GETTY ENGAGING AS EVER, ESPECIALLY IN FALL

Fall is finally here, and the crowds are definitely smaller at the southland’s popular museums. Gone are the Summer tourists, as I comment on my arts and entertainment wrap for Malibu’s public radio KBU.

Indeed, on a recent Saturday there were spaces on the more accessible parking levels in the Getty’s underground garage and no lines waiting for its trams up to the center’s campus.

There were no lines also in the pleasant café featuring a reasonable menu, and with seating indoors and out, make it a good time to visit.

This places it high on my to do list whenever we have visitors from afar, and definitely if there are particularly engaging exhibits on display.

At the Center now is a must for anyone interested in the contemporary cultural forces at play in the evolution of art. The exhibit, labeled “London Calling,” is a revealing and provocative selection of paintings by six artists who took root in post World War Two in England.

There in largely destroyed London they challenged the then popular rising trends of abstract expressionism, conceptualism, and minimalism, to paint reality, in a raw, rough and lush style, focusing a critical eye on the human figure and landscapes.

Included in this so called school of London, though I feel a better label would be the London gang, were the more recognized Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud and R.B. Katjai. They and others in the gang present a reality that is riveting and haunting. Go see it.

Also on display to the end of November are two very different photography exhibits, for which the Getty has a special curatorial affinity.

The more engaging exhibit, entitled the Real and Ideal, displays the emerging art of photography in France, from 1847 to 1860, Through a fascinating selection of dated photographs, illustrated is the debate at the time whether the new medium was art or science, and what would be its future, depicting the real or ideal.

Bear in mind that at the time novelists and painters were also struggling with the question whether to represent everyday subjects and the world, as it was, the good, bad and ugly, or some fanciful conceit.

In contrast to such questions, the other exhibit at the Getty examines the work of a contemporary photographer, Richard Learoyd. His focus is distinctive, very personal large-scale color photographs that prompt you as the viewer to connect with the subjects.

Both exhibits run through November 27th, at the always engaging, and now more accessible Getty Center.  9.23.16

 

THE REDCAT THEATRE, THE CUTTING EDGE OF L.A.

 

From my catbird seat in Malibu I love the cultural blooming in Los Angeles, in particular the avant-garde art, cutting edge dance and-music, experimental theatre and inventive film. It is what I feel makes L.A. such a great place to live and learn.

What I frankly don’t love is getting to the varied venues scattered across the Southland. Traffic downtown, to the arts district, to Bunker Hill is most times off putting, driving a pain and using mass transit actually worse.

You have to learn to beat the traffic.

That is one of the reasons I like the Redcat Theatre, tucked in the southwest corner under the Disney Concert Hall at Grand Avenue and Second Street, almost as an after thought to the iconic, undulating Frank Gehry conceit. The theatre is about what happens in it, not the architecture.

Curtain time for its evening performances are at 8.30, a little later but allowing for traffic to lighten or lingering at a dinner. Best for me are the Sunday performances, scheduled at 7, when traffic tends to be even lighter, parking painless and returning home easier and earlier.

But first and foremost is that the Redcat founded by the trendsetting California Institute of the Arts – known as CalArts – has been a well spring of creativity, outshining the region’s other more prevailing, and pricey, institutions.

In my opinion, if you want to be on the cutting edge of culture, and get a glimpse of the future, now, get to the Redcat. Whatever is being presented might not work, might indeed by uncomfortable, but for sure you’ll stay awake and be challenged, and probably will not easily forget what you have seen.

Me, I’m going to the Redcat this weekend to catch a dance performance of the center for national choreography of Monteplier, France. The performance is said to be wild, combining contemporary dance with folk dances, in an explosion of vitality by eight male dancers, energized by two on stage percussionists.

In its review, the Le Monde of Paris declared the performance “the joy of being alive, of being together momentarily, and the visceral excitement of dancing. “

Certainly sounds like more fun than beating the visceral excitement of driving in heavy traffic.

 

GERMANS AND JEWS BEYOND GUILT

Having in maverick past written and produced documentaries, I have a special affinity for its capacity for story telling, using real events and involving real people.
 
I also have liked the documentary’s latitude for encouraging advocacy and personal expression, which I must confess I have indulged in as an unrepentant commentator.
 
But most of all I have appreciated the documentary’s potential for presenting issues that challenge my personal biases, as I comment this week on 97.5 KBU, radiomalibu.net and select websites everywhere.
 
So if you have ever thought about, or frankly sought to avoid, the issue of Germany and Jews, consider finding time to get to one of the two Laemmle Theatres, in West L.A. or in Encino, to see the documentary “Germans & Jews.” It runs for a week.
 
The film explores the complicated relationship between Germans and Jews in postwar Germany, with Berlin a focus. As described by others and echoed here, the film is “at once uncomfortable and provocative, unexpected and enlightening.”
 
Beginning with a gathering of second generation Jews and non-Jewish Germans at a dinner table, the film moves from the present to the past, and back again, surveying the waxing and waning of guilt, anti Semitism, and, yes, holocaust fatigue.
 
Along the way we learn that Berlin and Germany have been increasingly attracting Jews, and have the fastest growing Jewish population in Europe. And that includes an influx of Israeli Jews, taking exception to their country’s treatment of the Palestinians.
 
Most of all we hear from both Jews and Germans of the struggle to come to terms with their tortured past, with perhaps I thought a soft touch of self satisfaction. For some it is no so easy to forget.
 
Whatever your roots from wherever, you more than the likely will experience the well crafted and composed film on a personal, gut level. I did, as a first generation cultural Jew from Eastern Europe.
 
Havjng once done a documentary on a Berlin that I knew before and after the Wall. I was snapped to attention by the film’s opening interview consisting of the quote: “My father said there are two kinds of people in the world: Jews and Nazis. “
 
It was what my “shtarker” father had similarly barked on awkward occasions, and that I had purposefully forgotten at the urging of my mother, who counseled that the mark of a survivor is not to look back.
But as the documentary Germans & Jews reminded me, sometimes you do.
 

Art of Photography as Social Commentary

Family, friends and fans, a new arrow in my quiver. In addition to my planning and design commentary City Observed on 97.5 KBU FM heard Saturdays locally , and on radiomalibu.net everywhere, there is Arts and Entertainment Observed, a new broadcast feature heard Sundays. The first focused on the art of photography as social commentary. It follows:

At the Skirball Cultural Center off of the 405 a particular searing pictorial commentary on one of the more shameful, egregious –it is hard to find the appropriate word for it –outrages of World War Two. And sadly perpetrated by United States, replete with cloying rationale by President Roosevelt.

The incarceration of tens of thousand of United States citizens, men, women and children, –who happened to be of Japanese descent — in a barren dust bowl 220 miles northeast of Los Angeles for no other reasons other than they looked Japanese, was a flagrant violation of civil rights and the constitution.

No matter, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were ripped from their homes and possessions. Of local note this included several Malibu families who owned nurseries in the civic center area.

They lost their land that probably would have made them among the largest landowners in Malibu today, and we would no doubt have something very different than the crass clutter of shopping centers.

Lending particular note to the exhibit is that most of the photographs were taken by the already then renown Ansel Adams, best known for his stunning landscapes.

He was asked to document the outrage by no less then the camp director, a friend from the then and still progressive Sierra Club. The photographs are captivating, as are the artifacts documents and newspaper articles of the day, reflecting the prejudices and hysteria of the that prompted the incarceration, and the artifacts of coping within the camp.

Also shown are photographs by Dorothea Lange and Toyo Miyatake. A recognized and respected photographer, he had worked with Edwin Weston, and was nonetheless incarcerated.

Another incarcerated artist but at a camp in Utah was Mine’ Okubo. Her sketches and paintings from that trying time are shown in another gallery at the Skirball , and is entitled Citizen 13660.

That was her family’s assigned camp number, and the title of her subsequent book depicting the harsh life in the camp.

Okubo later participated in a redress action that extracted an apology and reparations from the U.S. government.

The exhibit at the Skirball runs to February 21st.

Coincidently, at the nearby Getty, also running to Feb. 21st, are the photographs of Ishiuchi Miyako, entitled Postwar Shadows.

Included are haunting images of objects that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and despondent post war scenes of life under the American occupation.

Also at the Getty is an exhibit entitled The Younger Generation, Contemporary Japanese Photography.

All of the artists are women , which is interesting in respect to the subject matters, but also from the perspective that Japan is very much a male chauvinistic society. It is known there as “girl photography.”

 

11.15.15