half-Life as a legitimate academic pursuit.
A decade ago, computer science instructors at UC Irvine who tried to get a minor in computer games approved were laughed at and the idea was shot down. But now, whatever hesitation there was seems to have faded, at least within academia.
Faculty members have had success in winning research funding, though at times the awards have caused outsiders to shake their heads.
When UC Irvine researchers were awarded a $100,000 federal grant last year from the National Science Foundation to study the differences in how gamers from the U.S. and China play World of Warcraft, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) held it up as an example of fiscal irresponsibility in a report called "2008: Worst Waste of the Year."
Yet the school has persisted, courting industry partners and raising millions of dollars in corporate funding and federal grants to study computer games and "virtual worlds," or simulations that can be used for everything from stroke rehabilitation to courtroom reenactments.
"A lot of people, when they hear 'games' and 'university,' they see nothing in common," said Walt Scacchi, a senior research scientist who helped found UCI's Game Culture and Technology Lab in 2001. "They think games are mindless and not something to be studied seriously. Like many new disciplines, there's often a high degree of skepticism."
But the appeal of video game studies is broad, attracting even studio art majors such as 22-year-old Joel Youkhanna.
He transferred to UC Irvine because it was one of only a few schools that offer gaming as a course of study.
"I like coming up with ideas, characters and stories," he said. "That's what drew me to the world of video games."
And now that he's a few months shy of graduating with a concentration in game culture and technology, he's hoping to find work at a major game company.
He smiles when asked if he ever thought he could turn a hobby into a college degree.
"I actually have a lot of friends who are really jealous of what I'm doing," he said.
In Frost's 10-week computer game course, students work in small teams to create a short game for a PC or cellphone. It could be a puzzle, a role-playing game, a jumping-based "platform game" or a first-person shooter.
One of the games students have collaborated on is Colossal Crisis, in which students under attack by Godzilla have to collect debris to bring back to their professor in order to build a robot to defeat the monster.
Frost is thinking about using the game's characters as mascots to announce the new major.
He and other faculty believe video game studies are gaining acceptance, despite the naysaying.
"When people first started studying film at USC, I'm sure people were like, 'C'mon!' " Frost said. "People said it isn't serious. The attitude has changed."
So in his course, Frost sometimes picks apart just a few minutes of a computer game like a film professor would classic cinema.
"Let's see how that sequence of cuts worked," Frost often tells his students. "It's like listening to Beethoven's Fifth in a music appreciation class."
UC Irvine sees the program as a natural fit for Southern California, home to dozens of video game companies such as Activision Blizzard, which created the popular Call of Duty and World of Warcraft from corporate offices in Irvine and Santa Monica.
And the school plans to maintain a tight link with the industry by inviting professionals to give presentations as well as send students on tours of local game studios.
That exposure could help students make the transition from seeing gaming as a hobby to viewing it as a career.
"It's not a bunch of nerds clamoring around a dark basement," said Dalby, of the game development club. "It's actually an office environment of people that have jobs and benefits and are really interested in what they do."
As administrators wrangle for lab space to dedicate to gaming, students do most of their work -- and play -- on their personal laptops.
The center doesn't yet have a physical location, after all.
"I guess," Frost said, "it's the virtual world."
Dec 2, 2009, 8:11 AM
Pritzker Prize winner Peter Zumthor planning LACMA makeover
December 1, 2009 | 5:39 pm
The dream of razing four of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s oldest buildings — or at least radically reconfiguring the dreary, closed-in quadrangle they occupy – is being resurrected at the Wilshire Boulevard institution.
The Architect’s Newspaper reports that museum leaders are working with this year’s Pritzker Prize winner, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, to formulate a long-range plan for getting rid of the problematic buildings and plaza, and replacing them with a more open and inviting structure.
A previous plan to tear down the buildings and build something revolutionary in their place died in a 2002 bond referendum. A 60.5% majority favored the arts bond proposal that would have given LACMA $100 million toward architect Rem Koolhaas’ $300 million-plus plan to replace everything on the eastern end of the museum’s Wilshire Boulevard campus, except for the distinctive Pavilion for Japanese Art. In place of the three 1965 gallery and theater buildings, and a fourth that opened in 1986, LACMA would have become a single structure on concrete stilts, topped by a billowing, tent-like roof.
California law, however, requires a two-thirds super-majority for tax-backed bond issues. With the economy in a post-9/11, post-tech-bubble recession, LACMA leaders abandoned Koolhaas’ all-at-once plan and adopted a gradual, $450 million project that could be built in stages, on a pay-as-you-go basis.
So far it has yielded buildings designed by Renzo Piano: the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a new entrance pavilion, and the Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, due to open next year. As for those older, east-campus buildings, the plans called for some renovations, but no tear-down and rebuild.
But the Architect's Newspaper report by Edward Lifson indicates that the dream of undoing the uninviting architectural tangle in one fell swoop still lives.
Zumthor has been visiting and helping LACMA leaders brainstorm about a remake of the eastern end of its 20-acre campus -- again excluding the Japanese Pavilion.
The architect tells Lifson he’s been on board since April, working with "a large team from LACMA" to come up with ideas about "what a new building for the entire collection could be like." Most probable, he says, would be "a sequence of period galleries with a long corridor."
Zumthor is quoted as saying the design work alone would take two to three years, and that it could take a decade to complete the project. But he said he would try to come up with a preliminary plan quickly, so that museum director Michael Govan, who had worked with Zumthor on a never-realized project in his previous job running the Dia Art Foundation in New York, will have something to show prospective donors.
Zumthor says he and Govan want to take advantage of LACMA’s Hancock Park surroundings and emphasize open, outdoor space. "Michael and I have the feeling that all of Los Angeles is waiting for some real public space," the architect, who lived in L.A. during the 1980s while teaching at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, told Lifson.
Govan couldn’t be reached today. He told the Architect’s Newspaper that planning is in "the earliest phases of thinking," and that the poor economy for the current construction project makes this a good time to strategize about better days ahead, including what to do with properties LACMA owns across Wilshire Boulevard from its current row of structures.
"If I were to have my way," he said, "I’d like to see the whole campus transformed, edge to edge, over about 15 years."
-- Mike Boehm
Dec 2, 2009, 5:47 PM
It would be nice to see this happen. The LACMA campus, and this stretch of Wilshire in general, is an excellent place for architectural experimentation since there is no distinctive style that predominates here. Large scale innovative projects would not look out of place since the area is filled with large buildings but with not consistent style among them.
Dec 3, 2009, 9:34 AM
i love zumthor's architecture, but this is never going to happen.
Dec 7, 2009, 10:06 AM
LACMA had sent out an RFP to build a mixed-use project on a parking lot they own across the street. Because of the economic collapse, those plans were put on hold. I'd like to see more retail/restaurants being coupled with LACMA's long range plan for the area.
Also, the Peterson Auto Museum needs to go through a major remodel itself, if not relocate altogether to somewhere else. I would rather see something else a bit more engaging at that corner than its current stoic, disengaging, turned to the back self.
Dec 7, 2009, 10:38 PM
Why is LACMA in the mixed-use development business? I'm happy to see them develop their campus but I'm not sure we need to expand their mandate to putting up more Starbuck's and Carl's Jr. A couple of cafes and a museum shop strike me as about enough and they already have that.
Dec 8, 2009, 3:28 AM
Is Los Angeles Really the Creative Capital of the World? Report Says Yes
By Andrew Nusca
November 19, 2009
Los Angeles is now the “Creative Capital of the World,” with one in every six people in the region employed in a creative field, according to a new report.
According to the 2009 Otis Report on the Creative Economy (.pdf) — sourced from the Otis College of Art and Design located in, you guessed it, Los Angeles — the city’s strong network of colleges and universities, its growth of new digital industries that attract skilled workers and (relatively) stable economy all help L.A. claim the throne as No. 1.
Part of the reason is that digital media has taken off in the city. Unemployment may be affecting the country, but the report forecasts a 10 percent increase in employment for digital artists from now through 2013. That includes animators, digital effects artists and motion graphics artists.
The report also highlights L.A.’s growing base of “nonemployer” firms — those with revenues but without paid employees, such as freelancers or creative professionals in the fine or performing arts. There are two self-employed people for every person working in a traditional firm in these disciplines, according to the report.
Los Angeles County counted $121 billion in creative receipts, better than all industries except tourism/hospitality and international trade.
But the city hasn’t done enough to promote its creativity beyond the entertainment industry, according to the report. A lack of recognition, insufficient government planning and support, lacking K-12 school curriculum in the arts and tightening school district budgets are otherwise detracting from the city’s creative talent pool.
Is L.A. really creative capital of the world? The introspective report doesn’t compare the city on the world stage, so it’s hard to say. But if you believe in the creativity of the Mazda Miata, the SR-71 fighter jet, the Internet, the French Dip sandwich and yes, bare midriffs — the City of Angels is indeed king of creativity.
Dec 8, 2009, 6:05 PM
What worries me is that we have plenty of creative arts people here, but we may be thin in finance, engineering, senior management and other fields. I know you can't have everything, but it may be time to diversify.
Jan 8, 2010, 5:57 AM
City nears museum deal with Broad Foundations
By Nick Taborek
Santa Monica Daily Press
January 07, 2010
CITY HALL — Negotiations to bring a contemporary art museum financed by billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad to Santa Monica's civic center are close to complete, several city officials said Wednesday.
The terms of the agreement would require approval from the City Council, which could vote on the museum deal as early as Tuesday.
"I feel that the vast majority of issues have been discussed thoroughly and agreed to," City Councilman Bob Holbrook said.
The museum agreement had not been placed on the council's agenda for next week by press time Wednesday, but Holbrook said the only remaining sticking point was the legal language locking in the museum's endowment.
"It's my understanding that we're going to have a staff report on the agenda for next Tuesday [that will] make a recommendation to us on a variety of deal points for moving forward on the project," said Councilman Richard Bloom.
If approved by the council, the agreement with the Broad Foundations would be a major win for City Hall, which since November has been competing with Beverly Hills to attract the museum. A third, undisclosed location for the museum also has reportedly been in the running.
Neither City Manager Lamont Ewell nor a spokeswoman for the Broad Foundations could be reached for comment on the museum negotiations Wednesday.
In Beverly Hills, City Hall Spokeswoman Cheryl Burnett said she wasn't aware of any new developments in negotiations with the Broad Foundations, but added, "It's my understanding that we continue to pursue the potential opportunity of the Broad museum here in Beverly Hills."
The Santa Monica officials who spoke about the museum talks on Wednesday were clearly pleased it appeared City Hall was close to a deal on the project, but were cautious about declaring victory.
"Until everybody is in complete agreement it's still an aspiration," Bloom said. "But when it comes to fruition it's absolutely huge for Santa Monica and for the region."
Holbrook said he's been confident Santa Monica would prevail since he spoke privately with Eli Broad last month and shook hands on the project.
The museum would become home to a 2,000-piece contemporary art collection featuring names like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Andy Warhol.
Terms of the potential deal have not been made public, but Holbrook said City Hall would likely agree to contribute at most $3 million to the project in site preparation costs and fee waivers. The proposed location for the project is a 2.5 acre, city-owned lot located between the Santa Monica Courthouse and the Civic Auditorium that would be leased to the foundation for a nominal amount.
The Broad Foundations — made up of the Broad Art Foundation and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation — would cover the rest of the construction costs and would contribute an endowment in the hundreds of millions of dollars that would amount to one of the largest donations to the arts in Southern California history.
Jan 26, 2010, 4:50 AM
Downtown L.A. is officially a contender for Eli Broad's art museum
January 25, 2010 | 4:02 pm
-- Mike Boehm, Ari B. Bloomekatz and Cara DiMassa
The Los Angeles Times
Here's the latest installment in the courtship of Eli Broad -- and the art museum he aims to plunk somewhere in the Los Angeles Basin, complete with big-name architecture, a spiffy $200 million endowment and the 2,000 works of contemporary art held by his Broad Art Foundation.
Downtown L.A. is officially making a play, courtesy of the Grand Avenue Authority, which today authorized negotiations with Broad toward a possible deal that would wrest the museum from Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, which are also in the running.
After a closed session today of the Grand Avenue Authority, L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry, a member of the joint city-county authority that's overseeing development of vacant land and parking lots in the heart of downtown's arts district, said it will deploy a negotiating team "to proceed with discussions with the Broad Foundation to consider his proposal and reach a mutual agreement."
The Grand Avenue project, of which Broad himself has been a leading advocate, is considered the centerpiece of downtown's revitalization. Designed by Frank Gehry, it includes two towers, condos, hotel rooms and a shopping center. The project, which involves public land and a private developer, stalled last year after the developer was unable to secure a multibillion-dollar construction loan amid the global credit crunch. A Broad Museum launch there would be a coup that could help rebuild momentum for the plan.
Until recently, Broad, who has painted a redeveloped Grand Avenue as L.A.'s answer to Paris' Champs-Elysees as a cultural hub, was a member of the committee overseeing the project on behalf of the Grand Avenue Authority. Officials said today that Broad had resigned from the committee in November in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest as the negotiations move forward.
Broad has said that he deliberately has kept his options open for a museum site, hoping that competition will prevent plans from getting bogged down by bureaucratic delays in any single government jurisdiction. Beverly Hills was the first contender to surface publicly, in 2008, with talks centering on a parcel at Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard, and Santa Monica stepped forward late last year with what appears to be the most advanced plan: the City Council is expected to vote in February on a nonbinding "agreement in principle" that would allow the planning, permitting and environmental review process for the museum to go forward.
The basic outline of the proposed deal: the Broad Foundation would get a $1 a year, 99-year lease on 2.5 acres of city-owned land next to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, plus $2.7 million from the city in project funding and site-work. Broad would pay to build and operate a museum costing an estimated $40 million to $60 million to build and $12 million annually to run.
It would house at least 30,000 square feet of exhibition space for his collection, plus space for storing the art not on display or out on loan to other museums. The museum building also would include offices of the three-pronged Broad Foundations for art, science and education, which now occupy a 1927 vintage building in Santa Monica that lacks the parking needed for a public museum.
Jeffrey Deitch, recently announced as the next director of L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art, where Broad is the leading donor, is among those who have asked the billionaire philanthropist to locate his museum on Grand Avenue, where its cultural neighbors would include MOCA, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the rest of the Music Center, the Colburn School of Music, and the Los Angeles Unified School District's new arts high school.
Reiterating past statements from Broad's camp, Broad Foundation spokeswoman Karen Denne said today that “we are considering multiple locations and look forward to making a decision this spring.”
Feb 7, 2010, 6:43 PM
A shifting canvas in Pasadena
The city has long had a vibrant arts scene. But now it finds its 'genteel tradition' in flux.
By Cara Mia DiMassa
The Los Angeles Times
February 7, 2010
Ever since railroads and orange groves brought great wealth to Pasadena more than a century ago, the city has carried out a tradition of giving back in the form of art.
At the turn of the last century, Pasadena's love of the arts was part of what historian Kevin Starr called a "genteel tradition," which included a Shakespeare Club and a Grand Opera House.
Later, museums such as the Norton Simon and the Pacific Asia (not to mention the Huntington in neighboring San Marino), and venues including the Pasadena Playhouse and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, added to what many in the region regarded as one of the best cultural offerings for a city of its size.
But these days, Pasadena's art scene is in flux.
The city is reeling from the announcement that the venerable Pasadena Playhouse is closing because of money woes. Three years ago, the city's two main orchestras, the Pasadena Symphony and the Pasadena Pops, merged, and since then, the joint organization has struggled financially as well.
All three organizations struggled with an aging demographic base, mounting debt and increased competition from other art venues around Southern California.
By contrast, museums such as the Huntington and the Norton Simon have managed to attract a younger and more diverse audience, including families. The Huntington, for example, has in recent years opened a children's garden as well as a Chinese garden, which garnered significant financial support from the area's wealthy Asian community.
At the same time, some avant-garde performing arts groups are rising, challenging the stereotypes of Pasadena's arts scene as a place that honored tradition but rarely pushed the envelope.
A new outlook
With bold aesthetics and risky programming, organizations such as Furious Theatre, The Theatre @ Boston Court, the Pasadena Museum of California Art and Side Street Projects are managing to challenge Pasadena convention.
Side Street has installed funky mobile art installations across the city, while Furious Theatre staged the world premiere of "Canned Peaches in Syrup," a post-apocalyptic love story in which the world is divided into cannibals and vegetarians.
"It definitely seems as if the perception of Pasadena as a stodgy place has been challenged," said Nick Cernoch, general manager of Furious Theatre.
Some of Pasadena's arts organizations are pushing for a younger, diverse audience by hosting musical events at museums, say, or tailoring specific exhibitions. The Pacific Asia Museum recently included manga and anime in an exhibition about Japanese samurai, as a way to broaden the exhibit's appeal.
The result, said Terry LeMoncheck, executive director of the Pasadena Arts Council, a nonprofit group that supports arts organizations in the area, is that things are shifting. "But they should be," she added. "If art isn't shifting, there's something wrong. And it's probably not art."
Though Pasadenans long reveled in their city's self-contained nature, which allowed them to partake of rich cultural offerings without having to get on a freeway, that has begun to shift.
The last two decades have seen an explosion in the region's arts scene, and with the remaking of organizations such as LACMA and MOCA and the introduction of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Getty Center, several arts leaders said they now find themselves competing for audiences not just with one another, but also with the larger L.A. arts scene.
Theater- and museum-goers who once never traveled west of the 110 or east of the 605 are discovering venues elsewhere. That's created problems for some local organizations trying to attract and keep members.
For some organizations, that has meant looking beyond the San Gabriel Valley for financial and audience support. Michael Seel, executive director of the Theatre @ Boston Court, said that some of his organization's members come from the Westside, Claremont and Orange County.
"The arts world in Southern California is highly competitive," said Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard. "But it's also vital. And Pasadena has continued to develop as a center of arts and cultural activities."
Several area arts leaders said that the economic downturn has exacerbated a divide that was already starting to occur.
"It's a mixed bag in Pasadena," said Scott Ward, executive director of the Armory Center for the Arts, a community arts center. "Some nonprofits are really strong, fiscally, and others are a bit more close to the precipice."
A landmark's woes
In the case of the Pasadena Playhouse, the financial struggles of the 90-year-old landmark had been well-known among many of the city's culturally connected residents. And though the Playhouse had a loyal subscriber base, many of those supporters were aging and either dying off or not attending theater anymore.
Ward, who said he is optimistic that the Playhouse will regroup and ultimately survive, said that nonprofit arts groups have to look realistically at the niches they fill. "Other things have grown up around," he said. "People's business models have to change."
The experience of the Pasadena Pops and Pasadena Symphony -- which now go by the name Pasadena Symphony Assn. -- is instructive.
In early 2009, a decline in donations and a shrinking endowment forced the orchestras to cancel five concerts. A new executive director has said that the organization is gradually paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and has begun using popular composers and titles to boost revenue for classical concerts.
That experience, said Emily Hopkins, interim executive director of Side Street Projects, a mobile visual arts collective, showed that the size of an arts organization makes a big difference in how it can react to both economic forces and the shifting taste of patrons.
She said that smaller arts nonprofits often have "a very entrepreneurial attitude. That's what's helped us . . . we are able to react to how things evolve."
When A Noise Within, a classical theater company based in Glendale, started looking for a permanent home several years ago, Pasadena was at the top of co-founder and co-artistic director Julia Rodriguez-Elliott's list. Pasadena, she said, "has a long history for support of the arts. And we thought we'd be very complementary to what was already there."
Rodriguez-Elliott said she found city officials, especially Bogaard, to be "extremely helpful" in making a move to Pasadena work. Though the city did not provide any financial support, it did help the organization identify potential sites and clear bureaucratic hurdles. A Noise Within will break ground next month on a facility near a Gold Line stop in East Pasadena.
Bogaard admits some of Pasadena's art institutions are struggling but said he believes the city will remain a magnet for the arts. He noted the city has spearheaded a number of arts festivals and "arts nights," when cultural venues around the city open for free. Those events, Bogaard said, "underscore for the people of Southern California what is available here."
Feb 9, 2010, 6:55 AM
Iron Checkbook Shapes Cultural Los Angeles
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
Published: February 7, 2010
LOS ANGELES — Every American city has its power brokers, but only Los Angeles has an Eli Broad.
Monica Almeida/The New York Times
Mr. Broad dominates the arts here with a force that has no parallel in any major city. Los Angeles would literally not look the same had Mr. Broad not chosen it as his home 40 years ago, and his business-focused method of managing his giving has earned him a reputation as both a genius and a despot.
Now, as his preferred pick, Jeffrey Deitch, prepares to take the helm of another cultural pillar of Los Angeles — the Museum of Contemporary Art, which Mr. Broad helped found three decades ago and recently bailed out with a $30 million grant — Mr. Broad’s grip on the city and its arts has never been tighter.
A billionaire philanthropist whose beneficence comes with not just strings but with ropes that could moor an ocean liner, he is known to pull his support, resign from a board or, in some cases, decline to fulfill his financial promises when a project comes together in a way he does not like.
“For me there has been no downside,” said Roland G. Fryer Jr., an economics professor at Harvard who has collaborated with Mr. Broad on education projects and whom Mr. Broad, in typical fashion, hunted down one Christmas Eve in Austria, where he was on vacation, to discuss their work. “But I think if you’re not on your game, Eli will crush you.”
Mr. Broad (pronounced to rhyme with “road”) founded two Fortune 500 companies before retiring into a life of aggressive philanthropy, and his reach here, while most pronounced in the arts, is also civic and scientific. A manikin in carefully tailored suits, he makes no apology for his exacting demands on how the millions he has donated are spent, nor the consequences for failure. “If we start with a game plan, I want to make sure it happens,” he said. “At age 76 I don’t want to feel frustrated.”
Through his $2.5 billion foundation, he has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to education reform and scientific and medical research, including major programs at Caltech, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. He oversaw fund-raising for the Walt Disney Concert Hall and has used his own contemporary art collection as a lending library that will soon be another museum here. He was one of those responsible for supporting the Los Angeles Opera production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle.
His remarkable influence — even his critics suggest the results of his patronage have been overwhelmingly good for the city — says much about Los Angeles and its still-adolescent philanthropic culture, diffuse power base and lack of civic investment among many of its richest residents.
“Eli is not the problem,” said Ann Philbin, the director of the Hammer Museum, who sparred with Mr. Broad when he sat on and eventually resigned from that museum’s board. “The problem is that we don’t have enough Elis in Los Angeles to balance out his generosity and the power of his influence.”
Born and raised in Detroit, a lifelong Democrat and among the youngest in the history of Michigan to become a certified public accountant (he was 20), Mr. Broad made his first fortune in home building, then went on to be a co-founder of SunAmerica, a financial services firm that is now a subsidiary of AIG.
From an early point in this life here Mr. Broad saw the potential of downtown, which, unlike the downtowns of other cities, does not serve as a cultural center. He was the founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1979. His impact, however, can be stormy, as with his recent showdown with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
In 2003 Mr. Broad pledged $50 million for a much-needed new building to hold contemporary art. He personally lobbied the Italian architect Renzo Piano to design it, and it was universally inferred that Mr. Broad and his wife, Edythe, would donate much of their extensive personal collection for the walls of the new building.
But just before the new wing opened in 2008, Mr. Broad said he would keep the 2,000-plus works in his collection and instead loan hundreds of them to the museum. Soon the new wing became home to various shows and other works of art, in addition to the Broad pieces, enraging Mr. Broad. As a result, several board members said, he did not pay the balance of his pledged gift of roughly $6 million.
“He owes us a fortune,” said Lynda Resnick, a board member. “There was a period he wouldn’t speak to me for a year and a half” over the dispute.
Mr. Broad has “fulfilled my gift to Lacma 100-plus percent,” he said. “The question is: Have they honored their commitments to me, which was to show our collection?”
Efforts to ameliorate the situation, he said, went nowhere.
“We’ve endeavored to do so, and at one point suggested mediation or arbitration, none of which they wanted to do, which surprised me because we’ve been the largest donor and fund-raiser in Lacma’s history,” Mr. Broad said. (The largest donor in the museum’s history is actually the Ahmanson Foundation, which has given over $100 million.)
Ms. Resnick said: “When Eli gives, it is like negotiating a business deal. It is not altruistic. It is not blind charity. And there is a difference between being generous and being charitable. But it doesn’t matter in the end because the good was still done.”
Mr. Broad has been known to pull his financial support for other things.
In 2008 Mr. Broad and the Gates Foundation financed a political campaign, Strong American Schools, with the goal of raising the profile of education among the presidential candidates and the voting public. He and the Gates Foundation promised $60 million.
But Mr. Broad is fond of using a specific matrix to judge the success of his giving. Museums should see attendance rise and giving increase by board members. Schools should see test scores go up.
In the case of Strong American Schools he suggested to Chad Kolton, the communications director for the campaign, that one way to judge its impact would be the number of column inches newspapers devoted to the subject.
In the end, Mr. Broad said, the campaign did not have the impact on voters that he’d hoped, so he reduced his pledge to about a third of the original promise.
“If we’re not getting results,” Mr. Broad said during an interview in his offices in the Westwood district, surrounded by modern art on the walls and framed by the spread of Los Angeles behind him, “why should we spend all that money?”
Mr. Kolton said the campaign staff saw an ever-moving goal post.
“Just because we couldn’t make education the main campaign issue when we were fighting two wars and the country was slipping into a depression, it was held against us,” he said.
The story was much the same at a public arts high school that Mr. Broad helped to start, then turned away from when the infamously sclerotic school system here failed to attract the leadership he thought would best serve the city.
His focus on minute details also makes museum leaders and others chafe; it is much like taking money from your rich parents who then tell you what car to buy and where your kids ought to go to school.
As the new building that would bear his name at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was under construction, dust flying, paintings carefully readied, staff put into place, Mr. Broad was deeply concerned about what would be done about the weatherstripping.
“He also wondered where the temperature readings would be on the wall,” said Michael Govan, the museum’s director.
In some ways Mr. Broad is as much a product of Los Angeles as an architect of its philanthropic culture. He does not actually run a business here, as most big-city philanthropists do, nor is he even the largest donor to many institutions to which he contributes.
But unlike other cities, where old families and old money tend to dominate boards, Los Angeles has the philanthropic spirit of a relatively new city. While money in New York is generally concentrated across a few miles of Manhattan, Los Angeles wealth is spread across hundreds of miles among people with diffuse interests, many with few longstanding ties to the city.
That has meant that young donors can quickly gain access to big-name things, and that some people who came to remake their lives here can remake tired institutions too.
“You can come to this city as I did 40 some odd years ago without the right background, familywise, politically, religiously, and be accepted,” Mr. Broad said, “if you’re willing to work hard, have good ideas and make things happen.”
On the flip side, many organizations here remain underfinanced, and many of the city’s richest residents are completely out of the cultural loop. “It’s not a very crowded field, in my opinion, of people who are civically active in a meaningful way,” said Rick Caruso, a Los Angeles developer who has been involved in numerous civic affairs. “So Eli has a lot of room he can work in.”
But it may also be that Mr. Broad is setting the terms for the emerging philanthropic culture in Los Angeles. “Eli does nothing without strings, but I happen to think you need strings,” said Jane Nathanson, a longtime trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art. “I think there is a new type of philanthropist now. With old-family wealth, people gave money because it was the chic thing to do. New wealth is earned, and if you can get it, there is going to be a great deal of control.”
Mar 22, 2010, 4:41 AM
Dynamic ‘Ecosystems’ Exhibit Highlights The California Science Center’s $165 Million Expansion
by Richard Guzmán
Los Angeles Downtown News
Published: Friday, March 19, 2010 4:46 PM PDT
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - A slow roar starts to build on the rocky desert floor.
At first, the water appears as a trickle, then slowly increases until it suddenly rushes forward; a wall of white, churning wetness heads straight for a group of third-grade students on a field trip in Downtown.
The kids scream as the 3,500-gallon wave approaches, then, just as loudly, they laugh in delight when the water hits the transparent splash wall and sinks safely back into the desert floor.
This scene is part of Ecosystems, the new exhibition wing at the California Science Center that is part of a $165 million expansion of the Exposition Park facility.
The 170,000-square-foot development expanded the World of Life exhibition hall and added administrative offices and animal care facilities to the Science Center. The most notable addition is the 45,000 square feet of Ecosystems, which officially opens on Thursday, March 25.
“It’s all about looking at how the world works,” said Chuck Kopczak, curator of ecology for the California Science Center. “The processes of ecology that shape the planet we live on and how we as a species, along with all the other species found on earth, are all part of this big network that is all working together and influencing each other.”
This is no gallery filled with dioramas and taxidermy objects. Instead, the exhibit blends more than 250 species of live animals and plants with interactive tools to help visitors learn about ecosystems they may be unfamiliar with.
Since opening in 1998, the Science Center has averaged about 1.4 million visitors a year, including approximately 400,000 students on field trips. Jeffrey Rudolph, president and CEO of the Science Center, estimated that Ecosystems will bump that up by 20%-25%.
“We think it strengthens the role of Exposition Park as an anchor for the southern edge for Downtown,” he said. “We think it’ll become a great destination spot for tourists in Downtown and convention goers and of course for the residential community. It also provides new ways for people to learn, for people to see the world and new opportunities for our guests to actually engage and explore science.”
Rudolph added that as part of engaging science, the ribbon cutting ceremony on March 25 will forgo the cutting of an actual ribbon. Instead, museum and other officials will use scissors to cut a piece of kelp.
In The Zone
Ecosystems is divided into eight zones, each exploring a different part of the planet and its landscape.
The Extreme Zone, for example, focuses on radically different environments such as deserts, rocky shores, deep sea vents and the cold and windy poles. The Forest Zone takes visitors through a kelp forest. There, visitors can walk though a 24-foot long transparent tunnel at the bottom of a 188,000-gallon tank. Swimming around them are more than 1,500 live fish and other marine life.
The River Zone examines the power of water and currents with interactive wind machines, while the Island Zone offers live lizards and fish. In the Global Zone, a high definition projector puts images onto a round global map that is six feet in diameter; the designs of water, land and air cycles show how the earth itself is one big ecosystem.
The Family Discovery Room is aimed at helping young visitors learn about how familiar things around the house can be ideal ecosystems for other creatures, such as worms in the backyard. Speaking of worms, the Rot Room is not for the squeamish — it focuses on decomposition by showing live maggots and beetles munching away at decaying meat.
Downtowners, meanwhile, will find a familiar environment in the L.A. Zone. It provides an in-depth look at the Los Angeles Basin with a touch-screen map that shows weather, wind, water and earthquake patterns.
A floor map spans the gallery where satellite images give a bird’s-eye view of the area along the 10 Freeway from the Pacific Ocean to Chino Hills. A popular activity so far has been for locals to try and find their homes.
“Here’s the Staples Center, there’s Downtown. If you look carefully you’ll probably find your house,” Kopczak said as he knelt on the ground to get a better look at the roof of the Staples Center.
One thing no one will have trouble spotting in the gallery is all the garbage. It’s everywhere.
Hanging from the ceiling is an approximately 50-foot long sculpture of a person, made entirely from paper thrown away by visitors to the Science Center. Several McDonald’s bags (there’s a branch of the fast food restaurant on the ground floor), can be seen throughout the piece.
A few feet from the sculpture are two see-through columns filled with trash. One has 150 pounds of paper, the equivalent of what one person throws away every year. The other contains 55 pounds of plastic, which again represents what one person tosses away every year in material than could be recycled.
Between the posts is a display of refuse pulled from 200 feet below the surface of a landfill. It’s garbage that is not biodegradable and stays in the environment unless it is properly disposed.
“I think people can learn that what we do in everyday life has these tentacles that go out and impact the world around us,” Kopczak said. “My hope is that people learn how these impacts happen and hopefully become a little more sensitive and lessen our impact on the environment.”
While the L.A. Zone may be the most familiar environment, Kopczak thinks the kelp forest and Desert Zone will become the most popular parts of the exhibit.
Indeed, the tunnel and animals swimming around were a hit with kids on a field trip to the exhibit about a week before the official opening. Many marveled at the fish in the tank and were in awe of a diver who appeared during a demonstration.
In the Desert Zone the live tortoise, lizard and anthill got almost as much attention as the artificial flood, which occurs every 10 minutes.
But some of the most energetic reactions came from the Rocky Shore element of the Extreme Zone. Located above the kelp tank, the environment mimics the ocean, with waves and a touch tank filled with starfish, sea anemones and sea hairs.
It was like a magnet for Dana Young’s third grade class from 32nd Street School. Her students clung to the side of the tank and stuck their hands inside to feel the movements of starfish and anemones.
“The kids are very excited to have this interactive activity,” she said. “They’ve loved everything so far because it’s one thing to study these sea creatures in a book, but to come in and actually touch them and experience them firsthand is an excellent learning experience.”
The California Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. At 700 State Dr., (323) 724-3623 or californiasciencecenter.org
Mar 24, 2010, 2:55 AM
L.A., Anaheim vie to steal Comic-Con from San Diego
The huge comic book and pop culture convention is outgrowing the San Diego Convention Center. All three cities want the crowds and their tourist dollars.
By Hugo Martín
The Los Angeles Times
March 20, 2010
Call it a clash of the titans.
San Diego has been home to the wildly successful comic book and pop culture convention Comic-Con International for nearly 40 years. But with the four-day festival surging in popularity and outgrowing the San Diego Convention Center, Los Angeles and Anaheim are vying to steal the lucrative show away.
"Wherever it goes, that would be a very significant convention to land," said Doug Ducate, president of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, a Dallas-based nonprofit group that tracks the convention and trade show industry.
The organizers are under contract to stay put until 2012 but are contemplating a future home with more meeting space and cheaper hotel rooms.
Convention organizers say they plan to stay in Southern California, narrowing their options to San Diego, Los Angeles and Anaheim. All three cities have offered proposals to host the celebration of graphic novels, sci-fi, fantasy and superheroes.
For good reason: They want the crowds.
Every summer, the convention draws about 125,000 attendees, who spend about $60 million on hotels, meals, transportation and other expenses during the gathering.
This year's event will be held July 22-25. Tickets for three of the four days are already sold out.
The efforts to entice Comic-Con to leave San Diego are the latest example of an ongoing rivalry between Los Angeles and Anaheim to snag the nation's biggest and most profitable conventions and trade shows.
Each of the cities has its own strengths.
Los Angeles can emphasize its proximity to the Hollywood studios behind the flood of movies about superheroes, aliens and space travel.
Anaheim's selling point is Disneyland, the popular, 85-acre theme park within walking distance of its convention center.
Meanwhile, San Diego may try to keep Comic-Con by pointing to its long history with the convention as well as the ocean views from the doorstep of its convention center.
With the resurgence of graphic novels and the booming popularity of superhero-themed movies, Comic-Con has grown to reach maximum capacity at the 615,700-square-foot San Diego Convention Center, said David Glanzer, a spokesman for Comic-Con International.
Because of the space limitation, the convention has had to limit the number of attendees to approximately 125,000. "Capping our attendance also caps our income," Glanzer said.
In the last few years, visitors have also complained about the high price of hotel rooms in San Diego, he said.
But relocating could have drawbacks. Many people may attend the convention partly because of its seaside location, next to San Diego's Gaslamp district, Ducate said.
"Any time you move, there is some risk," he said. "There is a comfort zone in where you are."
Comic-Con's plea for more space and better hotel rates has prompted San Diego to try to meet its needs.
In the last few weeks, the San Diego Convention Center has pressed local hotels to offer convention-goers better deals in the future.
"So far it has been a very positive response," said Steven Johnson, a spokesman for San Diego Convention Center Corp.
He added that the city is also thinking about expanding the convention center. It's considering proposals to buy adjacent property and increase the total exhibit space to about 840,000 square feet, he said.
Anaheim, meanwhile, can offer the largest exhibit hall space in the region -- 815,000 square feet -- plus close proximity to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure Park.
A spokesman for the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau said Anaheim could offer Comic-Con not only more meeting space but also better hotel rates.
The Los Angeles Convention Center has less exhibit space than Anaheim's -- 720,000 square feet. But with the development of downtown's L.A. Live entertainment complex, Los Angeles can now point to a thriving night life near the convention center.
L.A. Live features the 7,100-seat Nokia Theatre, the smaller Club Nokia, a 14-screen movie house and several trendy restaurants such as Katsuya and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill.
Hotels within walking distance of the downtown Los Angeles exhibit halls are in short supply, but that problem was partly addressed last month with the opening of the 1,001-room JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotel complex next to the convention center.
"We have submitted a bid for 2013," said Mark Liberman, president and chief executive of LA Inc., the Los Angeles convention and visitors bureau. "We believe our package to be very, very competitive."
Still, Johnson, the San Diego Convention Center spokesman, believes the biggest threat to lure Comic-Con away is Anaheim, which can offer thousands of low-rate hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center. Anaheim has approximately 4,500 hotel rooms within walking distance, and Los Angeles has nearly 2,000 rooms. San Diego has about 7,000.
In downtown Los Angeles, Johnson said, many Comic-Con visitors would have to take buses or taxis to far-flung areas of the city to find inexpensive lodging or beach hotels.
Glanzer, the Comic-Con spokesman, said convention organizers hope to make a decision on a possible move in the next few weeks.
"If we move, it's going to be a hard sell to our attendees," he said. "If we stay without addressing the issues that we have, it's going to be a hard sell. Our work is cut out for us."
Apr 15, 2010, 1:55 AM
Coachella is sweet music to promoters
The rock festival thrives as other parts of the music industry falter.
By Todd Martens and Alex Pham
The Los Angeles Times
April 15, 2010
The big question heading into last year's Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival was whether the event would survive the recession. This year, the only question was how fast it would sell out.
The answer: nearly a week before the show kicks off on Friday, despite the higher cost commitment to attend this year.
What began in 1999 as a two-day event for 38,000 ticket-holders is projected to surpass 200,000 attendees this year for three days of throbbing music by 135 rock bands in a polo field 125 miles east of Los Angeles.
Most hotels in the desert town of Indio have been booked for weeks or months, even though some have tripled or quadrupled their rates. Festival-goers, desperate to see performances by the likes of Thom Yorke, Jay-Z and Muse, are diving into Craigslist for lodging that in some cases is no more than a grimy spot on the floor of a mobile home.
"We almost didn't do Coachella this year," said Paul Tollett, 44, the organizer and founder of the 11-year-old show, which is promoted by concert heavyweight Goldenvoice and owned by AEG in Los Angeles. "We felt the economy wasn't looking so hot. But festivals seem to be hanging in there, and I'm as surprised as anyone."
The sellout is all the more noteworthy given a change in pricing this year that does away with single-day $103 tickets in favor of one entry fee for all three days that, with service charges, pushes the cost above $300.
"Coachella has been established as a tribal rite among hipsters who go just so they can say they've been there," independent music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz said of the sellout.
The young and trendy crowd has made sacrifices to afford the festival. "It's a cost sink, for sure," said Nicholas La Barre, 26, of Santa Cruz. The high school library employee is using his tax return to fund Coachella. He thought about spending it to visit friends in other cities, but said: "Those other places are still going to be there. You'll only have this lineup combination one time."
Yet the change has provoked a loud fan protest.
"Make it fair for all us people who obviously want to attend but cannot afford $269," reads a note on a Facebook group created by San Diego resident Brian Lozano, 22, who has drawn more than 6,000 supporters.
"I know a lot of young kids can't do Coachella," said Rich Holtzman, who manages Coachella-booked hard-rock act Portugal, the Man. "It's just too expensive, and it's three days. If you have a job, you have to take a day off work or skip classes. It's not a cheap ticket. Yet Coachella is . . . selling out, and that's a testament to what Paul does."
Other music fests, including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Stagecoach Country Music Festival and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also are reporting strong ticket sales.
Live music is thriving, even as other parts of the music industry are faltering. Recorded music continued its downward spiral, with U.S. album sales falling 8% in the first three months of the year, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Even digital music, which had enjoyed a drumbeat of increasing sales, fell 1% in the first quarter, its first such drop since 2003, when Nielsen began tracking digital downloads.
But worldwide concert ticket sales busted through $1 billion in the same period, up 6.2% over the same quarter of 2009, another surprising first given that the quarter typically is slow for concerts, according to Gary Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, a concert industry trade magazine.
That is not to say that the music festival scene is immune to the forces of economics. The good news applies only to well-known shows.
Newcomers that sprouted in the last two or three years have evaporated. Live Nation and Good Boy Productions' Pemberton Festival in British Columbia, Canada, lasted all of one year. Vineland Festival, announced in 2008 from C3 Presents, is on indefinite pause. Earlier this year, AEG and Madison House Presents said Michigan's annual Rothbury Festival would sit out 2010, as would All Points West in New Jersey.
"It's a bad time to launch a new festival," said Charles Attal, principal at C3 Presents, which puts together Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits -- both of which sold out in the previous three years.
"People are picking and choosing which festivals they go to," he said. "The shows that have been around for a long time are doing well, because people know what they're going to get." Location and lineup are important parts of the formula, he said.
As for the ticket-pricing change, Tollett defended the decision even though it put Coachella at the high end of the premium festival market. Chicago's three-day August fest Lollapalooza, for instance, will set fans back $215, and general admission tickets to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn., are closer to the $270 range -- and that's for four days.
But Tollett said no other major festival offered single-day passes and that the move was meant to preserve hotel rooms for serious fans by discouraging dilettantes who would check out the festival for a day but occupy rooms for the full weekend.
Organizers also offered interest-free plans for fans who would rather pay the bill over three installments. And they've lowered camping prices from $55 a person to $57 per slot, regardless of the number of campers.
Bands also still need to be paid, and headliners make far more than they did six years ago, when festivals were fringe events. Bands make an estimated $15,000 to the "high six figures" to play Coachella, and some top-billed artists are expected to break the seven-figure barrier in 2010.
For many bands, festival tours have become a staple of their income.
Despite the protests, attendees have been voting with their feet. Camping spots sold out weeks ago. Hotels 23 miles away in Palm Springs are also booked. Those that have rooms available have jacked up their rates. The Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel 30 miles northwest of Indio on Friday charged $692 a night during the festival for a room that normally costs $152 a day.
Desperate fans have turned to the online classified ad site Craigslist. An ad posted last week offered to sell a reservation at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort for $800. "You are buying the reservation from me and will still owe the hotel about $930 for three nights," reads the post.
Another ad offered eight spaces on the floor of a mobile home, or up to "10 squished," for $15 a piece.
"This is out of control," said Caroline Chouinard, 34, a Pasadena systems engineer who bought her ticket two weeks ago, then spent days scouring the Web for hotels. "I really have no idea what I will do."
Artist managers and booking agents are sympathetic to the cost, but recognize that Coachella still offers a compelling deal, at least at current prices.
"The value of the festival is comprised of so much more than any one single band," said Ben Dickey, who manages Spoon, one of Coachella's top-billed independent acts. "I think people will certainly hit a breaking point. If a festival was $500, bands would be playing to an empty field. There is a delicate balance."
Apr 16, 2010, 7:13 AM
Beverly Hills pulls out of the running for Eli Broad's art museum
April 15, 2010 | 4:10 pm
It now looks as if the museum Eli Broad wants to build to house his 2,000-piece contemporary art collection is going to land in Santa Monica or at Grand Avenue and 2nd Street in downtown Los Angeles, literally a stone's throw from Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Culture Monster received this notice of surrender just now from a city spokeswoman in Beverly Hills, saying the city has "other project priorities" for its money than buying Broad a site for his museum.
"The Beverly Hills City Council has confirmed that it has concluded discussions with The Broad Art Foundation regarding the potential site of a museum at the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. As part of upcoming discussions on the adoption of the City’s fiscal year 2010-2011 budget, the Council will be reallocating to other project priorities the funds it had set aside for the potential acquisition of the property," the press release said.
"In a letter to Eli Broad, Beverly Hills City Manager Jeff Kolin said, 'While our City Council remains convinced that Beverly Hills offers an attractive location for your renowned art collection, we understand that The Broad Art Foundation is now considering other locations.'
"Kolin went on to say that should alternate sites not come to fruition, the City remained open to further partnership discussions."
We'll check with Broad or his art foundation minions in a moment and let you know what they have to add.
Broad has said the point of having multiple irons in the fire for his museum site is that competition between municipalities would ensure that bureaucratic red tape is minimized and planning moves ahead swiftly. Will Beverly Hills' dropping out increase the chances that the Santa Monica City Council and officials in charge of L.A.'s Grand Avenue Project could draw out the process and drive harder bargains because there's less competition to worry about?
"We're still interested in an expeditious process and decision," said Karen Denne, spokeswoman for the Broad Art Foundation. "All three locations had challenges, but we've still got two viable options." She said Broad still expects to decide the museum site by the end of spring.
— Mike Boehm
Apr 16, 2010, 5:23 PM
The irony is that everyone seems to agree that BH pulling out will SLOW the process since LA and SM have less incentive to cut red tape and actually get a proposal worked out. Am I confused or is there something odd about these two cities being uninterested in putting on their A game (or is this their A game?). Do they have other developers beating down the doors?
If this were Boeing and Airbus, they would have salesmen, designers, finance people, lawyers and contracting specialists at Broad's door the day after he announced the idea.
Apr 18, 2010, 4:51 AM
Panorama: Lucent Dossier at Coachella
A crowd watches aerial performers from the Lucent Dossier Experience at Coachella on Friday.
Apr 20, 2010, 2:55 AM
Coachella festival gets a new lease on life
California’s most celebrated music festival signs a long-term lease with the owner of the Empire Polo Fields. Improvements are promised.
By Chris Lee and Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times
April 19, 2010
Reporting from Indio
The Empire Polo Fields are 90 acres of pristine green in a land of craggy brown and represent a field of dreams for music fans as the home of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. But a few years ago, the festival, which brings international travelers together in this small, low-desert city, came close to being buried by bulldozers.
At the height of the real estate boom, owner Alexander Haagen III was tempted to chop up the polo grounds and covert them to residential uses at a big windfall.
"We would have been crushed, it would have been the end," said Paul Tollett, the promoter who crafted the Coachella success story.
The downturn in the economy helped preserve California's most celebrated music festival. Tollett, along with Coachella promoter Goldenvoice, just inked a pact with Haagen that gives the festival its first long-term lease on the property, which this past weekend brought a record 75,000 fans each over three days to see 128 acts, led by the crystalline space rock of Muse and the Cristal flow of rap star Jay-Z.
With the new lease now securing Coachella's home for at least an additional decade, changes will be made to upgrade the electrical service and to unsnarl the traffic that overwhelms this small city's roadways. Haagen, who rarely grants interviews, said Sunday that he had committed $1 million in landscaping improvements annually going forward. Coachella is already considered among the most gracefully appointed major rock festivals in the U.S.
"Now, for the first time, we can take steps to make long-term improvements," said Tollett, who would not disclose terms of the contract. "Every year, on Sunday night I walk out and I think, ‘Well, next year is the last one.' We've never had a deal that went more than a couple of years. We've always been on eggshells."
This year, the festival added more than 100 acres of parking and Haagen gave concertgoers access to the rose gardens. After approval of the Indio City Council, the festival extended its hours on Friday and Saturday nights to 1 a.m., from midnight previous years.
The most visually striking addition to this year's Coachella was a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel that towered over the festival grounds and, with its lights, flashed and flared into the night. The wheel was a holdover from October's Phish Festival 8, which also took place at the Empire Polo Club. Haagen said those sorts of one-offs would be part of the venue's business plan moving forward.
On Saturday, as the sun hung low in the sky, the line to get on the Ferris wheel was 35-people deep and included a group of face-painted young women and a trio of shirtless guys wearing Vietnamese peasant hats. Sally and Jim Richardson from Austin, Texas, brought their 4-year old daughter, Shelby, to Coachella for the first time and christened the event by going on the Ferris wheel twice.
"The view from up there was fantastic," Sally Richardson said. "We come here every year. I wasn't expecting this." Said Shelby: "I loved it!" Her father added: "More than all the music, I should point out."
Major changes were made to its camping area to make the event more affordable. At the Forum Tent Camping grounds, campers got a plot for the first time that they also parked on, an innovation that was universally loved for three simple reasons: Car locks, car radios and car seats became part of the camping gear.
On Saturday, the campground was chockablock with tents, lean-tos and military tarpaulins, many built right up to and around cars. It took on the feel of an earthy party center, melding the usual beer-cooler tailgating scene at a sporting event with a sort of modern Woodstock ethos informed by the California rave era and the desert's curled-cowboy hat fashion.
A typical set-up: The tricked-out Volkswagen camper van (with an attached tent housing a Persian rug and pillows) belonging to Darlene Fletcher, 22, a student from New Zealand, and her boyfriend, Stephen Chelsom, 27, who were grilling chicken apple sausages on a small hibachi.
"I like the campground as much as the festival," Fletcher said. "The people are really great. Everyone shares their food and drink. And everyone's here all weekend. So you make great friends."
There was no camping when Coachella began on a brutally hot weekend in 1999 as Rage Against the Machine, Tool and Beck headlined a show that, by the way, left Tollett and his company, Goldenvoice, in the red. It didn't help that tickets for the festival with the funny name went on sale one week after the Woodstock 99 Festival back east went up in flames, literally and figuratively. Also, the residents of Indio weren't sure they wanted a neighbor who would bring along huge amplifier stacks and potentially troubling baggage.
Tollett promised his show would be different; his plan was to import the European-style model of festivals, such as Glastonbury, to the desert where lush lawns, giant stages and pristine white dance tents could lure fans wanting to escape the arenas and asphalt lots of radio-station shows.
Tollett and AEG Live (which bought Goldenvoice in 2001 by absorbing its debt, which exceeded $1 million, according to executives involved in the deal) launched a second music event, the Stagecoach Festival, a country-music franchise that uses the still-standing set-up the following weekend and became profitable even faster than its rock cousin.
This year, a mutual trust seems to have replaced thorny community doubts about the giant rock festival that brings purple-haired fans and tattooed rock kids to a community more at ease with golfers and truck drivers.
Haagen said Tollett had won over the city leadership and residents by creating "a classy event, a festival with panache that has gotten Indio positive press coverage about all over the world" and one that also sells out every local hotel.
That is not to say that Coachella, with its massive crowds and loud music, doesn't have an unruly and loud personality. According to Mike Marlow of the Riverside Fire Department, 84 people have been transported from Coachella to the hospital this year. That includes drug overdoses, a broken neck, a private security officer who fell off his horse and a naked man under the influence of "unknown substances" who smashed out the windows of parked cars with his head before he was tasered by police.
The festival's medical tent has treated around 1,000 people in all, if you include handing out Band-Aids and administering IVs. "It's as busy as ever," Marlow said. "It hasn't been as hot but you have a much higher number of participants."
Then there's the chaos from beyond the borders of the event: The rock festival crowd and the concertgoers, who include many repeat visitors, are now familiar with the locals, even the local undercover narcotics officers who seem to rely too much on Hawaiian shirts as camouflage.
For Haagen, his first foray into music was in 1993, when Goldenvoice booked a performance on the polo grounds by Pearl Jam. Tollett was mesmerized by the venue's broad plain of verdant grass and the Wonderland feel of little hidden corners that had fish ponds, bridges and statues. Six years later, Tollett came back with an idea for a far bigger concert. "Paul," Haagen said, "is a true artist with the layout of things and the standards he brings to it all."
Coachella made its mark with indie sensibility, booking offbeat acts and quietly turning away the fleeting one-hit wonders that would sell tickets in the short term but undermine its credibility over the years. Unlike other festivals, Coachella has also resisted the temptation to cover every wall with an advertisement or to bring on every sponsor. Now, with the future less mysterious, Tollett said he hopes to hold on to the nervous magic.
"When you're putting the show together every year and you think it's the last one, you go all out, you make sure it's the best it can be," Tollett said. "But we still have to live up to our history, too. We have that on our side."
Apr 20, 2010, 6:55 PM
Still, Johnson, the San Diego Convention Center spokesman, believes the biggest threat to lure Comic-Con away is Anaheim, which can offer thousands of low-rate hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center. Anaheim has approximately 4,500 hotel rooms within walking distance, and Los Angeles has nearly 2,000 rooms. San Diego has about 7,000.
In downtown Los Angeles, Johnson said, many Comic-Con visitors would have to take buses or taxis to far-flung areas of the city to find inexpensive lodging or beach hotels.
It looks like not having a wide variety of hotel selections will be LA's biggest weakness when it comes to attracting big conventions like Comic-Con.
And the fact that this LA Times writer didn't emphasize the ease of taking subways to Hollywood, Koreatown, etc. means that a lot of people in this city still are clueless about what is offered.
We just haven't expanded our rail lines to the Westside, which is where most of the bulk of important activity has taken place for so long. I am hoping that the Aqua Line will really help bring rail to the mainstream consciousness.
Apr 26, 2010, 12:03 AM
Los Angeles city officials consider giving land to billionaire Eli Broad
By Troy Anderson, Staff Writer
LA Daily News
Updated: 04/22/2010 07:00:07 AM PDT
Amid repeated delays in the $3 billion Grand Avenue project, Los Angeles officials have proposed to let billionaire Eli Broad lease city property for $1 a year for 99 years for a museum to showcase his art collection, county officials said Wednesday.
The property was originally slated to be part of the massive Grand Avenue project, a complex of new retail shops, restaurants and hotels that was supposed to serve as a world-class centerpiece of a revitalized downtown Los Angeles.
The project was expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city and county, but the developer, The Related Cos., has had difficulty obtaining funding in the weakened economy.
Still, County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich is questioning the wisdom of giving up on potential tax revenue to benefit one of the country's richest men.
"Instead of a project that generates sales and property taxes, we'll now have an art museum that generates no property or sales taxes and Mr. Broad will get the land for free," said Paul Novak, planning deputy to Antonovich.
"So the question we are asking is why is the city proposing to give away one of the most valuable pieces of property in downtown Los Angeles to one of the richest men (in the nation) rather than putting it to tax-producing revenue uses?"
If approved, the museum would be located on a 2.5 acre city-owned parcel of land just south of the Walt Disney Concert Hall that amounts to about a quarter of the space of the Grand Avenue project.
The Grand Avenue project was slated to be a 3.6 million-square-foot development on two city-owned and two county-owned parcels near the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
A spokeswoman for the Broad Art Foundation said the collection is currently housed in a four-story building in Santa Monica that was a former telephone switching station. But the building, which provides 20,000 square feet of private gallery space, has several shortcomings in its ability to provide public viewings.
"It's in a building that is unable to be opened to the public because it lacks adequate parking," foundation spokeswoman Karen Denne said. "As the collection continues to grow, the Broads are looking to both consolidate the storage facility, as well as expanding lending activity. And because the Broads believe so strongly in making art accessible to the public, they want to include a public museum as part of The Broad Art Foundation expansion."
She said the foundation is looking at several different locations and will decide later this spring.
The city of Santa Monica is also striving to keep Broad's collection in that beachside city.
Andy Agle, director of housing and economic development for Santa Monica, said the City Council has offered to lease a 2.5-acre site a couple of blocks from the beach for Broad's museum for $1 per year for 99 years.
"Santa Monica is a major cultural city," Agle said. "A huge proportion of our population makes their living in cultural pursuits.
"We've got major art galleries, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and we envision this area as an important cultural focal point for Santa Monica."
Officials at the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and in the office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa did not return calls for comment.
However, a spokesperson for the Grand Avenue Committee confirmed Broad has talked to the Grand Avenue Authority about building his museum on one of the Grand Avenue sites.
Under the proposal, Broad would pay for the construction and operation of the museum.
"Discussions are ongoing and no terms have been decided," the spokesperson said.
Broad and his wife Edythe have built an extensive art collection over the past four decades involving more than 2,000 works by nearly 200 artists. The Broad Art Foundation also maintains a library that lends parts of the collection to hundreds of museums and universities worldwide.
Apr 26, 2010, 2:27 AM
All by The Orange County Register
Apr 26, 2010, 4:35 AM
whole lotta fat chicks
May 25, 2010, 4:40 AM
Two architectural firms are finalists for Broad museum project
Sources say the field of six architects, four of whom are winners of the Pritzker Prize, has been narrowed to Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and New York-based Diller, Scofidio & Renfro.
By Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic
The Los Angeles Times
May 25, 2010
Eli Broad is a little further along in his plans for a downtown museum than you might have guessed.
Even as he continues to negotiate with city and county officials and with representatives of developer Related Cos. about building a museum to hold his collection of postwar and contemporary art on Bunker Hill, the billionaire philanthropist and his chief of staff, Gerun Riley, have been running an invited architectural competition for the project.
According to a list of invited firms seen by The Times — and confirmed in a statement by Broad Monday afternoon — the competition was loaded from the start with high-profile firms. Of the six architects asked to present preliminary designs last week for the site on the corner of Grand Avenue and 2nd Street, four are winners of the Pritzker Prize, the field's most prestigious award.
They include Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and his firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture; Swiss pair Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron; French architect Christian de Portzamparc; and Japanese duo Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima, whose Tokyo firm, SANAA, is the winner of this year's Pritzker.
The other firms asked to take part are New York-based Diller, Scofidio & Renfro, designers of the 2006 Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, among other projects, and London's Foreign Office Architects.
According to a source with knowledge of the competition – who asked not to be named, citing the confidentiality of the process – a group of architectural advisors organized by Broad last Wednesday narrowed the six firms to two finalists. They are Koolhaas and Diller, Scofidio & Renfro.
Broad has said he wants to move quickly on the museum; assuming he can win the needed site approvals without significant delays, he hopes to open its doors by 2012 or 2013.
Aside from wide name recognition, there is little that ties together the work of the firms invited to take part in the competition. SANAA, which has museums in New York and Toledo, Ohio, to its credit, is known for spare, nearly weightless compositions, while Herzog & de Meuron, designer of the de Young Museum in San Francisco and an addition to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, often wraps its intelligently arranged buildings in unusual, eye-catching skins.
Koolhaas, whose firm designed the Seattle Central Library and produced a master plan for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that was never built, is known for an emphasis on aggressively unorthodox form-making that is a far cry from the gem-like designs of Portzamparc. Aside from the ICA in Boston, Diller, Scofidio & Renfro are best known for theoretical projects and a collaboration with landscape architect James Corner on the High Line elevated park in Manhattan. The firm is also working on a multi-phase renovation of New York's Lincoln Center.
Despite the severe blow dealt to California architects by the recession, the last several weeks have yielded a bumper crop of news on museum plans and architectural shortlists in the state. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced last week that it is considering four firms for a new wing holding 100,000 square feet of exhibition space. Late last month, the U.C. Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive revealed that three firms are competing to design its new home in downtown Berkeley.
Notably, Diller, Scofidio & Renfro appear on all three shortlists, for Grand Ave., San Francisco and Berkeley. Just as notable, perhaps, is that the six firms asked by Broad to submit designs include none from California.
Broad envisions a three-story Grand Avenue museum with roughly 40,000 square feet of top-floor exhibition space, along with offices for the Broad Art Foundation. The proposed site is across 2nd Street from Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall and across Grand from Arata Isozaki's 1986 Museum of Contemporary Art.
Broad knows both of those buildings intimately, of course. He was the founding chairman of MOCA and more recently helped bail the museum out of a deep financial hole. And he was instrumental in reviving the concert hall project after it stalled in the 1990s.
Officially, Broad maintains that he is still considering a second potential museum site, in the Santa Monica civic center.
"We look forward to making a decision on both the site and the architect later this spring," his statement said.
May 25, 2010, 4:48 AM
hope diller scofido and renfro win but i have a feeling koolhaus is a shoe in with broad. why couldn't we have gotten one of these guys to design lax? what a boring, conventional design by fentress.
May 25, 2010, 5:01 AM
Damn, I was hoping Herzog and de Meuron would get it.
May 25, 2010, 7:28 AM
^yup :tup: i'd love to see their approach to la's dystopian visual/spatial landscape. i've not yet witnessed a single brilliantly executed major project here in la by any architect. the moment someone pulls that off is going to be a major achievement in architecture. i also like zumthor. something about those swiss. these days all the interesting stuff is being done by europeans
May 26, 2010, 4:17 AM
^yup :tup: i'd love to see their approach to la's dystopian visual/spatial landscape. i've not yet witnessed a single brilliantly executed major project here in la by any architect. the moment someone pulls that off is going to be a major achievement in architecture. i also like zumthor. something about those swiss. these days all the interesting stuff is being done by europeans
if the disney hall had not been cut-and-pasted around the world by gehry, i woulda considered that a brilliant project.
May 26, 2010, 9:43 AM
^hmmm i know it's subjective, but disney hall has its share of flaws. i wouldn't call it brilliant, even putting aside gehry's other tin foil projects disney hall does plenty well by itself as an insult to good intelligent taste. i'm sure you're aware of the criticism that disney hall leaves a lot to be desired in terms of urban design - absolutely no interpretation of context. no interaction with the environment surrounding it. it would do just as well (or poorly) plopped in the heart any other city.
another criticism of mine - because it was purpose built for viewing rather than interaction, and in the sense that it is so vain by design it does succeed in channeling one representation of los angeles which i'm not proud of. to add insult to injury, it succeeds when viewed at some angles and fails when viewed at others so in my opinion he blotches up his own misdirected efforts (which are directed at creating an aesthetically pleasing 3D image of a building, or rather, a sculpture, than a building itself)
another result of the self-conscious vanity and egotism common to many of gehry's buildings is that disney hall fails to provoke any sort of discourse or relationship between the exterior and the interior spaces and in this respect he divorces and compartmentalizes the two. the whimsically undulating walls and supports used to define space inside the building pay little heed to or celebration of the unique form which gives that particular portion of the building its shape when seen from outside. a habit which again reflects more upon gehry's obvious preference for visual ornamentation at the expense of creatively thoughtful architectural programming.
in a nutshell, gehry is architecturally dishonest because he's chiefly concerned with selling you on the packaging alone, and in doing so he misses the ball on his architectural responsibliities to addressing local context and program.
but what do i know?
May 28, 2010, 11:37 PM
It is flawed, but I think you're overly dismissing the value of the sensual and uplifting pleasure one gets from just seeing the building (up close and afar) and being around and inside of it. It's undeniably gorgeous. And not many contemporary buildings are. Gehry may have had vain aspirations, but I don't feel the results come off that way. The hall doesn't comes off egotistical or self-serious. The character of the building is joyful and light-hearted in it's forms and in it's choice of light wood and french fry organ, even if it compromises function for form. Also with the tacky, almost ironic rainbow flower upholstery, there's a lack of seriousness that's refreshing. There's just too much playfulness and humor in the building to be vain.
It does exists as much a sculptural object as a building, and the exterior is more of a shell and doesn't conform to the true shape of the interior. But I disagree that it's all looks and not built for interaction. It's all about interaction. At least, I'm talking about engagement with the individual. The form invites you to wander the premises and touch the steel skin, and the building feels like a discovery.
Now, it doesn't interact with the street surrounding it. But I think the hall itself doesn't have a bad side. The enclosed walls and offices adjacent to 2nd Street, by default, give it bad sides, which is valid criticism of the whole project. I just don't think it's valid for the actual building itself in that these specific flaws don't technical hold the building responsible. (break down the walls and office and it'll engage the city on most if not all sides).
WDCH succeed on two main fronts, and it's the two most important fronts which is why it succeeds despite it's flaws. First, it serves it's purpose as a concert hall in that it's acoustically marvelous and mostly a great place to experience music. And second, the building maintains emotional exhilaration even with years of continuous visits. These are important successes because it's breaking with architectural convention. Many people, myself included, loved this building and there was overwhelming approval in it's unveiling. (Wiki says the reviews were mixed, but it wasn't). Not to put too much in public reception as validation, but it clearly resonated with people on a sensual level.
Stethjeff, the hall isn't cut-and paste with his other projects. It would have been nice if Gehry stopped overkilling steel sheets. But there is a discernible character and form that differentiates it from his other projects.
May 29, 2010, 12:12 AM
Stethjeff, the hall isn't cut-and paste with his other projects. It would have been nice if Gehry stopped overkilling steel sheets. But there is a discernible character and form that differentiates it from his other projects.
Part of the reason why an iconic structure like the Sydney Opera House succeeds is because it is so unique. Nothing else looks like it.
The Bilbao Guggenheim pretty much killed that for the WDCH. Luckily the EMP in Seattle is such an awful mess that it's resemblance to Disney is minimal at best. But when you add the Millenium Park concert pavilion and the hotel in Elciego, you get too many 'iconic' structures that simply look like rehashed versions of the others. WDCH no longer stands out as a result.
May 29, 2010, 4:47 AM
Eli Broad: ‘We’d Rather Be Downtown’
The plan calls for building a three-story parking garage on lower Grand Avenue, across from REDCAT. The museum would sit atop the garage, allowing it to front upper Grand Avenue. Photo by Gary Leonard.
by Ryan Vaillancourt, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Downtown News
Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:22 PM PDT
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Eli Broad is no stranger to Grand Avenue. He helped found the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Grand Avenue Committee. With former Mayor Richard Riordan he revived the plan to build the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and he convinced the Los Angeles Unified School District to hire a big-name architect to build its $232 million arts high school on Grand Avenue. Last year, he came back to where he started, infusing a financially strapped MOCA with $30 million, essentially saving the Downtown institution.
Now, Broad wants to directly join the Grand Avenue party by building a $100 million art museum on the street, across from MOCA. If he has his way, the 120,000-square-foot facility, which would showcase some of the 2,000 works owned by his Broad Art Foundation, would open by 2012, in what he termed “an exciting, iconic piece of architecture.”
The billionaire philanthropist has spent the past several months publicly weighing two locations for the proposed museum, the other being in Santa Monica, where the foundation now has offices (a previous contender, Beverly Hills, pulled out of the running earlier this year). But in a recent meeting with Los Angeles Downtown News editors and reporters, Broad delivered his strongest public preference yet to place the museum — to be called The Broad Collections — in the Central City.
“We’d rather be Downtown,” Broad declared.
Despite the enthusiasm for Grand Avenue, Broad clearly stated that a deal is not done. He expressed skepticism about securing approvals for a project in a spot where he has to deal with four entities: the Community Redevelopment Agency, City Council, the County Board of Supervisors and the joint powers group the Grand Avenue Authority.
“Santa Monica is smart,” Broad said. “Their attitude is, look, [with us] you’re one-stop shopping. You don’t have to deal with three agencies…. Maybe in their mind they’re thinking, when you get tired of all this stuff Downtown, we’re ready.”
If Santa Monica offers a smoother path toward a groundbreaking, Broad is nevertheless motivated to build the museum on Grand Avenue because he strongly desires to help create a vital urban center in Los Angeles.
“I can’t think of any city today or in world history that’s been great without a vibrant center,” he said.
Broad is currently negotiating with local officials, and said he wants to secure approvals within 45 days. That is necessary, he said, to meet his 2012 opening goal.
Although talks continue, the proposed museum has already passed some high hurdles; the project would be folded in to the stalled but approved $3 billion Grand Avenue project, for which entitlements and environmental studies are complete.
The plan envisions the Broad Collections museum replacing phase two of developer Related Cos. project — a mixed-use structure with housing and about 100,000 square feet of retail. The change to the museum (and 20,000 square feet of Related retail) is currently under review to ensure it meets California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, but it is expected to gain approval because the museum would have a lower impact than the already cleared phase two structure, a Broad spokeswoman said.
Once the environmental review is complete, the museum will need approvals from the Grand Avenue Authority, the City Council, the CRA and the Board of Supervisors. No votes have been scheduled.
Under the proposed terms, the museum would lease the space from the CRA for $1 a year for 99 years, the same agreement the city has with MOCA’s two Downtown locations.
The Broad Foundation would spend about $80 million to develop the structure on a current parking lot bounded by lower Grand Avenue, Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way, Hope and Second streets, just south of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Broad would also lend about $23 million to the CRA to fund a three-level, 293-space parking garage. The loan would be paid back over 11 years with a low interest rate, Broad said.
The museum would sit atop the parking structure, fronting upper Grand Avenue. Broad would endow the museum with $200 million. Galleries, Broad said, would feature works by artists the foundation has collected, among them Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Cindy Sherman.
A foundation official confirmed reports earlier this week by the New York Times and Los Angeles Times that it has engaged six architectural firms in a competition to design the museum. The firms are Foreign Office Architects/Alejandro Zaera Polo, Diller Scofidio Renfro, Rem Koolhaas/OMA, SANAA, Christian de Portzamparc and Herzog & de Meuron.
The preliminary proposal calls for about 40,000 square feet of gallery space and 45,000 square feet of archive and storage space. Small spaces, 6,000 square feet or less, would be set aside for the foundation’s administrative offices and a bookstore.
The project is anticipated to create nearly 100 full-time jobs.
Support and Dissent
Although many Downtown stakeholders applaud the plan, support is not unanimous. Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who has frequently criticized the Grand Avenue plan, maintains that the city and county should scrap the entire project as drawn up.
Related has been unable to attain an estimated $700 million in construction financing for phase one of the project, which would include a 48-story tower with 295 hotel rooms and 266 condominiums, a 19-story edifice with 126 market-rate apartments and 98 affordable residences. Even if credit were readily available, the residential portion of the plan may not be viable until the Downtown condominium market is otherwise absorbed, said Paul Novak, Antonovich’s planning deputy.
“We don’t think that phase one as proposed works now or will work any time in the near future,” Novak said.
Still, Antonovich sees any change to the scope of the plan — such as redefining phase two to feature the museum — as an opportunity to compel Related to start construction, or pay the penalties for missing previously agreed-upon deadlines to begin work, Novak said. Related has been accruing $250,000 a month in penalties for not starting the project by February 2009, though the fines have been deferred until construction commences.
Related is supposed to begin construction in February 2011, but the company is requesting an extension until February 2013, said Bill Witte, the developer’s West Coast president. The extension request includes language that would require Related to start construction before that date if other major mixed-use projects start elsewhere in the state, Witte said.
Meanwhile, the $56 million, 16-acre Civic Park included in the Grand Avenue plan — funded by Related’s $50 million up-front payment and accrued interest — is moving forward, with a groundbreaking expected in July, Witte said. A CRA release said the park could open by June 2012.
Witte is hopeful that the museum would kick-start the Grand Avenue plan.
“Let’s be clear here: Fundamentally the overall real estate market has to improve, the capital markets have to come back, irrespective of any other development there,” Witte said. “That said, there’s no question that it helps us tell a better story to lenders and to the hotel.”
One strong supporter of the Broad project is Jeffrey Deitch, who will take over as director of MOCA on June 1. He sees the proposed museum as an opportunity to build critical mass and raise attendance for the museum.
Broad’s collection, he said, is anchored by newer contemporary works, from the 1960s onward, whereas MOCA is more heavily weighted in earlier works, Deitch said.
“The Broad Foundation’s collection fits in very, very well, and does not really compete with MOCA’s collection,” Deitch said. “It’s complementary.”
Currently, MOCA’s annual attendance is less than 200,000, Deitch said. Both Deitch and Broad hope the new museum would bring up to 500,000 visitors a year to the two attractions.
Broad’s ambitious 2012 timeline relies in large part on the fact that the project does not require financing. If approvals come within 45 days, Broad said, an architect could be selected shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, he said the firm Matt Construction has already finished the documents for the parking garage, and that could be built in five months.
As for the rest of the Grand Avenue project, Broad is less certain.
“I can’t predict that,” Broad said. “If the economy were recovering — and I hope that it’ll continue to recover — it’ll sop up [the condo supply in Downtown] and then the question is, when can they get a construction loan? Pick a date. Three, four years from now? I don’t know.”
May 29, 2010, 11:35 PM
Dance music grooves to the fore
A scene that started in illegal warehouse parties in the ’90s is taking over airwaves, stadiums and public parks this summer.
By Randall Roberts
Los Angeles Times
May 30, 2010
On a recent afternoon, Gary Richards was standing in his Hollywood office in front of a detailed map of the Los Angeles State Historic Park, the 36-acre plot just east of Chinatown. Richards, who has promoted dozens of gatherings under the moniker Hard Events, is planning his first parties on public land, and, as he's learned by now, a new venue requires extra attention.
Where will the thousands enter? How much electricity will be needed? Through which hidden corners will the gate-crashers try to sneak?
He pointed to a rendering of the main stage grounds, where, on the first of two summer dates he has slated for the site, on July 17, superstar singer/rapper M.I.A. will perform as part of an event called Hard LA. "This holds about 20,000 people," he said, "and right here is the second stage, which holds about 7,000 people."
Since he started promoting dance music events after 15 years spent in the record business, Richards, 39, has booked shows at, among others, the Hollywood Palladium, the Orion Theatre and the Shrine. But as the masses flock to the dance floor in increasing numbers, he and other promoters are looking for bigger venues to contain the crowds, and are expanding beyond Southern California. Hard Events has done events in L.A., New York, Miami and San Francisco.
Last year, over two days, Insomniac Events' party Electric Daisy Carnival, now in its 14th year, drew a reported 135,000 people to the Los Angeles Coliseum for a rave that featured carnival rides, a sculpture park and dozens of the world's most popular DJs. This summer's installment, which takes place on June 25 and June 26 at the Coliseum, promises to be just as big, and will feature, among others, Moby, MSTRKRFT, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5 and Z-Trip. Another annual rave, the Love Festival, will take over the Coliseum on Aug. 21.
While Coachella, Bonnaroo and other massive rock and pop festivals have higher public profiles, the electronic dance music scene has been exploding. Fueled by a roster of parties and an inclusive philosophy that absorbs the sounds of rock, hip hop and pop music and transforms them via remixes into beat-heavy dance floor fodder, electronic dance music is virtually inescapable this summer.
The DJs who play the events follow a business model ideally designed for today's marketplace – little reliance on sales from recorded music, but huge payouts for live performances. The biggest names, like Tiesto, David Guetta and Deadmau5, can make as much money as pop stars, without nearly the public profile.
"I think it's always a little shocking to people when they realize how big the scene is, how big it's been and how long it's been around," said Jason Bentley, music director of KCRW-FM, host of the station's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" and longtime dance music DJ. "But it's the nature of that scene."
Unlike in the early days of rave culture, when secret parties occurred at untested – and often illegal -- locations, the music, which enjoyed a brief run at the pop charts in the late 1990s when Moby, the Chemical Bros. and the Prodigy had hits, has over the past two decades moved from dingy spaces and secret desert locations and into concert venues and stadiums. Recalled Richards of the first wave, in the early 1990s: "If I wanted to hear cool electronic music, I had to go to a warehouse at 3 a.m. in downtown LA, and risk my car getting broken into, and it was a crazy adventure."
Such successes have forced the event promoters to transform what was once a renegade business into a legitimate model, said Pasquale Rotella, founder of Insomniac, which has promoted the Electric Daisy Carnival since the first one, at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown L.A. in 1997.
"We're in a totally different business than we were then," Rotella, 35, said. "Those early years were fun, but these days we do the same things that AEG or Live Nation would do in regards to organizing events and dealing with the proper authorities."
In the last couple years, said Richards, the scene has evolved even further; guestlists at the major events are now teeming with pop star attendees. "Now Will.i.am is hanging out watching what we're doing. They're all coming. We've had Lil Jon, Perry Farrell, Noriega, Santigold. Tommy Lee was there. Everybody's into it."
Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett, who founded the Coachella Festival in 1999, said in an email that over the past decade the audience's tastes have become less segregated. "In the first couple years of Coachella, the crowd was more separated by genre. Some of the electronic-leaning people stayed in the [dance] tents for most of the weekend, and the more alt-rock leaning ones watched the outdoor stages. Now it's all over the place. No one prefers just one specific type of music anymore."
With the mainstreaming of dance culture, the music, with it's steady 128 beat-per-minute pulse and bass-heavy rhythmic thrust, has insinuated itself into the pop charts. Lady Gaga infuses the house sound of Chicago into her hits; Ne-Yo's new "Beautiful Monster" is basically a trashy Euro-house track; Rihanna's recent "Rude Boy," features synthethizer chords that sound time-traveled from 1992; and Britney Spears is working with hot London producer and recent LA transplant Rusko. Those who don't explicitly employ these sounds hire DJs to remix their hits for the dance floor.
Of course, co-opting the underground isn't new, said KCRW's Bentley. " Madonna's made a career of it. But every pop star has had to look to DJs, look to underground producers for that next sound. And maybe that's the strength of the scene. The nature of the scene is always, 'What's next?' It's always pushing forward, innovating."
Black Eyed Peas co-founder Will.i.am, who started going to first-generation LA raves when he was in his teens and whose 2009 hit, "I Gotta Feeling," was produced by French house DJ David Guetta, said on the phone from Europe that it makes sense that pop artists are drawing inspiration from club culture. "When the music industry started collapsing, the logical people understood that the only place to go for shelter was the underground. If the world on the surface is burning up, and you know people that have bunkers, go to the bunkers."
And the DJs in those hideaways can afford luxury in 2010, he added. "A DJ can make $500,000 a year and never put out a record and the song doesn't play on the radio." He said he knows one big-name DJ who pulled in $20 million last year.
Electric Daisy Carnival's Rotella said that he has watched a shift take place, though. "It didn't used to be that when a DJ got off the stage you'd have to have a security escort them and control the amount of people who are looking for them to sign a shirt. That's something that's been growing for the past five years."
The transformation isn't just happening at the massive stadium and open-air events, added Richards, who DJs around town under the name Destructo. "Now, every club in Hollywood has a house night. I can go play at USC for the USC crowd, but then I can also go play for the bottle service crowd. Everyone's into it right now -- even my wife." Smaller raves still happen in the Los Angeles underground, as well, and an electronic scene centered around weekly club the Low End Theory has drawn international attention.
Pete McGowin, 28, is a dance music fan and former hip hop MC who now raps over dance beats. He's been going to parties continuously since the mid-1990s, and has watched as the music he loves has worked its way onto the charts. "You turn on the radio now and even Power 106 – the hip hop station – is all dance music now," he said. "From noon to 2 p.m. every day they have this 'Powerhouse Mix,' and it's all electro, house – all these remixes from these artist like Black Eyed Peas or whoever."
The first parties that he attended, he said, were an epiphany. "It was a cool feeling seeing all these people getting down. People were breakdancing, and the way they dressed was cool. It was so many different cultures, different races, coming together. There was such an energy."
It's an energy that has sustained itself overseas without interruption in hotspots like London, Berlin and Ibiza since the music's rise. In America, Los Angeles in particular has managed to thrive even during down years at the turn of the last decade, when the media became obsessed with raves, ecstasy use among teenagers was rampant and sketchy promoters tried to make a quick buck.
Insomniac Events, said Pasquale, survived the lean years, but it was tough. "Basically, all the rave promoters went out of business. We didn't go out of business because we weren't doing those kinds of events. But it was good for us. It was like a cleansing of the industry." Those who suffered the most, he said, were the ones who weren't obtaining the proper permits and got their parties shut down .
Bentley said those difficult years were necessary. "The scene has undergone some real growing pains over the years -- doing it at legitimate, above-ground venues. Promoters don't want to be arrested or run out of the state, and all of that has happened. DJs have been taken into custody. So it had to go legitimate at some point."
He saw the success of those efforts at last year's Electric Daisy Carnival, where he watched the throngs from a skybox. "You look down on the Coliseum and it's packed with kids and you're thinking, 'Who's on stage? Is this the Led Zeppelin reunion or something?' For the enthusiasm and number of people -- the sheer number -- you think, this has got to be huge."
Gary Richards said that the volume of people is proof of a theory that Erol Alkan, who is playing Hard's second event, Hard Summer, on August 7, has: "[He] once said to me,'Dance music is like the flu. It goes away, but then it always comes back stronger.'"
May 30, 2010, 11:40 PM
Jun 28, 2010, 6:06 AM
Electric Daisy Carnival draws 185,000 for electronic music and good vibes
Attendees say the festival at the Coliseum and Exposition Park, with music from such DJs as will.i.am., Kaskade and Deadmau5, has an atmosphere of 'world peace.'
By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
June 28, 2010
Surrounded by swirling, half-naked bodies and engulfed by waves of digital drum and bass, Latifa Hussan, 21, and her boyfriend, Cruz Rios, 22, were explaining what had made them drive down from Fresno at 6 a.m. for the Electric Daisy Carnival.
It wasn't just the all-star lineup of DJs such as will.i.am, Kaskade and Deadmau5, or the Mardi Gras atmosphere at the electronic music festival, purportedly North America's largest, which drew 185,000 people to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Park on Friday and Saturday.
It also was the way the festival "describes world peace in one small place," Hussan said, "because here everyone gets along. That's what's so attractive."
And with those thoughts, she and Rios drifted off into the crowds milling along a Coliseum pathway strung with Japanese lanterns and lined with fire-belching monumental metal sculptures.
Utopian sentiments have been part of modern music festivals since Woodstock was held on a bucolic upstate New York farm in 1969. But until relatively recently electronic music has had a hard time getting the media and the public to associate it with good vibrations.
When word of massive European dance-drug parties known as "raves," fueled by the euphoria-inducing Ecstasy, first reached U.S. shores in the early 1990s, the reaction was as if a terrorist plot or the Black Plague had infiltrated North America.
Even one conservative Fox News commentator derided the resulting legislative and law enforcement crackdown on dance-music parties, culminating in the introduction of the so-called RAVE Act (Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act ) in 2002 by then-U.S. Sen. (and now Vice President) Joe Biden, as an excessive response that would criminalize possession of glow sticks and bottled water.
Now in its 14th year, last weekend's carnival went off fairly calmly, despite the disruptive efforts of some gate crashers who reportedly were quickly thwarted by the heavy LAPD and private security presence.
Pasquale Rotella, founder of Insomniac Events, the L.A.-based company that stages Electric Daisy Carnival, said Saturday night that the phenomenon of gate crashers at electronic music events was "something that's very new."
"It's not part of the culture at all," he said. "They [gate crashers] are not here for the music, and I don't think they're here for the event."
Rotella recalled the days when electronic music culture was held at arm's length.
"At first you couldn't even get [the music] into clubs," Rotella said. "At some point I thought to myself I didn't know if it ever was going to be on this level."
When he first staged his festival at the Shrine Auditorium in 1997, it drew only 5,000 people, Pasquale said.
Those days seemed distant Friday and Saturday, as throngs of teens and twenty- and thirtysomethings boogied and paraded before five massive stages in feathered headdresses, pastel ballet tutus, synthetic animal heads, black mesh body stockings, Venetian carnival masks, Hello Kitty knapsacks and furry boots.
Luis Chavez, 24, who'd come in from Riverside with his girlfriend and two other pals, was among the multitudes channeling the thumping one-world vibes.
"The sound of this music, it's not California music, it's not Chicago music, it's not New York music, it's not Asian music," he said. "It's global music."
Jul 3, 2010, 5:08 AM
Permit Filed for Grand Avenue Museum Site
The Broad Foundation has applied for grading permits for the site of his proposed art museum. The museum has yet to gain necessary public approvals.
Grading Approval Sought for Eli Broad’s $100 Million Project
by Jon Regardie and Ryan Vaillancourt
Published: Friday, July 2, 2010 4:53 PM PDT
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - A construction firm working on philanthropist Eli Broad’s proposed Grand Avenue art museum has filed for a permit to begin grading at the site. It is the strongest indication yet that Broad will choose Downtown Los Angeles as the location for the Broad Collections.
Additionally, a person close to the proceedings, who asked not to be named because they do not have permission to comment publicly, told Los Angeles Downtown News that the plan is to begin construction on a parking garage for the museum by August or September. Broad has said the museum, which still needs approval from the County Board of Supervisors and the joint powers authority overseeing the Grand Avenue project, would be set on top of the garage so it could face Grand Avenue. He said in May that he hopes to open the $100 million facility in 2012. He would also provide a $200 million endowment.
Broad has yet to publicly state whether he will choose Downtown or Santa Monica as the site for his 2,000-piece art collection.
Matt Construction, the contractor Broad said would build the 293-space garage, filed an application on May 26 with the city Department of Building and Safety for preliminary soil and geological reviews of the site at 620 W. Second St. The application also requests review of a proposed import-export route for transporting soil removed in the grading process.
“We are taking the necessary steps that would enable us to begin construction promptly if this project is approved and moves forward Downtown,” said Broad Foundation spokeswoman Karen Denne.
The proposed museum is still in the planning stage and needs a series of approvals before it can move forward. First, it must officially be folded into the $3 billion Grand Avenue project’s already completed Environmental Impact Report. The review process to amend the report is pending.
While Broad has not publicly committed to locating the museum Downtown, he has stated a preference for building it in the Central City if the approval process goes smoothly. In Santa Monica, the museum would require approval from only one government body; on Grand Avenue, Broad is negotiating with multiple agencies, including the Supervisors, the Grand Avenue Authority and the city Community Redevelopment Agency.
So far, it appears the project has political support. Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry, who sits on the Grand Avenue Authority, said she considers the Broad Collections a major opportunity for Downtown.
“It’s a collection that the city shouldn’t lose out on,” she said.
In order to meet his goal of opening the 120,000-square-foot museum by 2012, Broad told Downtown News in late May that he would need to secure approvals within 45 days.
Jul 8, 2010, 1:25 AM
Turner painting sold to Getty Museum in Los Angeles for record £29.7m
1839 view of Rome is 'breathtaking image showing artist at his absolute best' says Sotheby's in London
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 7 July 2010 23.05 BST
A Turner masterpiecedepicting the city of Rome with the Colosseum in the background tonight sold at auction in London for £29.7m, a record for the British master.
The buyer was a London dealer, Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, on behalf of the J Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Six bidders pushed the price well above expectations, surpassing the Turner record of £20.5m set in 2006, for Venice, Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio.
"Turner's Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino has achieved a tremendous and much-deserved result this evening," said David Moore-Gwyn, deputy chairman at Sotheby's. "This breathtaking image shows the artist at his absolute best and, for collectors, it ticked all the boxes – quality, superb condition, provenance, and freshness-to-the-market."
Painted in 1839, the work is described by art experts as perhaps Turner's finest view of an Italian city.
Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino was his final painting of Rome, and the monumental work, measuring 90.2 by 122cm (35.5 by 48 in), brought together all of the studies made during his two visits to the Italian capital. When he first exhibited it at the Royal Academy, Turner chose to accompany the painting with lines from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage: "The moon is up and yet it is not night,/ the sun as yet divides the day with her."
Prior to tonight's sale, the painting only appeared on the open market once in 171 years. It was offered for sale by a descendant of the 5th Earl of Rosebery, the earl having bought it in 1878 while on honeymoon with his wife, Hannah Rothschild.
The seller was the Scottish landowner and collector Hugh Munro of Novar, Turner's close friend and patron during the 1830s, who acquired the work directly from the artist's exhibition of 1839. One of the greatest Turner collectors , Novar was the only one of his patrons to have travelled with him to Italy. Modern Rome remained in Novar's collection for almost 40 years until sold by his executors.
In the painting, the city is seen from the top of Capitoline Hill, taking in the Forum, flanked by the arch of Septimus Severus, the temple of Saturn, and the Colosseum. The classical landmarks are mixed with the everyday of the contemporary city: goatherds, religious processions, and Romans attending to their business.
"The condition of this painting is one of its most amazing attributes," said Moore-Gwyn. "It is outstanding, and helps to highlight the genius of Turner by revealing the various techniques that he employed: the cross hatching of dry paint, the thinning out of the paintwork, the working with the bristles of his brush, the array of paint textures, and the subtle nuances of colour he uses."
Jul 10, 2010, 2:08 AM
A great painting; one of Turner's best.
But the juiciest part is the provenance. The earl bought it for Hannah Rothschild who was the richest woman in England at the time. He was brilliant but troubled, probably bisexual and involved with Oscar Wilde, but eventually became Prime Minister. Hannah was funding the British government, while "Jewish mothering" her husband and pushing his career. Toss in some anti-semitism and menage a trois and you have the makings of a great mini-series.
Jul 14, 2010, 3:39 AM
Eli Broad offers $7.7 million for art museum lease, not $1
His sweetened proposal for a 99-year lease on a downtown L.A. site wins the backing of L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times
July 14, 2010
Eli Broad told city and county officials this week he would pay $7.7 million for a 99-year lease on public land in downtown Los Angeles where he can build an art museum, winning over a public opponent of his plan and signaling in the strongest terms yet that he has decided against putting the museum in Santa Monica.
Broad persuaded Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, the only public official on record opposing his previous request to lease it for a token dollar a year. "We are pleased he has agreed to pay the fair market value on the property," Antonovich's spokesman, Tony Bell, said Tuesday. "The supervisor is satisfied. He would support the effort at this point."
Broad, the philanthropist and art collector whose worth Forbes magazine estimates at $5.7 billion, already has promised to pay the full construction cost of up to $100 million and provide a $200-million endowment that would yield an estimated $12 million a year to cover the museum's operating expenses.
The $7.7-million offer came as the board of commissioners of the City of Los Angeles' Community Redevelopment Agency, which owns the land and would need to approve any lease, prepares to take up his museum proposal at its meeting Thursday.
"The Broads are spending $300 million on this project and they want everyone to be supportive and satisfied," said Karen Denne, spokeswoman for the Broad Art Foundation. "By offering to spend an additional 2.5% of the total project, they hope that everyone will feel good about it."
Denne said that Broad sent letters Monday and Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors, the City Council and the CRA saying he is now willing to pay for use of the land. The letter says the $7.7 million "is based on a recent valuation" done by the county.
The CRA's commissioners are expected to conduct a public hearing, then vote on whether to allow Broad to use the site at the corner of Grand Avenue and 2nd Street for the museum housing a collection of more than 2,000 works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons and others that he and his wife, Edythe, have amassed.
Denne said that the Board of Supervisors, the City Council and the Joint Powers Authority that is overseeing development along Grand Avenue all would have to subsequently OK the plan before construction of the museum could begin.
The museum would include 30,000 to 35,000 square feet of gallery space, 45,000 to 50,000 square feet to store art not on display, and 14,000 square feet for offices, a conference space and a museum store.
Among the issues on Thursday for the CRA/LA board is whether it should commit up to $30 million to build a parking garage beneath the what Broad envisions as a three-level museum building. According to information released by the Broad Art Foundation, the garage would cost about $23 million, and Broad and his wife, Edythe, would advance $15 million that CRA/LA could repay over 11 years. About 200 of the 300 spaces would be for public use, with the rest reserved for museum parking.
Dollar-a-year leases for nonprofit cultural facilities are commonplace in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The proposed new museum's across-the-street neighbor, the Museum of Contemporary Art, enjoys dollar-a-year leases for the land on which its Grand Avenue building sits and on the city-owned building in Little Tokyo that houses MOCA's Geffen Contemporary exhibition space. The Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena pays a dollar a year for its city-owned land in Pasadena, and the Pasadena Playhouse subleases its theater from the city for $1 a year.
Broad had defended his request for a comparable deal, telling The Times in April, "It just burns me that people are saying they're giving me, a billionaire, $1 a year for nothing, without looking at the public benefit that's being created.... Any city in America would like to get a museum built if they didn't have to pay for it."
Broad held a private architectural competition in the spring for a design for the museum. Sources have told The Times that he favors the work of the New York firm of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Antonovich's about-face on the Broad lease spells trouble for Santa Monica's bid to host Broad's museum. It already has struck an agreement in principal with Broad to provide a $1-a-year lease on acreage next to the Civic Auditorium if he'll build his museum there.
But Broad subsequently has said he expects more visitors if the museum is in downtown L.A., and sees it as an important attraction to boost the cultural tourism and downtown economic development he has championed. Denne, the Broad Foundation spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Broad still considers Santa Monica a "viable option" for the museum, but "we need to know if this can happen in Los Angeles before he makes the final decision."
The Santa Monica deal calls for the city also to provide $1 million toward the museum's design costs.
Jul 17, 2010, 2:42 AM
CRA Approves Broad Museum Plan
Project Takes Two Steps Forward, But Chinese Group Poses a Challenge
by Ryan Vaillancourt, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Downtown News
Published: Friday, July 16, 2010 4:05 PM PDT
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - The Community Redevelopment Agency last week approved philanthropist Eli Broad’s proposal to build a $100 million contemporary art museum to house his collection on Grand Avenue. The decision came days after Broad announced he would pay $7.7 million for rights to the site.
Yet along with those two leaps forward, a challenge was raised, as another aspiring developer touted plans for the site and complained it has not been allowed to bid.
On Thursday, July 15, the CRA’s board of commissioners voted unanimously for the museum, giving the project its first green light on the road of public approvals. It also needs the OK of the City Council, the County Board of Supervisors and the joint powers Grand Avenue Authority.
A cast of Downtown stakeholders, including new MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, Music Center chairman John Emerson and Ninth District Councilwoman Jan Perry urged the board to support the project, which they called a major opportunity for the city and Downtown.
“I’m extremely appreciative of the opportunity Mr. Broad has provided to the city and county of Los Angeles to be able to house his collection in Downtown,” Perry said.
The proposal would allow Broad to erect a three-story museum, dubbed The Broad Collection, above a three-level, 284-space parking facility at Second Street and Grand Avenue; the parcel is on lower Grand Avenue, south of REDCAT and Walt Disney Concert Hall. The museum entrance would be on upper Grand Avenue, across from MOCA and the Colburn School. Broad plans to enlist a world-class architect to design the building.
Related Cos., which in 2004 won the contract to develop the $3 billion Grand Avenue project, has expressed strong support for the museum. Real estate consultant Buss Shelger Associates, which analyzed the museum plan for the county CEO’s office, said in a letter to the county that Related is considering branding two proposed residential buildings in the Grand Avenue plan as the Museum Towers. (A residential building already called Museum Tower stands at 225 S. Olive St.)
In approving the project, the CRA voted to advance the museum $8 million in predevelopment costs. The agreement gives the agency the right to ultimately buy the parking facility from Broad, paying up to $30 million in Bunker Hill tax increment funds. Broad’s foundation plans to spend about $100 million on the museum and garage. Broad would also fund a $200 million endowment for the facility, which will house some of the works in his 2,000-piece art collection.
Broad has said he hopes to break ground on the project this summer and open it in 2012.
While earlier versions of the proposal called for Broad to lease the land for $1 a year for 99 years, two days before the CRA meeting, Broad announced that he would pay $7.7 million for rights to the space, matching a figure the county has identified as the parcel’s true value. County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who has called for scrapping the Grand Avenue plan altogether, was an early critic of the $1-a-year lease.
At the meeting last week, a CRA project manager said that Broad’s $7.7 million offer would go toward funding an affordable housing component in one of Related’s residential towers.
While Broad’s plan has enjoyed popular support, at least one organization sees the negotiations to approve the museum as exclusive. The Los Angeles Shen Yun/Fei Tian Arts Center Planning Group has been clamoring for Related and the CRA to consider an alternative proposal for the site.
The group would like to build a venue to showcase its traditional dance and music academies; a rendering shows a high-rise with pagoda-like elements next to the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall. Spokesman Shizhong Chen said the group’s primary request is that the project be opened to public bid.
“We’re not opposed to Mr. Broad’s proposal,” said Chen, whose two-minute appeal to the CRA board went unaddressed by the panel. “We’re for examination of all proposals.”
Asked whether his organization would consider legal action, Shen said it has not been ruled out, and that he hopes the process will open up before such an option is seriously considered.
Perry dismissed the notion that the change to the Grand Avenue project triggers a need for public bidding. The JPA awarded the development rights of the overall project to Related. While changes require approvals from the four public stakeholder bodies, she said, “The site is under contract to Related, which is assigning rights of a portion of the site to the Broad Foundation.”
The proposed museum site, which is owned by the city, was originally reserved for a building in Related’s $3 billion Grand Avenue project that would have created 100,000 square feet of retail space. That shopping component was touted for its potential to generate sales tax, but hopes for that part of the development have soured amid the recession.
If the museum plan moves forward, the latest iteration of the Grand Avenue plan would still include 36,000 square feet reserved for retail, according to a CRA report.
Jul 24, 2010, 2:51 AM
From W Magazine (http://www.wmagazine.com/artdesign/2010/08/la_art?printable=true#ixzz0uZ1adXJs)
Move over, New York. Thanks to a recent run of museum and gallery openings, Los Angeles is going from art-world upstart to established star.
By Kevin West
Photograph by Jason Schmidt
The hottest new gallery in Los Angeles doesn’t even exist yet. The words l&m arts are affixed to the facade of a historic brick power plant in Venice, but inside the building, which is being refitted and expanded by Tadao Ando protégé Kulapat Yantrasast, the exhibition spaces are empty except for stray tools, and the only functioning office on-site is the contractor’s modular unit, which looks like a double-wide Porta-Potty. That hasn’t slowed down the summer chatter on the L.A. art scene about the so-called new L&M space—legendary L.A. gallerist Irving Blum, for one, admires it—even though invitations to the inaugural exhibition of new work by Paul McCarthy won’t be printed for weeks to come.
The gallery is the first out-of-town expansion from a pair of New York dealers, Dominique Lévy and Robert Mnuchin, best known for their museum-quality historical shows in an Upper East Side town house. And it’s one of a spate of projects in Los Angeles that is quickly changing the shape of the local art world, and perhaps even subtly shifting the balance of power on the American art scene.
“I’ve felt for two or three years an incredibly strong creative energy from Los Angeles,” says Lévy. “I felt that the old, postwar pole of Paris–New York had become Berlin–Los Angeles.”
Of course, cultural geopolitics is not the only explanation for L&M’s move, Lévy admits. It stems primarily from the gallery’s strategic business decision to move into the lucrative market known as “primary sales,” which means works fresh from the artist’s studio rather than the secondhand art Lévy and Mnuchin handle in New York. Since Manhattan’s crowded gallery scene was already “saturated,” says Lévy, she first looked to Europe before deciding that L.A. had become a “new cultural hub” capable of returning dividends on L&M’s large gallery investment.
Matthew Marks, the merchant prince of New York’s Chelsea gallery district, recalls facing a similar decision—and reaching a similar decision—when he was considering what to do next. Marks had already opened four spaces in New York (three of which he continues to operate), and had the cash flow to fund an expansion wherever he wanted, thanks to a lineup of artists that includes Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Robert Gober, Nan Goldin and Andreas Gursky. After years of keeping an apartment in London with an eye toward opening there, Marks instead decided to go west, trading his London flat for a house in the Hollywood Hills. Why? “It’s a feeling,” he says. More tangible reasons include the obvious fact that L.A. is closer than New York for those rich collectors and museums scattered across the western half of the continent, from Mexico City to Seattle.
“Brice Marden has never had a one-person show in L.A.,” Marks says with a rising tone that demonstrates what he takes to be the absurdity of this fact. “Got it? There’s enormous potential.”
Despite the recession, which has made fundraising difficult in many parts of the country, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, under the energetic direction of Michael Govan, is about to unveil a Renzo Piano–designed pavilion surrounded by artist Robert Irwin’s Palm Garden. And further out on the horizon is a new downtown museum to house philanthropist Eli Broad’s significant private collection.
“Everything seems to be rising,” says Blum & Poe co-owner Tim Blum (no relation to Irving), citing former dealer and art adviser Jeffrey Deitch’s recent appointment as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art. “It’s not just a coincidence. By and large, s---’s on fire.”
Longtime observers might note that what’s now “on fire,” in Blum’s estimation, has been smoldering for years, and some cynics might even say that the fire has flared up before in Los Angeles, only to sputter out again. “How many people have said that L.A. is always in the process of becoming?” asks Govan, who ran the Dia Art Foundation in New York from 1994 to 2006 and watched Chelsea replace SoHo as the city’s premier arts district. “I came here with the sense that L.A.’s cultural infrastructure was not living up to its artistic potential, or was even representative of the number of artists living here. But now there is a statistical reality to statements like ‘L.A. is hot.’”
Govan cites the sheer number of L.A.–based artists whose work is included in such exhibitions as the Whitney Biennial and the Venice Biennale. And, while many cities around the country have been busy building cultural infrastructure in the past 15 years, the current L.A. expansions are part of what Govan calls “right-sizing.” The new galleries are simply catching up with the large number of working artists and active collectors in the city. In addition, the major local museums have finally gotten close enough to middle age—LACMA was built at its current site in 1965 and MOCA turned 30 last year—to command the respect of their institutional peers.
The reason why so many artists and dealers are moving to L.A. is obvious, says Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin, who blazed the trail from Manhattan’s downtown art scene to the west side of Los Angeles 10 years ago. “Real estate is absolutely one of the prime motivators, no question about it,” she says. “It used to be that after graduating from art school, young artists hightailed it to Manhattan. Not anymore. For the last decade Los Angeles has been the destination, and when a city is a nexus for emerging artists, that’s what makes an art scene happening and that’s what makes a city vibrant.”
Even without the influx from the rest of the country, L.A.’s local art schools—which include USC and UCLA as well as Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design and nearby California Institute of the Arts—churn out a steady stream of graduates. An increasing number of them choose to stay local, and it matters, says Sidney B. Felsen, the dapper cofounder of famous print shop Gemini GEL, which has been a studio-away-from-home for Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning and Ed Ruscha. Felsen has watched the incremental changes in L.A. for decades, and he describes the current rapid growth as part of an evolution, rather than an isolated event—akin to the actor who’s an overnight success 15 years in the making. “Seemingly all of a sudden,” says Felsen, “the great important art scene we always thought was happening really happened.”
That scene has also been driven by the steady growth of hometown galleries, ever since Irving Blum founded the legendary Ferus in 1957. It’s easy to forget that Larry Gagosian is an L.A. native who began his career selling posters near UCLA. (Govan notes that recently Gagosian has been “very proud” of his L.A. roots.) Regen Projects has been an important presence for nearly two decades, and in 2007 owner Shaun Caley Regen expanded into a gorgeous second gallery space with a Charles Ray show that attracted international attention.
First among the other local galleries to have gone big-time is Blum & Poe, established in Santa Monica 15 years ago. The charismatic Blum and his partner, Jeff Poe, were pioneers when, in 2003, they moved to a desolate stretch of La Cienega Boulevard, where local amenities included coin-op laundries and taco stands. Other galleries followed and the buzz about the area soon coalesced into the full-blown arts neighborhood known as the Culver City arts district. By early 2008 Blum & Poe, which represents such artists as Takashi Murakami and Mark Grotjahn, purchased a 27,000-square-foot former manufacturing facility surrounded by nearly an acre of land. The supersize edifice, almost as large as Fred Segal’s shopping emporium and similarly glamorous, was dubbed “the House that Murakami Built” by a partygoer at its opening last October, in recognition of the gallery’s top moneymaker.
The nearly universal opinion is that the audacious expansion, pulled off during the economic slump, catapulted Blum & Poe into the top ranks of L.A. art dealers. “Opening in the midst of all that gave people a jolt of confidence,” says Blum. “Seven months later, it’s on people’s maps.” The new building, he says, has also helped the gallery bring new talent into its stable. He describes the first exhibition by New York painter Carroll Dunham as a “great coup,” and adds pointedly: “His last show was at Gagosian.”
Blum & Poe’s Culver City neighbors Honor Fraser and Susanne Vielmetter have also expanded significantly in the past year, with Vielmetter moving into a former pool hall refurbished by local architect Peter Zellner. As it happens, Zellner is also designing from the ground up for Marks, who is opening in a nondescript section of West Hollywood so far away from any established gallery district that the artsiest vibe around emanates from the nearby Whole Foods. Zellner’s plan is for an understated 3,000-square-foot building inspired by the bland stucco and masonry warehouse architecture of the area. “Remember, I opened in Chelsea before there was anything there,” says Marks. “I’d never be in Beverly Hills. I don’t want to be next to Gucci.”
Besides, Beverly Hills is already established Gagosian territory. In the past year, the megadealer took over the hair salon next door to his Richard Meier–designed gallery on North Camden Drive and brought Meier back to punch a door through the wall. The new building nearly doubles Gagosian’s square footage, and includes a rooftop terrace for displaying sculpture and an impressive showroom that looks as expensively restrained as the Meier original next door.
With all this activity taking place, the question of who will buy enough art to pay for all the expensive expansions naturally arises. A probable source of purchasing power is Hollywood. Art has become a cause célèbre among the celebrity set, and aspiring young players in the agency world now see an art collection as the next status symbol after a leased Range Rover. Role models include top CAA agent Beth Swofford, who has been on ARTNews’s list of the top 200 collectors; mega-attorney Alan Hergott, who has escorted his client Brad Pitt through Art Basel; and actor Tobey Maguire, who with his wife, Jennifer Meyer, is actively buying and regularly appears at MOCA events. (Deitch, in return, has already shown his affinity for Tinseltown: The museum’s secondary gallery space at the Pacific Design Center was the setting for an episode of General Hospital, starring James Franco as a successful young painter preparing for an upcoming show—at MOCA.)
And, as it happens, the name of the man arguably most responsible for making art part of the Hollywood conversation, former agency overlord Michael Ovitz, has once again been on many lips. Ovitz is putting the finishing touches on his vast new art villa designed by L.A. architect Michael Maltzan on a knoll overlooking Beverly Hills. The house is literally stuffed to the rafters with a remarkable collection that includes the old (Ming furniture, Picasso, de Kooning), the comparatively new (Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol) and the upstart, including L.A.’s hot art stars Sterling Ruby and Thomas Houseago.
The only equally impressive new building in the city is over at LACMA, where private viewings have begun for Piano’s 45,000-square-foot Resnick Exhibition Pavilion, named after a $45 million gift from collectors Lynda and Stewart Resnick. Like L&M in Venice, the building is becoming a landmark even before the construction dust has settled. Its official debut is at a September gala, but art fans with strings to pull have tried all summer to get in to see “The 2000 Sculpture,” a temporary, closed-to-the-public installation by Walter de Maria, which consists of 2,000 cast-plaster polygons, created in 1992. “Once the building was completed, I wanted to test it out,” says Govan, who borrowed the de Maria from a Swiss collector.
From the outside, the Resnick appears immense, since its entire square footage is spread across a single level—almost an acre of ground. Still, Piano’s signature elegant touch is visible in its form, and it goes some distance to counteract the boxy shape of Piano’s previous effort for LACMA, the adjacent Broad Contemporary Art Museum.
And then there are the palm trees, which Robert Irwin has planted around the two new buildings and scattered across the north end of the LACMA campus like a forest of exclamation points. Govan says that he turned to the artist, who designed the gardens at the Getty Center and worked with Govan on the landscaping of Dia:Beacon, because LACMA “hadn’t looked like L.A.” and Irwin was the ideal artist to rectify that problem.
“I grew up here and I have every one of L.A.’s bad habits,” says Irwin, who is now 82. “I can tell you the long story about L.A.—how it has no history and no culture. That’s exactly the reason I stayed here.”
Irwin decided not to go to New York in the Fifties to avoid the overpowering creative influence of de Kooning and Pollock. Living in L.A. at that time meant being part of “no scene at all,” and that obscurity allowed him to nurture his own artistic tendencies. One might think the old-timer would now feel vindicated—pleased to know that he lived long enough to see the New York art world turn its attention west.
Far from it.
“We’re about to be invaded,” Irwin says in a loud, declamatory voice. “We artists are about to become beside the point. Which is why I have moved to San Diego.”
Aug 24, 2010, 2:21 AM
Eli Broad says Grand Avenue will be site of new contemporary art museum
After considering locations in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, the philanthropist chooses downtown L.A. New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro will design the museum.
By David Ng and Jori Finkel, Los Angeles Times
August 24, 2010
In a move that adds another contemporary art museum to the city's busy art scene, Eli Broad announced formally Monday that he would build his Broad Collection museum downtown and chose a blue-chip New York architecture firm to design it.
By choosing to build downtown rather than in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, Broad will oversee the first building in the stalled Grand Avenue project, investing in his personal vision for Los Angeles, one in which downtown is a "vibrant center," as he put it, for the city's cultural community.
And his selection of Diller Scofidio + Renfro will add another ambitious structure to a street that already displays Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Arata Isozaki's Museum of Contemporary Art and the High School for the Performing Arts by Wolf Prix
The announcement also settles the larger question of where he and his wife Edythe's coveted art collection — which had been the envy of museums in the city and around the country — will ultimately reside.
But Broad was clearly thinking in term of its impact on Grand Avenue's rejuvenation. "I think we're going to create a downtown cultural alliance," said Broad, referring to the site's proximity to the Music Center and MOCA. He added that he hopes the museum will jump-start the Grand Avenue Project — a costly initiative intended to revitalize the downtown neighborhood with stores, hotels, condominiums and restaurants that has been stalled by the sour economy.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro will design the approximately 120,000-square-foot museum, which will include exhibition space, offices and a parking garage on a site that is now a parking lot. The Broad Foundation said the designs would not be released until October. The price tag for the building, which is expected to break ground in October and open in late 2012, is estimated at $80 million to $100 million, which Broad will fund.
By opening his own museum, Broad is following in the footsteps of California mega-collectors like Norton Simon and J. Paul Getty. But their museums were built decades ago. Today, three of the most prominent contemporary art museums in Southern California — the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOCA and the Hammer Museum — compete for donors and visitors. The new museum raises many questions, not the least of which is whether L.A. has the audience base to support so many museums.
All three have benefited from Broad's patronage at one point or another, most visibly with Broad's financing of a Renzo Piano building in his name at LACMA, the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, which opened in 2008. The philanthropist also stepped in to rescue MOCA with a $30-million pledge when that museum was on the financial brink in 2008.
The Broads are expected to contribute approximately $300 million of their own money toward the new museum. In addition to the construction costs, they will endow the Broad Art Foundation with $200 million to cover the new museum's annual operating expenses. They will also pay $7.7 million for a 99-year lease of the public land, which is located near the corner of Grand Avenue and 2nd Street.
In choosing Diller Scofidio + Renfro as the lead architect, Broad said he considered the museum's location, which is close to Disney Hall, designed by Gehry. "We didn't want it to clash, but we didn't want it to be anonymous either," said Broad.
The other finalist in the running was the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, led by Rem Koolhaas. The Santa Monica firm Gensler will serve as the executive architect on the project.
Broad is widely recognized as one of the world's most active high-end collectors. With approximately 2,000 works of art, his holdings range from Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to L.A. artists working today like Ed Ruscha, Mike Kelley, Mark Bradford, Mark Grotjahn and Elliott Hundley. And he is known for collecting in depth, not just breadth.
Robin Cembalest, executive editor of ARTnews, says he's been on the magazine's "top 10" list of international collectors every year since it started in 1998. "Other people come and go from the top 10. But he has consistently been making substantial acquisitions of major artworks."
The future relationship between the new museum and MOCA also remains unclear. Asked if there will be collaboration between the two institutions, Broad, who serves as a founding chairman and life trustee of MOCA, replied the he is "sure there will be."
Broad said Monday that he decided against giving his collection to a museum because none had sufficient gallery space to display the artwork. The Broad Collection is expected to display approximately 300 works from Broad's collection at any given time in its 50,000 square feet of gallery space.
Monday's announcement came after the Grand Avenue Authority officially approved Broad's proposal for the museum. It was the last hurdle that the billionaire had to clear for the project to officially begin. The five-member panel voted unanimously to approve the museum.
L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who chairs the panel, said she hopes the new Broad museum will help transform Grand Avenue "to the full grandeur that we'd like to see."
Councilwoman Jan Perry, who also sits on the panel, joked with Broad after Monday's session, saying that "we don't always work together well, but in this case, we did."
Construction on the parking garage is scheduled to start in October. The museum construction is set to begin in the spring, with completion expected in late 2012. The Broad Art Foundation will relocate from Santa Monica to the new museum downtown.
During the lengthy approval process, Broad's museum faced opposition from Shen Yun Performing Arts, a dance group that has strong ties with the Falun Gong sect. The group wanted to build a theater space and residential tower on the Grand Avenue site and claimed that officials weren't giving them a fair hearing.
But on Monday, a representative from the group addressed the Grand Avenue Authority and effectively conceded defeat.
Joanne Heyler, the director and chief curator of Broad Art Foundation, will become the director of the new museum. The Broad Foundation said that it will continue to loan works from the collection to institutions around the world.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-et--broad-museum-20100823,0,2953810.story
Aug 29, 2010, 5:50 AM
'Fashioning Fashion' at LACMA's Resnick Exhibition Pavilion
Among the opening exhibitions at the new museum pavilion is a fashion-forward trip from the Age of Enlightenment through World War I. The items come from the museum's recently and vastly expanded holdings.
By Booth Moore
Los Angeles Times Fashion Critic
August 29, 2010
John Galliano, a student of history unlike any other designer of his generation, has imagined runway collections from French Revolution-era street scenes, Napoleon-era cartoons and the life of Pocahontas. His globetrotting research trips are legendary, taking him from the teahouses of Japan to the ruins of Egypt. But who would have thought that when he wanted to see some of the world's finest examples of European clothing from the Age of Enlightenment to World War I, he would find them in Los Angeles?
In April of last year, Galliano, who designs 32 collections each year between his namesake label and Christian Dior, visited the dim, closet-like space that is the costume and textiles department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He spent two hours marveling over delicate gold embroidery and accordion-pleated sleeves, instructing a cadre of assistants to snap photos from different angles.
Researchers, costume designers — and the public — soon will be able to view some of what he saw when the museum's $54-million Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion opens Oct. 2 with "Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915." The exhibition, one of three opening in the new space designed by Renzo Piano, is the most comprehensive of any European costume exhibition in the museum's history.
And yet what will be on display is just a fraction of a major acquisition spearheaded in 2007 by museum Director Michael Govan, costume and textile department curators Sharon Takeda and Kaye Spilker, and donors Michael and Ellen Michaelson and Suzanne Saperstein. Amassed over 50 years by two European collectors, the total collection is "museum-changing," according to Takeda, and will feed exhibitions for years to come.
The tumultuous period represented in "Fashioning Fashion" is similar to our own. The Old World was being rocked by the forces of revolution, global trade expansion and technical advances. Fashion went from being a form of handcraft enjoyed by the aristocracy to an industry of mass production.
Most of the pieces shown here are one of a kind and would have been owned by the wealthy, including a spectacular bejeweled and feathered turban made by French designer Paul Poiret for his wife, Denise, to wear at their Arabian-themed "Thousand and Second Night" party in 1911. And the red-white-and-blue embroidered French Revolutionary-era vest that Galliano writes about in his preface to the exhibition catalog.
"You can spend hours studying this vest," he says of the piece, which has a butterfly with clipped wings embroidered on the lapel. A precursor to the slogan T-shirt, the vest seems to play to both sides of the political conflict, with embroidered phrases that read, "The habit does not make the monk" and "Shame upon him who thinks evil of it."
In this exhibition, the delight is in the details — in the precision of stripes on an 1850 man's tartan vest that line up just so, and the charm of an embroidered silver bird that perches just below the knee on a women's red stocking that dates from 1700-1725.
To give some context, the curators begin with a visual timeline, using all-white ensembles to show how dramatically the women's silhouette changed, from accentuating the hips with rectangular-shaped panniers that could stretch to 6 feet wide during the 1760s and '70s, to pushing up the bust in the Neoclassical Empire styles of Napoleon's court in the early 1800s, to pushing out the bum with bustles that molded the torso into an S-shaped curve in the 1880s.
Later, we get to see the foundation garments that achieved body modification in the age before plastic surgery, including a collapsible bustle, a leather corset that predated Vivienne Westwood's by nearly a century and a pair of "Moulin Rouge"-era fetish boots that lace all the way up the leg and could easily be mistaken for Christian Louboutin's Fifre boots from last fall. The bellwether of modernity is a delicate flower-appliquéd cotton brassiere designed in 1915 by Poiret, who gave women permission to ditch their corsets for his diaphanous dresses.
The men are the eye candy, at least in the timeline, dressed like peacocks in the 18th and 19th centuries in elaborately quilted and embroidered waistcoats and breeches made of colorful velvets, silks and lace, only to end up in 1911 in the businessman's sober gray suit-and-tie that has remained largely unchanged for the past century. (Curiously, in the middle of the 19th century, there was a bit of an Armani moment, seen on an 1840s single-breasted thigh-length coat with ease through the sleeves, paired with loose-fitting trousers.)
Other thematic sections highlight textiles and trim — the bling that the upper classes relied on to communicate wealth before logos. Indeed, the fabric, not the design, was the most expensive part of high fashion in the 18th century. Trade routes brought new silks and dyes from the Far East, and different colors and patterns were trendy from one season to the next. Textiles were so treasured, in fact, that they were passed down or repurposed into other garments.
"Globalism then meant exotic," Takeda says. "Now, it's about getting something cheaper from China."
"And everything looks the same," Spilker adds.
Trimmings were sold by weight and were so valuable that they could be transferred from one garment to another. A golden-hued silk dress from the 1760s is "frosted" with pure silver lace. Even more impressive is an 1845 black satin gown with an expansive train covered in gilt copper thread, which belonged to Queen Maria II of Portugal. It was handcrafted using a technique called "satin stitch," meaning that much of the thread lies hidden from view. The queen was so rich, it seemed, she could afford to decorate the inside of her clothes.
But the days of the royals were numbered. Revolution was spreading across Europe in 1848, and excess was out. "It was wartime," Spilker says. "You were supposed to look like a citizen because it was an uprising of the common people."
Fashion adapted by switching the emphasis "from surface to structure."
"The way to show you were wealthy was by how well your clothes fit," Spilker says. The art of tailoring is another theme of the exhibition, showcased on a man's cinnamon-colored wool tailcoat from Scotland, circa 1845, pad-stitched inside for a smooth finish, with sleeves sculpted to fit into the arm's eye, and M-shaped notches marking the transition between the drape of the shawl collar and the sharpness of the wide lapels. The piece isn't so much designed as engineered.
Eventually, mechanized production put Savile Row-type tailoring within reach of the public too. But it also put many artisans out of work, as spinning, weaving, printing, embroidering and sewing could be done more quickly and cheaply in factories. The end result is today's culture of fast fashion. Now that clothing is so inexpensive it's practically disposable, you have to wonder if fabric and fit will ever have the same currency again.
The exhibition runs through March 6.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/features/image/la-ig-lacma-20100829,0,5081775.story
Sep 14, 2010, 5:38 AM
A ceremonial departure
A Pasadena teahouse, falling on hard times, will be sent to Japan for restoration, then return to grace a new garden at the Huntington Library.
By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
September 12, 2010
Japan's Grand Master of the Phoenix Cloud visited Los Angeles four decades ago and dedicated an exquisite teahouse to the public in the hopes of popularizing the sublime art of tea ceremony in the West.
Trained as a kamikaze pilot during World War II, the grand master saw tea as a way to promote peace, share Japan's cultural treasures and repair a national image battered by wartime militarism. The 400-year-old art expresses the values of harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity through the highly refined and ritualized making and serving of tea.
But the ceremony failed to catch on much beyond a small circle of Japanese Americans. The teahouse, given to the Pasadena Buddhist Church, declined in use. Termites began attacking the wood and paper structure, and the elderly couple who cared for the teahouse for decades no longer could do so.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino has stepped in to rescue the teahouse as part of an ambitious $6.7-million project to restore its Japanese garden and develop an authentic tea garden. In collaboration with the grand master's Urasenke School and the Buddhist church, the Huntington hopes to use the teahouse to expose the art to a broader swath of society and develop a premier program for Asian garden arts, including the tea ceremony, flower arranging, bonsai and stone viewing.
James Folsom, the Huntington's botanical gardens director, said the ancient Japanese art is as relevant to Americans today as it was to the Zen monks and warring samurai who practiced it four centuries ago.
"When life is so hectic, when you're rushing around looking at e-mails, how do you remind yourself to stop and be human again?" Folsom said. "The tea ceremony reminds us to step out of that, to appreciate silence and tranquillity in the presence of others and to enjoy the beauty of the moment. We would hope that tea helps lead people to a change in their own lives."
The Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Assn. offered a farewell bowl of tea to several guests in the Pasadena teahouse. The house, designed by the grand master's brother, Sen Mitsuhiko, is a light and airy structure featuring woven bamboo ceilings, white papered shoji screens, bamboo tatami mats and the all-important alcove displaying the day's carefully selected Japanese scroll, vase and flower arrangement.
The gathering's hostess, Soen Clarkson, performed the tea ceremony's ritualized acts: First, fold a silk cloth to wipe the tea caddy and tea scoop. Place the powdered green tea in a specially selected bowl. Pour in water heated over a charcoal brazier. Whip the mixture into a froth with a bamboo whisk. Then, offer it to the guests along with Japanese sweets.
As the guests sipped tea, Robert Hori, vice president of Urasenke's Los Angeles chapter and director of advancement at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, explained his choices in selecting the various accoutrements for the occasion. The careful consideration of such items is part of the tea ceremony's spirit of hospitality as the host aims to capture the gathering's treasured and irreplaceable moment.
The boat-shaped vase pointing outward symbolized the teahouse's departure from the Pasadena church, he said. A Rose of Sharon and bush clover, both short-lived blooms, reflect the transiency of life. The scroll of Japanese calligraphy was used when the grand master dedicated the teahouse, named the Arbor of the Pure Breeze, in Pasadena in 1965.
And for the day's tea scoop, Hori selected a utensil named "gratitude."
"We're really grateful for the opportunity to give the teahouse a new life," he said. "It's the end and it's the beginning."
Tea was first taken to Japan from China by a Buddhist monk in the 9th century. But it was not until the 16th century that Sen Rikyu perfected the Way of Tea by incorporating into it Zen elements of simplicity and oneness with nature. By designing a teahouse with an entrance forcing guests to lower their heads and crawl through, the tea master also sought to eliminate social distinctions.
Fourteen generations later, Sen's direct descendent, Tantansai — the Grand Master of Purity and Serenity — served tea to American Occupation forces in Japan. That, in turn, inspired his son Hounsai to move beyond his military training and lingering disdain for Americans and dedicate his life to international harmony through tea. In 1965, he visited the United States to officially dedicate the teahouse his father had bequeathed to the church.
Sosei Matsumoto, a 90-year-old tea master lauded for her accomplishments by President Clinton and the emperor of Japan alike, was the first to teach tea ceremony in the new Pasadena teahouse. The structure, she recalled Sunday, was used for classes every week, with special tea ceremonies for New Year's and the summer Obon festival honoring ancestors.
But the Pasadena tea group failed to expand and dwindled to about seven students, said Yaeko Sakahara, also 90, who took over the classes from Matsumoto more than three decades ago. One of the major obstacles, she and others said, is the traditional requirement to sit on bamboo mats with legs folded under, a position that can turn legs numb after a few minutes. Tea ceremonies can last from 20 minutes to four hours.
Another obstacle to sustaining interest in tea is growing acculturation among younger generations of Japanese Americans, said Irene Takemori, Pasadena temple president.
"The younger generation is more interested in sports and don't have a lot of time for this cultural stuff," Takemori said. "It's really a shame, because it's such a beautiful experience to drink tea and find peace of mind."
When health issues began to preoccupy Sakahara, the teahouse's future hung in the balance.
Enter the Huntington. The renowned cultural institute had been looking for a Japanese teahouse after one of its donors, Mary B. Taylor Hunt, bequeathed a $2.6-million endowment for an authentic Japanese tea garden and related cultural programs. The Huntington's nine-acre Japanese garden, designed by founder Henry Huntington and William Hertrich, reflects a Western interpretation of Japanese aethestics but is not considered authentic, Folsom said.
After months of consideration, the Pasadena Buddhist Church decided earlier this year to donate the teahouse, clearing the way for the transfer.
The Huntington plans to close the current Japanese garden next year for several months of renovation, including restoration of its ponds and a traditional Japanese house. The new two-acre garden will be installed behind the house, along with the Pasadena teahouse. The grand reopening is expected to occur in 2012, in time for the garden's centennial anniversary, Folsom said.
This week, carpenters from Japan are scheduled to fly to Los Angeles and begin dismantling the teahouse. The pieces will be shipped to Kyoto, restored, then sent back to the Huntington.
Folsom said the Huntington, working with the region's tea schools and the Buddhist church, will seek to popularize the Japanese art, possibly using more ceremonial forms that allow practitioners to sit in chairs rather than on folded legs, among other ideas.
For the longtime guardians of the teahouse, Sunday's farewell was bittersweet.
"The teahouse has been an integral part of the temple, so it's a little sad to have it depart," Takemori said. "But it's in the best public interest and for the best use of the teahouse."
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0913-teahouse-20100913,0,1733678.story
Nov 5, 2010, 6:36 AM
Nov 7, 2010, 5:44 AM
US Open of Surfing 2010
Nov 18, 2010, 3:54 AM
$100 million-plus for Huntington will be largest cash gift in institution's history
Culture Monster, Los Angeles Times
November 16, 2010 | 10:00 am
The suspense is over. Now that the late Frances Brody’s other heirs have received their shares of her fortune, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens has a much clearer idea of its own windfall from the L.A. art patron’s estate: a gift expected to easily exceed $100 million.
This represents by far the largest cash gift in the history of the Huntington, which was previously $21 million from Charles and Nancy Munger in 2002. It could even surpass the original endowment created when railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington died in 1927, which is roughly $107 million if adjusted for inflation.
“A number of museums have received significant gifts when you value the art and cash donations together,” says Steven S. Koblik, president of the Huntington. “But as a pure cash gift, this has very few equivalents -- except for the founding gifts that create institutions.”
Tim Seiler, one of the directors at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, agrees. "It's an extraordinary gift, especially for the cultural sector. A $100 million gift more typically goes to a school or university, and it's often a naming gift."
The few comparables tend to come from New York. In 2005, David Rockefeller made a $100-million pledge to the Museum of Modern Art, which ranks as its largest-ever cash gift. In 2008, Leonard Lauder's art foundation gave $131 million to the Whitney Museum of American Art, also its largest.
Brody died in November 2009 at age 93, leaving behind a wealth of artwork — including Giacometti bronzes and Matisse paintings — that she had acquired with her husband, Sidney, a real-estate developer who had died more than two decades earlier. The value of this art directly affected the size of her gift to the Huntington, where she was a board member for 20 years.
This October, the institution received $15 million in cash intended by Brody to improve the botanical gardens, one of her most passionate concerns as a board member. That amount, Koblik says, was specified in her trust instrument and was not in doubt.
The mystery, rather, was how much money the Huntington would receive for also being named the estate’s sole “residual beneficiary” — the heir who is paid after all others should the estate have extra money left over. That’s when the art figured in. When the art world witnessed Christie's sell several of Brody’s masterpieces in May, led by Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust” for $106.5 million (which set a record as the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction), Koblik was watching with particular interest.
“It was an amazing moment,” he says. “When the Christie’s sale of the artwork proved so successful, we knew that would change the nature of our gift.” In effect, the auction created a surplus of $80 million after the other estate payouts, an amount that hit the Huntington’s bank account last week.
Brody estate trustee Robert Shuwarger says the Huntington’s final gift will consist of proceeds from selling the remaining property, including Brody’s A. Quincy Jones house in Holmby Hills. The listing price of the house, which has been on the market since May, has dropped from $24.95 million to $21 million.
“There’s also some miscellaneous property — some silver, porcelain, antiquities, things of that nature — that will be going up for sale at Christie’s,” Shuwarger says. He anticipates that most of those sales will be completed within six months.
Per Brody’s wishes, the full Huntington gift will benefit the botanical gardens, which cover 120 acres of the vast property in San Marino. According to James Folsom, director of the gardens, high-priority projects include “improving and modernizing” a water irrigation system that dates to the early 20th century and creating a “potager” or kitchen garden to complement the existing herb garden. Folsom says that these were pet projects of Brody, who loved her garden at home and, though known for her high style, was not too glamorous to get into a truck with him to drive around and shop for plants at nurseries.
Koblik adds that using the Brody money for botanical purposes frees up existing funds to address other needs, like “making staff salaries more competitive.” This does not, however, mean “quick raises,” he adds, noting the importance of resisting the natural urge “to get overexcited and spend money quickly to do everything we haven’t been able to do.”
Rather, he plans to treat the windfall “like an endowment,” to be invested in a diversified portfolio. (The Huntington’s actual endowment is about $240 million.) The plan is to spend only 5% of the value of the Brody funds over a three-year running average.
And, yes, Koblik says, this legacy-building gift more than compensates for not receiving Brody’s now-famous Picasso. “Right from the beginning of our relationship, Francie said to me, 'You’re not getting the art.' It took the discussion off the table,” he says.
“It was clear to all of us who spent time with Francie that she wanted to make a fiscal difference at the Huntington — she understood the power of this kind of gift.”
-- Jori Finkel
Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/11/huntington-gift-from-frances-brody-estate-to-exceed-100-million-making-it-largest-ever-in-institutio.html
Jan 7, 2011, 2:36 AM
Billionaire Unveils Design Of Downtown LA Museum
by The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES January 6, 2011, 07:55 pm ET
Billionaire Eli Broad, center, arrives to speak at the unveiling of the Broad Art Foundation contemporary art museum designs in Los Angeles, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011. The Billionaire's planned downtown Los Angeles contemporary art museum is a three-story, $130 million honeycomb structure.
Billionaire Eli Broad unveiled plans Thursday for the porous-concrete-shelled structure that will be the future downtown home of his 2,000-piece art collection and a hoped-for catalyst for the continuation of the city center's halting renaissance.
The three-story Broad Art Foundation, designed by New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro, consists of a spongelike mantle that lets light into the 40,000-square feet of gallery space, which itself sits atop a vast storage vault.
Broad said the downtown location on Grand Avenue amid a row of buildings by top-shelf architects — which the developer-turned-philanthropist played a leading role in having built — was a fitting home for the paintings, sculptures and prints he and his wife Edythe have spent four decades collecting.
"We're convinced Grand Avenue is where it's at," Broad said at the unveiling held at the nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall, a Frank Gehry-designed structure that Broad was instrumental in helping fund.
The $130-million art museum's construction is scheduled to begin in late summer, with the galleries welcoming their first visitors in early 2013.
The price includes a parking lot that the city's Community Redevelopment Agency will buy from the foundation for up to $30 million and operate after its completion.
Broad said the museum's initial exhibit will include a broad selection of works from his collection, including pieces by Jeff Koons, John Baldassari and Cindy Sherman. For the following three years, it will rotate its exhibitions every four months to focus on artist that are well represented in the collection, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst and Roy Lichtenstein.
Art not on view will be housed in the storage area at the museum's core, which visitors will be able to see through windows placed along a stairwell leading down from the top-floor gallery area.
"They understood the need to design a museum that would engage the public, to be an iconic piece of architecture on Grand Avenue," Broad said of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who also designed the renovation and expansion of Lincoln Center in New York City and the new Institute of Contemporary Art on the Boston harbor.
The Broads' museum is being built on a 2.5-acre parcel of county-owned land originally set aside as part of a stalled $3 billion shopping, hotel and condo complex known as the Grand Avenue project.
Under the deal for the land, Broad's foundation agreed to pay $7.7 million over the course of a 99-year-lease. The 77-year-old Broad, whose net worth was pegged last year by Forbes magazine at $5.8 billion, also pledged to fund the museum with a $200 million endowment.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the Broads for building and financing the museum, which he predicted would help rekindle the downtown redevelopment projects that have been dampened by the economic downturn.
"This is going to become an anchor tenant for an area that is revitalizing before our very eyes," Villaraigosa said.
Read More: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=132722254
Jan 7, 2011, 2:37 AM
Jan 10, 2011, 9:56 AM
Who is making the decisions to place so many similar uses next to each other?
Civic buildings need to be interspersed among retail, residential, and office space.
Jan 15, 2011, 6:23 AM
Jan 17, 2011, 3:22 AM
Eli Broad, today's Norton Simon
Los Angeles' two preeminent art collectors developed a generation apart but in surprisingly similar ways.
By Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times Art Critic
January 16, 2011
Usually, Eli Broad's trajectory as an art collector is traced to mentoring by the late Taft Schreiber. Broad himself has talked admiringly of what he learned about art from the MCA Inc. executive (and Ronald Reagan's former Hollywood agent), whose small but extraordinary trove of works by Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian, Alberto Giacometti and 10 others was a magnanimous 1989 gift to the Museum of Contemporary Art from the estate of Schreiber's widow, Rita.
Still, another, even more celebrated name in the annals of Los Angeles art collecting ought not to be discounted, even if the influence was perhaps more indirect.
The recent unveiling of the Broad Art Foundation's new building design happens to coincide with the publication of an engrossing new book from Yale University Press. "Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best" ($65) at times reads like a primer for understanding Broad's vigorous acquisitions, contentious relationships with area museums, philosophy of creating an art-lending library and more.
The similarities between Broad and Simon — both self-made men of vast wealth, savvy business acumen, genuine art passion and an often-remarked penchant for aggressive and controlling dealings — are as vivid as the differences.
On Oct. 25, 1972, Broad bought his first important art, paying $95,000 at a Sotheby's auction for an 1888 Van Gogh drawing. Rhythmic lines and staccato flecks of brown ink show two peasant houses in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a seaside village in the Rhône Delta of Provence, the region where he spent his final years.
Today, the personal art collection assembled by Broad and his wife, Edythe — who first sparked her husband's art interest — looks very different from that Post-Impressionist origin. Ditto their foundation's vast collection. The roughly 2,000 works form a diverse compendium of contemporary art dating from 1960 and after, with a clear — and artistically strong — Pop art tilt.
Three weeks before the Sotheby's hammer fell, sending the drawing off to the Broads' L.A. living room while launching them on their nearly four-decade collecting adventure, Norton Simon was acting on an ambitious plan. Simon, quoted in a Museum of Fine Arts Houston press release for a large exhibition drawn from his personal and foundation collections, explained his concept of a museum without walls. Rather than construct a building to display his art, he expressed his intention to start an art-lending library.
"We hope," he said, "to fill a real gap in the cultural life of this country."
Masterpieces from his collection would be available for long-term museum loans, maximizing their educational potential. As the Houston show was being announced, another Simon show was at the Princeton University Art Museum, complete with a catalog whose cover featured Van Gogh's portrait of his mother.
Simon certainly had the wherewithal to establish an art-lending library. He bought his first paintings in late 1954 — two undistinguished works picked up at an art gallery in the old Ambassador Hotel, not far from his Hancock Park home. But soon he was off and running.
By 1962-63 he spent the equivalent in today's currency of more than $22 million on 67 works. The following year he stunned the art world by buying the entire inventory of Duveen Bros., the legendary purveyor of Old Masters to America's first generation of robber-baron art collectors. By the time he was done in 1989, he had made nearly 2,000 acquisitions.
Even many of the works he considered and didn't buy, plus ones he bought and later sold, would together rank as an outstanding collection. Many now reside in important museums, including the Getty and the Hammer in L.A., the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the national galleries in Washington, D.C., and Canberra, Australia.
Simon's holdings blossomed into the greatest art collection assembled from scratch in the post- World War II era. His closest rival for the title was Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss steel magnate whose collection went to Spain, adjacent to the Prado. (It includes some former Simon works.) And Thyssen, who inherited his father's art collection, had a head start.
At 494 pages, "Collector Without Walls" is a thorough, unfailingly fascinating history of Simon's collecting activity, written with great insight by his longtime associate, Sara Campbell, now senior curator at Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum. Together with 1998's biography "Odd Man In: Norton Simon and the Pursuit of Culture" by former Times art writer Suzanne Muchnic, we now have an exceptional resource for understanding events central to Los Angeles' emergence as a global cultural powerhouse.
Coincidentally, we also gain insight into Broad, a generation younger than Simon, who began to collect art when the nation's most famous and prodigious art collector lived just across town. One obvious connection is the lending library concept.
Andre Malraux, France's first minister of cultural affairs, had surmised that the world of art reproductions forms a "museum without walls." For centuries, engravings of masterpiece paintings and plaster casts of famous sculptures expanded the restricted reach of the originals. Malraux proposed in1947's "The Imaginary Museum" that the proliferation of photographic reproductions now accelerated the process.
Simon, who knew the power of advertising techniques from the Hunt Foods conglomerate that made him rich, understood. He surmised that the authenticity of direct art encounters could be restored by making the virtual "museum without walls" into an actual one. A consortium of existing museums could borrow from his great collection.
At the end of 1973 Simon had 100 works in his personal collection, plus about 500 in two foundations. By 1975, sizable loans were made to museums in Houston, Princeton, San Francisco, New Orleans, Pasadena and a dozen other cities, plus the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — where Simon had been a trustee, but from which he had noisily resigned in the belief that it was poorly managed.
Campbell oversaw the lending library concept. In addition to acknowledging its generosity, she is candid in pointing out the program's more pragmatic aspects.
Sizable costs for care and art insurance were not Simon's alone. His foundations, as charitable assets held for public benefit, had legal requirements to make their art available for public display. California tax benefits accrued to art purchases "parked" for three months at out-of-state museums, prior to arriving in L.A.
"We loan works to museums and make them available to scholars, along with an archive on the collection." That was Broad, not Simon, speaking in 1988 about the opening of his then-new Santa Monica art-storage and lending facility.
The same philanthropic and pragmatic mix applies to his lending library concept as it did to Simon's. So do Simon's flirtations with giving the collection away (at least seven institutions); distrust of traditional museum management; engineering of a bailout of an artistically adventuresome but financially faltering institution (the old Pasadena Museum for Simon, MOCA for Broad); later deciding to open his own museum, and more.
In fact, a 1970s shift in Simon's collecting activity also anticipates Broad's. Simon started with 19th and early 20th century French art. Eventually, he added European Old Masters, partially because they were far less expensive.
But after his 1972 marriage to actress Jennifer Jones, the collection's character changed: Simon became an outstanding collector of Indian, Southeast Asian and Himalayan art. In the next two years, he paid $6.6 million for 138 objects, many superlative — less than a third of what he paid during the same period for 123 fine examples of European art.
Broad, unlikely to establish a major collection of early Modern art, switched to contemporary. By the 1980s he was one of the field's most active players. The Van Gogh drawing, sold to help pay for the purchase of a rare, 1954 red abstraction by Robert Rauschenberg, is now in the collection of New York's Morgan Library.
Simon had scant interest in contemporary art. Sculptures by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth were about as close as he got. In 1968 he did pay $65,000 for "Cubi XXVIII" by the late American sculptor David Smith.
He sold the masterpiece in 1982 for $1.1 million — a not-uncommon practice in which Simon, acting like a dealer, took a big profit to subsidize other endeavors. Twenty-three years later, Smith's sculpture went under the hammer at Sotheby's. Its staggering sale price of $23.8 million set a new benchmark as the most expensive contemporary work then sold at auction. The buyer was Eli Broad.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-ca-broad-simon-20110116,0,3414807.story
Norton Simon's unexpected art-collecting influence
Los Angeles Times
January 15, 2011 | 6:00 am
Hospital at Saint-Rémy (1889) Hammer Between 1955 and 1989, L.A.'s Norton Simon went from being a nonentity among private art collectors to blossoming into the world's most prodigious collector of the postwar era. He started with 19th century French paintings but quickly expanded into early Modern art, then Old Masters and finally Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art. The works he amassed make his namesake Pasadena museum an unparalleled treasure.
Even works Simon carefully considered but declined to acquire, lost in a divorce settlement or bought and then later sold to buy other works are among the great objects now housed in museums around the world. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings alone include Edouard Manet's poignant picture of a war veteran on a Paris street, "The Rue Mosnier with Flags" at the J. Paul Getty Museum; Paul Cezanne's chiseled "Boy in a Red Waistcoat" at Washington's National Gallery of Art; Paul Gauguin's patchwork pastoral landscape "The Swineherd" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Edgar Degas' eloquent pastel, "Dancer in Green," in Madrid's Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection; and Vincent Van Gogh's roiling "Hospital at Saint-Remy," shown here, in the UCLA Hammer Museum.
The year 1972, following the tragedy of his son's suicide and the joy of his marriage to Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Jones, was especially active. Simon made his third largest number of acquisitions (more than 150) and his biggest total expenditure (nearly $18 million, which approaches $90 million in today's currency) during those 12 months.
1972 was also the year that another novice L.A. collector first jumped into the art arena -- one who made headlines in 2005 by breaking a record buying a sculpture owned for many years by, yes, Norton Simon. On Sunday I'll have an Arts & Books story on how, when he first set out to become a major art collector, Eli Broad seems to have had Simon's extraordinary achievement in mind.
Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/01/norton-simon-eli-broad-art-collecting-influence.html
Jan 22, 2011, 11:12 PM
$13-million gift boosts Natural History Museum's footprint
The donation to the Los Angeles County's Natural History Museum, the largest from the Otis Booth Foundation, will go toward an expansive glass entrance pavilion that will have as its centerpiece a 63-foot-long fin whale.
January 05, 2011|By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
A 63-foot-long fin whale, one of the biggest skeletons owned by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, will become its public greeter, the museum announced Tuesday, in a new brightly lit glass entrance pavilion made possible by a $13-million gift.
"It's a major statement. It's beckoning and saying, 'Come in and see who we are,'" said Jane Pisano, the museum's president.
The Otis Booth Pavilion, named for the successful investor and former Los Angeles Times executive who was one of the museum's most influential funders and board members before his death in 2008, will replace what Pisano described as an "ugly, dark, barricading" array of steps and walls that had faced Exposition Boulevard. In their place, in time for the museum's 2013 centennial, will rise an architectural signpost that museum leaders say will figure prominently in their bid to boost annual attendance from about 600,000 at the site to more than 1 million, and to spur the $51 million in additional donations needed to fully fund the museum's six-year makeover. The design is by CO Architects, the same L.A. firm that has handled the rest of the renovation project.
Museum leaders have known for decades that the building — actually a series of connected structures that have been added piecemeal to the original graceful domed building that opened in 1913 — needed a commanding entrance, said Paul Haaga Jr., who has been on the board since 1993 and is now its chairman. But in planning the makeover, which began in 2007 and bore its first fruit last summer with the reopening of the restored 1913 building and the popular new Age of Mammals exhibit, officials had decided that a dramatic entrance would increase the cost beyond what they could reasonably expect to raise.
They put off the new entrance until fundraising was finished for the current $135-million "NHM Next" campaign that also includes a new Dinosaur Hall scheduled to open in July, and new indoor and outdoor exhibits focused on nature in Los Angeles that are expected to be finished by the end of 2012.
But when Franklin Otis Booth Jr. died at 84 from Lou Gehrig's disease, part of the fortune he'd made as a ground-floor investor in Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. went toward establishing a new, L.A.-based charitable foundation whose portfolio currently stands at about $190 million.
The $13 million, which will be paid out over three years, becomes the fledgling Otis Booth Foundation's biggest gift, said Palmer Murray, Booth's son-in-law and the foundation's vice president and treasurer.
Murray said that Booth, a great-grandson of Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis, left no instructions for the foundation's grant-making. Given Booth's decades of devotion to the Natural History Museum, Murray said, "it became clear to us this is something we have to be involved in." While going over the possibilities with museum leaders, he said, "the fin whale really piqued our interest," because it would give the building "the physical identity it had lacked" along its only major street frontage, creating both a physical and symbolic bridge to the world outside the museum by beckoning with an impressive example of the sights and knowledge to be had within.
In fact, there will be an actual bridge between the world and the entrance pavilion. Its pilings are already starting to rise from the fenced-in expanse of dirt that is currently the museum's front yard. As the 60-foot-high pavilion goes up, 3.5 acres of park-like "urban wilderness," intended to serve as a "living laboratory" of L.A.'s plants, insects, birds and small animals, will take shape directly outside, along with a landscaped amphitheater.
Except for the four years when the 1913 building was being renovated, the fin whale has been on continuous display since 1944. That's when curators finished studying and preparing the creature acquired from a Humboldt County whaling concern in 1926. It currently hangs as the sole occupant of a long, dramatically-lit gallery that's been dubbed the "fin whale passage," leading from the museum's central indoor plaza to the rotunda. When the whale assumes its new position as the museum's frontispiece, the "passage" will become a gallery devoted to Los Angeles history and nature.
The benefits of having a well-known identifying symbol or trademark attraction are well known to leaders of the Natural History Museum. While the main museum in Exposition Park draws 73% of its attendance from within Los Angeles County — many of them schoolchildren — its sister institution, the much smaller and narrowly focused Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, nearly reverses that equation, drawing 63% of its visitors from outside the county. That can be partly explained by the fact that the tar pits are internationally renowned as the world's most bountiful source of fossilized bones from the Ice Age. Pisano hopes that with new mammal and dinosaur halls, striking new natural grounds and a whale-under-glass, the Exposition Park flagship building will join visitors' list of must-see attractions.
The Otis Booth Foundation's gift doesn't directly advance the museum's "NHM Next" fundraising campaign, which still has $51 million to go to reach its $135-million goal. But Haaga, the museum board's chairman, sees the entry pavilion's creation as "really impactful and helpful in every way." The association with a respected Los Angeles figure such as Booth, and the foundation he created, could have an "endorsement effect" that will attract other philanthropists, Haaga said, and the rollout of the structure itself will give the museum one more accomplishment to celebrate and use as a rallying point for further fundraising.
On the other hand, the Booth Foundation gift is support from inside the museum's existing family of backers, rather than an expansion of its reach via the recruitment of a major new benefactor.
Museum officials say attendance has increased 35% during the six months since the Age of Mammals exhibit opened. Haaga said its success confirms the wisdom of the calculated risk that museum leaders took in deciding to gradually open the new attractions one at a time, knowing that if the first one underwhelmed the public, it could make it harder to raise money for the work that remained.
"Success breeds success," he said. "People want to give to visibly successful plans."
Read More: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/05/entertainment/la-et-nhm-gift-pavillion-20110105
Jan 22, 2011, 11:25 PM
The Natural History Museum, Los Angeles County offered a sneak peek Wednesday of the Tyrannosaurus rex display that will serve as the centerpiece exhibition of its new Dinosaur Hall, which opens in July.
Interactive graphic: Los Angeles Natural History Museum makeover
Feb 20, 2011, 10:25 PM
A star-studded opening for the Valley Performing Arts Center
Among the performers at the gala on the Cal State Northridge campus: Calista Flockhart, Cheech Marin and Cuban jazz musician Arturo Sandoval.
January 31, 2011|By David Ng, Los Angeles Times
Ten years and $125 million in the making, the Valley Performing Arts Center officially became a reality Saturday night in a celebration that brought together Hollywood celebrities with Los Angeles city and county leaders to inaugurate the building on the campus of Cal State Northridge.
The center's 1,700-seat main hall — featuring four plush levels encased in undulating wood panels — is the largest in the San Fernando Valley and is intended to attract top-notch performers to a region of Southern California whose reputation has tended to rest on such less-exalted forms of entertainment, as mall culture and the adult film industry.
The first season at the Arts Center, set to begin this Saturday (with singers Shawn Colvin and Loudon Wainwright III), features performers spanning the spectrum from classical music to jazz to Broadway. Saturday's gala concert reflected that diversity, offering a sampler platter of the arts, spiced with star appearances.
Calista Flockhart, accompanied by husband Harrison Ford, served as one of the evening's many presenters. The celebration included performances by Tyne Daly and Davis Gaines, singing selections from "Gypsy" and "The Phantom of the Opera," respectively; dancers Gillian Murphy and Jose Manuel Carreno from the American Ballet Theatre; and Cuban jazz musician Arturo Sandoval, accompanied on the bongos by actor Andy Garcia.
A number of the evening's performers grew up in the Valley or count themselves as Cal State Northridge alumni. Cheech Marin, who delivered a comedy and song routine, attended the school in the late '60s when it was San Fernando Valley State College. "I did a lot of performing arts while I was here, especially in bands," Marin said during the after-party, which was held nearby on campus. "They used to put on a lot of shows, but they were always in the gym, which wasn't great acoustically."
Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice of Bart Simpson on Fox's "The Simpsons," has been a Valley resident since the '80s, and is the honorary mayor of the North San Fernando Valley. "A facility of this size has the potential to change the community," she said. "I'm enormously proud to live here."
Longtime Valley resident Beau Bridges attended the concert but did not appear onstage. "This has a lot of meaning for our community," he said. "It's the best we have now — and it's not far from my house."
During the concert, Monica Mancini performed songs written by her father, Henry, and recalled growing up in Northridge at a time when the community still had a fair number of orange groves. Soprano Carol Vaness dedicated her performance of "Vissi d'arte" from Puccini's "Tosca" to her Cal State Northridge music professor David Scott.
Other presenters for the evening included Eric Stoltz, Benjamin Bratt, Jane Kaczmarek, Noah Wyle, Steven Weber, Keith David and Doris Roberts.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended the celebration, greeting patrons and trading music tips with Sandoval and Mancini. Villaraigosa said that for the last three years, some Los Angeles leaders have been trying to do away with the city's Department of Cultural Affairs. "We have to find ways to support the arts, including in our schools and universities," he said.
Jolene Koester, president of Cal State Northridge, described the Valley Performing Arts Center as "a miracle" but added that $17 million still needed to be raised to meet the university's $50-million fundraising goal.
With a $125-million price tag, the building represents a combination of public and private investment. State bonds provided approximately half the tab, while private donations accounted for a large portion. In addition, L.A. County Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Antonovich put in $2 million and $500,000, respectively, from their discretionary funds. Yaroslavsky described the building as "long overdue" and added that it would help bring jobs and other forms of investment into the Northridge area. "The arts are a great economic generator," he said.
In late 2008, construction on the center came to a halt because of a state budget impasse, but building resumed the following March after then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger lifted the state moratorium on public works projects.
On Saturday, tuxedoed attendees mingled in the building's atrium, enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass walls that allow views to the west and north. The steel-framed building, designed by the Minneapolis architecture firm of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, also features smaller performance and rehearsal spaces.
Kara Hill, the lead architect on the project, said the center was designed to be "extroverted," with a structural and spiritual connection to the rest of the campus. "Performance halls can often be pushed to the side of a campus," Hill said. "We wanted the building to be open ... so that people can see out and can be seen."
The acoustics of the main hall were designed to be adjustable — via movable panels and other devices — to accommodate the variety of artists expected to appear there. Saxophonist Dave Koz, who grew up in nearby Tarzana and who performed at the gala, described the hall's acoustics as "beautiful... crystal-clear and pure-tone."
Saturday's concert was not the first in the building. In November, the Moscow State Symphony, under music director Pavel Kogan, played two invitation-only concerts that were seen as a test run for the facility.
Organizers said they hope to ramp up programming to a level where there is one major artist event per week. They said the center is about 85% booked for the 2011-12 season, which begins in the fall.
Read More: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jan/31/entertainment/la-et-valley-performing-arts-20110131
Feb 20, 2011, 10:38 PM
Southern Orange County getting its own concert hall
After its public debut in October, the $73-million Soka Performing Arts Center will play host to concert and dance performances, as well as plays and musicals.
By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
February 2, 2011
What the San Fernando Valley is celebrating this week — the debut of a major performing arts center that figures to be a source of enjoyment and pride for an area that had been short on cultural bragging rights — is on the agenda for southern Orange County too.
In Aliso Viejo, a small but wealthy private school, Soka University of America, has begun the countdown toward October, when it expects the first public notes to sound in its Soka Performing Arts Center. Construction has been completed on the 1,034-seat auditorium that, together with a companion building for arts classrooms, studios and offices, cost $73 million (the Valley Performing Arts Center, at 1,700 seats plus an educational building, cost $125 million).
Soka's hall places a premium on excellent sound –- hence the commissioning of Yasuhisa Toyota, the acoustician behind Walt Disney Concert Hall. Among its interior features are a stage made of white Alaskan cedar, chosen for its acoustical properties, and seating behind the stage.
The hall can accommodate about 1,200 people for shows in which a smaller performing space is needed and chairs can be set up on the stage; aside from church halls, it will be the only thousand-seater between the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, which is 18 miles to the north, and the California Center for the Arts, 60 miles southeast in Escondido. It was designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects; the exterior is of plaster, travertine, aluminum and glass.
Last Wednesday, the Pacific Symphony rehearsed in the hall to kick off the acoustic testing process. Meanwhile, it's up to David Palmer, hired in December as general manager after 19 years running the performance program at Whittier College's 403-seat Ruth B. Shannon Center, to book a schedule.
Designed primarily as a concert hall, but also envisioned for dance, plays and musicals — so long as the evening doesn't require more than minimal set changes — the center will be broken in gradually. Plans call for six to eight "major events" the first season, Palmer said. Then it will build over the two following seasons to an expected full complement of about 25 major headliners per September-to-May season.
Palmer said that jazz and Hawaiian music will be a presence, and that he aims for the programming to reflect Soka's ideals with a communitarian emphasis in which performers will be asked to give public workshops or engage with local schools. The 438-student institution is affiliated with Soka Gakkai, a Japanese Buddhist movement established in 1930. The university's website lists its core principles as fostering culture, pacificism and "the creative coexistence of nature and humanity."
Wendy Harder, spokeswoman for the Aliso Viejo university, said that alumni and supporters of the better-established Soka University of Japan, which opened in 1971 in the Tokyo suburbs, have been key contributors to the American venture, including the performing arts center. Blessed with nearly $500 million in invested assets and cash savings as of mid-2009 (nearly triple the holdings of Chapman University in Orange, the county's most prominent private school), Soka waives its $26,300 annual tuition for students whose family income is $60,000 or less; Harder said that about half of the members of the last two entering freshman classes have qualified.
Since opening in 2001, the school has grown slowly toward its eventual goal of about 1,000 students, Harder said, and that will be the approach in the arts as well: "Just a few things to get started, and as we see what kind of community support we have for what kinds of program," more offerings will develop. The first event will be the university's May 27 graduation ceremony.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-0202-soka-20110202,0,1721099.story
Feb 21, 2011, 9:25 AM
^thank goodness. orange county has been in dire need of concert halls for decades. :rolleyes:
Apr 1, 2011, 1:46 AM
Coachella 2011 DVD Trailer
Apr 16, 2011, 5:09 AM
Jul 20, 2011, 5:40 AM
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's New Dinosaur Hall Opens to the Public
Visitors Inaugurate Dinosaur Hall with Increased Civic Pride for LA
LOS ANGELES, July 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- This morning, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County celebrated the opening of a new source of civic pride for Los Angeles with its new, 14,000-square-foot Dinosaur Hall featuring the debut of Thomas the T. rexalong with more than 300 fossils, 20 spectacular dinosaur skeletons and multi-media interactives. Twice the size of the Museum's old dinosaur galleries, the new permanent exhibition rivals the world's leading dinosaur halls for the number of fossils displayed, the size and spectacular character of the major mounts, and the integration of recent scientific discoveries and research into the displays.
Visitors from all over Southern California attended the festive opening day which began with a ribbon cutting with NHM President and Director Jane Pisano and Los AngelesCounty Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who called the new Dinosaur Hall a "major gift to Los Angeles and beyond." The opening day celebration also featured gallery tours, paleontological "dig sites," and family activities, including free art workshops and craft tables.
Crowds inside Dinosaur Hall were awestruck by the centerpiece of the exhibition, the T. rex growth series containing an extraordinary fossil trio of the youngest known baby, a rare juvenile, and a recently-discovered young adult (Thomas)—one of the ten most complete T. rex specimens in the world. The Dinosaur Hall's other standout exhibits include an imposing Triceratops; the armor-backed Stegosaurus; the predator Allosaurus; a 68-foot, long-necked Mamenchisaurus; and giant marine reptiles that swam in the oceans covering what is today California.
Using the exhibit's interactive touch screens, guests engaged in simulated paleontological role-play as excavator, prospector or illustrator, and learned about dinosaur senses and how they may have sounded based on a CT scan of a dinosaur brain.
Today's opening marks the mid-way point of NHM's institutional transformation,as well as a thoughtful reconsideration of what science and the story of our planet means to visitors. The transformation continues with the opening of an exhibition about Southern California's natural and cultural history in 2012, and more than three acres of urban nature experiences and exhibits serving as a new front yard for the Museum and the Otis Booth Pavilion in 2013.
Visit www.nhm.org for more photos and information for planning a visit.
About the Museum
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is located at 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, near downtown. It is open daily 9:30 am to 5 pm. The Museum was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. It has amassed one of the world's most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Park and Museum (Newhall, California). For more information visit www.nhm.org
SOURCE The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Read More: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/natural-history-museum-of-los-angeles-countys-new-dinosaur-hall-opens-to-the-public-125689833.html
Jul 31, 2011, 5:58 AM
Creative minds behind Cirque du Soleil's 'Iris'
A Q&A with director-choreographer Philippe Decouflé and composer Danny Elfman.
July 24, 2011|By Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times
Last week previews began at the Kodak Theatre for "Iris," the latest big-top extravaganza by Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil. The show, which its producers hope will run at the Hollywood & Highland complex for the next decade, is a valentine to the art of cinema that combines circus acts, avant-garde theatrics and a touch of Hollywood razzle-dazzle.
The two top-billed members of its creative team are director Philippe Decouflé, a Paris-based director-choreographer, and composer Danny Elfman, former frontman for the progressive rock band Oingo Boingo and author of dozens of feature film scores, including Tim Burton's "Batman" and "Alice in Wonderland." We spoke with them about "Iris" this week at Elfman's studio in Los Angeles. In conversation, the pair work together like an aerial act. Elfman, humorous and upfront, maintains a steady patter of anecdotes and impressions about the show and its progress. Then Decouflé swoops in with elegantly crafted thoughts in Parisian-accented English. This is an edited transcript of their conversation.
This show is about cinema, not about Hollywood, although here in L.A. we sometimes think of them as synonymous.
Elfman: It's almost like cinema as an idea, rather than "movies." We're not trying to make you think of "Lawrence of Arabia," not trying to make you think of Alfred Hitchcock, we're not trying to make you think of specific movies. It's almost as much of an homage to [Louis] Lumière as it is to any single director.
Decouflé: The basic subject is cinema. For me it was so dangerous, I didn't know what to do for a long time. Because if we talk about just one school of cinema — like, I'm a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, but I cannot do a show which is an homage to Hitchcock because I have to give an homage to cinema in general. So I decided to work mainly on what was before cinema, about the fascination we have for images. It's the beauty of movement.
Danny, how does doing "Iris" compare with working on a film?
Elfman: Well, there's no comparison, almost on any level. Film, first off, you have a finished product, or semi-finished, by the time I come in. Secondly, it's a film, and you know what you're supposed to do. I knew that "Iris" was going to be in a constant transformation. But the thing that is most interesting is that there was no template to look to, to follow.
How did you two begin working together?
Elfman: We started two years ago. Philippe already had a lot of work done. He was creating the show in Paris. I just started writing music and sending it over to him.
Philippe, why did Cirque want Danny involved in this show?
Decouflé: Cirque du Soleil asked me to work on this show and to find a creative team. So my very first idea was let's ask Daniel, because he's one of my favorite composers. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a movie I have seen 50 times. And I had the chance that Danny, he hadn't seen a lot of dance shows in his life, but he saw my solo work in New York a little while before.
Elfman: It was really a bit of fate. I had an agent who was booking concerts. So one night in New York, he says, "We're going to go see a show, a dance show." And I get to the theater and there's just this picture of one person. It's a solo. And I go, "What?! You've taken me to a solo performance? Oh my god, I'm going to see a modern dance solo performance! This is going to be horrible!" And I loved the show. I said, "Whoever this Decouflé is, I'd love to work with him some day." And six months later I get this call saying Cirque is interested. And you also have to remember I started out as a street musician. I was a fire-breather, same as Guy [Cirque Chief Executive Guy Laliberté]. My first performing in my life was with a French musical-theatrical group, Le Grand Magic Circus.
The music for "Iris" incorporates many different styles, from Latin jazz to Balinese gamelan and Japanese taiko drums to serialism.
Elfman: Sometimes I'd get an idea thrown at me, just something to grab hold of. So there was lots of things, like doing Gershwin-esque, or doing Leonard Bernstein, doing something romantic.
Philippe, you often use live music for your dance pieces, right?
Decouflé: Since, I don't know, like 15 years ago, I decided to play only with live music. Because I think it's always better for the audience when all the elements that I use are live, and when they play together. And the relationship between dance and music for me is really very close. Dance almost always needs music, except you have the [Merce] Cunningham and [John] Cage style, where they decided to have the music independent from the choreography, but I'm not from that tradition.
Danny, are you the only Hollywood guy involved in the creative team?
Decouflé: Are you a Hollywood guy?
Elfman: What a scary thought!
Decouflé: It's true that I have a very French team [for "Iris"]. For example, my set designer, he's mainly working in cinema.
Elfman: I guess I would have to be the "Hollywood guy" in the team. Although, it's funny, after 26 years of working in Hollywood, I still don't consider myself a Hollywood guy. I'm not a Hollywood guy in the sense that I don't connect with Hollywood. I go to openings when I absolutely have to. As much as I support the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] and all the good things they do, because I love cinema, and cinema was my inspiration to get into music.
How did that translate into making music?
Elfman: All accident. My early designs in life were to be in movies — not an actor, but a cinematographer, an editor, a writer, maybe a director. Everything but an actor or a composer. My training was spending every weekend of my life at a theater. And I lived in an area where the kids went to the theater every Saturday and Sunday.
Philippe, does the culture of Hollywood — the Academy Awards and that kind of thing — interest you?
Decouflé: I don't know it so well, so I can't say. But I could say almost the same as Danny in many points, because I do what I do by accident also. Because it's a bit the same. When I was a kid, every day when I was in school, at midday I was escaping to go to the movies, mainly to cartoons. When I was a kid I was always crazy about Tex Avery.
Did you like cartoons because you can do anything in them?
Decouflé: Yeah, it's something about freedom, freedom of movement. So there is something about reaching the impossibility which interested me a lot. And voilà, I began to do what I did also by accident. I thought I was going to work in the movies, to make lighting, or the film credits at the beginning and the end of the movies.
Is there anything you haven't been able to do in the Kodak Theatre?
Decouflé: I have a model of the Kodak Theatre in my house in Paris, a big one, and I've slept with it for three years. (Laughter.) There is a basic problem in the Kodak: It's the American sickness of king-size. It's too big. It's a reproduction of an Italian theater, but really like king-size. So we had to fight to try to twist the relationship that the spectators have with the space. Because if you respect the normal aperture, it's too big, too far.
Elfman: That's what I noticed right from the beginning. "Iris" is much more human-based. There's a sense of anticipation that's more old-school circus than the new Cirque du Soleil shows. Because I've seen "O" twice, I've seen "Ka" twice. And I never feel that anything could ever go wrong in those shows, they're like clockwork. But here, you have four people, two people, six people, just doing their act, there's no help, there's nothing but them and their bodies. I bite my nails and grit my teeth much more than in any other Cirque show that I've seen. I know they're going to be OK, but I have to look away at moments because it just looks too insanely difficult. To me, of all the Cirque shows I've seen, this one, its unique quality is that connection with the human element. You don't need $100 million of CGI. You're just watching performers performing. And what a joy that is.
Read More: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/24/entertainment/la-ca-cirque-decoufl-elfman-20110724
Sep 8, 2011, 2:51 AM
Getty acquires rare, illuminated Bible from 1200s Italy
Los Angeles Times
September 6, 2011 | 1:28 pm
The J. Paul Getty Museum has added a prized, 750-year-old Bible from Italy to its noted collection of illuminated medieval manuscripts, and the museum says it will go on display Dec. 13 as a highlight of the upcoming exhibition, “Gothic Grandeur: Manuscript Illumination 1250-1350.”
The Getty’s announcement says that the so-called Abbey Bible, named for a former British owner, was created in the mid-1200s for a Dominican monastery. According to museum officials, it “is one of the earliest and finest” illuminated Bibles to have emerged from Bologna in northern Italy, “one of the major centers” where scribes turned Latin scripture into art.
The work’s hallmarks, per the Getty, include “unusually lavish illumination” encompassing “whimsical figures…drolleries, grotesques and dynamic pen flourishes,” as well as rare images of praying monks.
“Sensitively depicted facial expressions…reveal the artist to be a skilled storyteller, and the pages brim with incident and event,” the Getty says.
The museum wouldn’t say what it spent to acquire the Bible this summer.
In July 2010, Christie’s in London offered it at auction as part of its multi-part sale of the Arcana Collection, a trove of medieval and Renaissance illuminated manuscripts that the British newspaper, the Daily Mail reported had been collected over three decades by an anonymous American businessman.
Christie’s experts had predicted that the Abbey Bible, named for a British major who owned it from 1965 to 1989, could command a high bid of $4 million to $5.6 million, but it went unsold at the auction. According to Christie’s description, the Abbey Bible measures 10.6 inches by 7.8 inches and consists of 514 leaves of vellum; the artistry is found in 125 large, decorated capital letters, and in scenes and decorations painted in the margins of about 80 of the pages.
Read More: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2011/09/getty-museum-medieval-bible-.html
Nov 23, 2011, 4:00 AM
L.A. movie palaces get starring role in period films
The downtown theaters, several of which have been renovated, provide authentic atmosphere in 'J. Edgar' and 'The Artist' and can double as nightclubs, casinos and hotel lobbies.
By Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
6:20 PM PST, November 22, 2011
The opulent picture palaces and vaudeville halls of downtown Los Angeles may be monuments to a bygone era, but they are still keeping their ties to Hollywood.
Theaters in the historic Broadway district, including the Orpheum, the Palace Theatre and the Los Angeles Theatre, are featured in several current and upcoming movies, including Walt Disney Pictures' "The Muppets," Warner Bros.' "J. Edgar" and "The Dark Knight Rises," and the Weinstein Co.'s "The Artist," the silent, black and white, period romance that opens in the U.S. this week.
The elegant structures are popular among location managers and set designers because of their rich and varied architecture, which ranges from Art Deco to French Baroque and Spanish Gothic — sometimes all in the same venue.
"These downtown L.A. theaters constitute a local treasure trove of historic and exotic show palace interiors and exteriors," said Harry Medved, co-author of the book "Location Filming in Los Angeles." "They can double as live theaters, nightclubs, casinos, hotel lobbies or music halls in London, New York, Detroit and Paris."
Another selling point: because they are no longer used to show first run-movies, the buildings are readily available for dressing up as movie sets.
"They are an incredibly valuable resource for filming in Los Angeles," said John Panzarella, location manager for "In Time," the recently released sci-fi thriller starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. Panzarella booked the grand lobby of the Los Angeles Theatre to depict a European casino.
"In Time" is among more than a dozen movies that have filmed at the Broadway district landmark, which was designed by architect Charles Lee and opened in 1931 for the gala screening of Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights." The building, now listed with the National Register of Historic Places, was the last and most extravagant of the downtown movie palaces built between 1910 and 1931. Together, they formed the core of the city's entertainment district, which also hosted live performances by artists as diverse as Judy Garland and Duke Ellington.
Later, they hosted puppets. Producers of "The Muppets" also shot a scene in the same lobby, where Kermit the Frog makes his final speech on the grand staircase.
Most of the original 19 theaters have long since closed. A handful — including the Million Dollar Theater and the Palace — remain open for special events, screenings and concerts. (Loew's State Theatre, at 7th Street and Broadway, is a church.) Several rent their auditoriums, lobbies and ballrooms to film crews, which may be the reason they're still around.
"Their use as film locations is one of the main reasons they are still here and intact," said Hillsman Wright, co-founder of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation, which has been working to preserve the storied real estate. "They are very powerful buildings that were designed to take you away from the troubled world, particularly during the Depression era. They were built to inspire and they still have that quality."
Richard Middleton, executive producer of "The Artist," said the old movie houses are an asset to a city that has suffered from runaway production.
The Oscar contender is set in the 1920s and tells the story of a silent movie star struggling to adapt to the advent of the talkies. It was filmed on location in Los Angeles, at the Los Angeles Theatre and the Orpheum.
"It's pretty hard to find period-correct theaters that can give you the look from that time," Middleton said. "Luckily for us, these theaters are in good condition and have maintained their architecturally integrity."
In addition to "The Artist," several other movies have filmed at the Orpheum, including "Funny People" "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Dreamgirls." The theater has also been a location for commercials, music videos, live concerts and even performances of "American Idol."
Owner Steve Needleman has invested more than $4 million in improvements to renovate the theater, which he heavily markets as a film location. He says that up to 60% of his business comes from film and TV productions, which pay as much as $10,000 a day to shoot there.
"We're offering a production value to them that you just can't get in other places," Needleman said. "It's getting back to that old- time look of Los Angeles."
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-onlocation-20111123,0,1638371.story
Nov 27, 2011, 10:55 PM
Between a rock and LACMA, it's a hard place
When installed at the art museum, a 340-ton boulder will become part of a sculpture called 'Levitated Mass.' Getting there from Riverside County is a logistical challenge and a bureaucratic one.
By Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times
3:58 PM PST, November 24, 2011
The object: A 340-ton, 211/2-foot-tall chunk of granite, sitting in a quarry in Riverside County.
The mission: Lift it and haul it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, on a 106-mile journey.
Degree of difficulty: High. Very high.
This is no ordinary rock. The massive boulder is supposed to form the centerpiece of artist Michael Heizer's outdoor sculpture called "Levitated Mass," part of a planned permanent display on the north side of LACMA's Wilshire Boulevard campus.
If only the rock could really levitate. Moving it is turning out to be tougher than expected, and the museum, which was supposed to take delivery in August, now says the rock likely won't leave the quarry until the end of December.
"The move ain't gonna be a picnic," says Rick Albrecht, the project's logistics supervisor whose company, Emmert International, has moved nuclear generators and a 19th-century historic home, so he knows a thing or two about heavy lifting. "But the preparation is the biggest job."
Here's the plan. The big rock sits in Stone Valley quarry, a 90-acre wash of gray and brown framed by dusty, granite hillsides and Riverside's Jurupa mountains. Truckers must wrangle the boulder from the quarry onto a 294-foot-long, modular, centipede-like "transporter," which will carry it through the night on its journey across three counties.
Top speed? Seven miles per hour.
Work crews from 100 utility districts will accompany the rock to take down traffic signs, overhead wires and other obstacles, then reinstall them once the giant transporter moves on. A signal expert will move and then reinstate the traffic lights that otherwise would be mowed down like blades of grass by the transporter, which is nearly as wide as three freeway traffic lanes.
There will be flag crews to stop traffic and a security detail. And, of course, the requisite documentary film crew.
Once in place, the boulder will rest atop a 456-long, ramp-like slot in the ground through which visitors will pass, making it appear that the rock levitates above them. The whole project — cost of the rock, its transport and construction of the sculpture site — will cost up to $10 million, which the museum has raised from private donors, including Terry and Jane Semel, Bob Daly and Carole Bayer Sager.
It is, as LACMA director Michael Govan is fond of noting, a process not unlike that facing the ancient Egyptians when they built the pyramids.
But the Pharaohs didn't have to contend with a thicket of bureaucracy. Even before they get underway, the movers must negotiate with city and county and state officials for the myriad permits required to cross jurisdictions — more than 100 in all.
And local officials are determining which roads and bridges are large enough and strong enough to withstand the weight. Permits are in flux for four cities, with Diamond Bar doing engineering studies on its portion of the proposed route.
"It's intensive," concedes Albrecht, something of a modern-day cowboy with a bushy mustache, silver hoop earring and a deep, above-the-neck-tan. He is standing in Stone Valley, eerily quiet but for the intermittent bleeping of a bulldozer and the occasional rumble of loose rock tumbling down quarry walls.
"Everyone has to be in agreement. It's always changing. Then we re-route. The [permitting] process generally takes a year, and we have six months. So we've been fighting like crazy to get it done."
Albrecht's brother Mark, lead project manager at Emmert, is the Oz-like figure behind boardroom doors, negotiating with municipalities for permission to travel their roads. Rerouting, he says, sets off a domino effect of changes involving multiple crews, scheduling tangles, new test drives, yet more permits — and each time pushing back the rock's leave date.
Meantime, the engineering feat that is the transporter raises its own set of obstacles.
"Try turning a vehicle like that," Rick Albrecht says, pointing out that the transporter will often have to drive on the wrong side of the road to make a turn.
Which is why the rock will travel at night, on roads closed to traffic — a combined 1.2 million-pound load traveling so slowly that the journey will take nine days. The rock itself will be shrink-wrapped for protection and the vehicle illuminated by more than 800 feet of string lights for visibility.
Parking? "The middle of the road, the only place big enough," Rick says. Multiple permits were needed to park the rock during the day.
Tim Culverwell is the green light, red light guy — literally. As a superintendent at LA Signal, he'll have the laborious job of moving traffic signals.
"We're gonna end up flashing, lifting and turning almost every traffic signal pole that we pass," he says. "We've never had to go to this extreme on a load before; it's up to a two-hour process per pole."
If all this seems excessive, the artist's assistant, Tim Cunningham, is quick to play devil's advocate. "I've found it amusing from what I've read in the press about the expense, the naysayers. It's as viable as any other public works project," he insists. "And this is creating jobs above and beyond the aesthetic appeal — for Emmert, the riggers, the truckers, the utility guys working overtime — and the country needs jobs."
Stephen Vanderhart, co-owner of the quarry, has found the experience a mixed blessing. The transporter which was built around the rock, sits smack in the middle of his mining area disrupting production. But what the quarry has lost in production, it's gained in PR, Vanderhart says. Stone Valley gets about half a dozen calls a day from people asking if the rock has moved, and visitors stop by every week to gawk.
"It's amazing; people who aren't necessarily into art are excited about it because of the mechanics, the geology of it," Vanderhart says.
The night the boulder begins its epic journey, Vanderhart plans to see it off with an open-air barbecue for about 300 people at the quarry, complete with a DJ and custom T-shirts as souvenirs.
What will the T-shirts say? "Big … Rock … Move!"
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-lacma-rock-20111125,0,6052405.story
Dec 12, 2011, 3:13 AM
Édouard Manet’s “Portrait of Madame Brunet” was acquired by the Getty.
Read More: http://artfixdaily.com/news_feed/2011/12/05/2559-significant-acquisitions-for-getty-center-los-angeles-county-muse
Dec 12, 2011, 3:23 AM
Feb 16, 2012, 12:51 PM
Moby, the musician, has an interesting LA architecture photo blog:
Feb 22, 2012, 3:16 AM
Berkeley’s Artwork Loss Is a Museum’s Gain
By CAROL POGASH
The New York Times
Published: February 20, 2012
BERKELEY, Calif. — Everybody misplaces something sometime. But it is not easy for the University of California, Berkeley, to explain how it lost a 22-foot-long carved panel by a celebrated African-American sculptor, or how, three years ago, it mistakenly sold this work, valued at more than a million dollars, for $150 plus tax.
The university’s embarrassing loss eventually enabled the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, a large museum and research center in San Marino, Calif., to acquire its first major work by an African-American artist.
The circuitous tale of Sargent Johnson’s huge redwood relief involves error, chance and a partnership of unlikely art-world figures, including an art and furniture dealer who stumbled upon the panels at the university’s surplus store; an antiques dealer who was on a first-name basis with Michael Jackson and his chimp Bubbles; and a lawyer whose hobby is buying lighthouses and who convinced the government that even though the art was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration, it could still be sold publicly.
Harvey Smith, president of the National New Deal Preservation Association, called what happened a betrayal of the public trust. “We all pay for this art and we all own it,” he said.
“It’s hard to imagine losing something longer than a pickup truck,” he added, referring to what he called Berkeley’s “amazing incompetence.”
“It’s astounding,” he said.
In correspondence with the federal government, Andrew Goldblatt, who has the stressful-sounding title of assistant risk manager for the university, described the sale of the Johnson piece as “an error of ignorance.”
“We do regret it,” Mr. Goldblatt said in an interview. “Something went wrong, and it just cascaded.”
Johnson (1888-1967) is considered one of the finest sculptors of the Harlem Renaissance, though he spent most of his life in the Bay Area. He was never able to earn a living purely from his art, but in recent years interest in him has resurged, said Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, an associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania, who is writing a book on him. In 1937, under the auspices of the W.P.A., Johnson designed two large Art Deco redwood reliefs, one of which depicted an idealized natural world of gilded gazelles, open-beaked birds, spiky-leafed plants and a boy clapping cymbals.
Designed to cover organ pipes at the old California School for the Deaf and Blind in Berkeley, this natural-world relief was affixed to a wall until 1980, when the school moved. As squatters (and rats) took shelter there, the university, which had taken over the premises, moved any valuable property to a secure basement warehouse, and the organ relief was disassembled. But one of the organ screens was misidentified as belonging to Berkeley’s graduate schools, so when the university reopened the building three years later, only one of the two Johnson reliefs was returned to its rightful place. The other remained in storage until 2009, when the university emptied the storage space in preparation for the sale of the building and transferred the relief to the university’s surplus store.
That’s where, in late summer of that year, Greg Favors, an art and furniture dealer, came upon eight cracked but still handsome panels in a plywood bin. Mr. Favors did not know what they were or who had created them, but he thought them “amazing and cool,” he said. He paid $164.63, including tax.
In need of a restorer, he contacted Dennis Boses, owner of Off the Wall Antiques in Los Angeles, who has provided eye-popping objects for celebrities like Jackson and for flashy restaurants including the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, and who has been an expert on the popular A&E reality show “Storage Wars.” Mr. Boses trucked the panels to his warehouse in North Hollywood, where he restored them. He was hoping the art might fetch $10,000 to $11,000.
Meanwhile, Mr. Favors scoured the Internet searching for the artist’s name.
On Oct. 16, 2009, at 9:03 a.m., he e-mailed Gray Brechin, a Berkeley scholar of historical geography who specializes in New Deal art, asking for help.
At 9:08 a.m., the response arrived: “You BOUGHT this? They SOLD it?” He identified Sargent Johnson as the artist and added, “I am astounded that they deacquisitioned it.”
Armed with that information, Mr. Boses spoke to Michael Rosenfeld of the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York, an authority on African-American art. Mr. Rosenfeld was relieved to learn that the piece had not been chopped for firewood or turned into a trellis. He recalled telling Mr. Boses, “In the unlikely event you get a release from the G.S.A, I would buy it.” (Mr. Rosenfeld was referring to the General Services Administration, which is the official custodian of artwork produced under the aegis of several public programs during the New Deal and is working with the F.B.I. to recover misplaced or stolen art and have it displayed in public locations.)
For help in getting clearance from the agency, Mr. Favors turned to his friend Bradley Long, whose e-mail handle, bradcansell, suggests that no transaction is beyond his abilities. And Mr. Long, through his mechanic at Benz Autobody in Redwood City, Calif., met Michael L. Gabriel, a lawyer whose hobby is buying lighthouses from the General Services Administration. Mr. Gabriel found a loophole in the laws governing W.P.A. art.
Movable art from the W.P.A. falls under federal jurisdiction. But according to a November 2010 e-mail from a General Services Administration lawyer to the university, which Mr. Smith of the National New Deal Preservation Association obtained last month through a California Public Records Act request, the federal government does not retain ownership of W.P.A art affixed to nonfederal buildings.
Jennifer Gibson, director of the General Services Administration’s art in architecture and fine arts program, said in an interview that despite the ruling, her agency hoped Johnson’s work would go “to an institution that provides public access.”
The University of California, Berkeley, tried to be that institution. It hired appraisers who valued the Johnson work at $215,000 but, facing extensive budget cuts, it did not have the money to make a deal. Late last February, Mr. Rosenfeld bought the Johnson relief for what two of the partners said was $225,000.
But the art didn’t even make it to Mr. Rosenfeld’s New York gallery. One week after his purchase, Jessica Todd Smith, curator of American art at the Huntington Library, near Los Angeles, and John Murdoch, the museum’s director of art collections, paid Mr. Rosenfeld a visit, looking for works to fill their newly expanded American galleries.
The Johnson panel had not yet shipped from the North Hollywood warehouse, so Mr. Rosenfeld showed them photographs. On her first day back at the office, Ms. Smith visited the warehouse to see what she called “Johnson’s monumental work.” She added that it “confirmed and surpassed our expectations.” It became the year’s first acquisition of the Huntington art collectors’ council.
Ms. Smith declined to divulge the price. Mr. Rosenfeld, who said he had sold small Johnson sculptures “that you can hold in your hand” for more than $100,000, said the relief was worth over $1 million, but that the Huntington had paid considerably less. He didn’t seek market value, he said, because the work was so important that it belonged in a museum. (Lowery Stokes Sims, a curator at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and an authority on African-American artists, called Mr. Rosenfeld’s assessment “no exaggeration,” and said it was not unusual for a gallery to sell an important work to a museum at a discounted price.) When the Huntington’s new American wing opens, in 2014, Ms. Smith said, “you will be able to open the doors to the gallery and see it at the end of the vista, holding down the wall.”
Nonetheless, Mr. Smith of the National New Deal Preservation Association is unforgiving, saying that the university, in its role as steward of this art, exhibited a “total disregard for our country’s artistic legacy.”
Arthur Monroe, an African-American artist and friend of Johnson’s, said that if the missing art had been by a white sculptor, “the university would have turned the campus upside down to find it.” Still, he added, “Any time there’s prominent space to exhibit his work is always good for my friend.”
For his part, Mr. Goldblatt, the university’s risk manager, said, “We’re terribly sorry it happened but very happy about the result”: that art that once belonged to the public will be back on public display. The other Johnson relief is locked in a Berkeley conference room and may be seen by the public — only upon request.
Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/arts/design/art-by-sargent-johnson-berkeleys-loss-is-museums-gain.html
Apr 13, 2012, 2:24 PM
At the Huntington, a Japanese Garden of new delights
One of the San Marino estate's most popular destinations stands to attract new admirers with $6.8 million in improvements, including a ceremonial teahouse and tea garden.
April 09, 2012|By Karen Wada, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Gloria Cox may be a grandmother, but she's grinning like a little kid as she slips into a shady nook formed by twining juniper branches in the Japanese Garden at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. Cox, a veteran Huntington docent, says she has missed visiting "my favorite spot" — which she discovered with her grandsons — and the rest of the garden, which closed for renovation last April and is reopening Wednesday in time for its centennial.
The Japanese Garden is welcoming back old friends like Cox and hoping to attract new ones with $6.8 million in improvements that include the installation of a ceremonial teahouse and tea garden and restoration of the late 19th century-style Japanese House.
Magnate Henry E. Huntington created this retreat of pines, ponds and wisteria in a canyon on his San Marino estate from 1911 to 1912. Officials say it is one of the most popular destinations on the estate, which opened to the public in 1928. "The Huntington has changed over time, but the garden hasn't lost its mystique," says James Folsom, director of the botanical gardens. "On Yelp, it gets more comments than 'Blue Boy' or the Gutenberg Bible."
The Huntington sees this anniversary as a chance to take a fresh look at the 9-acre site's past and future. Folsom says research for the renovations and a centennial history book due out this fall "have led us to keep learning more" about subjects such as the house's construction and the garden's relationships with local Japanese Americans.
Read More: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/09/entertainment/la-et-huntington-japanese-tea-garden-20120409
Apr 15, 2012, 3:45 PM
Coachella 2012: Fest expands, floods desert region with dollars
The Coachella festival has expanded to two weekends for the first time, promising to pump up the region's profits.
By Randy Lewis and Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times
April 13, 2012, 9:30 a.m.
Fans and bands may need an extra stamina boost this year. Coachella, one of the biggest events for pop fans, the music industry and the Mojave Desert, is expanding for the first time from one weekend to two and will feature 143 bands. By cloning itself into twin festivals, with identical lineups, spread over consecutive three-day weekends, it will easily rank as the highest-grossing festival in the world this year, according to Billboard magazine.
Last year's one-weekend event grossed $25 million in tickets. This year that figure is expected to jump to the $50-million mark by the time the event closes on April 22. Three-day passes cost $285 sans service fees, and all 150,000 passes were gone within three hours of the lineup being announced in January.
"There were enough buyers in queue to buy online that we probably could have added another two Coachella weekends, and another Stagecoach weekend," said Randy Phillips, president of AEG Live, which is equal partners with Coachella's promoter Goldenvoice in that event and its country music cousin, Stagecoach, coming the weekend after Coachella ends.
The Coachella footprint is not only getting larger, it's becoming permanent. This year AEG-owned Goldenvoice announced that it had purchased 280 acres of land that surround the Empire Polo Grounds. It signaled a commitment by the promoter not only to stay in the area but to continue to shape its surroundings.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-et-coachella-main-20120413,0,4563468.story
Apr 18, 2012, 4:20 AM
Emma Watson (Harry Porter)
Read More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2130530/Emma-Watson-boyfriend-Will-Adamowicz-pack-PDA-Coachella-2012.html
May 9, 2012, 1:32 PM
Marilyn Monroe set to return to Palm Springs as 26-foot-tall statue
By Jamie Wetherbe
Los Angeles Times
May 7, 2012, 4:43 p.m.
Preparations continue for the arrival in Palm Springs of "Forever Marilyn," the 26-foot-tall statue that became a controversial fixture on Chicago's Michigan Avenue.
The sculpture by Seward Johnson, the 80-year-old artist and Johnson & Johnson heir who’s known for casting famous images into giant sculptures, re-creates the scene from the 1955 film "The Seven Year Itch" in which a drafty New York subway grate blows the sex symbol's skirt well above her knees.
“We received many requests as far away as Tokyo and Madrid and cities in Brazil, and we really felt that Palm Springs has a special connection to Marilyn because it is the legendary play land for Hollywood,” said Paula Stoeke, the director and curator of the Sculpture Foundation, an organization funded and run by Johnson with offices in Santa Monica.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-marilyn-monroe-palm-springs-statue-20120507,0,3046238.story
May 16, 2012, 2:17 AM
The Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts
Opening in the fall of 2013, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will preserve the historic Beverly Hills Post Office and transform it into a performing arts and cultural facility for the presentation of theater, dance, music, professional children’s theater and other cultural activities.
Within the Post Office, existing spaces will be redesigned into a flexible 150-seat Studio Theater, three classrooms for a theater school for young people, a café and a gift shop. Adjoining the landmark building will be the new 500-seat, state-of-the-art Goldsmith Theater. The grounds of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts will feature a sunken sculpture garden, elegant landscaping and a promenade terrace.
To celebrate the transformation of the Italian Renaissance Post Office into a performing arts venue, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presented the United States premiere of Il Teatro alla Moda – Theater in Fashion from October through December 2011. The exhibition explored Italy’s famous haute couture designers and their impact on the stages of opera, dance and theater through costumes, sketches and drawings.
Read More: http://www.annenbergfoundation.org/about/directors-activities/wallis-annenberg-center-performing-arts
Jun 10, 2012, 3:43 PM
Battleship of Presidents
Built in 1940, the USS IOWA served our country for over 50 years. Designated the "World's Greatest Naval Ship" due to her big guns, heavy armor, fast speed, longevity and modernization, she kept pace with technology for more than 50 years.
During her more than 50 years in service, IOWA has welcomed and escorted our nation’s Commander in Chief on many occasions. No other battleship in our nation’s history has been host to more U.S. Presidents than the IOWA.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
On 12 November 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt boarded the USS Iowa from the Presidential yacht (USS Potomac) at the mouth of the Potomac River. The President’s party included Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a secret meeting with Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai-shek at the Tehran Conference.
On 14 November 1943, at Roosevelt’s request, the USS Iowa conducted an anti-aircraft drill to demonstrate her defensive capabilities. Escort ships also participated in these activities, one of which was the destroyer William D. Porter. The warship was performing a torpedo drill, when #3 torpedo was accidently discharged from its tube and was headed directly towards the IOWA. After numerous attempts to signal the IOWA via blinker light, William D. Porter crew decided to break radio silence to inform the IOWA of the mishap. IOWA turned hard right to avoid the torpedo, which exploded in the wake of the battleship. During this event, Roosevelt had learned of the incoming torpedo and asked the Secret Service to move his wheelchair to the side of the battleship for a better view.
On 16 December 1943, IOWA returned President Roosevelt back to the United States. His departing address to the crew stated, “…from all I have seen and all I have heard, the IOWA is a ‘happy ship,’ and having served with the Navy for many years, I know, and you know, what that means.”
President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan
On 4 July 1986, President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan boarded USS Iowa for Liberty Weekend, the celebration of the restoration and centenary of the Statue of Liberty in New York City. That morning numerous ships from different eras participated in the naval revue, which President Reagan viewed from USS Iowa. He saw the ships as a personification of freedom and liberty:
“Perhaps, indeed, these vessels embody our conception of liberty itself: to have before one no impediments, only open spaces; to chart one’s own course and take the adventure of life as it comes; to be free as the wind – as free as the tall ships themselves. It’s fitting, then, that this procession should take place in honor of Lady Liberty.”
Numerous countries, ships and performers participated in this event and the evening was capped off with a 30 minute fireworks display. The Beach Boys performed that evening on top of turret 3 for the battleship’s crew, their families and several invited guests of the Navy.
President George H.W. Bush
On 28 April 1984, as Vice President, George H.W. Bush recommissioned USS Iowa at Ingall’s Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS.
On 24 April 1989, President George H.W. Bush joined the crew and families of USS Iowa at the memorial service for the battleship’s crewmembers in Norfolk, VA. He remarked:
“We join today in mourning for the 47 who perished and in thanks for the 11 who survived. They all were, in the words of a poet, the men behind the guns. They came from Hidalgo, Texas; Cleveland, Ohio; Tampa, Florida; Costa Mesa, California. They came to the Navy as strangers, served the Navy as shipmates and friends, and left the Navy as brothers in eternity. In the finest Navy tradition, they served proudly on a great battleship, U.S.S. Iowa.
This dreadnought, built long before these sailors were born, braved the wartime waters of the Atlantic to take President Roosevelt to meet Winston Churchill at Casablanca and anchored in Tokyo Harbor on the day that World War II ended. The Iowa earned 11 battle stars in two wars. October of '44, off the coast of the Philippines -- I can still remember it -- for those of us serving in carriers and Halsey's Third Fleet, having Iowa nearby really built our confidence. And I was proud to be a part of the recommissioning ceremony in 1984. And now fate has written a sorrowful chapter in this history of this great ship.
Let me say to the crew of Iowa: I understand your great grief. I promise you today we will find out why, the circumstances of the tragedy. But in a larger sense, there will never be answers to the questions that haunt us. We will not - cannot, as long as we live - know why God has called them home. But one thing we can be sure -- this world is a more peaceful place because of the U.S.S. Iowa. The Iowa was recommissioned and her crew trained to preserve the peace. So, never forget that your friends died for the cause of peace and freedom.
To the Navy community, remember that you have the admiration of America for sharing the burden of grief as a family, especially the Navy wives, who suffer most the hardships of separation. You've always been strong for the sake of love. You must be heroically strong now, but you will find that love endures. It endures in the lingering memory of time together, in the embrace of a friend, in the bright, questioning eyes of a child.
And as for the children of the lost, throughout your lives you must never forget, your father was America's pride. Your mothers and grandmothers, aunts and uncles are entrusted with the memory of this day. In the years to come, they must pass along to you the legacy of the men behind the guns. And to all who mourn a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a friend, I can only offer you the gratitude of a nation -- for your loved one served his country with distinction and honor. I hope that the sympathy and appreciation of all the American people provide some comfort. The true comfort comes from prayer and faith.
And your men are under a different command now, one that knows no rank, only love, knows no danger, only peace. May God bless them all."
USS IOWA is now transforming to the most interactive and educational museum of its kind and will make its new home in Los Angeles this year.
Read More: http://pacificbattleship.com/page/battleship_of_presidents
Jun 13, 2012, 1:48 PM
Bergamont Station developrs to open art studio/marketplace at Port
By Art Marroquin Staff Writer
Posted: 12/01/2011 06:13:03 PM PST
By next year, the developers of Bergamont Station will open an art studio and marketplace inside a pair of vacant wood-frame warehouses at the Port of Los Angeles under a 25-year lease approved Thursday by the Board of Harbor Commissioners.
Read More: http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_19451047
Jun 25, 2012, 12:16 AM
Visitors make the first walk under artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Read More: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-lacmas-rock-opens-and-the-masses-descend-20120624,0,3184913.story
Aug 27, 2012, 1:11 AM
Aug 30, 2012, 3:31 AM
Sep 22, 2012, 3:51 AM
Read More: http://framework.latimes.com/2012/09/19/endeavour-photos/#/0
Sep 26, 2012, 4:44 AM
Los Angeles is the future
By ANDY WANG and DAVID LANDSEL
Last Updated: 12:51 AM, September 25, 2012
Posted: 5:33 PM, September 24, 2012
It is difficult to pinpoint the precise moment when Los Angeles stopped giving a damn what you or we or anyone else had to say — it was a slow but important finding of self, taking place quietly over the past decade. A decade that saw the city grow in all sorts of exciting and impressive ways. A decade of building real transit. (For the first time in generations, you will soon be able to travel by rail between Downtown and the Santa Monica; soon after, expect a subway stop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.) Of creating truly walkable neighborhoods. The melting pot actually began melting, bubbling over messily and rather beautifully all over every aspect of city life. (Not coincidentally, suddenly here in the land of salad and iced tea, people truly learned how to eat. And to love eating.) Oh, and just for fun? A few more people squeezed into the city, now overall the most densely packed in the country. Los Angeles, quite simply, is ready to challenge anyone. New York, watch your back. Here are four LA places to get up to speed.
To see what we mean, you have to start Downtown. It’s a generic umbrella term for a wildly diverse group of neighborhoods that comprise the city’s core; in these pedestrian-friendly streets with their incredible Art Deco architecture and ample transit and tons of people-watching, you can spend a week experiencing a Los Angeles that many outsiders assumed didn’t even exist. Many locals didn’t either, until about 10 years ago, so don’t feel bad.
These days, the core is in overdrive trying to find its rightful place as the city center of a metropolitan region of nearly 18 million people. (That’s right – just four million fewer than in the Tri-State Area.) That’s how you end up having a thing like the glittering LA Live complex with the Staples Center (where the Lakers play), luxury hotels (JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton), destination restaurants (including a Kerry Simon eatery, of course), daily celebrity sightings, a Times Square-like entertainment district and more just a few blocks down from the Mercado Olympic, an unofficial Sunday street festival of the city’s dominant culture (Mexican, in case you forgot) in the wonderfully named Piñata District (named because of all the people who sell piñatas there, of course), where vendors who speak no English sell food that’s more Mexican than places we’ve been in Mexico. Squash blossom quesadillas, pleasantly chewy Guadalajara-style churros, Mexico City-style fried fish and other intensely good and inexpensive finds.
Then there is the Warehouse District, that vast swath of low-rise industrial complexes, where once barren streets are now punctuated by artist lofts and good restaurants and people biking to places like Handsome Coffee, a local roaster and café that has a pop-up farmers market and occasional taco nights. It’s one of many cafés across the Los Angeles Basin that is becoming a true community center in a city everyone said wasn’t interested in community.
Nearby is the Arts District, next to Little Tokyo — the two share a gleaming light-rail station on the Gold Line, which takes little old ladies from Pasadena into the bustling Union Station intermodal transit hub, or beyond into East Los Angeles for tacos, if they feel like it.
The heart of old Downtown, too, is booming — the Old Bank District with its cocktail bars and yoga studios and the incredible monthly Art Walk, a street party/night market that revolves loosely around the area’s galleries.
Over on Broadway, with its sea of intact theaters and their garish, old-school marquees that lend the whole faded strip a Times Square in the 1970s feel, there’s room for luxury lofts, for the giant Umamicatessen, a sort of hipster Eataly meatery affair from the Umami Burger folk.
And then, down on Seventh Street, which sews all of this together, from the bland glossiness of Figueroa Street on down to the appalling, otherworldly depths of Skid Row, you have one of Downtown’s most promising streets, the perfect spot to stroll on a sunny afternoon.
Hungry? Some of the city’s best restaurants are Downtown these days — anyone will tell you that. Here’s Ricardo Zarate repping Peru at his newly relocated Mo-Chica in the Seventh Street corridor, making diners flip out with his stellar lomo saltado and pan con tuna, serving up ceviches and tiradito that are all ocean and acid and heat and happiness. (What started as one tiny Mo-Chica stall in Southeast LA has turned into a growing Zarate empire that also includes West LA’s Picca, where Peru meets Japan for family-style madness.)
Here’s Bryant Ng at the Spice Table, repping Southeast Asia at his Little Tokyo joint, blanketing tables with satays, Hainanese chicken over rice, laksa and other first-class renditions of hawker-stand staples.
Here’s Josef Centeno at Baco Mercat in the Old Bank section, repping his baco “sandwich/taco/pizza hybrid,” a creation so multi-cultural and over-the-top that you should just describe it as American. And although Centeno might be best known for specialties like his oxtail-hash baco, you shouldn’t overlook his mastery of vegetables (Caesar brussel sprouts!) and fruit (sautéed peaches with goat cheese and honey!).
It all might be rough around the edges, and sometimes you have to dig to get to the greatness — that’s LA in a nutshell — but if you want to see and taste the diverse and unique world-class city that Los Angeles is becoming, Downtown is where you start.
If you’re one of those people who show up from New York complaining that all you want to really do is go to the beach, congratulations, you win. Outside of Downtown, LA’s most fascinating area these days is Venice, which has gone from being a funky and fun dead end to being front and center in the city’s complete revamp. (Sorry, anyone who was thinking of buying a ridiculously cheap place in its ever declining catalog of seedy side streets — those days are essentially over.) What Venice has become is, quite simply, one of the most inspiring urban settings in North America, a major leap from a few short years ago.
Beach? Check. Crazy people-watching? That’ll never change. Seedy boardwalk action? Oh yeah. Creepy muscle dudes, people trying to get you in for your free medical consult to get your pot card, street performers, sleaze, stroller moms, skaters — your head could explode.
But the real revolution is in the neighborhood’s back streets, which, like the iconic Canals section, can all be explored on foot or by bike. Start at formerly moribund Abbot Kinney Boulevard — with its boutique, farm-to-table pizza places, non-divey “dive bars,” indie-rock jukeboxes, food trucks and surf shops — which was recently knighted by one glossy magazine as the “coolest block in America” and we’re really not going to argue (pop in for coffee at Intelligentsia one morning, or any time, and see what it’s all about). Locals seem to be all about Rose Avenue these days; walk it from the beach on up to the Whole Foods (one of the most architecturally impressive in the country, and certainly one of the busiest) and you’ll see why; along the way, pop into the patio at Superba Snack Bar for charred figs, black kale salad, a dab of pheasant rillettes, perhaps, or maybe just the fried chicken.
But the best place to eat in the neighborhood, if you’re asking us, is Sunny Spot, over on Venice Boulevard. What is it? Oh, no big deal, just some really great Caribbean food from an Angeleno of the Korean persuasion, Roy Choi, who became famous for making some of the city’s raddest tacos and serving them from his Kogi food truck. How Los Angeles is that?
People who say that the Los Angeles sprawl cannot be tamed have obviously never been to London. Or maybe they have, and refuse to see the parallels between the two cities, both essentially a chain of villages that grew enough to bump into one another. All you have to do is knit the villages together with a proper transit system, and voila, everyone shuts up about sprawl.
It will take Los Angeles, oh, like, forever, to get all the way there, but in places like Mid-City West, a low-rise, vaguely suburban in-between spot, you can see it all coming together in what has become, rather by accident, one of the most vibrant parts of town.
Of course, it helped to have the historic farmers market at the corner of Third and Fairfax, next to the CBS Television City studio (“Price Is Right” taping anyone?); over time, everything seems to have evolved around it — the revived Fairfax District to the north, the gigantic Grove shopping center, the booming Third Street corridor, Beverly running parallel. This nabe is where you’ll find some of the country’s best sneaker/street-wear shopping (holla, Undefeated, Flight Club, Sportie LA) and, at the southern end of things, behind the imposing Park La Brea residential development, is the cultural magnet and gathering place that is LACMA; the Purple Line subway extension, which will link Downtown, Koreatown, Mid-City West and Beverly Hills with Century City, Brentwood, Westwood and, hopefully someday, the beach in Santa Monica, will have a station right at the museum entrance, at Wilshire and Fairfax.
You don’t have to wait until then to come here — Ray’s and the adjacent Stark Bar, facing the museum’s often busy plaza, are two of the most pleasant places to while away a warm Los Angeles evening. Not that you aren’t spoiled for choice around here. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s Animal and Son of a Gun restaurants are located within walking distance of the farmers market, for example.
Then there’s Karen and Quinn Hatfield, the married chef duo behind the rightfully praised Hatfield’s in Hollywood. The Hatfields know their way around a seasonal menu and understand what it means to create a civilized, white-tablecloth dining environment. But with Sycamore Kitchen, their new order-at-the-counter bakery and cafe on stubbornly unlovely La Brea Avenue, they have a much more casual-cool but equally important goal: creating a ridiculously good salted caramel pecan babka roll. That gooey magic – part of a salted-caramel movement that’s sweeping sweets shops all over the country – is just one of dozens of different baked items (including wonderful chocolate-chip rye cookies and brown butter/date mini bundt cakes) at the new hot spot, but there are more than sweets to accompany your Stumptown coffee at Sycamore Kitchen. The lunch menu has refreshing salads and a crispy and braised pork belly double BLT, for starters. And if you can’t decide between savory and sweet, split the difference and order the toast with house-made ricotta, stewed citrus, fennel and hazelnut.
On Third Street, you’ll find Fonuts, a donut and ice-cream shop from Waylynn Lucas. She’s the former pastry chef at the Bazaar by Jose Andres and Patina, four-star restaurants both. Now she’s baking — yes, baking — donuts with standout flavors including maple bacon, blueberry earl grey and strawberry buttermilk. Lucas is also churning out great ice cream. And yes, the salted caramel soft-serve is habit-forming. Kind of like this part of town.
For the visiting New Yorker, Hollywood has long been low on the list of Los Angeles musts, unless you wanted a West Coast version of New York’s old-school 42nd Street filth. Slowly, awkwardly, a new kind of Hollywood is taking shape, where chic hotels and grand nightclubs (alongside horrible nightlife, admittedly) sit side by side next to beautiful historic theaters and new residential buildings. In the mix are great new restaurants and awesome old dive bars, a hugely popular farmers market and two very busy subway stations. Best of all? This is only the beginning. To the chagrin of homeowners in the hills, a recent rezoning looks to be upping the height restrictions on development in the area — expect Hollywood the neighborhood to be a major force in Los Angeles life over the next century.
But what of today? Check out Hollywood and Vine, with its hotels like the Redbury. The Redbury’s all about old-world, boho-chic cool mixed with modern-day glam. With its bordello-red rooms, purposefully faded carpet and sexy Library bar, and a location near many of Hollywood’s overflowing nightclubs, it’s a spot for discerning VIPs and a surprisingly pleasant and restful boutique hotel in spite of the partying crowds in and around the property.
It’s also just a couple blocks from the bountiful Sunday farmers’ market, one of the city’s best spots for an impromptu lunch. Yes, you can make a picnic with the finest meats, cheeses, bread and vegetables, but you’re on vacation, so let the locals cook for you: Salvadoran pupusas, Thai sticky-rice desserts, artisanal breakfast sausages served over mounds of French fries. The variety is worthy of Portland food-cart pods.
And Hollywood has mass transit that takes you right to, say, the W Hotel with its Drai’s nightclub up top. Further down the boulevard, there are local, down-and-dirty dining mainstays like Aziz Ansari and Jonathan Gold favorite Jitlada, which some argue is the best Thai restaurant in the country. There’s the Sayers Club, a fab nightspot for rock and hip-hop fans, accessed via a Papaya King. Yeah, Hollywood, the secret’s out. We like you.
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/travel/los_angeles_is_the_future_SoM9tHDbfS2KUuNx7Xq71J#ixzz27Y0jzmMr
Oct 6, 2012, 4:10 AM
Tech Titans Hit the Beach
As Silicon Valley moguls go on a home-buying spree in Los Angeles, they're reshaping the real-estate landscape
By LAUREN SCHUKER BLUM
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The tech industry is going south.
In growing numbers, Silicon Valley executives—long based in tech strongholds like Santa Clara and Palo Alto—are buying homes in Los Angeles, as the lines between the technology and entertainment businesses grow blurrier.
Venture capitalist and hedge-fund manager Peter Thiel—PayPal's co-founder and Facebook's earliest investor—paid $11.5 million in January for a 6,000-square-foot house on a promontory above the Sunset Strip. Andrew Frame, a 30-something entrepreneur who founded Internet-telephone company Ooma, bought a contemporary four bedroom in Bel Air for $5.5 million last summer from singer/reality star Nick Lachey, who in turn had acquired the home from model Heidi Klum and singer Seal. In March of last year, Matt Jacobson, head of market development at Facebook, paid $10.9 million for a modern house on the ocean in Manhattan Beach, according to public records. He uses his former home, a just-under 900-square-foot beach bungalow two blocks away, to house Facebook employees visiting from up north.
"It's the Facebook flop house," Mr. Jacobson jokes. "We have a surf in the morning before going into the office."
The southern migration is taking place as companies like Google and Facebook beef up their presence and more Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneurs establish footholds in the entertainment industry. Prices are soaring in the beachfront communities tech types favor, and rents in these areas are growing at a faster rate than in other parts of the city.
"There is a feeling that techies are the new celebrities," says Eric Kuhn, an agent who heads the social-media department at United Talent Agency. "When I arrived in Hollywood, everybody had written a screenplay," he says. "Now, everyone has an app."
Kurt Rappaport, a Los Angeles broker specializing in luxury real estate, says the number of his house-hunting clients from Silicon Valley has doubled over the past couple of years. Earlier this year, Mr. Rappaport sold a beach cottage in Malibu to a Facebook executive for $6.8 million. Another client, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, just closed on a deal to buy ex-Yahoo CEO Terry Semel's compound in Malibu for $37 million—Mr. Ellison's 27th Malibu property purchase, says Mr. Rappaport. Mr. Ellison did not respond to requests for comment.
It isn't just Silicon Valley-based techies who are buying. Last summer, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss—twins best known for suing Mark Zuckerberg over the origins of Facebook, and who recently formed a venture-capital firm—bought an 8,000-square-foot bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills for $18 million. Ted Waitt, co-founder of computer company Gateway, also bought in Bel-Air, paying $14 million this past June for a six-bedroom Mediterranean.
Another client of Mr. Rappaport's, Mich Mathews, formerly the head of marketing for Microsoft and a longtime Seattle resident, paid $11.5 million for a 12,000-square-foot home in Holmby Hills in March. From her new perch in Los Angeles, she's helping to launch a company that she says lies "at the intersection of marketing and digital entertainment, philanthropy and lifetime experiences." Ms. Mathews is currently remodeling the seven-bedroom home, adding a wine cellar and a cabana for the pool.
More than 600 tech start-ups have sprung up in L.A. over the last few years, according to Represent.LA, an open-source project that tracks the growth of start-up communities, bringing with them engineers and executives looking for housing. The narrow, 3-mile strip of land that runs from Santa Monica through Venice, and is now stretching down to Playa Vista, has been dubbed "Silicon Beach" due to the heavy concentration of Internet companies and executives there.
Prices have gone up dramatically on this beachfront strip. Previously known for an edgy vibe, the area has grown increasingly upscale with the arrival of gourmet restaurants and mainstream stores. In Santa Monica, the median price of homes jumped 16% in the first eight months of 2012 compared with 2011, after a 9% decline over the same period the year before, according to Multiple Listing Service data compiled by Paul Habibi, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Venice's median home price in the first eight months of 2012 broke the $1 million barrier, rising to $1,012,000 from $899,000 in the first eight months of 2011.
In Los Angeles County, median home prices went up by just under 1% during the first eight months of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, according to Mr. Habibi's MLS data. Nationwide, the median home price rose 3.3% during that time period to $186,000, according to DataQuick, and in California the median price rose 4.8% for that same time period.
A substantial portion of Venice's real-estate boom is attributable to Google. Last November, the Web-search giant opened a flashy new office in Venice to focus on engineering, sales and advertising; the company will lease close to a quarter-million square feet in the neighborhood by 2014. To create a campuslike setting for its more than 500 employees in L.A., the company took over a funky Frank Gehry complex resembling a pair of binoculars. Like Google's other locations, it offers amenities like a climbing wall and an outdoor movie theater, as well as bicycles and surfboards that can be rented during the workday.
"Want 300 days of sun a year?" Google says on its website. "Forget the Valley—pack your bags for Google L.A."
In February, Google's YouTube signed a lease for about 40,000 square feet of production space in Playa Vista. It will open later this year. And in August 2011, Facebook began leasing about 13,000 square feet in Playa Vista.
The arrival of techies has also had a profound effect on the rental market, brokers and real-estate developers say. Kevin Miller, president of Westside Rentals, which bills itself as Southern California's largest home-finding service, says he has seen rents in Santa Monica and Venice increase by about 10% over the last 18 months—compared with other desirable areas such as Beverly Hills and Culver City, where he says rents increased by about 4% to 5%. Rents have increased by just 2% across Los Angeles over the same time period, he says.
"Entrepreneurs love being around other entrepreneurs, and that's driving demand toward the beach," says Mr. Miller. "Plus, people like to live near where they work, and the tech companies are there."
Silicon Valley buyers shop differently from other wealthy L.A. clients, brokers say. While entertainment moguls often rely on the taste, advice and social connections of the city's top brokers, tech executives frequently do their own research online before they arrive in town, and know what they want before they look.
Broker Mauricio Umansky recalls a moment earlier this year when he was showing several homes in the Hollywood Hills to an entrepreneur visiting from Northern California. "I was telling him that houses in the neighborhood sell for $1,000 per [square] foot. He interrupted me and said, 'No, they sell for $936 per foot.' He was testing me. It totally caught me off guard. And by the way, he was right." Mr. Umansky, who is the CEO of real-estate firm the Agency, adds that many buyers from up north often shy away from relying on the taste of others, preferring instead to rely on themselves. "They will challenge your knowledge of the market," he says. "And only if you pass will they trust you." In the end, he sold an $8 million home in the Hollywood Hills to the entrepreneur.
The business interests of Hollywood and Silicon Valley continue to converge. Tech companies are becoming distributors of studio content; YouTube, iTunes and Netflix have all licensed content from major entertainment players. Talent agencies CAA and WME are incubating start-ups.
"There's so much more traffic between these two worlds of tech and entertainment that we're seeing the social worlds blend together, and that's luring the Northern California community to buy homes down here," says Ben Silverman, former co-chairman of NBC Entertainment. "These days, there are more Internet guys at the Vanity Fair Oscar party than traditional media players."
South African-born billionaire Elon Musk, who co-founded PayPal and Tesla Motors, has also dabbled in the film business, serving as an executive producer on films like "Thank You for Smoking." He commutes back and forth on his Dassault Falcon between the Bay Area and Los Angeles. According to people close to the situation, Mr. Musk is in contract to buy the roughly the $20 million Bel-Air house he has been renting—a 20,000-square-foot estate on a private knoll with a home theater, library, lighted tennis court, gym, pool and 1,000-bottle wine cellar. Representatives for Mr. Musk declined to comment.
More venture capitalists also are putting down roots. "For years, I would watch people launch their start-up in L.A., raise capital and move up north as soon as they got successful. Now, they get successful and they stay," says Paul Bricault, a venture capitalist who founded one of Los Angeles's largest accelerators and lives in Venice. After years of traveling to Los Angeles once every few months, Timothy Draper, founder and a managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, says he now flies down to L.A. about twice a month—often enough that he bought a house in west Los Angeles this year.
"I thought, 'Why leave all the activity here to compete with everyone else in NorCal?' " says Mark Suster, a venture capitalist who started leasing in Pacific Palisades two years ago.
Another factor: Even as prices have begun to creep up in neighborhoods like Venice, L.A.'s real-estate prices still tend to be substantially lower than those in desirable parts of Silicon Valley. In Palo Alto, the median price paid for single-family homes was $1.7 million in the first eight months of 2012, a 20.4% increase over the same period in 2011, according to DataQuick.
"We had a great time looking for a house in L.A., especially after living up north," says Sonya Merrill, an ex-Google executive who moved to L.A. with her husband, Douglas, a former Google chief information officer, in late 2008. "Silicon Valley is all 1960s and '70s tract houses or small bungalows—it's a sea of blah. Expensive blah—I once looked at a teardown in Palo Alto that smelled like urine and was made of cinder block. It was on the market for $1.5 million and there was a bidding war for it." The couple spent $2.8 million on a Hollywood Hills four-bedroom home where actor Bela Lugosi long resided. They spent another year redoing it.
Some tech moguls, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, venture capitalist Ray Lane and Mr. Ellison, have owned property in Los Angeles for years. David Sacks, a corporate vice president at Microsoft, owns a Beverly Hills house where Quentin Tarantino filmed "Pulp Fiction."
But the newest wave of Silicon Valley arrivals is heavily favoring the Silicon Beach area. Viddy, a mobile-video-sharing company, has its office a block from Google in Venice. About a fifth of new employees have relocated from Silicon Valley, says Brett O'Brien, Viddy's CEO and co-founder. One of Viddy's other co-founders, Chris Ovitz, in January paid $1.6 million for a loft on Venice's main thoroughfare.
Developers are scrambling to cater to the influx. Jim Andersen, president of prolific Westside developer NMS Properties, says the firm is opening five more buildings not far from the offices of Google and Yahoo, among other tech firms. He added that NMS has begun building smaller apartments to better serve young renters who are part of the tech scene.
Jim Jacobsen, a commercial-real-estate broker, says he first built one of his projects—a warehouse in Venice converted into 30 lofts for both working and living—with entertainment-industry folks in mind. But with just a month or so until the units, which run between $500,000 and $2 million, hit the market, he is advertising them to people in the technology industry.
Mr. Umansky, who sold two homes in Los Angeles this year to Facebook executives, has another explanation for why Silicon Valley executives are heading south.
"A lot of these guys are young, they have cashed out, they are bachelors, they like to party," he says. "And let's be honest, the partying in Hollywood is way better than in Silicon Valley."
Read More: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444450004578004381307933850.html
Silicon Beach emerges as a tech hotbed
Oct 6, 2012, 5:35 PM
Oct 13, 2012, 2:38 AM
Read More: http://timelines.latimes.com/endeavours-trek-through-la/
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