BEYOND THE PCH: THE LACMA CALAMITY

A calamity perhaps is the word to describe the design process our Los Angeles County Museum of Art has been suffering for the last half dozen years, and let me stress that is “our” taxpayer supported museum.

A catastrophe certainly will be the word to describe the museum if the $600 million plus design becomes as feared the nightmare construct and a failed Southern California conceit, orchestrated by a self aggrandizing art crowd.

Putting on my battered hat as the former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, and several other professional publications, I join the chorus of critics and tax payers to urge the County Board of Supervisors to stop feeding funds to what will be by the time it is built a one billion dollar mistake. That total includes the private donations by art patrons that could have gone elsewhere.

The Board including that usual clear headed Sheila Kuehl who represents my Malibu is poised to release $117.5 million for the calamity, having to date been wined and dined, and their egos massaged, by wily museum director Michael Govan. Talk about an edifice complex of a star struck arts administrator, and of what is ostensibly a public institution.

Meanwhile, the clearly over-whelmed Govan and over-his-head architect, Switzerland-based Peter Zumthor, have been putzing around with the design for what seems like dog years, the latest study inexplicably reducing the proposed gallery space, when obviously needed is more to house the collection. Less in this case is less.

It appears the design process has been a cozy, closed closet exercise, involving numerous commutes between Zurich and Los Angeles. Not bad when you are punching the clock at a non profit sinecure, but sad when considering those funds could be used for arts education in our culturally starved public schools.

And talk about being environmentally insensitive, it is hard to rationalize the demolition of the nearly half a million square feet of the existing landmark museum, and the chaos of the years of construction

As for the proposed design, it is no longer colored black as the muck in the adjacent tar pits, but it is still a biomorphic blob sprawling across Wilshire Boulevard. The galleries might be one floor, as Govan wanted, but the structure is ugly and awkward.

Time for the County Supervisors to bring this farce of a design process to a screeching halt.

4,4.19

DANCE ABOUNDS

Whether it is just the warm and welcoming seasonal weather  coming this year after a hard Winter of wildfires and floods, or whether it is just the coincidental whims of select cultural venues. Whatever it might be, the joys of dance are happily being celebrated this Spring across Southern California.

At the relatively accessible Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills last weekend, on stage in a rare performance was Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company. (BTW, the company was labeled that when it broke away from the originally state sponsored theater, malpaso in English meaning misstep.

But the company has persevered to become renown , blending as it does a variety of modern dance styles, featured was a program of the favored old and challenging new. 

Yes, old but for me ever new 30 years since it exploded on  a New York  stage was the Cuban rendition of Merce Cunningham’s Fielding Sixes, adapted here for eight agile dancers.  Also on the program were three more recent pieces, and though interesting, just did not excite as did the Cunningham restaging.

Perhaps  it was nostalgia, in anticipation also of this weekend’s offering at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Music Center downtown L.A.  Wednesday thru Sunday by the venerable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

For sixty years the much honored dance company has been mesmerizing audiences with fresh interpretations of modern dance techniques.  And I am pleased to note that the nightly differing programs all will feature the acclaimed masterpiece Revelations, a personal favorite.

For those who are really turned on by dance, for an admission price of $75  there will be what promises to be an unforgettable party  after Friday’s performance, to meet and mingle with some of the Alvin Alley performers. Light fare will be served on the fifth floor. where, who knows, you just might be tempted to try out some of your moves.

In the same spirit, but free, at the Wallis’s outdoor Promenade Terrace, being offered every second Sunday afternoon of the month, beginning next Sunday, the 14th, will be an interactive studio conducted by the dancer Debbie Allen and Friends.  Yes,that’s free.  Thank you Wallis

Each studio will feature a different dance step, beginning with Flamenco in April, Voguing in May and Salsa in June.  By the way, Voguing is a stylized dance originating from the black and Latino LGBT community of New York City. All ages and levels are invited. Just make sure you’re wearing the right shoes.

Also upcoming this Spring. is the Los Angeles Dance Festival, at the  Luckman Fine Arts Complex on the Cal State east L.A. campus., next weekend, April 12 thru 14. That is for the main stage performances of a variety of dancers and companies. Checkout the program on the website, luckmanarts.org

 For what promises to be a little more edgy are the offerings April 26th to 28th at the festival’s Fringe, at the Diavolo Studio Black Box, in the downtown’s Arts District, 616 Moulton Avenue. If you love dance, you have to love these diverse venues, however a challenge it might be getting to them.