Category: Feminism

Theater review: 'Why We Have A Body' at Edgemar Center for the Arts

March 15, 2012 |  7:00 pm


"For five decades I have struggled to say something more than 'Where could I have put my pocketbook?'" 

That line is an emblem of the epigrams of "Why We Have A Body," Claire Chafee's surreal 1993 comedy at the Edgemar Center for the Arts.

The aforementioned quip comes from ever-exploring Eleanor (Barbara Bain), a self-delineated "feminist, archaeologist, historian and bilingual student of the human brain." But "Body's" chief focus is on her daughters.

Mary (director Tanna Frederick) is a wild-eyed head case and serial convenience store bandit who obsesses over Joan of Arc. Lili (Alex Sedrowski) is a private investigator whose romance with the married Renee (Cathy Arden) gives "Body" what plot it possesses.

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Art review: 'Breaking in Two,' visions of motherhood at Arena 1

March 1, 2012 |  3:15 pm

Why is it that the opening chapter of life has never received as much attention in art as the concluding pages? Why are elegy and memorial such established art forms (not just in visual art but in music, poetry) yet no equivalent form addresses birth, much less the ongoing process of raising children?

These aren’t trick questions, nor even difficult ones to answer, given the female-centric nature of these underrecognized subjects. Sexism reigned just as oppressively in the realms of art (creation, distribution and scholarship) as it had in the culture at large until the feminist surge a scant half-century ago helped redefine legitimate aesthetic territory. Now, women artists enjoy at least nominal equality with their male counterparts, though issues of the maternal, if no longer taboo in art, remain largely on the periphery.

“Breaking in Two: Provocative Visions of Motherhood,” at Arena 1,  puts those themes front and center. Organized by artist Bruria Finkel, and graced with the Pacific Standard Time imprimatur, the show features work from the 1960s to the present by some 40 Southern California artists (including a few collectives), among them Eleanor Antin, Kim Abeles, Alison, Lezley and Betye Saar, Jo Ann Callis, Channa Horwitz, Renee Petropoulos, Astrid Preston, Linda Vallejo, Ruth Weisberg, Lita Albuquerque and June Wayne.

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Revisiting the Woman's Building with Sheila de Bretteville

January 14, 2012 | 10:00 am

The Woman’s Building closed its doors in 1991, but Otis College of Art and Design has tried to keep something of its spirit alive.

Early teachers at the feminist center like Suzanne Lacy have helped to shape the Otis curriculum. And former Woman’s Building project manager Sue Maberry, now the director of library and information services at Otis, helped the college acquire a good part of the Woman’s Building archives a decade ago.

So it wasn’t entirely surprising that Otis decided for Pacific Standard Time to stage a show on the history of this then-scrappy, now-storied institution: “Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building,” which runs through Feb. 26.
Click here for an interview with Otis gallery director Meg Linton and Sheila de Bretteville, a co-founder of the Woman’s Building who led the graphic design center.

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Suzanne Lacy: One artist, three weeks, 40 events

January 14, 2012 |  8:07 am

Watching Suzanne Lacy in action on the Los Angeles Police Department campus, where she kicked off her anti-rape campaign "Three Weeks in January" this week, you could see a set of skills that not all artists have.

She was guiding various volunteers during the installation of a "rape map," the centerpiece of her project, with the confidence of a film director. And she was chatting with a stream of police officers and administrators who happened to walk by -- sussing out their interests in sexual violence issues like a politician building support for a cause.

This is par for the course for Lacy. A pioneer in the field of socially engaged art work, called "public practice" in art lingo, she meets a lot of strangers, collects a lot of business cards and writes a lot of follow-up emails to officials. She tends to interview her interviewers. And she has a knack for identifying the goals and obstacles that motivate people, like any good grass-roots activist.

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Theater review: 'The Second Coming' at Two Roads Theatre

November 23, 2011 |  4:33 pm

Sherry Glaser in "The Second Coming"
Remember that commercial from the 1970s in which Mother Nature wreaks environmental havoc after she’s fooled into mistaking margarine for real butter? Now imagine that as an evening of theater and you know whether you have any interest in “The Second Coming: A One-Woman Comedy of Biblical Proportions,” Sherry Glaser’s meandering monologue about the fate of your chakras and the earth.

Glaser’s off-Broadway hit “Family Secrets” ran for 15 months, and you can see why: The earthy writer-performer has a certain hectoring charm. But in this show, her grounded humor feels strained rather than focused.

She opens “The Second Coming” in the guise of a heavy-set Mexican American named Miguel who seeks enlightenment from a psychic named Reality but ends up channeling Mother Nature herself (wearing an alarming green body suit). Awakened from a 5,000-year nap, our Great Jewish Mother takes umbrage at more than a breakfast spread (I guess Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman have won that battle). She’s hopping mad at her husband, God, his annoying bestseller, his penchant for creating nasty creatures like vultures, and the way he fashioned male genitalia. And don’t even get her started on her greedy children! Such a disappointment!

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Artist Judy Chicago revisits Southern California [video]

October 31, 2011 |  9:00 am


Never mind the fact that Judy Chicago now lives in New Mexico. She has spent the better part of the last two months in Los Angeles — her hometown in the '60s and early '70s. It was no vacation: As one of the most visible artists included in Pacific Standard Time, with works appearing in roughly a dozen gallery and museum exhibitions, she was busy preparing for openings and giving various talks.

(She will be back in January to kick off the performance art festival and get ready for a pair of solo gallery shows in February — at Nye & Brown in Culver City and Jancar Gallery in Chinatown.)

The Times caught up with Chicago and curator Rebecca McGrew to talk about her work from her L.A. days, like her spray-painted car hoods that came well before those of Richard Prince — a fact that she says John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha pointed out to Prince himself. In the Times video below, taken at the Getty Center, Chicago says that early on she painted "like a man" to gain acceptance in the male-dominated art world.

Some would call her work from the period pre-feminist. Chicago sees it as proto-feminist. Either way it packs a graphic punch and represents a serious attempt to infiltrate a macho art scene all but closed to women.

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