Top Story: Arts
May 30, 2013
When Denver art dealer Adam Gildar heard about the James Turrell retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, he went straight to the museum’s website for advance tickets to the widely anticipated show. Bound for L.A. with some collectors during the July 4 weekend, Gildar was particularly hoping to see “Light Reignfall,” a mind-blowing, one-person-at-a-time Turrell light show in a spherical tank that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Unfortunately for him, so, apparently, is just about everyone else.
The Turrell show—packed since its opening last week, with “Light Reignfall” reservations sold out until late August—is shaping up to be one of this summer’s hottest tickets, and not just at LACMA.
On June 9, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will showcase a cross-section of large and small works from its collection by the pioneering, Los Angeles-born artist. In New York, starting June 21, the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum will be turned into a gigantic Turrell light piece.
Over on La Brea Boulevard, Turrell’s gallery, Kayne Griffin Cocoran, last week opened a new space designed by the artist, with a show tracing the 37-year history of his still-incomplete magnum opus, “Roden Crater.” The new gallery also has a signature Turrell “skyspace,” a part-skylight, part-lightshow creation that has become the new must-have architectural feature for art lovers. More than 80 have been installed worldwide, mostly for private collectors, including at least a half-dozen in homes and galleries in Los Angeles County.
“It is sort of a festival of James Turrell,” says LACMA Director Michael Govan, who co-curated the LACMA show and whose relationship with the white-bearded artist dates back to Govan’s last job at the Dia Art Foundation in New York.
And, Govan adds, the festival will be a long-running one.
Turrell’s medium is light, colored and natural, manipulated in ways that are designed to engulf and disorient the viewer. But because many of his artworks are built so that only a limited number of people can experience them at once, LACMA is expecting crowds to move much more slowly than usual through the exhibition.
“Tickets to that show are like Stones tickets,” an artist’s liaison for a large L.A. gallery confided earlier this week. “Everybody wants in.”
As a result, the museum is selling timed tickets, both to the retrospective and to high-demand pieces such as “Light Reignfall,” and extending the show for almost a year so that anyone who wants to can eventually see it. The exhibit also will stay open until 11 p.m. on Fridays from July 5 to August 30 as part of extended summer hours at LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion and the Broad Contemporary Art Museum.
For some, the thrill is in seeing the artist’s work on its home turf. Now 70, Turrell pioneered Southern California’s Light and Space Movement and made his name in L.A.
Others are looking forward to literally immersing themselves in the pieces.
At a press preview this week, a woman—helped by a pair of attendants in white lab coats—emerged from “Light Reignfall” dazed and comparing the experience to the aura from a somehow-painless migraine. Meanwhile, crowds of donors and arts writers stood in line for up to an hour for a chance to take off their shoes and climb a black-carpeted pyramid into “Breathing Light,” a 5,000-square-foot installation that creates the sensation of being suspended in a fog of luminosity.
Still others are curious about “Roden Crater,” the massive installation and “naked-eye observatory” that Turrell has been building for decades in a volcanic crater near Flagstaff, Az.
“There was a time when I was kind of worried about my career, like many mid-career artists, and thinking maybe I was going nowhere,” the artist chuckled at Wednesday’s press conference. “Now if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, you’re probably somewhat near my work.”
Turrell jokingly compared the crater installation to an unfinished doctoral thesis, and kidded that he was raising money for its completion by “selling blue sky and colored air.” More seriously, he said this summer’s exhibition of his work has drawn attention to the multi-million-dollar project. And, he noted, his skyspace commissions not only have helped underwrite his larger work, but also have informed it, capturing light in its infinite variety.
“I remember when we had backyard burning in Pasadena, and tremendous smog here, but it’s a special, soft, beautiful sky we have here now,” he said. “Arizona has a crisp, clear, hard sky. Each of these places is different, city and country, and I like to celebrate all the different kinds of skies.”
Back under the Denver sky, Gildar the art dealer is looking forward to the retrospective, with or without “Light Reignfall.” It is, after all, the largest-ever survey of the artist’s work and the first in nearly 30 years.
And a fan can hope. Shut out at LACMA’s web site, he ran an ad offering $20 over the ticket price on Craigslist to anyone willing to sell their 12 minutes of Turrell immersion. “But it doesn’t look like there’s much of a possibility that that’s going to work out,” he says, “and that’s okay. It’ll be amazing to see any of his work.”
April 4, 2013
Stretching their wooden arms, the sleeping puppets of Los Angeles are ready to take center stage.
The puppetry community is full of characters—and not just the wooden or fuzzy varieties. From old-school marionettists to modern dramatists who manipulate 10-foot monstrosities in teams of three, they’re as diverse as the city they live in.
Last September, Joe Smoke of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs approached Maria Bodmann, an expert in the thousand-year-old art of Balinese shadow puppetry. Together, they pulled a few strings and organized a meeting of L.A. puppeteers with the goal of producing a citywide festival. This month, their plans will come to life at the inaugural L.A. Puppet Fest.
Bodmann hopes the festival will expose people to the many varieties of puppetry.
“People think fuzzy things with eyeballs, but that’s just one little bit of puppetry,” Bodmann said. “There are other types that address issues that aren’t really for kids. The stuff I do is connected to religious rituals. I can’t really do it for birthday parties.”
Pre-festival activities have already begun. From Thursday through Saturday, Rogue Theaters presents “Songs of Bilitis,” a mature audiences-only puppet rendition of the French erotic novel by Pierre Louÿs. The official opening takes place Sunday, April 7, at the Skirball Cultural Center and will feature puppet-making, performances and storytelling. After that, there will be performances by the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, a lecture on puppet history and puppet films and classes. The festival wraps up on April 28 with “L.A.’s largest-ever puppet parade” and closing ceremony at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. See the website for a full schedule of events.
Michael Earl, a co-founder of the Puppet School who had a turn playing “Mr. Snuffleupagus” on Sesame Street a few decades back, said professional puppeteers have been through tough times in recent years.
“When Jim Henson was alive, there was a lot of puppetry happening; they had to train more puppeteers because there were not enough,” Earl said. “Then, 3D animation was invented and it slowly started to replace puppetry jobs.”
But Earl and his contemporaries see puppets making a comeback, due partly to the success of live stage productions like The Lion King and popular box office offerings including Where the Wild Things Are and 2011’s The Muppets.
Cue the L.A. Puppet Fest, which is being called L.A.’s first-ever citywide puppet festival—a description reached amid controversy.
“There is inter-puppet genre conflict,” said Michael Bellavia, who is organizing the puppet parade and closing ceremony. “The puppet geeks, they got all up in arms when this was billed as the first puppet festival.”
Accounts vary. Some point out smaller-scale annual events by the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry. Alan Cook, co-founder of the guild and curator of the International Puppetry Museum in Pasadena, is a revered patriarch of the puppetry community. He recalls a major, national festival held at UCLA back in 1957. Recorded puppet history in Los Angeles dates back at least 100 years, he said. Worldwide, forms of puppetry go back millennia and represent some of the most respected cultural art forms.
The guild’s current president, Christine Papalexis, said contention among puppeteers is common because they’re artists.
Despite their differences on the minutiae, everyone agrees the festival should be as inclusive as possible. They’re united by a love of puppetry that, for many, began with their first toy puppet in early childhood.
That inclusivity extends to the audience, who will be invited to make their own puppets and learn puppetry skills at some of the events. The L.A. Puppet Fest Parade, for example, will have a puppet-making station on site, and organizers say it’s fine if people just want to draw eyes and a mouth on their hands.
March 21, 2013
There’s the suit of armor his mentor, John Barrymore, gave him. There’s the cap, now bronzed, that he wore in “Zorba the Greek.”
When Anthony Quinn left his papers to the East L.A. library on the site of the house where he spent part of his boyhood, the late actor defined the bequest broadly; there are movie stills, letters, handbills, art works, even a couple of Oscar nominations.
Less comprehensive was the plan to preserve the collection for posterity.
“Most of this came to us in boxes, which we changed to County Library boxes,” says Chicano Resource Center Librarian Daniel Hernandez, who oversees the Anthony Quinn Collection, a trove of some 2,000 items of personal and show business memorabilia that the artist gave to the county library more than 25 years ago.
The collection is a historical gem, offering a wide-ranging view of Quinn’s East Los Angeles roots and his life as a self-made man and 20th century film star, but its preservation has been a concern since Quinn made the donation in 1987, says Hernandez.
A few pieces—the suit of armor, the Zorba cap—have been used as library displays and a few others have been loaned to other museums for exhibits on show business or Latin culture. Most, however, have spent the past couple of decades in storage, he says, and the cardboard library boxes, while an improvement over the original containers, have hardly been a long-term solution.
“Everything has been safe,” says Hernandez, gesturing to a wall of cabinets, stacked floor to ceiling, in a locked room at the Anthony Quinn Library. “But even though it’s OK for right now, it’s not OK for the future to come.”
So this week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors accepted a $6,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to help preserve the cache, from film scripts and taped interviews to thank you notes and birthday cards. The funding will, among other things, underwrite an assessment from a professional conservator and pay for appropriate preservation supplies and containers.
“There’s not that much knowledge of this collection,” says Hernandez, flipping through a draft of one of Quinn’s two autobiographies, typed and annotated on fragile onionskin paper. Next to it sat a cardboard box filled with gilt-framed black-and-white photos—Quinn as a young actor, Quinn in Italy, Quinn with his “Zorba” co-star Melina Mercouri.
“People are aware it’s out there but they don’t know what’s in it. One of our goals is to get that out into the public consciousness.”
Born in 1915 in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, Quinn—who inherited his surname from his part-Irish father, Francisco—came into the U.S. as an infant with his parents, who were migrant farm workers for several years before settling in Los Angeles. Here, Quinn’s father found work as a studio property man and the family moved into a house at the corner of Hazard and Brooklyn (now Cesar Chavez) avenues in East Los Angeles.
“I can’t tell you what an emotional thing it is to be standing on the spot my cousin beat the hell out of me,” Quinn joked to the Los Angeles Times in 1983, when the site—long since razed to make way for the county’s Belvedere Library—was renamed in his honor. In a more somber moment, the actor also said that when he was 9, his father had been killed in an automobile accident near the same corner.
Photos in the collection commemorate Quinn’s youth as a student at Belvedere Junior High School and Polytechnic High School, where he took courses in art and architecture, but, according to obituaries, never earned a degree.
After stints in Los Angeles as a boxer, a musician and even an evangelical preacher, Quinn tried acting. In 1936, he debuted in a cameo role in the film “Parole” and in a stage role that had been written for John Barrymore, a much older and more famous actor.
Among the papers in the collection is an account of his friendship with Barrymore, who took him on as a protégé after seeing the performance, and later gave him a suit of armor he had worn in Richard III, comparing it to the sword a retiring bullfighter hands down to “his preferred novillero.”
The suit—the largest item in the collection—is on display in the reading room of the branch library that now stands on the site of Quinn’s old homestead.
Quinn went on to act in more than 100 movies, working well into his 80s and winning two Oscars for best supporting actor—first as the brother of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in “Viva Zapata!” and later as the artist Paul Gauguin in “Lust for Life”.
As his fame grew, he spent more of his time in Italy and New York than on the West Coast, but he maintained his local connections.
“He never forgot his people,” the sister of one of the defendants in the famous 1942 “Zoot Suit” murder trial told the Los Angeles Times at the 1983 library dedication, noting that Quinn—married by the time of the historic trial to the director C.B. DeMille’s daughter—had gone out on a limb both politically and professionally to help raise money for the appeal.
“He’s still pretty much of a local hero,” says Hernandez. “He’s an example of how you can work your way up and always care for your community. People here all seem to remember his aunt, or to have gone to school with him, so it’s a big social goal for us to save his works and preserve them.”
Quinn died in a Boston hospital in 2001 of respiratory failure. “But here in the community,” Hernandez says, “he’s very alive.”
February 22, 2013
Last week’s Russian meteor strike may have been astonishing (not to mention hazardous to thousands of Siberians), but great balls of fire can land anywhere—even in greater Los Angeles.
Take the 30-pound Neenach meteorite—4.5 billion years old, give or take a few hundred million—that was turned up by a plow in 1948 by an Antelope Valley rancher. Or the 42-pound Littlerock meteorite, found on a farm in 1979 near Palmdale.
There are even a pair of rare Martian meteorites named for Los Angeles County, though technically the collector who discovered them said he can’t recall precisely where in the Mojave Desert he stumbled across them; the two lava chunks, weighing about a pound and a half-pound, respectively, languished for nearly two decades in a box of loose rocks at his home in Sunland, until he took them in 1999 to UCLA for testing.
Now, a thin slice of “Los Angeles 002,” as the smaller meteorite is now known, is behind glass at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, along with the other aforementioned local examples of primordial stardust.
“Meteorites are hitting the Earth constantly,” notes Alyssa R. Morgan, collections manager in the gems and minerals department of the Natural History Museum.
“Most of them are as tiny as dust or sand grains, but they make the Earth bigger every day.”
Like geologists the world over, Morgan’s mind has been on last Friday’s extraterrestrial fly-by as the museum has braced for Los Angeles’ usual response to meteor-related publicity. The meteorite, which is estimated to have been 55 feet in diameter, rained black and brown fragments for miles across the snow as it streaked across the Ural Mountains, shattering windows and injuring some 1,200 people. Though the bulk of it has yet to be recovered, it is believed to be the largest such object to have hurtled to Earth in more than 100 years.
“Usually after a newsworthy event like the one in Russia, we get lots of calls from people saying, ‘You know, I found this funky rock a while ago and I’ve been meaning to have it tested’,” says Morgan, who has been fascinated by meteorites since her childhood in Seattle, and who studied moon rocks as a graduate student at Brown University. “Ninety-nine times out of 100, they’re not meteorites.
“We have had some real ones come in, though. Last year, a guy who buys storage lockers at auctions brought in a box of rocks so carefully wrapped that he figured the person he’d bought them from had to have been a collector. It turned out he was right, although we never did hear what he decided to do with them.”
Meteorites are meteors—typically asteroids or fragments of asteroids, moons or planets—that have made it through the Earth’s atmosphere and landed.
Some meteorites, Morgan says, are remnants of planets shattered long ago in collisions; others are chunks of existing planets and moons that were chipped at extreme velocity by other meteorites.
No meteorite is believed to have ever killed a human being, though they’ve reportedly landed several times on houses, workplaces and, in at least one verified instance, a doctor’s office in Virginia. In 1911, the famous Nakhla meteorite allegedly killed a dog in Egypt (though that’s been disputed.)
But all meteorites, she says, are time capsules.
“They’re primitive pieces of what everything in our solar system, including our sun, is made of,” says Morgan. “That’s part of why meteorites give us tremendous insight.”
The Natural History Museum’s meteorite collection is modest compared to those, say, at the Smithsonian Institution or the research collection at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA.
Morgan says the NHM collection currently has about 50 specimens. One, a piece of the Argentine Campo del Cielo meteorite, was purchased especially for the new Dinosaur Hall to help illustrate the ongoing debate over whether climate change or a catastrophic meteor strike cleared the way for the age of mammals.
But the most notable other specimens are on display in the museum’s Gem and Mineral Hall. They range from a coin-sized sliver of a rare lunar meteorite found in Libya in the late 1990s to a good-sized hunk of the Canyon Diablo meteorite, which fell in Arizona some 50,000 years ago, creating a massive crater. The latter was instrumental in the determination—by Caltech geochemist Clair Patterson in the 1950s—that the Earth is about 4.55 billion years old.
“Before that work, people knew the Earth was old, but had no way to calculate its age,” says Morgan, running her hand along the big, dark meteorite’s dented surface. “Through this rock, we learned something we now take for granted—how old we are.”
December 12, 2012
Twenty minutes before closing on a recent Monday, the rooms were swarming with patrons young enough to be the late director’s grandkids. Here was 17-year-old David Feinziner, in from La Mirada with his parents; there was 23-year-old aspiring producer Kelsey Baca, checking out the great man’s typewriter with her 28-year-old aspiring director boyfriend, Ian Lewis. There was Alexandria Sivak, 28, who works in communications at the Getty, back for the second time since the show’s preview. There was goateed Ben Lee, a 32-year-old musician, whose friend had heard about the show online and alerted him from South Korea.
“Just to be able to see Kubrick’s notes and his vision and his process, and to see the creativity behind the film is just so cool,” marveled Leah Yananton, a 32-year-old filmmaker in a magenta knit trapper hat who had come with a New York friend who had caught the buzz from a twentysomething on Facebook.
“I plan on coming again at least once more before the show is over,” Yananton said, modestly noting that she, too, has an upcoming movie project: “It’s a coming-of-age film in post-production called ‘Surviving Me’.”
Museum officials say it’s too soon to know how the Kubrick show’s demographics will shake out; some 47,000 visitors have seen it so far, but the exhibition, which opened November 1, has only been running about six weeks and won’t close until the end of June.
However, Brooke Fruchtman, associate vice president of public engagement at LACMA, said all signs are that the show is appealing to the same kind of crowd that mobbed last year’s Tim Burton exhibition. That show, which drew more than 363,000 visitors, many in costume, had an audience with an average age of 33, eight years younger than the average visitor that fiscal year to the museum.
“Our Kubrick app is on track to be LACMA’s most downloaded app ever,” she said. “In the first week alone, we had 6,517 downloads.” Meanwhile, pickup on social media “has been huge for Kubrick, with Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr being flooded with images from the exhibition.”
Fruchtman said that, aside from an innovative series of Kubrick-themed pop-up dinners, the marketing of the show has been about the same as for prior ticketed exhibitions. Still, she added: “Sometimes it resonates more than others, depending on the show. “
“Oh yeah, it’s a younger crowd—and they’re all into it, too,” chuckled gallery attendant Rickie Williams on Monday. “They’ve been taking lots of pictures, compared to the older people who come in during the week, who are more often other directors or people who were in the crew or acted in his movies.” (Show business people turned out in force for the show’s opening gala, and star sightings in the crowd since then have included Ben Stiller, who tweeted his admiration from the show, Ryan O’Neal, who starred in “Barry Lyndon,” and “Full Metal Jacket’s” Vincent D’Onofrio.
“I think it’s just that his work is timeless,” said Lewis, the young director, who had taken a break from the cooking show that employs him, and who, with his young friend, Baca, was among the last to leave. “Look!” she breathed on their way out. “There’s his director’s chair!”
Lee, the musician, said the draw for him was “Barry Lyndon.” “It’s my favorite film—it’s so lyrical and touching. I’ve watched that movie more than ten times and I still find something new.”
To Feinziner, the high school senior, the show was a glimpse at a possible future: “I’ve applied to Chapman University, USC and UCLA,” he confided. “I’m planning to go to film school next year.”
Whatever the motivation, Fruchtman welcomes the youthful cohort, which the museum has sought to attract with free “NexGen” membership for people under 18, student discounts, school programs, a hip hop series, teen dances and other youth-oriented programs and events.
But, as any 21st century Los Angeles kid can attest, a thing either captures the imagination or it doesn’t, and so far, it appears that the Kubrick show has broadened the demographic. That’s good news for LACMA.
“Bringing in a younger—and generally more diverse—audience,” Fruchtman said, “is extremely important to us.”
December 5, 2012
Talk about ending on a high note. LA Opera announced this week that it has fully repaid a $14 million loan that the county had guaranteed in 2009 in order to help the company through a financial crisis.
The loan’s final payment was announced by LA Opera’s general director Plácido Domingo. Nearly a year ago, Domingo appeared before the Board of Supervisors to thank them for guaranteeing the loan, from Banc of America, and to announce that the company had repaid the first half of the loan early.
On Wednesday, he announced that the payback was complete. “This is a direct testament to the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our ticket buyers,” Domingo said in a statement. “Thanks to their support and commitment to LA Opera, we will continue to grow and thrive. I am profoundly grateful to the Board of Supervisors for their longstanding trust and confidence in LA Opera, and for recognizing the important and prestigious role that a world-class opera company plays in the greater Los Angeles community.”
Christopher Koelsch, the opera’s president and chief executive officer, echoed that thanks, calling the supervisors’ action “an amazing leap of faith when one of their assets was in trouble.”
The opera was about to unveil an ambitious and long-planned staging of Wagner’s Ring Cycle just as the great recession hit—creating a “perfect storm” of fiscal strains that made the bridge loan necessary, Koelsch said.
While there are still challenges ahead, the outlook now is brighter, Koelsch said, noting that ticket sales revenues are $1 million ahead of where they were last year at this time, with a 21% increase in single-ticket sales and subscriptions up 8% to 10%.
The final performances of the current production, Madame Butterfly, are playing to sold out crowds (the opera ends with a matinee on Sunday, December 9.) But enthusiasts and passersby alike can enjoy two free holiday-themed Songs of the Season recital performances in Grand Park on Tuesday, December 11. The Opera’s also bringing its program to local hospitals and to two Salvation Army residences. (Details of the free performances are here.)
Meanwhile, Koelsch said the company, which will announce the lineup for its next season on January 8, is planning to ramp up its programming gradually as the economy improves.
Paying off the loan, he said, “is a wonderful opportunity for us…it allows us to build toward the future.”
October 18, 2012
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today unveiled an initial public look at the architects’ vision for its new movie museum, billed as the first major institution of its kind in the United States.
One of the drawings, by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali, depicts a dramatic glass sphere that appears to float behind the museum, which will be located in the grand, 1938 May Co. building on Wilshire Boulevard at Fairfax. The museum, on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art campus, promises to have a “profound impact on the cultural landscape of Los Angeles,” Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said in a statement.
In a news release, the Academy announced that $100 million has been raised so far to build the non-profit museum, which will be “dedicated exclusively to the history and ongoing development of motion pictures.” A capital campaign to raise the remaining $150 million is underway.
The nearly 300,000-square-foot museum is set to open in 2016.
Read the full release here.
Illustrations by Renzo Piano Building Workshop
October 11, 2012
So it won’t be The Rock. The access will be tighter and the pageantry slighter than when LACMA’s 340-ton boulder rolled through town.
Early reports had raised hopes that the move of the Space Shuttle Endeavour from LAX to the California Science Center would become a rolling parade like the one that accompanied the immense granite stone in Michael Heizer’s “Levitated Mass” at LACMA. But as logistical realities set in, it became clear that the Endeavour, which has a 78-foot wingspan, is about four times as wide, six times as long and twice as high as the “Levitated Mass” boulder.
Moreover, the spacecraft requires a 10-foot clearance on each side because it is covered in a special lightweight, silica-based, thermal insulation so fragile that raindrops can dent it. Its wings can’t be removed and replaced like an airplane’s. And to the chagrin of many, hundreds of trees had to be cut down to accommodate Endeavour’s massive silhouette.
“It’s so big that the street is barely wide enough in some places to accommodate the shuttle itself, let alone the crowd control on the sidewalk,” says LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez.
“It’s a safety issue,” agrees project director Marty Fabrick of the California Science Center Foundation, noting that the crews operating the shuttle’s special transporter will have their hands full just maneuvering it under power lines and around corners with scant clearance between the wheels and the curb. “They have to have 100% focus on what they’re doing. We don’t want them distracted by the worry that someone will fall off a curb and get hurt.”
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of chances to glimpse the cross-town progress of “Mission 26”, as it’s been dubbed. From organized events to wide spots on the 12-mile route, thousands are expected to witness the spacecraft’s road trip, which begins at about 12:01 a.m. Friday, October 12, when it pulls out of its United Airlines hangar en route to the Science Center, where it’s expected to touch down Saturday night. (Click here for a schedule and here for a route map.)
Updated 10/12/12: Endeavour’s last ride is underway. Check out this video posted at Curbed L.A. to see the craft crossing Sepulveda Boulevard.
Despite the disappointment that has arisen since the Los Angeles Police Department announced that sidewalks on much of the route would be closed for safety reasons, Fabrick promises that “people will have ample opportunity to see this historic move.”
Two planned celebrations are scheduled for Saturday, and at least two pit stops will offer a decent view of the shuttle, as will some parts of Crenshaw Boulevard for those lucky enough to live nearby. Locals along the route also will get a good look as the Endeavour passes homes, malls and markets, as well as landmarks such as Inglewood City Hall.
Some 700 LAPD cadets and volunteers will be doing crowd control and event security, and police have urged spectators to expect large crowds, heavy traffic and delays. And lots of street closures: Access to the south side of Los Angeles International Airport will be restricted during the move for security reasons, for example, and the shuttle’s planned 2:30 a.m. exit from LAX via Northside Parkway will be open to credentialed media only.
Also, the Friday night crossing of the 405 Freeway at the Manchester Bridge will be a tougher ticket than some might expect, given the location. The California Highway patrol will be closing ramps and running traffic stops to discourage gawking, and the crossing itself isn’t scheduled to take place until sometime between 10 p.m. and midnight.
And just as a side note: Though it might be tempting to try to catch the crossing at, say, Randy’s Donuts, the iconic shop with the giant doughnut just off the freeway, don’t bother. Larry Weintraub, the owner, had initially been expecting a large crowd of shuttle enthusiasts and had even added a mini-Endeavour to the hole of his famous doughnut.
But because of the many sidewalk closures, he ended up instead renting his lot to Toyota, which expects to bring in about 150 people to film the crossing.
The company —a longtime corporate supporter of the science center—agreed to tow the Endeavour across the overpass with a Toyota Tundra pickup truck and a specialized dolly. The maneuver is needed because Caltrans’ weight distribution requirements for the bridge called for a different tow mechanism than the Endeavour’s transportation system.
Even though Randy’s will be closed to everyone but Toyota guests on Friday after 2 p.m., the shuttle should be easily visible from several formal and informal venues. Among the better opportunities:
La Tijera Boulevard and Sepulveda Eastway in Westchester
A commercial lot, this will be the shuttle’s first layover, on Friday from about 4:15 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m. Donation of the space—look for the Citibank and the Quizno’s—was arranged by Westchester management company Drollinger Properties, which agreed to let the shuttle park there while crews move some power lines and make some adjustments to its customized carrier.
Inglewood Forum at 3900 W. Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood
Though the shuttle is scheduled to pass by Inglewood City Hall at about 8 a.m. on Saturday, space is limited and officials are encouraging the public to go straight to the party at the Forum, where the shuttle is expected to be parked briefly from about 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. “That will be the real public kickoff,” says Fabrick, noting that the city is anticipating a crowd of some 10,000 people and that Hollywood Park will be offering free parking starting at 4 a.m. (no overnight camping.) “There will be a formal program and astronauts and a band and color guard. And the shuttle is so big and high that you won’t need to be on the curb to have a great view of it.”
Crenshaw Boulevard between 54th Street and Leimert Boulevard
The shuttle is expected to pass by here between about 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Though outsiders are being discouraged due to a lack of parking, the area is expected to have one of the better vantage points for locals who can walk or bike there. “The shuttle is going to be completely on the north side of the center median, so the sidewalk on the south side will be open,” says Fabrick, “and locals should have a fantastic view.”
Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Saturday’s second big celebration is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. This one will have a special show produced and directed by choreographer Debbie Allen; seating will be limited, with seats distributed by mall officials. Police anticipate a standing room only crowd of several thousand and have urged spectators to arrive early. The program is expected to last about an hour, but after the shuttle’s 2 p.m. scheduled arrival, crews will be spending another hour or so at the site adjusting the shuttle carrier for the next leg of the trip.
Bill Robertson Lane at Exposition Park
This will be where the shuttle turns toward the California Science Center on Saturday at approximately 8:30 p.m., and probably the last, best place to see Endeavour before it is installed at the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Display Pavilion. Viewers will be encouraged to gather at four parking lots north of MLK between Bill Robertson Lane and Vermont Avenue. Public transportation is available by bus and via the Expo Line light rail.
Endeavour’s grand opening will be October 30, with early access for science center members. Admission to the science center and the shuttle is free, but viewers are encouraged to obtain time tickets to reserve a space. (Click here for membership information and here for time ticketing.)
It will be housed in a museum hangar pending completion of its permanent home at the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, which is aiming for completion by 2018.
August 28, 2012
Last summer, Southern Californians learned the art of dodging a 53-hour freeway shutdown. Now, as Los Angeles braces for a follow-up 405 Freeway closure, a collective of arts groups is offering an even more creative response.
As crews prepare to close ten miles of the 405 Freeway on September 29 and 30, more than 100 arts groups are planning a weekend-long celebration of local art and culture, highlighting thousands of offerings from mariachis at the Ford Theatres to organ recitals at Pomona College to flash mobs in Long Beach.
“People here drive across town to theaters and museums and movies,” says Diana Wyenn, marketing and media relations manager at REDCAT, a participant in the campaign. “But they often don’t even notice the local galleries or theaters just a few blocks away that put on incredible shows.”
Working with the online listings database Experience LA, Metro, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and others, the consortium is inviting Southern Californians to help create “the biggest art pARTy of the year” by patronizing the arts in their communities or taking public transportation to an art event nearby.
An ARTmageddonLA.com web site, currently being constructed, will guide Carmageddon II refugees to performances, concerts, exhibitions and screenings that are accessible by Metro, or—better yet—down the street from their own homes.
“We live in an arts metropolis, and we rarely stop to pay attention to it,” says Ezra LeBank, a CSU Long Beach theater arts professor who conceived ARTmageddon with Wyenn. “This is the moment when we can move above the constant buzz of busyness in L.A. and embrace local arts.”
Wyenn and LeBank, who are both arts advocates and artists, say their idea rose from a discussion with friends last autumn about the difficulty artists have in promoting their work across Southern California’s sprawl.
“We’re so separated physically that it’s hard to feel community, as artists or audiences,” LeBank says. “We often don’t feel a sense of togetherness, and we started playing with that idea.”
LeBank says they discussed a collaboration that might draw from throughout the region, and timing it to coincide with “a moment or a day when people were all paying attention to one thing and united that way.”
Then they remembered how Carmageddon seized the public imagination last summer—and that Carmageddon II was coming.
“It was perfect because it’s going to be the central event in L.A. for that weekend—and it’s a moment that’s all about stopping,” he says.
The result is the latest effort—from CicLAvia to Pacific Standard Time to the Watts Village Theater Company’s Meet Me At Metro—to encourage Angelenos to think locally and to create a sense of community and human-scaled connection across L.A.’s vast geography. It’s low budget because the date for Carmageddon II wasn’t announced until July, Wyenn says, so they had no time to fundraise.
Nonetheless, so many L.A. artists and advocates quickly joined the effort, she says, that getting the word out via social media and word-of-mouth hasn’t been a problem. Volunteers from organizations such as the Circle X Theatre Company, the Center Theatre Group and Grand Performances are involved already, and the list has been growing daily. (Organizations, artists and businesses interested in being included when the web site goes live are encouraged to contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the ARTmageddon web site or Facebook page.)
LeBank, who teaches movement, says his students will be performing on campus that weekend at Cal State Long Beach State, and putting on “flash mob-type performances” around the community. Wyenn is excited about “Butoh Meadow::Meadow Butoh,” a piece in which more than 50 people covered in flour plan to cross Silverlake Meadow, and the final performance of “Rodney King” at the Bootleg Theatre that weekend. But surprises await in every neighborhood.
Topanga denizens may want to check out “The Women of Lockerbie” at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum that weekend. Mid-Wilshire types might want to stroll over to the Mimoda Studio Theater’s African dance show, “The Essence”. The New Short Fiction Series will be presenting short stories about the LA driving experience at the Federal Bar in NoHo.
“There are galleries everywhere, some of which I know are planning ARTmageddon parties, and people will be playing music in public spaces,” LeBank says. “There’s a lot more happening than people realize.”