It’s the perfect weekend for a visit to the Getty — both of them. And then get ready for next week’s Fiddlefest with eight of the world’s rarest violins at The Broad Stage.
The big news, of course, is the newly-restored 1943 Jackson Pollock mural that has revealed much about the artist’s process and use of paint, and resulted in establishing an earlier date than previously thought for this work’s origin.
There are some terrific videos on the Getty’s website that will give you insight into the history and challenges of restoring this enormous painting described as an undulating riot of color that differs from, but is precursor to, his later famed style of drip painting. Visit getty.edu/art/exhibitions/pollock for the videos.
Take a moment to appreciate it online then make a reservation for The Getty Center to see the real thing in person. Your eyes will thank you. Pollock’s “Mural” is on view at the museum only through June 1.
And, The Getty Villa Theatre Lab continues to present work-in-progress versions of new translations and adaptations of Greek and Roman plays, as well as contemporary works inspired by ancient literature.
This Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Villa auditorium, “Four Larks,” the boundary-bending Australia-based performance company, brings its new adaptation of Orpheus, weaving electrifying visual and physical theater with a hypnotizing live score.
You know the story: Orpheus, the musician/hero challenges the fates in a bold attempt to rescue his beloved Eurydice from the underworld. Advance information describes a “thrilling theatrical bricolage,” leaping from Ovid to Virgil with a melody from Monteverdi and a riff from Rilke, wildly inventive orchestration fusing ancient traditions and modern avant-pop with an acoustic soundscape created by folk and classical instruments, found objects, and otherworldly vocals.
All that for the price of a $7 ticket! Five performances only; call (310) 440-7300; more info at getty.edu/museum.
Fiddling around at Strad Fest
The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is bringing eight of the world’s rarest and most celebrated Stradivarius violins together for the first time in an unprecedented showcase called “Strad Fest LA,” from March 26-29, featuring one private event and three public performances across town.
With only about 650 surviving Stradivarius violins, violas, cellos, harps and guitars in the world, this instrumental “dream team” features violins handcrafted during the Strad’s “Golden Period” 300 years ago in Cremona, Italy, in the late 1600s and early 1700s.
The earliest “Serdet” from 1666; the 1708 “Ruby,” known for its ruby-tinted varnish; and others named for their players, such as “Milstein” for violinist Nathan Milstein, and “Leonora Jackson” will be featured in performance.
A particular highlight is the 1720 “Red Mendelssohn,” which surfaced in 1930s Berlin and was the inspiration for the 1999 Academy Award-winning film “The Red Violin” that speculated on the instrument’s mysterious history after disappearing for more than 200 years following its debut (currently owned by Elizabeth Pitcairn).
Locally this “ex-strad-aganza” is called the “Stradivarius Fiddlefest” and takes place on Friday, March 28, 7:30 p.m. at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. A once-in-a-lifetime fiddle “face-off” stars five of these violins played by world-class virtuosos who will be attempting to outplay one another in an acrobatic program of solos, duos, trios and quartets.
Performers include LACO’s Margaret Batjer, piano superstar Jeffrey Kahane, with master fiddlers Chee-Yun, Cho-Liang Lin and Philippe Quint, with Nico Abondolo on double bass. Brahms, Kreisler, and the inimitable tango master Astor Piazzola are among the composers’ works featured.
Superstar violinists on Strads: a truly historic, one-of-a-kind event. You should get tickets now. Call (213) 622-7001, ext. 1 or visit www.laco.org.
Mysterious master photographer
With much more yet to be learned about her, the mysterious story of Vivian Maier, a nanny with a secret life as a genius street photographer, is revealed in the new documentary film, “Finding Vivian Maier.” It opens on Friday, March 28 at The Landmark on Pico Boulevard.
The story begins with the discovery of a treasure trove of more than 100,000 negatives at an estate auction, purchased by an obsessive and experienced young flea market shopper named John Maloof.
There’s the mystery of the images: they are brilliant, artistically composed, powerful, intimate portraits of people on the street that capture an essential time and place, displaying a deep sense of humanity even though, paradoxically, most of the subjects were unaware they were being captured on film. Why were these pictures never printed?
Then there’s the mystery of Vivian herself. Was she French or was she faking that accent? Why did she decide to become a nanny? Why did she keep her photographic genius hidden behind locked doors throughout her lifetime? And how did she manage to take all these photos while tending to children full time? Was she loving or frightful?
The story unfolds first as an adventure, later as a mystery, then as near tragedy as this artist kept her work to herself, and finally as something of a triumph, as exhibitions of her work have been selling out throughout the world.
This incredible trove of images might have been lost to us completely had it not been for the fortuitous accident of Maloof’s purchase, discovery and decision not to destroy these priceless negatives.
“Finding Vivian Maier” is worth your time and contemplation. Visit www.landmarktheatres.com for more info.
The salon Live Talks LA has scheduled a conversation between two comedic actresses, Jane Kaczmarek and Annabelle Gurwitch, at the beautiful Moss Theatre on the campus of Santa Monica’s Crossroads School on March 25 at 8 p.m.
The pairing is inspired by Gurwitch’s book, “I See You Made an Effort,” a collection of wickedly funny essays about the hazards of turning 50, surviving menopause, and falling in lust at the Apple Store’s Genius Bar. It’s the ultimate coming-of middle-age story. More at livetalksla.org.
Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.