Summer’s starting to call it a day, but the arts keep on keeping on. This snippet-filled preview is a sampling of what’s happening in the next few days and weeks. The biggest news this September will be Pacific Standard Time LA/LA, a citywide festival celebrating Latin American and Latino art, with countless programs and exhibitions unfolding in oh-so-many venues. I’ll preview a number of these on September 12-14, and will report back then. Meantime, save the date: on Sept. 17, more than 50 museums will offer free entry.
This weekend as part of the “Sea Sick in Paradise” surf art exhibition at Depart Foundation in Malibu, a free outdoor screening takes place on the Malibu Bluffs. “Island Earth” tells the story of an indigenous scientist’s struggle for truth as he enters an industry that many feel is threatening his homeland. His complex journey through the inner workings of GMO chemical companies and traditional Hawaiian elders reveals ancient values that can save our future. Saturday, August 26, the park opens at 6:30 pm and screening begins at 7:30 at 24250 Pacific Coast Highway. BYO picnic, seating, blankets and warm clothing. Self-parking at Malibu Bluffs Park and on Malibu Canyon Road. The screening is also presented by City of Malibu.
Also on Saturday at 2 p.m., a free staged reading by Santa Monica Rep at Santa Monica Public Library features the rarely produced “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” by “A Raisin in the Sun” playwright Lorraine Hansberry. When Hansberry died at a very young age, this play was mentioned in her obit, though it has been mostly overlooked since. It’s the story of a disenchanted Greenwich Village intellectual, his aspiring actress wife and their colorful circle of friends and relations. Set against the shenanigans of a stormy political campaign, the play follows its characters in their unorthodox quests for meaningful lives in an age of corruption and cynicism. www.santamonicarep.org Get there early – seating’s limited.
The two final free concerts in the Sepulveda Pass take place this weekend and next week. The Getty Center’s Saturdays Off the 405 this Saturday features Savoy Motel, a Nashville-based group heavily steeped in 70s nostalgia, with an intensely orchestrated hybrid of glam rock, soul, southern boogie and showmanship. Opening for them is DJ Baby Donut (Allison Wolfe/Bratmobile). From 6 to 9 p.m., no tickets needed. www.getty.edu
And next Thursday, August 31 at the Skirball Cultural Center, enjoy Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo; seating isn’t guaranteed so arrive early. Doors open at 6:30 and there’s a pre-show dance/drum workshop. Venezuelan singer Betsayda Machado joins the multi-generation band of musicians and dancers La Parranda El Clavo at 8 p.m. for the contagious beats of Afro-Venezuelan soul. www.skirball.org. RSVP is essential.
MUSIC AT THE EDGE
Jacaranda presents one of the most inventive classical music concert experiences in Southern California. Now entering its 14th year, it’s curated by Patrick Scott and Mark Alan Hilt in such a way that each concert has a point of view and each season crisscrosses musical and historical relationships. You’ll find contemporary classical music by composers both familiar and newly discovered, performed by first-class musicians, in an architecturally and acoustically stunning environment. Visit www.jacarandamusic.org for details on the 2017-2018 season (Awake) and its five concerts for the upcoming year at Santa Monica’s First Presbyterian Church on 2nd Street.
Lora Schlesinger has been presenting some extraordinary art by local African-American artists; on view through Saturday, August 26 is the amazing Delfin Finley’s sold-out series of hyper-realistic portraits that will take your breath away. Coming up next (September 2 – October 14) is Mark Steven Greenfield’s Mantras and Musings. These contemplative drawings constructed of shapes and marks have been likened to automatic writing and meditative scrawls, creating opposing realities that explore the complexity of life and the African-American experience. Lora Schlesinger Gallery at Bergamot www.loraschlesinger.com
THEATRE, CLASSIC AND DECONSTRUCTED
This weekend, “Arsenic and Old Lace,” the farcical black comedy about spinster aunts, descended from the Mayflower whose descent into murderous madness finds them poisoning lonely old men as an act of charity, opens at The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in West L.A. Yes, you are allowed to laugh. www.odysseytheatre.com
And as usual, presenting the unusual, City Garage brings us the U.S. premiere of “Carmen Disruption.” This is a play by the man who wrote both “Heisenberg” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” Simon Stephens. He reimagines the opera Carmen, but deconstructs it as a meditation on love and loneliness in the fractured urban world. An opera singer lost in the city. A gorgeous male prostitute. A tough-talking taxi driver. A global trader. A teenage dreamer. Everyone’s looking for something they can’t find. You can find it here, opening September 8 at the Bergamot Station based theatre: www.citygarage.org
Last but not least, on September 8, Dolores, the new documentary about Dolores Huerta, one of the least visible, yet most important labor leaders of the 20th century, opens at Nuart.
She was an equal partner in co-founding the first farmworkers union alongside Cesar Chavez, but her contributions have gone largely unrecognized. A defiant feminist/activist, now 87 years old and intensely private, this mother of 11 allows intimate and unprecedented access and reveals the raw personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change. A movie for our times. doloresthemovie.com
Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, now retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.