This week is jam-packed with local events!
Let’s begin with Thursday’s opening and reception for “Art Bank: Selections from the city of Santa Monica’s Collection,” at the Annenberg Community Beach House.
You’d have to walk through a lot of municipal buildings to see all these works. Instead, this beautiful seaside venue hosts a selection of 70 artworks all in one place, including sculpture, painting, photography and works on paper by contemporary artists active in Southern California.
The contemporary works were collected thanks to the city’s Art Bank Program, the aim to bring art into the environment and life of Santa Monica’s public spaces. It was created in 1984 with funding from the city’s Percent for Art Program.
You’ll also see 19th century paintings from the McManus Collection — donated to City Hall by William and Margaret McManus in 1950 — which features some Dutch genre paintings and California Plein-Air landscapes.
Celebrate Santa Monica’s commitment to the arts tonight with a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you can’t get there tonight, the exhibition will be on view through April 28. The Annenberg Beach House is located at 415 Pacific Coast Highway. For more information visit www.annenbergbeachhouse.com.
Avenue Q & A
Founded in 1946, The Morgan-Wixson Theatre is Santa Monica’s oldest theatre organization. Among the famous whose feet have tread upon their floorboards are James Dean (“Rebel Without a Cause”), Joyce DeWitt (“Three’s Company”) and Harvey Korman (“The Carol Burnett Show”).
This Friday’s performance of “Avenue Q” marks Morgan-Wixson’s 500th main stage production, and to celebrate they’ve invited Jeff Marx, co-creator of the musical, to join them for a special “Talkback” session.
“Avenue Q” composer/lyricist Marx and his co-creator Robert Lopez won the “triple crown” of Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book in 2004. One of the longest running musicals in Broadway history, “Avenue Q” is both a send-up of “Sesame Street” and a satirical, contemporary coming-of-age comedy, noted for its creative use of puppetry to advance its subversively mature content.
Marx will take audience questions after Friday’s performance. Mark the milestone with the Morgan-Wixson; the performance starts at 8 p.m. and the “Talkback” takes place immediately following. Find Morgan-Wixson Theatre at 2627 Pico Blvd. Tickets and info at www.morgan-wixson.org.
This is your last chance to see a rare painting by 17th century Dutch master painter Johannes Vermeer. Closing out its once in a lifetime world tour, “Woman in Blue Reading a Letter” returns home to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, which celebrates its grand reopening in April following a monumental renovation.
Sunday is the last day to see “Woman in Blue,” one of just 35 of Vermeer’s existing masterpieces, at the Getty Center. Visit www.getty.edu for hours and information.
Stitches and digits
At UCLA in the 1970s I took a temporary job as a “data processor,” which at the time meant I had to be sure that the “punch cards” had no “hanging chads” so that the data they contained could be clearly scanned and tabulated by an old room-sized IBM mainframe computer.
Technology certainly has advanced since then. When properly combined, man and machine can create something both new and timeless.
This Saturday night, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Arena I Gallery at Santa Monica Art Studios invites you to the opening reception for “Punch Card II,” featuring six artists who merge technology and traditional textiles to create their own unique “digital stitch.” Located in an historical hangar at Santa Monica Airport, this unique environment serves as an apt venue for this show, where old and new collide.
Collectively, the works in this exhibition suggest the loom as a precursor for contemporary digital practices. Included are the team Andy Diaz and Laurel Roth, and Nina Katchadourian, Victor De La Rosa, Devorah Sperber and Stephanie Syjuco.
Whether weaving digitally, pixel by pixel (Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth), using computer graphics and hand looming on jacquard power looms (Vic De La Rosa), or directly on commercially produced photographs (Nina Katchadourian), or melding digitally-printed patterns and outsourced fabrication with traditional 19th century fabrication (Stephanie Syjuco), or inverting and deconstructing art historical or pop culture iconography and recomposing the image with individual spools of thread (Devorah Sperber), these artists are purposefully exploring the possibilities between hand and machine in the digital age.
“Punch Card II” is a second iteration of an exhibition initially organized by and exhibited at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco at the end of 2012. The exhibition is on view at Arena 1 through April 27. More info at www.santamonicaartstudios.com.
Dancing around town
“Trisha Brown Dance Company: The Retrospective Project” celebrates one of the most widely acclaimed choreographers to emerge from the postmodern era.
From March 30 through April 21, The Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA) presents a series of performances and related events at multiple venues, including UCLA’s Royce Hall and Sunset Canyon Amphitheater, The Hammer Museum, and the J. Paul Getty Museum at The Getty Center.
The series kicks off with a free event in the courtyard at the Hammer in Westwood on March 30. “Floor of the Forest” is a sculpture and dance event all in one.
First performed in New York’s Soho neighborhood in 1970, it consists of a steel frame sculpture that holds a web of ropes threaded with colorful used clothing. Dancers climb the sculpture and tread the web and perform for 20 minutes four times a day, Thursdays through Fridays, at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.; on Saturdays and Sundays, three 20-minute performances take place at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Additional free events take place on the UCLA campus, including “Man Walking Down the Side of a Building” and “Roof Piece” at the Getty Center, along with five additional ticketed ensemble choreographies.
For all the details, visit http://cap.ucla.edu/tbdc/.
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.