I first encountered artist Kim McCarty‚Äôs work on the walls of her husband‚Äôs famed restaurant, the eponymous and trendsetting Michael‚Äôs in Santa Monica.
Lest you think this is simple nepotism, Michael‚Äôs is renowned for hosting private gallery showings upstairs. And McCarty is a respected artist who‚Äôs been featured in numerous museum and gallery exhibitions across the country, and her work is included in the collections of New York‚Äôs Museum of Modern Art and L.A.‚Äôs Hammer Museum.
Now you can sign up for the opportunity to work alongside her as “Kim McCarty Paints” at Santa Monica Museum of Art. This pop-up installation and art sale are presented by GRACIE, the museum‚Äôs award-winning gift store. McCarty is donating the majority of proceeds to the museum.
A watercolor studio in the project room will provide visitors with close-up access to McCarty at work. Visitors can sign up to paint alongside McCarty in this setting.
Best known for her fragile and ephemeral images of slender, youthful figures, McCarty uses a “wet into wet” watercolor medium that allows the paint to flow and pool, creating ethereal patterns over the surfaces of the paper.
“I‚Äôm looking forward to the challenge of translating my very private art practice into the public space of the Santa Monica Museum of Art,” McCarty said. “The process will certainly affect both my work and the work of visitors who paint alongside me.”
Register in advance at www.smmoa.org (workshop general admission $25, members/students $10). “Kim McCarty Paints” opens April 6 and runs through April 20.
Blues, live and on film
Devotees of the blues get a double treat, this week only, as “Babe‚Äôs and Ricky‚Äôs Inn” opens at Laemmle‚Äôs Monica 4-Plex Friday, April 5.
This award-winning documentary offers live blues performances to complement the movie, which tells the story of the last days of a legendary L.A. blues club, recounted by the musicians who played there.
The back story‚Äôs almost as interesting as the story of “Mama Laura,” Laura Mae Gross, who ran this legendary club for 53 years, and who died at the tender age of 90 during the making of the film.
Director/producer Ramin Niami, an Iranian-American filmmaker (known with his co-producer Behrouz Arshadi as the “Iranian Blues Brothers”), spent three years earning the trust of the South Central Los Angeles community to document this important piece of L.A. blues and music history.
Niami gathered the stories of musicians who played at Babe‚Äôs and Ricky‚Äôs Inn, run by Mississippi-born Mama Laura, who brought well-known and up-and-coming musicians together, regardless of race, age, or gender.
Originally located on legendary Central Avenue in South Central L.A., Babe‚Äôs and Ricky‚Äôs Inn drew world-famous bluesmen like John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and Albert King, who often dropped in to the club to jam with L.A.‚Äôs best blues artists, Guitar Shorty, Keb‚Äô Mo‚Äô, Zac Harmon, Deacon Jones and Ray Bailey.
The film features original music by some of the most important blues artists alive and features stunning guitar performances and personal stories about what it means to devote oneself to the hard blues life.
Last month, Babe‚Äôs and Ricky‚Äôs Inn premiered as the centerpiece of L.A.‚Äôs Pan African Film Festival and took home the festival‚Äôs Programmer‚Äôs Award.
There are four daily screenings. Live blues performances and Q&As will follow all 7 p.m. screenings and on the weekend, the 4 p.m. screenings as well; no additional fees required, just your movie ticket.
So far the line-up includes Ray Bailey, Friday, April 5 (7 p.m.); Gregg Wright, Saturday, April 6 (4 p.m.); Dennis Jones, Saturday, April 6 (7 p.m.); Deacon Jones, Sunday, April 7 (4 p.m. and 7 p.m.), Southside Slim, Monday, April 8 (7 p.m.); George Dez, Tuesday, April 9 (7 p.m.); Richard Martin-Ross, Wednesday, April 10 (7 p.m.); and Suzanne Thomas, Thursday, April 11 (7 p.m.).
Babe‚Äôs and Ricky‚Äôs Inn ends April 11. If you miss it at the Monica 4-Plex there‚Äôll be a digital release and it will be available April 9 on iTunes Premium, Amazon, YouTube and elsewhere on the web. More info at babesandrickysinn.com.
The original party animals
Jacaranda, Music at the Edge, adds its voice to Britten 100/LA, the citywide centenary anniversary of composer Benjamin Britten.
These bold music presenters plan a three-concert survey of Britten‚Äôs music, starting on Sunday, April 7 with “February House: Brooklyn‚Äôs Original Party Place.” The theme comes from the storied Brooklyn residence where Britten and his partner, tenor Peter Pears, lived in the early 1940s
Located at 7 Middaugh St. (and long since demolished) it was called “The February House,” because many of its celebrated residents had February birthdays. It became a gathering place for composers, literary lights and a famous stripper.
In 1939, Britten and Pears left England by ship to avoid the war and start a new life in New York, where they became lovers. For a busy and intoxicating year, they lived at February House with poet W.H. Auden, stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, authors Jane and Paul Bowles, magazine maven George Davis and the children of writers Thomas Mann and Carson McCullers. Composer Aaron Copland partied at the house, as did critic and composer Virgil Thomson, Balinese gamelan expert Colin McPhee, 24-year-old composer Leonard Bernstein, singer-actress Lotte Lenya, and ballet‚Äôs George Balanchine, among many others.
April‚Äôs concert evokes this creative and social nexus with music by Thomson, Copland, Paul Bowles and McPhee, as well as by Britten. The concert will feature music by duo pianists Anna Grinberg and Liam Viney, Keve Wilson on oboe and Eric Jacobs on clarinet.
The second concert takes place on April 27 with a staging of “Curlew River,” a 1963 chamber opera intended for performance in a church, and featuring tenor Steven Tharp and members of the Los Angeles Gay Men‚Äôs Chorus.
The series concludes on June 1 with “Young Apollo: God of Music, Poetry and Healing,” surveying Britten‚Äôs work from piano pieces written between 1925 and 1963, to his last major work, the Third String Quartet from 1976.
For reservations and information visit jacarandamusic.org or call (213) 483-0216. All concerts take place in the architecturally stunning chapel of First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica.
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.