Tongva Park continues its third season of cultural programming Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m., with The Wonder Room, an evening of curated performances by an interdisciplinary group of extraordinary artists who will activate the intimate “rooms” of Tongva Park simultaneously. This one-night-only spectacle will include dance performances by Jacob Jonas The Company, Senegalese street music and songs with Amadou Fall and special guest Ibrahima Ba, never-before-seen work by visual artists Kate Johnson and Tristan Duke, a water-themed shadow play by Moira Lael MacDonald and captivating puppetry vignettes by Eli Presser, all accompanied by the atmospheric lighting designs of Kirk Wilson.
The Wonder Room will highlight the diverse geography of gardens, winding paths, and urban vistas unique to the award-winning Tongva Park. Audiences are invited to stroll through the park and view the works at their own pace in their own order, discovering art in every corner of the park.
The evening opens at 7:30 p.m. at the Ocean Avenue entrance to the park as Jacob Jonas The Company explores the urban aspects of Tongva with visceral dance performances that replicate the sounds of urban nature. This young, Santa Monica-based group’s mix of contemporary ballet and break dancing has earned it a national profile in just two years.
Amadou Fall, a native of Senegal, West Africa, specializes in the kora, or African harp, a 21-stringed instrument made of fishing line, wood, calabash gourd and cow skin, Amadou, with singer and guitarist Ibrahima Ba, will bring people from all walks of life together in peace with music from Africa. His kora music has been heard around the globe alongside such well-known African singers as Baaba Maal and Fatou Laobe.
Emmy-Award-Winning filmmaker and video artist, Kate Johnson, will present the world premiere of her new video sculpture, “ARBOREAL WITNESSES.” Organic patterns, fleeting moments, restless cities, dancing forms, tidal influences and environmental change will play across a grove of tree-like screens, the leaves symbolized by dozens of LED panels. Johnson’s work has been exhibited at Bergamot Station, The Getty Center, Japanese America Cultural & Community Center, various Metro stations, and includes commissions for events at MOCA, LACMA and the Royal Family of Qatar.
Artist Tristan Duke explores new forms of visual perception. His astonishing, hand-drawn holograms depicting the five Platonic solids will be seen for the first time in the U.S. at The Wonder Room. Platonic solids are classical forms of symmetry known since antiquity and held by Plato to be ideal forms of matter. Duke is a founding member of the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio and a fellow at the Museum of Jurassic Technology.
Multidisciplinary theater artist and filmmaker Moira Lael MacDonald will draw on folklore and the science of water-controlled time measurement in a new shadow play called “Water/Clock.” The work will be a meditation on our ancient connections to water as the precious and essential resource grows more unreliable. Her most recent work, “Anatomy Lesson,” was performed at REDCAT in 2015.
Master puppeteer Eli Presser adds an element of theater with vignette performances throughout the evening. His untitled performance at The Wonder Room will share a story of memory and
loss told through movement, accompanied by Louie Armstrong’s “St. James Infirmary.” Presser began his study of puppetry in 1996, focusing on the observation and deconstruction of both animate and the inanimate movement vocabularies. He serves as Technical Coordinator (and puppeteer) for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Kirk Wilson creates site-specific lighting designs using handmade objects that magnify available light and practical lighting sources found at the home or office. Wilson is the Creative Production Manager at Bootleg Theater and has recently returned from a world tour with the Bessie-Award-Winning show “Rodney King.”
Tongva After Dark is an ongoing series of intimate and informal events that offers audiences the opportunity to experience Tongva Park from different points of view. The 2016 Wonder Room is curated by the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs Division and co-produced by Community Arts Resources (CARS).
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 7:30 – 9 p.m., Tongva Park, 1615 Ocean Ave. Free and open to the public
- Submitted by Allison Ostrovsky