Spring has definitely sprung across the Southern California arts landscape. Here’s a roundup of upcoming and ongoing events that pique my interest. I’ll report on some of them later but I think all merit your consideration now.
The William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Station took a birthday party and turned it into an art show. An “art lion” who looms large in the L.A. pantheon, Venice-based Ed Moses turns 86 on April 9. At his 85th birthday, the gathering of artists was so impressive, Turner decided to curate a show, “Ed’s Party: Spheres of Influence in the L.A. Art Scene.” It boasts a who’s who of L.A. artists from the 1950s to today and gives you a sense of the interplay between them; this is the artistic ecosystem that Ed inhabits.
Ed’s own painting in the show had a profound effect on me. It’s a huge canvas with a layered black surface scraped to white in an abstract grid-like pattern. I think it’s one of the definitive “crackle” paintings in a series he’s been working on in his later years; to me they express the nature of the aging process. The show closes on April 16; don’t miss it.
Ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov appears on stage as an actor for “In Paris,” opening April 11 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. A love story about Russian immigrants whose lives collide in 1930s Paris, it’s performed in French and Russian (translations available). Actress Anna Sinyakina co-stars in this adaptation of a short story by Nobel Prize winner Ivan Bunin. Through April 21. thebroadstage.com/inparis
‘Play me, I’m Yours’
This crazy wonderful art/music installation places 30 artfully decorated pianos in public spaces across SoCal, and invites anyone to sit down and play! The kickoff at noon on April 12 features simultaneous performances of Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Klavier” by professional musicians and local music students at all 30 locations. It caps the celebration of L.A. Chamber Orchestra Music Director and pianist Jeffrey Kahane’s 15th year; he’ll perform at the “lunch launch” in Downtown L.A. Two of the pianos were decorated by Santa Monica’s Crossroads School and New Roads School; all remain in place through May 13. Locally you can tickle the ivories at the Santa Monica Pier and Annenberg Community Beach House. streetpianos.com/la2012.
The Getty Center’s “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style” opened on April 3. This L.A.-based photographer was a wizard at artistry that succeeded commercially. As the ‘60s brought art, commerce and popular culture together, the photos Ritts took of models, nudes and celebrities embraced the zeitgeist. Photos include magazine covers, Polaroids, vintage prints and commercial video projects. Through Aug. 26 — www.getty.edu.
With the popularity of live series like “The Moth,” personal storytelling has become the art form of our time. Seek these out: Award-winning Rogue Machine Theatre’s “Rant & Rave,” at Theatre/Theater, 5041 W. Pico Blvd., monthly on Mondays. Writers get a topic and a time limit. On April 23 the topic is animals — roguemachinetheatre.com. “Word Salad,” first Tuesday of the month, at The Talking Stick in Venice where eight people get 10 minutes each. Storytellers are selected in advance — www.wordsaladla.com. And then there’s the monthly “Tale Spin” at Santa Monica’s Vidiots Annex on April 26, which will focus on stories about being “duped.” The room holds just 35 people; socialize at 7 p.m. (BYOB and appetizers), storytelling at 7:30 p.m. RSVP to Patty Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Still celebrating its previously under-appreciated yet groundbreaking role in the history of the West Coast art scene, Pomona College Art Museum in Claremont, Calif. presents the third and final in its Pacific Standard Time series, “It Happened at Pomona.” Part 3: At Pomona demonstrates how the faculty and students, inspired by the atmosphere created by curators Hal Glicksman and Helene Winer, developed some of the most important aesthetic currents of the late 20th century, exploring and expanding minimalism and conceptualism.
Events of note
Werner Herzog appears in person at the Egyptian Theatre on April 18 at 7:30 p.m. as American Cinematheque presents his four documentary portraits of prisoners on death row. This event is expected to sell out — www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/death-row-0
Dance aficionados will appreciate this: Choreographer Sara Wookey and contemporary artist Simon Leung have long re-performed and taught choreographer Yvonne Rainer’s seminal post-modern dance, “Trio A.” They reprise it as a duet on April 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Cal State University Long Beach’s University Art Museum.
The event is free and open to the public — www.csulb.edu/org/uam/EVENTSupcoming.html
And since you’re going to Long Beach anyway, stop in at the Museum of Latin American Art through May 27 to view the works of Esteban Lisa, “Playing with Lines and Colors.” It is the first solo museum exhibition in the U.S. of this Argentinian/Spanish abstract artist — www.molaa.org.
Sarah Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for National Public Radio and a producer for public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She reviews theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.