MAKING A STATEMENT: Controversial Japanese street artist 281 Anti Nuke's work will be featured at the fundraiser Artworks for the Cure at the Barker Hanger this weekend. (Image courtesy Roth Management)

MAKING A STATEMENT: Controversial Japanese street artist 281 Anti Nuke’s work will be featured at the fundraiser Artworks for the Cure at the Barker Hanger this weekend. (Image courtesy Roth Management)

Try your hand at tagging! The exciting fundraiser Artworks for the Cure is back for its third year starting Friday in the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport. Street art, featuring such cutting-edge figures as Shepard Fairey and 281 Anti Nuke, the “Banksy of Japan,” whose works will inspire you to make your own marks upon photographer Hank O’Neal’s New York street art shots.

More than 150 contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers and mixed-media artists are represented at this three-day event, presented by the music industry-based T.J. Martell Foundation. Billed as their largest West Coast fundraiser, it benefits innovative research into leukemia, cancer and AIDS at 12 top U.S. research hospitals and has granted over $27 million to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

On Friday night, 50 artists will attend a VIP “Meet the Artists” reception, with celebrity DJs, live music, wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres. On Saturday night, a red carpet affair features live and silent auctions and an awards dinner. Honorees include Lady Gaga’s manager, Troy Carter; the CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, and others introduced by celebrity presenters like legendary producer Clive Davis and actress Lisa Ling. Multi-platinum Universal Republic recording artist Colbie Caillat will perform.

On Sunday, art, music, wine, beer and gourmet food trucks round out the weekend’s festivities. The event is open to the public. Tickets and details at 2013artworks.org or call (310) 449-7627.

 

Why California cuisine matters

 

Cuisine is culture, especially when you consider the influence of California cuisine, still reverberating decades after it began and the phenomenal explosion of food blogs, TV food shows and people who identify as foodies.

The publication of Joyce Goldstein’s “Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years that Changed our Culinary Consciousness,” inspired this Sunday’s UpClose session, presented by Santa Monica’s public radio station KCRW at the intimate New Roads School Moss Theatre.

Renowned food writer Ruth Reichl moderates a panel including Goldstein and star chefs Nancy Silverton (Mozza), Roy Choi (A-Frame), Sang Yoon (Father’s Office) and Eduardo Ruiz (Corazon y Miel). Ever-popular Evan Kleiman, host of KCRW’s “Good Food,” will be on hand and the event will be recorded for possible later broadcast.

These top California chefs from different generations will discuss the evolution of California cuisine, from farm to table to food trucks, exploring California’s distinctive terroir, coupled with the openness of chefs like those onstage who’ve created a unique cuisine and culture.

The discussion starts at 4 p.m. with post-show book signing. Come early for complimentary wine and beer, and gourmet food trucks offering goodies for purchase at 3 p.m. Tickets and details at www.kcrw.tix.com. New Roads School is located on Olympic Boulevard just west of Centinela Avenue.

 

Two by two

 

This week, I’m comparing and contrasting two very different plays that share odd parallels, “The Sunshine Boys” at the Ahmanson Theatre, and “Oy!” at The Actors Gang.

Both feature two characters who hold conflicting views of their shared history, and both represent the perspectives, politely speaking, of an almost obsolete demographic group.

But where they go and what they do with that material is striking.

At Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre, the reuniting of classic TV sitcom “Taxi” co-stars Judd Hirsch and Danny DeVito has been big news as they star in Neil Simon’s sentimental but sly comedy “The Sunshine Boys.” DeVito, short of stature, towers over this show (not always in a good way) about the once Lewis and Clark (not the map-making pioneers) reuniting for a television special on the history of vaudeville.

Problem is the two old codgers, who’ve been nearly forgotten anyway, parted abruptly after more than 40 years onstage and haven’t spoken in 10 years.

As you’d imagine, there’s a lot of schtick and schmaltz in this show. Ben (Justin Bartha), a young agent, is trying to make his mark by making a deal with his crotchety uncle Willie Clark (DeVito) to get back together, just for this once, with partner Al Lewis (Hirsch).

Each remembers his onstage history his own way. Willie sees the sudden decision by Al to stop performing, without even considering him, as the chasm. Al’s departure left Willie out in the cold and resentful, all these years later, at the way Al would poke him in the chest and spit in his face while articulating his “T’s” during their act.

This isn’t theatre of deep consequence. It’s the kind of star-turn vehicle custom- made for the two stars doing it here. But in my humble opinion, DeVito overplays his role, which, while requiring some ham-handedness, in his hands feels mostly  one-note.

No matter. The actors are stars, the playwright’s a star and the play’s a crowd pleaser. Get info and tickets at www.centertheatregroup.org.

More complex, and more rewarding, however, is the brief return of Helene Cixous’ “Oy!” directed by Georges Bigot at The Actors Gang in Culver City.

Two Jewish sisters, in their late 80s, who have returned home to Paris following an invitation to speak in their German hometown about their experience as Jews in Nazi Germany, have told a version, but not all, of the truth.

As they prepare chopped liver in the kitchen, which is replete with a real sink and Selma (Mary Eileen O’Donnell) chopping real carrots, celery and onions using knives and a food processor, she and Jenny (Jeanette Horn) recall that there was much they did not reveal to the young audience, for whom they are a mere curiosity, detached from distant history.

But no history is black and white. While “normal anti-Semitism” was considered acceptable, the slide into holocaust nightmare was not accomplished by Germans alone. Jews from Germany looked down upon Jews from Poland who came seeking help, and within their own society, “acceptable Jews” included the higher-paid classes, not the country peasant who smelled of garlic.

No, these sisters have a lot not to say, and they do a masterful job of saying it. “Oy!” is a master class in acting and tonight there’s a VIP performance with reception; go if you can, if not tonight, before it closes on Oct. 20. Visit www.TheActorsGang.com or call (310) 838-4264.

 

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.

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