031413_ENT culture watchThere are lots of creative activities planned for this year’s Santa Monica Airport ArtWalk — and you’re invited to come out and play this Saturday! Expect fun for adults and kids alike, with demonstrations, performances and hands-on workshops all afternoon, and admission is free.

Slip your hands into some clay and help create a communal ceramic art piece or watch as Santa Monica College art students throw clay on a wheel and fire raku pieces. Learn how to recycle bottles and jars into terrariums. Let the kids loose at Ruskin Theatre Group’s improvisational workshop for young people; adults can enjoy scenes from their monthly “L.A. Caf√© Plays” series.

Paintings, sculptures and more will be on view as artists open the doors to their private studios, some offering works for sale. The airport’s Demonstration Garden hosts the Art of Sustainable Gardening lecture. And if you’ve never been to the Museum of Flying, here’s the perfect opportunity.

A highlight of the day is the exhibit, “Decade of Dissent: Democracy in Action, 1965-1975,” at Arena 1 Gallery, featuring original protest posters that reveal the persuasive power of art to inspire ideals of democracy (exhibit closes March 23).

The Santa Monica Airport ArtWalk is Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Take to the tarmac to enjoy live music and food trucks or dine at Typhoon or Spitfire Grill on site. Details and schedule: www.smgov.net/airportartwalk


All things literary


Selected Shorts, the acclaimed public radio literary series from New York’s Symphony Space that’s been pairing top-flight actors with classic and contemporary short stories in live staged readings for almost three decades, is back for its 21st year at The Getty Center.

There’s nothing that feeds the imagination quite like the right voice reading the right story; the experience can be transcendent. Stories by Dorothy Parker, Rick Moody, Michael Chabon, Tess Gallagher, Joyce Carol Oates, John Cheever and others will be expertly read by series regulars and newcomers, including Leonard Nimoy, Jane Kaczmarek, Anika Noni Rose, and my all-time favorite reader, Christina Pickles, among others.

In years past, tickets have sold out so don’t wait! Performances take place Saturday, March 23 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 at 3 p.m. at The Getty Center; call (310) 440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu.

Jamaica Kincaid’s stories have been read on Selected Shorts; she even hosted an evening at Symphony Space. She appears live onstage with Santa Monica public radio station KCRW’s “Bookworm,” Michael Silverblatt, in the beautiful new Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre on the New Roads School campus in Santa Monica.

Co-presented with the Los Angeles Review of Books, Silverblatt and Kincaid will discuss her new novel, “See Now Then,” an intense portrait of an inter-ethnic marriage. There’ll be audience question time and a book signing on Tuesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. Details here: http://kcrw.com/upclose.

And there are just two more performances of “The Last of the Knotts,” the one-man show by poet-hipster Doug Knott, Friday, March 15 and Friday, March 22 at Santa Monica Playhouse.

Reviewing for the L.A. Times, David Nichols wrote: “Raw, fluid and eloquently quirky, author-performer Knott’s unsparingly honest solo treatise on his avoidance of fatherhood conjoins vintage performance art tactics to the sort of descriptive specifics usually associated with classic short stories.” Reservations at (800) 838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com.

I took in the west coast premiere of “Tribes” at the Mark Taper Forum. A hit in London and New York, this production reunites actor Russell Harvard, the original lead in the off-Broadway cast, with five other off-Broadway cast members.

The play concerns deafness, love, language and communication. Russell Harvard is actually deaf and he speaks in this play, which also employs sign language, lip reading, captions and much explosive dialogue. Call (213) 628-2772 or visit www.centertheatregroup.org for reservations.


Nurturing soil, healing souls


The average age of America’s family farmers is over 55; with no one to take over their farms many are selling out to developers or industrial agriculture. America needs a million new farmers. And veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan need jobs.

There’s a movement afoot through the non-profit Farmer Veteran Coalition that gives returning soldiers training in sustainable farming practices and financial assistance to start their own farm ventures.

The powerful stories of these young soldiers and their families are being told by a truly dedicated documentarian, Dulanie Ellis, in her independent film “Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmfields.”

An ensemble of vets from Iraq and Afghanistan went to war for all the right reasons and survived, only to face the daunting transition back to civilian life.

Organic food production is creating a restorative road home for them. Working with the soil, plants and animals gives veterans a chance to de-escalate from the high velocity impact of combat in a revitalizing natural setting. “I realized I could be a nurturer, instead of a destroyer, and that was a significant realization for me,” says one marine.

The film’s launch on March 28 serves as a benefit for The Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood, helmed by D’Artagnan Scorza. He’s one of several compelling young men and women featured in “Ground Operations,” and he’s speaking before the film, which is followed by a panel discussion.

Navy veteran and learning institute founder Scorza is an urban farming pioneer, working with students and neighbors to create 100 home, school and community gardens, in his “food desert” — an area where access to wholesome, fresh food is scarce. “The military taught me to be effective,” says Scorza. “I realized I could make change in my own community.”

The evening takes place at an exciting new incubator club for sustainable ideas and projects, The Hub Los Angeles, in the Downtown L.A. Arts District, on March 28 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Veterans receive free admission; otherwise tickets are $20. Find out more at groundoperationsla.eventbrite.com.


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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