JOAN OF ART: A Weekend filled with an Iconic Play, an Iconic Actor's Son and Some Terrific Art

One of my most favorite lines ever written in a play comes from Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire. The line is... Sometimes- there's God-so quickly and it is uttered by the character Blanche Dubois who believes a man that she recently met is going to rescue her from the hell that is her life.

Now who hasn't felt that at one time or another. That some miracle will happen that will save their life or change the events of their life. But to say it in such a poetic way, well only someone of Mister Williams talent could do that.

The team behind 2016's acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams rarely-seen Kingdom of Earth, is back - this time, with Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE.

Jack Heller directs actress Susan Priver, (who played the down on her luck show girl Myrtle in Kingdom of Heaven and LA Weekly award-winning The Lover by Harold Pinter) as Blanche DuBois and Max E. Williams (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and numerous productions with Elephant Theatre Company) as Stanley Kowalski in a visiting production at the Odyssey Theatre presented by Dance On Productions in association with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger.

Passions flare and cultures collide in the sultry streets of New Orleans beginning May 25, with performances continuing though July 7.

Often regarded as among the finest plays of the 20th century, Streetcar is considered by many to be Williams' greatest work. The story famously recounts how the faded and promiscuous Blanche is pushed over the edge by Stanley, her sexy and brutal brother-in-law.

The play launched the careers of Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden and solidified the position of Williams as one of the most important young playwrights of his generation.

I know come this Saturday evening May 25th at 8pm I will be at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd, West Los Angeles to once again see this extraordinary play. For reservations and information call 310-477-2055 or go to Odysseytheatre.com.

Speaking of Brando on Sunday May 26th at the Santa Monica Playhouse I'll be seeing WILD SON: THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN BRANDO. Set under the white glare of Hollywood and Celebrity WILD SON: THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN BRANDO tells the story of Marlon Brando's troubled headline making son in his own words. The story is populated by the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Anjelica Huston and Robert Blake along with several others.

Most importantly it is the story of father and son. The final performance is this Sunday so run don't walk to get tickets.

To purchase go to WildSon.brownpapertickets.com. The show starts at 5:30.

Now for something different, WE RISE.

This is a ten day pop up immersive experience that brings together LA'S diverse community to explore our collecive power to live lives of purpose and engagement. Through powerful programming, performances, immersive workshops and a world class art exhibition, they seek to embolden individuals and families to find help, reach out to help others and demand systemic change in order to address the critical need for early intervention, treatment and care for mental wellbeing.

WE RISE believes that their collective imagination is at the heart of all social change, dreaming of how to transcend the systems and cultural norms that do not serve us. Envisioning what is possible when everyone feels a sense of belonging, connection, meaning and purpose is the first step toward creating new realities, we can manifest a future where mental health and communities are at the center of well being.

The event is located at 1262 Palmetto Street Los Angeles. The event is free and open to the public. The show starts at 10:00 AM Saturday and run through Monday, May 27th at 10pm. For more information go to WeRise.LA

Whatever you decide to do this weekend people, make it a fun one.


JOAN OF ART: FEATHERS, FLIPPERS AND FUR PICNIC, BUILDING BRIDGES, AND A "MUST SEE" VERY FUNNY PLAY

I've been looking forward to this event since I attended their picnic last year.

As the Los Angeles area's premier wildlife medical care and rehabilitation facility, California Wildlife Center strives to ensure that each animal in their care receives the highest level of help to allow them to return to their wild state. Since 1998, CWC has experienced a steady increase in animal patients, caring for more than 44,000 wild animals, many whose injuries were caused by the impacts of their urbanized environments.

A long term goal of the center is to promote protection of wild habitats and the environment through education, training and partnerships with the communities it serves. Many people have questions and misconceptions about how to help wildlife, which can create unintended consequences to the wildlife they admire. Some conflicts with wildlife occur when raccoons empty trash cans, deer raid gardens and birds nest in chimneys.

Coexistence begins with the understanding of how to share our communities with wild animals. In order to do this, the California Wildlife Center educates individuals about the animals in their environment and provide solutions to existing problems, such as helping a neighborhood discourage a prowling coyote.

When people learn about the hardships animals face each day, they are more willing to take a proactive approach toward protecting the natural environment and the habitats of our wild neighbors. At CWC, they educate communities, and in doing so, they challenge homeowners, teachers, students and businesses to continue learning about their environment and enriching the lands in which we all live and play. What could be better?

On Saturday, May 4, 2019 the CWC will be putting on their second annual Feathers, Flippers and Fur Picnic starting at 2:00 pm and running until 5pm at King Gillette Ranch located at the corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes in Calabasas.

You will get to experience the wonders of wildlife while feasting on Gourmet Vegetarian Cuisine from your favorite local eateries as well as wine tasting from local wineries.

There will be live music by Wild Ride and a performance by Jimmy H. a comedy magician. Your kiddies can get their face painted while you are doing a guided meditation led by Draza Jansky. Also you can participate in a Silent Auction which will offer amazing packages for the whole family, plus many more fun activities.

Tickets are $75.00 for adults, $25.00 for children ages 3-16 and children ages two and under are free. Tickets include food, wine and all activities. All the proceeds go to this incredible organization. To purchase tickets and to learn more about the event, sponsorship opportunities visit CAWildlife.org.

Now before I spend the day basking in the sun with all these wonderful animals and animal lovers, the night before, Friday May 3rd, I'll be downtown at the BUILD BRIDGES, PAINT WALLS show at the Rendon Gallery, which is partnering with the UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese, to present this amazing exhibit.

This is a multimedia exhibition featuring murals, graphic art and photography celebrating latinidad and the international cultural exchanges that make Los Angeles great.

Now what is an art show without music. That's why California punk band Deseos Primitivos will be performing and DJ Skwirl Sauce will be spinning ska, punk, reggae and music Latina. The corner dive bar, Licha's Bar and Grill will be open, serving beer sponsored by Angel City Brewery and Sus Arepas and Memije's Tacos and Catering will have food for sale on the site

The show starts at 7pm and runs until 10pm. The Rendon Gallery is located at 2055 East 7th Street, Los Angeles.

The event is put on by Cartwheel Art who focus on immersive experiences, designing community driven and diverse programming such as guided group tours, art activated events and curated exhibitions.

For more information and to purchase tickets go to CartwheelArt.com. I've been to many Cartwheel Art events and everyone has been unique and simply put, fantastic.

I love theatre and last week I got to see an extremely funny and touching play entitled BOXING LESSONS which is playing at The New American Theatre located at 1312 North Wilton Place in Hollywood.

​When a famous writer dies under mysterious circumstances, family and friends gather in his cabin on a remote island in Puget Sound to box up his belongings. In the process, they come to realize just how much they love, despise and need one another.

This is a world premiere dark comedy written by award winning playwright John Bunzel and perfectly directed by Jack Stehlin. This definitely falls into my 'must see' category. The cast is great and you will laugh big time. I even teared up which always makes me happy. There's tons of wild plot twists and revelations.

The play opened on April 26th and run through June 2nd. Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and some Sundays at 3pm. To purchase tickets and for more information go to NewAmericanTheatre.com or call 310-424-2980.

But most importantly, whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one people.


JOAN OF ART: A Weekend of Wonders, Art, Fashion, Food and Magic

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.

The event takes place at the Cooper Design Space, 860 South Los Angeles Street. For tickets go to NudeArtLA.com

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.

L.A. State Historic Park is located at 1245 North Spring Street, Los Angeles. For more information go to LatinFoodFest.com/events-los-angeles

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.


JOAN OF ART - A theatre experience that makes you question what it is to be human, Grammy Award Winning Blues Man, Artisans and their wears and healthy delicious food

The weekend is here and the rain has stopped so it's time to step outside for some fun, starting with a play that, besides entertaining you, will definitely make you think.

Smart Love written by Brian Letscher and directed by Elina de Santos is about Artificial Intelligence and how humans, one day, will most certainly be faced with deciding what makes us truly human.

In this excellent production, now playing at the Pacific Resident Theatre located at 703 Venice Boulevard in Venice, the main character Sandy (the excellent Melissa Weber Bales) a woman in her 50's, is faced with exactly that question.

Thanks to her son Benji (Zachary Grant) who may or not be crazy arrives at her house with a surprise. He has brought back to life her husband, Ron (the wonderful Michael Mantell). It seems Benji has stolen Ron who is an A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) from MIT and the federal government who are hunting him in order to retrieve their merchandise. You can't blame them since Ron cost $20 million dollars to create.

Smart Love runs Thursday through Saturday at 8m and Sundays at 3 until Febuary 24, 2019. For tickets call 310-822-8392 or go to PacificResidentTheatre.com.

Now there is nothing like some really great music to make you feel good so Saturday night I will be at the Canyon Club located at 28912 Roadside Drive Agoura Hills CA, to see the legendary Taj Mahal and the Phantom blues Band.

Grammy Award winning Taj Mahal is not only a legend but he's a visionary whose blues/world music is known for trailblazing exploration of a variety of musical genres. This blues master's career spans fifty something years and includes influences from around the world, including the West Indies, India, South Asia, Africa, Latin America and more.

He has helped to reshape the definition and scope of blues music. He's released over twenty five studio albums plus live albums and complications and has worked with artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Van Morrision, Sammy Hagar, Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton and more. This is one show you do not want to miss.

To buy tickets go to CanyonClub.net or call 818-879-5016.

And now for some daytime fun. If you love jewelry, gemstones, textiles, and handcrafted beads, the place to be this weekend is the PASADENA BEAD AND DESIGN SHOW and I will be there on Sunday.

The show is open to the public. You can shop and buy direct from artisans and trades people at excellent prices - beads, art clothing, jewelry, gemstones, textiles and the largest selection of handcrafted beads, art jewelry and gems.

Many products offered for the first time-and by the artisans themselves, including an array of designer accessories such as felted hats, art wear, hand-dyed silks, hand tooled leather and eco-dyed and up cycled clothing.

The exhibitors, who are carefully chosen by invitation, include both traditional and contemporary artisans, high quality merchants and wholesale suppliers.

The show is being held at the Hilton Pasadena Hotel located at 168 South Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena CA 91101. It runs January 18-20, 2019 from 10am-6pm Friday-Sunday.

For more information and to buy tickets go to BeadAndDesign.com or call 1-888-747-1123.

There are also 150 workshops offered daily 8am to 9pm. Admission at the door is $10.00. Advanced tickets are $8.00.

Now after all this shopping and since you are in Pasadena you might one to try one of my favorite restaurants TRUE FOOD KITCHEN a relaxed, eco-chic chain serving health conscious fare, including vegan options, plus cocktails. The resturant is located at 168 West Colorado Blvd in Pasadena.

The renowned physician and doctor of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil founded True Food Kitchen with the simple belief that food should make you feel better, not worse. From day one, Weil and his team championed his vision to bring this new way of eating to each one of his kitchens located throughout the United States.

Don't get scared away by the word 'healthy'. Trust me I've eaten here several times and the food is absolutely delicious. To check out the menu go to Places.SinglePlatform.com. To read more about the restaurant go to TrueFoodKitchen.com.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend make it a fun one. I know I will.


JOAN OF ART - A Musical, Immersive Theatre, ArtSHOW and #CanYouEverForgiveMe

I saw this musical in New York City and I was so excited to hear that it was coming to Los Angeles. I'll be at the Ahmanson on Friday evening to see 'Dear Evan Hansen.' and I can't wait. It won the Tony Award in 2017 for Best Musical as well as a Grammy Award in 2018.

This is such a profound and deeply moving play about life and the way we live it. It's also a show that anyone, no matter what your age is, can relate to.

The New York Times calls it 'a gut-punching, breathtaking knockout of a musical' and I couldn't agree more. If you see one musical this year, make it 'Dear Evan Hansen.'
To buy tickets click here.

Opening on Friday, October 19 is a wonderful film called, 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' starring Melissa McCarthy.

The film is based on the true story of best selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) who when she falls out of step with current tastes has to find another way to survive.

So in order to pay her rent and buy medicine for her sick cat, Lee becomes a forger. She forges letters from deceased authors and playwrights and winds up selling them for a great deal of money.

The film is beautifully directed by Marielle Heller and written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty.

Melissa is just extraordinary in this film. Even though Lee was a very unlikeable person, Melissa manages to capture her vulnerability, pain and fear in such a way that it will bring tears to your eyes.

Do not miss this film. I'm sure at Oscar time, Melissa will get a nod for her killer performance.

Another great event this weekend is Senor Plummer's Final Fiesta.

It's 1942 and you receive an invitation to the book launch of Senor Plummer: The Life and Laughter of an Old Californian, Eugenio Plummer's mostly true account of his life in early Los Angeles. You arrive in the newly dedicated Plummer Park, only steps away where from Plummer himself lived since 1977. But soon the festivites stir up a merry band of ghosts and shadows who sweep you into a past filled with wild west duels, pirates, land grabs, violent mobs, romance and epic court battles. Oh and of course fiestas. Told through a patchwork of large scale puppets, masks and music the Rogue Artists Ensemble electrified Senor Plummer's whimsical tales of early Los Angeles.

The play begins with everyone together and then you get to choose which stories you want to follows. It begins Friday October 19th and plays Saturday the 20th and Sunday the 21st at 7:30pm through November 4th.

For tickets click here.

And the perfect way to end the weekend is The Beverly Hills artSHOW

Once again this wonderful art show returns to 9455 N Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 where hundreds of paintings will be on displayed. The upcoming artSHOW will be held on October 20 & 21. Hours each day are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and you can bring your dog. I've attended this event for the last few years and I can truly say that some really talented artists show their work there. And yes, the art is for sale.

Whatever you choose do this weekend, have a great one.


JOAN OF ART - Art in Pasadena, Protest, Eating Vegan, and the Heritage Square Museum

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
10/13/2018 7:00 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.


EVENTS OPENING THIS WEEK

AUTOPLAY @ Los Angeles City College

September 27, 2018 3:00 pm

Directed by Leslie Ferreira September 27 - October 6 AutoPlay 2018 is a devised work - a series of fifteen, original, intimate, site specific ten minute plays - each taking place in an automobile. ...read more


THE PRODUCERS@ The Gem Theatre

September 27, 2018 8:00 pm

Bialystock and Bloom! Those names should strike terror and hysteria in anyone familiar with Mel Brooks' classic cult comedy film. Now as a big Broadway musical, The Producers once again sets the standard for ...read more


SELL/BUY/DATE @ Los Angeles LGBT Center

September 27, 2018 8:00 pm

Written and Performed by Tony Award-winner Sarah Jones, "Sell/Buy/Date" is an exuberant show inspired by the real-life experiences of people affected by the sex industry. Brimming with Sarah Jones' dazzling medley of masterful, multicultural ...read more


WAS IST DAS? SHOW 31 - THE LIVE AND LEARN SHOW! @ Crown City Theatre Company

September 27, 2018 8:00 pm

A Cabaret Circus Variety show set in the raucous days of Berlin 1924 that is dedicated to presenting lively and inventive performances ranging from the absurd to the sublime! On any given night you ...read more


SAMMY MILLER AND THE CONGREGATION @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

September 27, 2018 8:00 pm

Sammy Miller and The Congregation are on a mission to put the generosity back into jazz and bring art back to the people. With their feel-good, joyful sound, they share the power of community ...read more


BLOODY POETRY@ Little Fish Theatre

September 27, 2018 8:00 pm

In celebration of the bicentennial of the publication of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Little Fish Theatre presents Bloody Poetry by Howard Brenton. Opening September 27 at Little Fish Theatre and directed by Ovation Award winner ...read more


CHINESE WARRIORS OF PEKING @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

September 28, 2018 7:30 pm

Featuring a mixture of high-intensity martial arts and breathtaking acrobatics, The Chinese Warriors of Peking tells the tale of two rival martial arts disciplines competing in the ancient Chinese capital of Peking during the ...read more


THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE @ The Attic Theater

September 28, 2018 7:30 pm

"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" is a classic tale of love, hope, and revenge set against the vicious backdrop of a lawless society. A young scholar travels into the Wild West in search ...read more


SHOWPONY @ The Victory Theatre Center

September 28, 2018 8:00 pm

When the mostly, white employees from a large Ad Agency, reveal their unconscious racism through slips of the tongue and gender micro-aggressions, the tensions build as aggressions move into overt racism and misogyny. Both ...read more


EVERYTHING THAT NEVER HAPPENED@ Boston Court Performing Arts Center

September 28, 2018 8:00 pm

Forget everything you think you know about Shylock; this world premiere fills the gaps in Shakespeare's tale and exposes the realities of Jewish history. Mantell's fresh and time-bending story is rich with humor and ...read more


BEYOND FEST @ Egyptian Theatre

September 29, 2018 10:00 am

A world genre film festival dedicated to delivering the best in horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and badass cinema. Created by a collective of film nerds/cultural innovators, our mission is to deliver an experience that builds ...read more


12 ANGRY JURORS@ Harter Hall, Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse

September 29, 2018 7:00 pm

Following the closing arguments in a murder trial, the 12 members of the jury must deliberate, with a guilty verdict meaning death for the accused, an inner-city teen. As the dozen jurors try to ...read more


JUSTICE ON TRIAL FILM FESTIVAL @ Loyola Marymount University

September 30, 2018 11:00 am

The Justice On Trial film festival grew out of a conversation between award-winning author Michelle Alexander and Susan Burton, founder of A New Way of Life Re-Entry Project. The Justice on Trial Film Festival speaks to the challenges ...read more


TOMáS AND THE LIBRARY LADY @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

September 30, 2018 2:00 pm

Unable to read English, Tomás, a migrant boy, is terrified of school. When his family heads North for the harvest, he finds a refuge that may help ease his fears—the library. The compassionate Library ...read more


GLENN FEST @ The Downey Theater

October 1, 2018 7:00 pm

GlennFest Film Festival 2018 will run from Sunday, September 30, 2018 through Sunday, October 7, 2018 in Downey, California. Realizing the importance of introducing art and film to underserved areas, GlennFest founder, Glenn Stephens, concentrated ...read more


FALLEN SAINTS: DARK @ The Belfry Stage (Upstairs)

October 1, 2018 10:30 pm

Critics Lemonade: 88%

Audience Lemonade: 100%

**3 ENCORE PERFORMANCES ADDED BY POPULAR DEMAND** MONDAY OCTOBER 1, 8 & 15 at 10:30PM!! What are you afraid of? Find out as Force of Nature explores the Darkness with the latest chapter of their ...read more


Now Registered This Week on the Better Lemons Calendar - September 10 through September 16, 2018

NEW! Theatrical shows, Musical Concerts, and Film Festivals registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

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Listen and Darkness Comes Alive

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 Alive that 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 Museum of Neon Art (MONAin 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 LightFor LoveFor 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 Brewery for 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.


Events Opening This Week

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS @ Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts Whittier College

June 28, 2018 7:30 pm

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, by William Shakespeare, adapted and directed by Gil Gonzalez and Katie Liddicoat WHITTIER, CA-Join the Enceladus Theatre Company for their upcoming production of The Comedy of Errors, running Thursdays-Fridays-Saturdays, June ...read more


THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARY JO KOPECHNE @ Odyssey Theatre

June 28, 2018 8:00 pm

The Death and Life of Mary Jo Kopechne tells the story of an American tragedy from the point of view of the victim – a young woman who became famous one night in 1969 ...read more


ENCORE WINNER! THE COMPLETE WORKS OF JULIA ROBERTS: A PARODY MUSICAL @ Better Lemons Event Calendar - Openings

June 29, 2018 7:30 pm

Audience Lemonade: 100%

Jessica walks into her Los Angeles apartment defeated. Her boss and co-workers mansplain and take credit for her ideas, her mother won't stop nagging her to get married, friends post about their happy lives ...read


BIG FISH @ Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center

June 29, 2018 8:00 pm

Adapted from Daniel Wallace's novel and Tim Burton's acclaimed film, and featuring spine-tinglingly beautiful music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa (The Addams Family and The Wild Party), Big Fish is a fantastical musical that ...read more


RUMORS @ Lonny Chapman Theatre

June 29, 2018 8:00 pm

The Group Rep presents Neil Simon's classic farce RUMORS, directed by Doug Engalla, produced by Alyson York for the Group Rep. Five neurotic couples gather for a dinner party celebrating one couple's 10th anniversary. ...read more


ALL MY SONS @ Lonny Chapman Theatre

June 30, 2018 2:00 pm

The Group Rep presents Arthur Miller's 1947 award-winning American drama ALL MY SONS, directed by Linda Alznauer, produced by Diane Frank and Linda Alznauer for the Group Rep. How far would a man go ...read more


MARY POPPINS @ Morgan-Wixson Theatre

June 30, 2018 8:00 pm

Sized up with Mary's own magical measuring tape, the 7-time Tony Award-winning musical Mary Poppins would definitely be "Practically Perfect in Every Way." Based on P.L. Travers' stories and the classic Disney film, this ...read more


DARKNESS COMES ALIVE @ Lili Lakich Studio

June 30, 2018 8:00 pm

Enter a strange world of neon light, hidden in the middle of the Arts District. Led by an undertaker, a vigilante, and a true believer, this multi-part audio tour might make you question your ...read more


DISASTEROID! (BEST MUSICAL NOMINEE - ENCORE PERFORMANCE) @ Broadwater Black Box

July 1, 2018 5:00 pm

Critics Lemonade: 100%

Sometimes the end of the world isn't the end of the world. She's a philanthropist trapped in a loveless marriage; he's an amateur astronomer trapped in a tax office. But he has a secret: ...read more


SEX, LOVE, DEATH AND LEON RUSSOM

Deep Red Face by Alison van Pelt

BOY by Michael Lindsay-Hogg

SHANE GUFFOGG'S GROUP EXHIBITION: 

PORTRAITURE

Portraiture curated by Shane Guffogg, featuring artwork by Don Bachardy, Xander Berkeley, Jeff Britton, Laura Hipke, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Doro Hofmann, Deborah Martin, Ed Ruscha, Paul Ruscha, Vonn Sumner, Alison Van Pelt as well as Guffogg himself, opened on November 11, 2017, at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. ​ It closes on December 22.

Art. It can be seen, felt, and heard. It can tickle our senses. It can be jarring, challenging our ideas of beauty. Art can be exhilarating, giving us the key to the universe.  What was the purpose of art throughout the ages and what is it now? It is a reflection of who we are, like a 2-way mirror, and depending on what side your standing, defines what you see. My name is Shane Guffogg, and I am an artist. Join me as I look at and try to define this elusive thing called Art.   -  SHANE GUFFOGG

LOST ICON #2 by Doro Hoffman

WHO DO YOU SAY I AM? by Laura Hipke

I highly recommend this exhibition, which features so much strong work, it will restore your faith in contemporary painting.  And it's free!  Definitely worth the drive. - Steve F

JOIN THEM FOR THEIR FIRST SATURDAY ART WALK AND ART RECEPTION 

Saturday, December 2, 2017,

from 6 PM - 10 PM

Orange County Center

for Contemporary Art 

117 North Sycamore Street, Santa Ana, California 92701

 

ROTTERDAM by John Brittain, Directed by Michael A. Shepperd

Ashley Romans and Miranda Wynne

The critics have weighed in on Rotterdam, and they are unanimous in their praise.  All I can say is that it is well-deserved, both for the play and for Michael A Shepperd's winning production.  The play is simply a breakthrough in dealing with issues of gender and sexual identity.  (It is not concerned with racial identity, even though one of the two major characters is a person of color.  It works here, though I wonder if it would if the play took place in Richmond VA rather than Rotterdam.)  While it will be described as a "transgender play," the truth is, it is simply a play about people struggling with difficult situations - flawed human beings trying their best to find happiness. The play does a wonderful job of giving us the feeling of real life, in which people have no idea how things are going to turn out and can't understand why it's so difficult.  I loved this absence of melodrama.  Michael Shepperd and the actors make it all flow.

THE SECRET IN THE WINGS by Mary Zimmerman, Directed by Joseph V. Calarco

Audrey Flegel, Leslie Murphy and Kate Pelensky (Photo: John Klopping)

In the last few years, I have seen Leon Russom play King Lear, the patriarch in Sam Shepard's Buried Child, and as French Stewart's bff in Padraic Duffy's Past Time - all deeply-felt performances that stayed with me long after the curtains came down. In Mary Zimmerman's enigmatic and haunting Secret in the Wings, Leon plays an ogre named Leon Russom who is asked by deeply self-absorbed parents to babysit their terrified teenage daughter, who is certain that Leon is going to eat her.  And when they've been left alone, that seems entirely possible. Instead he starts telling her stories - very grim fairy tales that go the heart of human darkness: brutality, incest, cannibalism, war,  In one story, a princess declares that no man can make her laugh. Her father the King offers her hand in marriage to anyone who can.  But if they fail, watch out.  A procession of stand-up comics try their best, but the princess's funnybone proves very difficult to locate.  But in another story, there is the possibility of redemption - something that the play offers us too.  In the end, Leon Russom (the ogre) shows us that we are all under a spell, and that if we can just break through, there is love and forgiveness on the other side.  This production is lovingly staged by Joseph Calarco, with a great "attic" set by JR Bruce, beautifully lit by Brandon Baruch, with evocative sound design by Calarco and costumes/masks by Kumie Asai.  The actors are fully-committed to the surreal world they find themselves in, and that they draw the audience into.  And then there is Leon Russom, very much one of a kind.


ME AND "SALVATOR MUNDI" DOWN BY THE SCHOOLYARD

Here is a twisted tale, a true story for all of you who believe in a world where good will triumph and evil will get the punishment it deserves.

By now you have probably read that "Salvator Mundi," a painting currently attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, has been sold by Christie's for over $450 million, which is the largest amount ever paid for a painting by 250%.  I have a special relationship with this painting (as do a few other people, some of whom I know), and this caused me to stop into Christie's for a close-up viewing on my recent visit to NYC.  In fact, here's a photo of the painting I snapped in the black velvet chapel in which the cash cow was ensconsed:

If you check out the Wikipedia listing for Salvator Mundi (Leonardo), you will find the sentence "In 2005, the painting was acquired by a consortium of art dealers that included Robert Simon, a specialist in Old Masters."  The name "Robert Simon" is of course a common one; as I recall, there was an excellent 60 Minutes reporter named Bob Simon who died recently in a car crash.  But this Robert Simon will be familiar to those readers of my memoir The 13th Boy , as well as (and even more likely) of Marc Fisher's landmark report "The Master" in The New Yorker.  Yes, careful readers of "The Master" will recognize Robert Simon - now one of the world's major dealers in Renaissance Art - as the longtime companion of his former English teacher, Robert J. Berman.  And readers of my memoir will certainly recognize Robert J. Berman as the name of my abuser, who - when he couldn't seduce me - tried to drive me to suicide.

I have not seen Robert Simon since a bizarre encounter in Mr Berman's apartment 47 years ago, but according to Fisher's article - and to friends I made during the 2013 mediation with Horace Mann School - Simon does not make a move without clearing it first with Robert Berman.  (Asked by his sister what he would do if Berman wasn't around anymore to give him advise, Simon told her: "I would just ask myself what Mr Berman would do, and I would do that.")  All of which is a rather long-winded way of saying that, while Robert Simon may be credited with discovering the "lost" Leonardo painting underneath the sloppily-painted copy (which had sold shortly before for around $60), it is my belief that Robert J. Berman is the real sleuth behind the discovery.  And I am not alone in believing that.

So my phone rang yesterday afternoon, and it was Gene on the line.  Gene was another former student of Berman's, younger than me by two years, who had gone further down the road with him than I did, and who consequently has had a more difficult time than me in getting past him.

"I'm just so bummed by this art auction today, so bummed, because I know how happy it's making him," Gene said, adding that he needed to speak about it with someone who would get where he was coming from.

In point of fact, though - at least as far as I understand it - Berman and Simon and the rest of their "consortium" will not be benefitting from yesterday's windfall.  They first tried to sell the painting to a museum in Dallas, that exhibited the painting for a few months, but refused to offer more than $90 million, claiming that the painting had been damaged by "over-restoration."  The painting was then leant out to the National Gallery in London for a few months in 2011-12.  It was subsequently bought in 2013 by the Russian collector Dmitry Robolovlev for $127.5 million.  But alas, Mr Robolovlev's wife sued for divorce the following year, and she was awarded one of the largest settlements on record.  I imagine this might have something to do with why he turned around and sold Leonardo's "Savior of the World."  Or maybe he's just a great businessman and knew that the painting had been undervalued.  In either case, he reaped a huge profit.

Of course, so did Berman and Simon.  I've been told that they've been building yet another wing on their already-enormous mansion in the gated community of Tuxedo Park, New York, where they live beyond the reach of the law for Berman's many transgressions, thanks to New York's highly restrictive Statute of Limitations.

Me, I'm just trying to gather enough sheckels to make the rent for next month.  Yes, I'd rather be me than them any day, but I could sure use some of that money.

Then again, I look into the eyes of this Salvator Mundi and they tell me: "This too shall pass."

And so it will.

And Gene and I and countless others will do our best to hang in there as it does.

 

 


A LEISURELY STROLL THROUGH HEAVEN AND HELL

BACK TO THE USSR

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

Aaaaaaaah.

Escaped!

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.

Right?