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Saving the Magic Portals to L.A.’s Past

By | June 2, 2015

To better preserve its past, Los Angeles needs a better sense of its history—and the places that define that history, said panelists at a Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” event at the Plaza on Olvera Street.
For over an hour before a full house—or more accurately, a full plaza—crime novelist Denise Hamilton, Libros Schmibros founder David Kipen, L.A. Office of Historic Resources manager Ken Bernstein, L.A. Weekly staff …

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The Crusty, Dusty Places That Angelenos Love

By | June 1, 2015

Who says Angelenos only like new, shiny things? When Zócalo and KCRW teamed up to ask locals, “What’s the old-school L.A. spot you love most and why?”, we were bombarded with answers that show this city’s love for the crusty and dusty.
It’s clear that our tastebuds hold some of our most deep-rooted memories—several people rhapsodized about Philippe’s, the downtown birthplace of French dip sandwiches, and …

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Why Does Los Angeles Keep Rewriting Its Own Script?

By | May 28, 2015

There’s a classic scene in the 1991 comedy L.A. Story, where “wacky weekend weatherman” Harris Telemacher, played by Steve Martin, is giving a tour around the city of Los Angeles. “Some of these buildings are over 20 years old,” he says excitedly.
Angelenos get the joke. They know that for a breed of Southern Californians, it’s all about “out with the old and in with …

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The Portrait of the Artist’s Mother as an Old Woman

By | May 13, 2015

Like the Mona Lisa, James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 (1871), better known as “Whistler’s Mother,” is an icon of Western art. Both paintings belong to a long tradition of portraits of seated women, but they have surpassed the genre and earned spots in the visual vocabulary of pop culture. In faithful reproduction or in parody, both women are instantly …

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Of Mice (Murder) and Men (With Cowboy Hats)

By | April 23, 2015

Judging from the cars in the background of the photograph, you can tell it’s the 1960s. From a dusty patch of ground just outside a fenced enclosure, Renée, 13, is squinting up at the camera with her arm draped over a sheep tagged with a red ribbon from the Kings District Fair.
A photo taken 50 years later shows another young teenager posing with an …

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Snapshots of a Human Petri Dish

By | April 19, 2015

The dreamy, brightly lit photographs and videos of “Holoscenes / Quaternary Suite” at the Pasadena Museum of California Art might remind viewers of glimpses through a ship’s porthole. Sometimes, the photographs—which are displayed over light boxes—and videos suggest specimens in a petri dish. Look again, and you might see adults floating in utero in this surreal exhibition.
Los Angeles-based artist Lars Jan loves the multiple associations …

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A Dutch Master’s Lessons in How to Love Again

By | March 27, 2015

Ten years ago, I had a life-changing experience with art. I’d been going through a vicious divorce that year, struggling with depression, and frankly was not doing well in any area of my life. A powerful impulse to escape, to put an ocean behind me, took hold one Thursday afternoon. I cashed out my Frequent Flyer miles that evening, and arrived in Amsterdam a day …

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Are Artists Like Fine Wine?

By | March 25, 2015

What inspires artists as they grow older? Do they approach their work in new ways? Do they see the world differently? Painter Charles Garabedian, muralist Judithe Hernández, and musicologist Karen Painter tackled these questions at an “Open Art” event co-presented by the Getty. It was inspired by the Getty exhibition “J. M. W. Turner: Painting Set Free,” which features works from the final years of …

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What Do Grandma Moses and Michelangelo Have in Common?

By | March 20, 2015

“Creativity takes courage,” at least according to Henri Matisse. If that’s the case, then at what point in their lives are artists most creative? When they’re young, bold, and taking risks? Or does creativity blossom over time, with practice and life experience? On the one hand, there’s Mary Shelley, who was just 21 when her landmark gothic horror novel Frankenstein was published. On the other, …

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Those Jingoistic, Nationalistic, Patriotic Cartoons

By | March 11, 2015

Cartoonists are propagandists and satirists, artists and writers. They make us laugh—in recognition and shame—and enrage and offend. At an “Open Art” event co-presented by the Getty in conjunction with the Getty Research Institute exhibition “World War I: War of Images, Images of War,” the many roles cartoonists play and have played over the past century were discussed and dissected.
The Getty’s Nancy Perloff, a co-curator …