Better Lemons is currently in the process of updating our calendar with shows that have postponed, updated, or canceled due to coronavirus and concerns and actions towards the safety of theatre patrons.
The following is a list of venues and shows that we have updated and have been updating currently.
If you have a show that needs updating, please log in and update your show accordingly. If you are postponing, do not delete your event and feel free to email us via our contact form should you need assistance with updating.
There are a lot of super fun things happening this weekend in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas starting with the L.A. Art Show.
The L.A. Art Show continues to lead the way with innovative and one of a kind experiences for an expanding audience. The show is the unparalleled international art experience with over 120 galleries from more than 20 countries exhibiting painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation, photography, fashion, design, video, and performance.
More than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space is committed to today's prominent galleries. I've been going to this event for the last 20 years and I'm never disappointed. Besides great people watching, the eclectic art displayed here is some of the best.
The show takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center at 1201 South Figueroa Street in Downtown LA, 90015. It runs from February 5th through the 9th. Hours are 11am-5pm. For more information and tickets go to LAArtShow.com.
As you know I absolutely love musical theatre and one of my favorite shows Ragtime (which I've seen twice) is back in Southern California at The Carpenter Performing Arts Center February 7th through the 23rd in honor of Black History Month.
This five time Tony Award Winning musical is based on E. I. Doctorow's acclaimed novel which tells the story of three families trying to find their way during the turn of the 20th century in New York City. Each family is struggling with the changing cultural climate in America and each facing the promise of hope and new beginnings in the midst of prejudice and bigotry.
Tony Award winning playwright Terrence McNally wrote the book and features a score filled with memorable songs. The music is haunting and memorable. If you see one musical this year, I highly recommend Ragtime.
For tickets go to Musical.org or call (562) 56-1999. The Carpenter Performing Arts Center is located at 6200 East Atherton Street in Long Beach 90815. It's definitely worth the trip.
Now if you're a fan of sneakers and think of it as art, then SNEAKERTOPIA; SNEAKER AND STREET ART EXHIBIT is the place to be this weekend.
Sneakertopia is the new massive sneaker and street art exhibit, transporting you through a series of immersive, mind-blowing galleries celebrating the art and culture of sneakers. This is a story of creativity, expression, and innovation.
You will witness the sneaker's epic ascension through sports, music, film, fashion, and fantasy.
There will be a 15,000 square foot indoor playground packed with priceless kicks, oversized sights and sounds and interactive street art masterpieces.
SNEAKERTOPIA takes place Friday February 7th through March 1st at 6081 Center Drive, Suite 222, Los Angeles 90045. For tickets go to Sneakertopia.com or call (323) 546-5950.
Lastly there is a powerful, important, and extremely moving play at the Mark Taper. The play is called What The Constitution Means To Me and this is a definite 'must see.'
In fact every man, woman, and mature teenager should see it. At a time when the Constitution is being assailed by those who have sworn an oath to defend it, this buoyant and often stirring civics lesson is the theatrical curriculum Americans desperately need now.
Actress Maria Dizzia brings to life the maddening, mournful history of how women's bodies have been abused by laws and the male dominated courts imperiously interpreting them. And don't worry about the play getting too heavy. It is infused with humor...lots of it.
For tickets to this extraordinary theatrical event go to CenterTheatreGroup.org. The Mark Taper is located at 135 Grand Avenue in Downtown LA, 90012. The show runs through February 28th.
Whatever you do this weekend people, have a great one.
Cirque du Soleil-Corteo is back and appearing live in Inglewood at The Forum. This is a celebration of the life of a clown. The clown Mauro has passed, but his spirit is still with us.
Instead of mourning, the funeral cortege celebrates the here and hereafter with laughter and exuberance. Rich extravagant memories frolic with the senses.
The sound of laughter peals around the stage, visions of joyous tumblers and players fascinate the eyes. Regret and melancholy retreat in the face of a cavalcade of lively recollections of a life gloriously lived. A festive parade that entertains, the perfect event for the whole family.
What a perfect way to spend the weekend. For tickets go to CirqueDuSoleil.com. But hurry up because the show is only here from March 27th to March 31st.
The next event is definitely not for kids, but one I highly recommend. I saw it last year and it was absolutely awesome. It's the Nude Art and Fashion Show in downtown Los Angeles.
More than just an art show, Nude Art and Fashion Show LA is an experience. You will find some of the best original artists, designers and performers at our shows, all presenting work focused on the nude in art and fashion.
From traditional fine art (including paintings, sculpture, photography, digital media and more) to an incredible and unique 'Naked Fashion Show' full of wearable art and stunning looks you'll love, to jaw dropping live performances and interactive exhibits that include burlesque dancers, live nude sketching session, aerial pole dancing, live music and other dazzling performances this show has something for everyone.
I for one can't wait to be there on opening night which is this Friday March 29th. The show runs from 8-11pm. If you can't make it Friday you can get tickets for Saturday, March 30th from 7:30-11pm.
I'm sure the above events have given you and me quite an appetite, so I'll be going to the 7th Annual ¡Latin Food Fest! which comes to L.A. State Historic Park March 29th - 30th for two days celebrating Hispanic culinary excellence.
On March 29th there will be a kick off party "Chefs Night Out' which is a wine, spirits and beer party that takes place from 5:30-7:30pm. Cost of admission is $29 and includes complimentary drinks, music by Dj Ty, photos with your favorite chef, access to a silent auction and a ticket raffle to the Gran Tasting Los Angeles which takes place on March 30th from 1-4pm.
General admission tickets range from $25-$35. Early admission at noon is also available for $49 and VIP tickets cost $149 with perks including early admission, access to special tasting and a gift bag. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
And now for a different kind of art - The Art of Magic...Albie Selznick, magician extraordinaire returns with his awesome magic show entitled MAGIC MONDAY. I know Mondays aren't officially part of the weekend, but his shows are so fantastic I thought I'd make an exception.
Reappearing at the Santa Monica Playhouse starting Monday, April 1st MAGIC MONDAY reopens and I for one cannot wait. I've seen Albie's shows many times including his last one at the Magic Castle and he is the 'real thing' and so are his fellow magicians.
Albie is an actor-magician and he makes it a point to feature the very best magicians and variety acts from The Magic Castle, America's Got Talent, Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Masters of Illusion and Wizard Wars. Every Monday there are new and different acts and all ages 8 years and up are welcome.
Albie is a lifetime member of the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and created the theatrical smash hit, SMOKE AND MIRRORS which the LA Times called 'A superb theatrical magical show!'. As an actor Albie performs regularly on TV, stage and film, most recently recurring on Amazon's The Last Tycoon, Good Girls and Ryan Murphy's upcoming Netflix show The Politician with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Platt.
The show runs about 75 minutes and features an ever changing lineup of over 70 world famous magic and variety acts.
To purchase tickets and for more information go to... MagicMondaLA.com or call 310-586-1166. The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 4th Street, Santa Monica CA.
Whatever you choose to do this weekend including Monday, make it a fun one.
Captain Marvel is an American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character, Carol Danvers. The film is written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with Geneva Robertson-Dworet also contributing to the screenplay.
Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Jude Law and Annette Bening round out the cast. Oh and an awesome kitty named Goose who is right up there with my favorite characters.
Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after the Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds. The story borrows elements from Roy Thomas's 1971 'Kree-Skrull War' comic book storyline. Instead of giving anymore of the plot away, I'll just say 'Captain Marvel is everything you'd expect a super-hero to be. It has action, thrills, surprises and lots of humor. I promise, you will not be disappointed. The film opens Friday, March 8th at many theatres around town.
Another kind of art is happening this Friday evening and this event is in Pasadena.
ArtNight Pasadena returns on March 8 for a free evening of art, music and entertainment. 20 of Pasadena's most prominent arts and cultural institutions will open their doors to showcase their artwork. Munchies from some of Los Angeles' favorite food trucks will also be available for purchase, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to help support future ArtNights.
Last fall, 16,000 people gathered in excitement of ArtNight and this year expects the same. ArtNight takes place from 6 to 10 p.m.
As I've mentioned in my previous columns, one of my most favorite things to do involves laughter and no one does it better than THE GROUNDLINGS.
Their new show GROUNDLINGS 7 GROUNDLINGS, ATTORNEYS AT LAW is now in session representing laughter, fun and good times. The Groundlings are going to have you laughing all night with their always original and hilarious sketch and improv acts.
The show runs every Friday and Saturday night at 8pm and 10pm until April 20th 2019.. Tickets are $20.00. The Groundlings Theatre is located at 7307 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit Groundlings.com or call (323) 934-4747.
On Sunday I will be in Dana Point commuting with some of natures most exquisite sea creatures. The Whale. Now if I could only convince the creators of this event to let me jump into the ocean and swim with these extraordinary beings.
The Festival of Whales, which began last weekend, runs March 9th and 10th so you don't have much time to drive on down to Dana Point to visit this must-see event.
The festival has been going on for 48 years and besides whale watching it includes food, games and fun for the entire family.
Expert captains and certified naturalists narrate each excursion detailing the whales' movements through their national immigration path. As the originator of Whate Watching in Orange County, Dana Wharf is exclusively endorsed by world renowned marine life artist Wyland. Every trip is a new and different adventure, all showcasing the beauty of the Pacific and of course the Whales.
Excursions depart every hour on the hour from 8am to 4pm during the Festival weekends and every trip is approximately two hours.
Prices: Adults $45, Senior and Military $35. Children 3-12 years $29. Children under 7 always free.
What started out as an annual birthday celebration with close musician friends, family, and other appreciators in the backyard of show organizer Henry Stanny, soon grew into a full concert tribute to the Oscar®-winning Italian composer Ennio Morricone at the Autry Museum of the American West (The Autry.)
Originally scheduled for this weekend on Sunday, January 27, 2019, at 5 p.m., a second show was then added at 1:00 p.m. at The Autry, where now both shows are currently sold out.
Morricone soundtrack fans span from classic and spaghetti western films to recent years' Quentin Tarantino film enthusiasts, creating a wide swath of appreciators here in the U.S., as well as here in Southern California. Considered one of the world's greatest living film composers, Morricone's world fame came with Sergio Leone's westerns, a few being “A Fistful of Dollars,” “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly,” and “Once Upon a Time in The West,” and more with films like “The Battle of Algiers,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “Malena,” “The Untouchables,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” “The Mission,” and Tarantino's “The Hateful Eight.”
According to Stanny, who works at Laemmle Theatres and has an extensive collection and historical knowledge of film soundtracks and liner note history, the concept of the show birthed from discussions with his wife, Nancy Hoven, from his desire to hear collections of Morricone's music that is not often included in the contemporary tribute concert repertoire, for a birthday party at their home.
"I asked [Nancy] if I could hear some of the stuff that I have never heard from any of these great composers, in my backyard [for my birthday], and she said "Why don't we do that!?," said Stanny. "And we did that for a number of years."
Stanny's friend, Tom Griep, who was a co-director of the USC Film Scoring Department at one time, took to the task of organizing musicians for these annual backyard fêtes. Per Stanny, flutist Sara Andon, played for 18,000 people in Kraków Morricone's music from "Hamlet," "Then she'd come and do the same piece in my backyard." He had also met cellist Circe Diaz-Gomero at the Golden State Pops Orchestra in San Pedro after seeing her play.
"I'd always go there and look at her as she was this cellist in the first row," Stanny said of Diaz-Gomero. "Your eye always went to her because she would go totally into the music and move about and you would just be dazzled by her playing. Stuff like that happened until I got 11 people on my show, and they're all amazing. It broke my pocketbook, but it was really amazing."
Starting about six years ago, Stanny, who paid professional musicians to play, first attracted about 35 guests to his backyard birthday concerts. Over the years attendance grew to over 70 plus, up to the last one. This weekend, The Autry will accommodate 215 seats for each of the scheduled sold out performances, allowing Stanny to enjoy his favorite selections of music with even more fellow appreciators.
The full concert featuring the music of this legendary film composer is performed by this select ensemble of world-class musicians and singers, with “an emphasis on famous Westerns like 'A Fistful of Dollars' and 'Once Upon a Time in the West,''' according to the websites program highlights, as well as some obscure and rare gems.
According to Stanny, Morricone "has written more than 400 scores, and most of them are in Italian." For the Autry, half of the program is from his Westerns, and will feature songs "Ecstasy of Gold" from "The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly," main themes from "For a Few Dollars More" and a "Fistful of Dollars," "The Man With the Harmonica," from "Once Upon a Time in The West," "Run Man Run," from "The Big Gun Down," and "Gabriel's Oboe" from "The Mission," with rare pieces "Angel Face" from "A Pistol for Ringo," the main theme from "Duck You, Sucker," "The Ballad of Hank McCain" from "Machine Gun McCain," and "Ancora Qui" from "Django Unchained," just to name a few.
Also in the program is "Le Due Stagioni Della Vita." "It's from a movie hardly anybody ever saw. It was released in France, and came and went," said Stanny. "But because Morricone liked it he put it on his album ... it's really obscure, but it's really beautiful."
After the concert, there will be a no-host dinner and drinks gathering at Mimi's Café in Los Feliz around 8:00 p.m. in a reserved a room where music fans and patrons can mingle with the artists.
There are many great events going on this weekend but the ones I'm really interested in are all about 'art'. First I have to say if there's something I really want to see, I'll drive hours (well at least a couple of hours) to see it. So my first stop this Friday evening will be in Pasadena to see ART NIGHT.
This is a free evening "of art, music and entertainment as Pasadena's most prominent arts and cultural institutions swing open their door. Begin your journey at any of their 19 participating cultural institutions where free shuttles will be waiting to transport you to your next destination I was there last year where over 29,000 people experienced the excitement of ArtNight." according to their website. I loved it so much that of course I'm going back. To see the venues participating go to ArtNightPasadena.org.
Oh and I guarantee all this exploring will give you an appetite so I suggest you start the evening with a bite at one of Pasadena's very cool cafes. One of my favorites is MY VEGAN RESTAURANT located at 633 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena. Their phone number is 626-578-9017 and their website is MyVeganRestaurant.com.
Even if you're not a vegan you'll find plenty of delicious food to eat. Another awesome place is GREEN EARTH VEGAN CUISINE which is a family owned spot offering vegan dishes from America, Italy, Mexico, China, Thailand and Vietnam. They're at 37 S. Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena and their web site is GreenEarthVegan.com. Phone number is 626-584-0268. I've eaten their several times and have never been disappointed. In fact, right now just thinking about them is getting me hungry.
Now on Saturday evening I will be downtown for another art event which is more on the political side. Considering it's almost time for the mid term elections, this is a very important and inspiring place to be. It's called ART SHARE L.A.
Opening Reception for Protest 10/13/20187:00 PM—10:00 PM
ART SHARE L.A. is excited to announce a show that is politically inspired by the creative marches and protest signs as well as text based work. It is entitled appropriately, PROTEST. The event runs from Saturday the 13th until November 4th. It was inspired.
The show was created to motivate, provoke, inspire and most importantly get people talking. As Art Share L.A. likes to say 'Let's use our words.'. The show features 20 local artists. They are located at 801 East 4th Place, Los Angeles. Their phone number is 213-687-4278. To learn more about this fabulous group go to ArtShareLA.org.
Finally Sunday I'm taking a trip back in time to The Heritage Square Museum. "This is a living museum that explores the settlement and development of Southern California during its first 100 years of statehood. The eight historic structures located at the museum constructed during the Victorian era, were saved from demolition and brought here." Besides these incredible homes decorated with authentic victorian furniture, there's even a drugstore where you could buy a soda for 25 cents and a hot fudge sundae for the same price. Oh, if you want nuts, it was a nickel extra.
Heritage Square Museum is located at 3800 Homer Street Los Angeles. For more information go to HeritageSquare.org
Whatever you choose to do this weekend, have a great one.
Darkness Comes Alive 7/6/18. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti.
The sound is not the first thing you notice when you enter the Lili Lakich Studio, but it is the most surprising. You are surrounded by neon artwork created in Lakich's studio, but after a few moments you hear the most calming sound, a slight hum coming from the lights. White noise, maybe a few bursts of static, and immensely calming, meditative. The last thing you might expect from a room filled with so much light is to find such a soothing sound there.
Trap Street is a cartographers term for something inserted in a map – a street that didn't exist or an elevation for a mountain off by a few or several hundred feet – to catch copycats. If the non-existent street turned up in someone else's map, then they had stumbled into the trap, and their duplicity was obvious.
It is also the name of a group of writers and performers who want to tell stories about Los Angeles, especially spaces and streets that might have been left off the map, not necessarily to catch copycats, but because our eyes have forgotten to look. Trap Street has created a piece called Darkness Comes Alivethat marries fiction with reality in an audio-tour of the Lakich studio.
Darkness Comes Alive is not exactly immersive theater – as Trap Street Creative Director Chad Eschman says, "There's no backstory before you arrive and no one pulls you into a room to give you a password – but we do want you to feel like you're in a slightly different version of the world you know."
It's the combination of light and sound that creates Darkness Comes Alive. A typical audio-tour of a museum for instance, is all about facts--so and so was born in 1871, they painted everyday at noon, etc.--but these are stories--told from three different perspectives, each exploring the idea that our souls can be captured within those neon tubes that are illuminated by some eternal presence.
It's still more than a hundred degrees when I arrive at nearly eight o'clock at the Lakich gallery (it's hot bitch! a young girl yells at her friend as I take a few pictures outside.) The Lakich gallery is on what is now a very well trod street, around the corner from the New American Hotel (Al's Bar R.I.P.) and across the street from the always bustling Wurstkuche.
It wasn't so in the early 80's when Lakich first opened her studio – the area was off the radar, far less commercialized and home to a still underground art scene. Gentrification isn't the right word maybe – it's not exactly conformist Middle Class suburbia, but the Arts District has gotten far more expensive, and if we shouldn't mourn the passing of the rougher edges, we'll still feel a loss if the artists who created this neighborhood can no longer afford to live here.
Inside the studio there are less than a dozen people, attendance a victim of this high heat since the opening weekend had crowds closer to sixty. We have already downloaded tracks from our favorite podcast app. They are called the Vigilante, the True Believer and the Undertaker, each the name of a character telling us stories about the neon light installations we are seeing. We are free to follow the stories as we see fit, in whatever order. We wander the room in headphones, and the others having arrived in small groups of 3 to 4 compare their reactions to the piece.
Darkness Comes Alive 7/6/18. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti.
What was your first memory of light? asks one character. The studio's bright white walls are awash in it, different hues mixing together, and the result isn't garish, but like the sound of the lights, comforting. We all look a little better under neon lights I suspect. Julianne Jigour, Director of Development for Trap Street, says she had never before this project considered neon in the realm of high art.
Jigour tells me that Lakich's fascination with neon began when she went on family road trips, and they would choose the motel to stay in for the night based on the neon sign out front. So much for the distinction between high and low art--Lakich's work bridges that gap, and the sensuous quality of all the light makes me believe the show's conceit that souls are preserved inside those glass tubes.
One of the first things Eschman saw when he moved to Los Angeles three years ago was the Lili Lakich studio, but only from the outside. He was very interested by what might be going on there, but with no studio hours posted, there didn't seem to him to be any way to get inside.
Years later, when Amy Thorstenson, Director of Events for Trap Street, wanted to do a piece involving neon light, the group initially approached the Museumof Neon Art (MONA) in Glendale, but they weren't responsive. Eschman remembered his first impressions of Lakich studio and made the connection--and suggested the Lakich gallery. Thorstenson called Lakich and found she was willing to talk about their project.
Lakich co-founded MONA in 1981 with Richard Jenkins, but ended her association with them nearly 20 years ago. Her studio is the former home of MONA. Trap Street wasn't aware of this history when they reached out to Lakich.
Lakich gave them a copy of her book Lakich: For Light. For Love. For Life, and Trap Street took some of her personal history, also adding in fictional elements within the narration. The idea of electricity and neon as a source of life, or that souls are held within light, was inspired by the pieces they saw at the Lakich Studio.
Sticks and Stones installation by Lili Lakich. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti
Trap Street, originally an off-shoot from a Chicago company that did similar work, has been around for about two years. They start with a location and then build the show around it; they don't build sets or costumes to create another imaginary world within a space. They like to take the space exactly as it is.
"We always start with a space that has a story to it already, and the story inspires everything we write, everything we create," says Eschman. "That's why each show is different." Darkness Comes Alive is an audio tour because it somehow felt more appropriate to use that form to explore an art studio and gallery. They used the Iron Triangle Breweryfor their first production (Nautapocalypse), and that became a live show, a party where it turned out some of the partygoers were actors playing roles.
"It's really interesting because, unlike (Darkness Comes Alive) where the space is ours, Iron Triangle was still open to the public, so it created this interesting dynamic," says Jigour. The show went on while people drank beers or played bar games. Performing in that environment became a funny challenge, part of the beauty of performing in a public space.
Whatever the exact form of the piece, Eschman wants an audience to come to Trap Street shows to explore an interesting space, knowing they're getting something extra unique to their productions.
"We did a show in Chicago where there were two groups of people who went on an audio tour thinking they were taking the same tour, but they were actually listening to different narrators," says Eschman. "So what happened is that when they went through the space, they encountered live scenes. They all saw the same scenes, but in reverse order. They came together at the end and realized they'd seen the same scenes, but heard a different person explain it."
Chad Eschman and Julianne Jigour of Trap Street. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti
Having each been in Los Angeles for about three years, Eschman and Jigour both feel like they are discovering a city that is changing so rapidly. "One thing about not being...from L.A. is the way it directs your attention in different ways," says Jigour. "I have no really ingrained roadmap of where to look in L.A. so it's kind of like a wildcard."
Inspiration for their projects is intuitive, like driving down the freeway and seeing some sign or building that triggers your imagination. Serendipity. It's how Nautapocalypse came together--Atlas Obscura, publishers of a guidebook celebrating "700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world"--did a tour of Los Angeles buildings that formerly housed brothels. Matthew Johns, Director of Design and Technology for Trap Street, went on the tour. It sold out before Eschman could get a ticket--but they met where the tour ended, the Iron Triangle brewery.
"We just sat there for a few hours and said this place is amazing," Eschman says, and little by little the idea for Nautapocalypse began to take shape.
Trap Street, along with completing a short film based on the writings of William S. Burroughs and hosting a podcast about cocktails called Rogue Bottle, are looking for more spaces that they and their audience can explore. Lakich has already suggested to them that they might return to her studio in the Fall for a remount of Darkness Comes Alive; they may revise or expand the piece if that happens.
They want to create more audio tours across the city, perhaps releasing them for people to download and experience anytime they want. Whatever the project, they want to give the same experience of asking the audience to question what is real and what is fiction.
"We're interested in creating a partnership with different spaces, where it's not just about us and our work and our creative stuff, but it's about inviting the community to these cool spaces that should be seen," Jigour says. They want spaces they can collaborate with and not just be viewed as another rental.
And even though they are newcomers here, Eschman and Jigour say Trap Street is encouraged by how welcoming the artistic community has been. "I just love that everyone in this town seems up for trying something weird and new – it's a little like the Wild West out here," Eschman says.
Do you get it yet, my fellow Americans? Do you get it yet? First, the FBI Chief is fired in the middle of an investigation of the White House, then the so-called President meets with the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, and American press is barred from coverage!!! That is, only the Russian Press is allowed to cover the press conference of the so-called President and the Russian Foreign Minister IN THE WHITE HOUSE, and still life goes on mostly as usual here. Can you even imagine the outcry if President Obama had done anything like this? There would be mobs in the street, and militias would be forming.
So here it is, those who still can't read the writing on the wall - written in such huuuge letters, they can be read all the way from Russia: He is just a USEFUL IDIOT for them. While being just an IDIOT for us. And those who persist in believing in that this so-called President is on their side - when he so obviously only cares about #1 - what can we call them?
(And yes, these photos are from the infamous "pee tape," because the Twisted Hipster has that kind of access.)
So, that said, let's try to find the peace of mind in Art that can't currently be found in life. Toward that end I took refuge yesterday in the permanent collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), in the Ahmanson Building, in search of transcendent Beauty.
THE BEAUTY THAT IS ALWAYS WITH US
Fantasy Bust by Carrier-Belleuse. Photo Credit for all the photos in this column: S. L. Fife
Between Two Loves
I find myself on the third floor of Ahmanson Hall, in front of two statues by a sculptor I've never heard of: Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. French, lived 1824-1887. I love these two pieces, they are so supple and sinuous. And emotional, yes. Why don't I know this guy? He reminds me a bit of Rodin (you know, the "thinker" guy?), but more straightforward, less stylized. And, looking him up on google - oh, wow, so Rodin apprenticed with him. So thanks for this, Monsieur Carrier-Belleuse.
Rodin's Minotaur and Nymph
Rodin's Eternal Spring
Now that I've brought up Rodin, I feel like I have to see his many sculptures nearby. They're all very tactile and dynamic, but two really jump out: Eternal Spring and Minotaur and Nymph. Wow, pretty sexy. I mean, Eternal Spring will either make you feel good about your own sex life, or the very opposite. Hard to believe the man doesn't have a boner. If you don't get one with a kiss like that, then something is not firing on all cylinders. On the other hand, Minotaur and Nymph is creepy. From the Nympth's look, it seems that the Minotaur is not having any problems with his tumescence. Is she happy about it or not? Your call.
I have to admit, there are some crazy gems in this LACMA Permanent Collection, much better than I gave it credit for. I mean, yes, I was spoiled by the museums in NYC - the Met Museum and MoMA both go on forever and have so many famous works of art, and they're almost always swamped with visitors (except in the Greek vase section, always lots of room there!). But what's great here is the unexpectedness of what you find, and how empty it is on a weekday.
Woman Drying Her Hair by Degas
Four or five feet away from the Rodins are a few Degas sculptures. It is late afternoon, and one of the sculptures - A Woman Drying Her Hair - catches the golden light in a truly magical way. The woman's body glows with dappled light, which catches every indentation on her fleshy form. The curtains are open on the museum window, and the Los Angeles Mid-Wilshire landscape shines outside. Somehow this un-idealized woman and this workaday cityscape belong together, or maybe she just seems at home here in her timeless busy-ness, squeezing the water out of her long thick tresses while taking in the golden view of a golden city. There is nowhere to rush to, nowhere else to be, nothing to worry about, no rent due (or overdue), no collusion between super-powers to douse the small flame of individuality that still burns in the hearts of people. Nothing else besides a sculptured woman drying her long hair in the late afternoon tranquility, and the golden light glowing over everything.
Satan by Jean-Jacques Feuchere
But of course the world isn't that simple, much as we might like it to be. Something draws me back to that first gallery toom, with the lovely Fantasy bust, and there I find the 1836 sculpture of Satan by Frenchman Jean-Jacque Feuchere. Wonder what prompted this? I guess it was that Romantic impulse of rebellion, as Satan the fallen angel was also an archetype for the artist, who dared to defy God by taking on the role of Creator. Then again, this is just very disturbing. This Satan isn't so much evil as he is gnawing on his own liver, consumed with anger and envy and jealousy and vows of Revenge... and we're back in the modern world.
Back in the world where FBI Chiefs get fired for all the wrong reasons, and there are so many conspiracies going on at any one moment that how can anybody go about his or her business without worrying about what's going to happen next, and how can I really protect my daughter from all the serial killers masquerading as Uber drivers, and damn, I forgot to pay off my credit card last week and now they're going to hit me with another late fee, and why hasn't that screenplay sold yet when my manager told me that there was so much "interest," and--
But then I remember that Degas woman bathed in the golden light - and even this "Satan" is so beautifully made, so lovingly conceived and carved and polished - and the fear begins melting away.
Good things will happen, they have to.
This world is simply too beautiful a place to allow oneself to be overwhelmed by despair.