I’m so excited that this news came in before I finished writing this week’s column! Laemmle Theatres announces the re-opening of the cinema complex formerly known as the Monica Twin and Monica 4-Plex, now renamed the Monica Film Center, Friday night Jan. 29.

The venue has been in its 2nd Street location for 44 years, and was always my favorite art house. It’s been completely rebuilt with six digital projection screening rooms featuring wide, plush seating, a mezzanine lounge and now you’ll be able to order wine and locally-sourced beer at the concession stand.

Later this year, there’ll be a ground floor restaurant and a rooftop deck with a second ocean view restaurant.

With its policy of booking first-run films, and Laemmle’s signature mix of art house, indie, documentary and foreign films, Friday night’s line up will feature the 2016 Oscar-nominated short documentaries, “Anomalisa,” “The Lady in the Van,” “Mustang” and “Theeb.”

In 2015 Laemmle Theatres completed two projects, refurbishing the 80-year-old Fine Arts in Beverly Hills as the beautiful Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre and revamping the Town Center 5 in Encino. Upcoming projects include a five-screen complex in Glendale, currently under construction and slated for an opening in early 2017, and a seven-screen theater in Old Town Newhall. The latter is scheduled for a Santa Clarita City Council vote on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

Much to do-for nothing

The 11th Annual Museums-Free-for-All takes place this Saturday, Jan. 30. Twenty SoCal museums open their doors to showcase art, culture, history, science and more and to raise awareness that many museums offer free entry days throughout the year. See this link for details: http://www.socalmuseums.org/free.

If you visit the Autry Museum of the American West in Griffith Park this Saturday, your ticket is a two-fer: you’ll also gain entry to the Southwest Museum in Mt. Washington. Visit LACMA or MOCA, go see the shuttle at California Science Center (reserve your time in advance), or enjoy exquisite collections at USC Pacific Asia Museum, just a few of the many options to choose from. For more info and a list of participating venues, visit http://www.SoCalMuseums.org.

Community as Creator

Center Theatre Group engages L.A. communities in the creation of theatre while bringing neighborhoods together. “Through the Looking Glass,” an original play by poet/playwright Jerry Quickley, builds a cultural bridge between Leimert Park, the historic South L.A. African American neighborhood, and the predominantly Montebello, “the Beverly Hills of East L.A.”

The CTG’s Community as Creators project convenes a series of writing workshops for local residents, in which groups of people in each neighborhood write imaginary autobiographies of the other neighborhood Later, the group members meet one another and write revised autobiographies. With their new perspective, they tell each other’s stories and illuminate their own experiences.

The raw material was crafted into a staged reading, and now has been shaped into a play. “Through the Looking Glass” will be performed at Quiet Cannon Crystal Ballroom I (901 Via San Clemente) in Montebello on Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m., at Regency West (3339 W. 43rd St.) in Leimert Park on Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (9820 Washington Blvd.) in Culver City on Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. All performances are free but reservations are recommended. Reservations can be made at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/about/artisticdevelopment/through-the-looking-glass.

Images of Global L.A.

Photographer Cindy Bendat celebrates the diverse multi-ethnic communities of Los Angeles with her new series, “Celebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global L.A.” at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA.

Featuring compelling images of festivals and political rallies, Bendat illustrates the ways in which immigrants maintain homeland traditions in the U.S. You’ll see photos of three annual celebrations held in and around L.A.: the fiesta for the Guatemalan folk saint, San Simón, festivities for the Ethiopian Orthodox Timket (Epiphany) festivities, and the Cambodian New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey. From a Guatemalan botánica in the Pico Union district to a Cambodian temple in Long Beach, the images provide a stunning visual tour of L.A.’s urban landscape.

The “Legalize L.A.” series of photos highlighting the “Day Without an Immigrant” boycott and amnesty rally in Downtown L.A. on May 1, 2006, one of many demonstrations held in cities across the country in response to anti-immigration legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Celebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global L.A.” will be on view at the Fowler Museum through May 8. Visit fowler.ucla.edu for more information.

Jacaranda Music at the Edge

When Patrick Scott and Mark Alan Hilt created the Jacaranda concert series, based right here in Santa Monica, they chose to present music that’s mostly missing from the cultural life of L.A. They put together a critically acclaimed series of intimate concerts that focus on new and rarely heard classical music.

This Saturday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. the themed concert “Expectancy” takes place at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica. What do British Ska bands, Francois Couperin and a children’s game have in common? Can all the meanings of “bob” make sense together? What about that “Dirty Duchess”? Plus: how Melbourne’s jilted spinster became a literary legend of London.

The music of composers Thomas Adès, Gerald Barry and Peter Maxwell Davies will be featured performed by mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggot, clarinetist Eric Jacobs, pianist Mark Robson, Jacaranda Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Donald Crockett and Ryan Dudenbostel.

Single concert tickets and packages available, for details see: http://www.jacarandamusic.org/season.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also written features and reviews for various print and online publications.

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