GOING TO MUSEUMS DOWNTOWN, IF YOU DARE

I’ve been musing recently about the difficulty getting to many of the cultural attractions blossoming this Spring across L.A. like the magnificent wildflowers that have followed the blessed, long awaited rains. So near, yet so far.

Well, there comes a point where you have to say the hell with the traffic, and try to ease on down PCH to the 10 and hope it is not too bad heading downtown, and to the museums there.

And as I urge in my commentary on public radio 97.5 KBU and select websites, do try. Always inviting is The Broad museum, indeed most times challenging, as is the current exhibit. Entitled Oracle, it features the works of some 20 artists exploring the tumultuous world of today, though perhaps probing would be a better word.

Across Grand Avenue, there is MOCA, where on display are the figurative painting of Black America by Kerry James Marshall I’ve been meaning to get to for a month now.

And actually, you don’t even have to go into the museum to enjoy its latest attraction, a bold, colorful Jonas Wood mural that wraps the Grand Avenue building.

I had always bemoaned the fact that there were no windows along the street façade, to look down into the sunken museum; that the blank facade of red Italian granite was a deadening affront to the not-so Grand Avenue streetscape. The mural is therefore quite welcome, and engaging.

You might want to combine the viewing there with a visit also to the MOCA Geffen in Little Tokyo, where added to the permanent collection has been a large scale installation of stuffed fabric sculptures by Sterling Ruby.

Also on display there is the newly acquired collection of photographs by Catherine Opie. Entitled the Inauguration Portfolio. it is a portrait of the million persons who descended on the National Mall in Washington for the swearing in of President Obama.

The photos for me are particularly poignant, for I can say proudly I was there that day, enduring the frigid weather to cover the event for public radio, and with my accompanying family also celebrate a historic day in the country’s evolving democracy.

The joy that day was infectious, the crowd in good spirits, exultant. Who could have even imagined that eight years later Washington, indeed America, would be under the threatening cloud of a thundering Donald Trump.

How will artists such as Catherine Opie depict these depressing days and our pinhead president? Let us hope we all survive to find out.

 

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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