Category: Latino arts

Gregorio Luke to talk about controversial murals

July 29, 2011 | 10:00 am

Diego Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads"

The 12th annual "Mural Under the Stars," narrated by Mexican art expert Gregorio Luke, gets underway Sunday at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.

This year's series features artists David Alfaro Siqueiros (on July 31), Diego Rivera (Aug. 7) and Jose Clemente Orozco (Aug. 14). The trio are regarded as the founders of the modern school of Mexican mural painting, all having created frescoes on structures and buildings throughout the world and California.

Siqueiros, the most controversial of the muralists, was a member of the Mexican Communist Party, and his art was reflective of a Marxist political ideology. In 1940, he participated in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Leon Trotsky.  After his expulsion from Mexico, he spent a brief time in California in 1932. This is when he painted his large-scale "Tropical America" on the exterior of Italian Hall on Olvera Street, which will be reopened to the public in 2012. The mural depicts an Indian peon, representing oppression by U.S. imperialism, crucified on a cross capped by an American eagle.

"America Tropical" David Alfaro Siqueiros

For the series, images of 10 to 15 murals are flashed on an 1,800-square-foot white wall in the museum's parking lot as Luke narrates, providing historical context and biographical background. The former director of the museum got the idea for "Murals Under the Stars" when working in Washington.  A planned Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit at Corcoran Galley was canceled because the content was thought to be obscene. Protesters projected the censored images on the side wall of the museum at night.

"This season, we are able to add a new interactive visual component of the lecture," Luke said. "We can zoom in and enlarge important details of the mural. In the Diego Rivera show, I talk about his Rockefeller Center mural, which was destroyed because it contained a portrait of Vladimir Lenin; I can now zero in on that part." 

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Murals Under the Stars, 7 p.m., Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, 562-437-1689, www.molaa.org. Tickets: $20 general seating, $30 priority, $10 students and seniors.

Upper image: Diego Rivera's "Man at the Crossroads." Credit: Museum of Latin American Art

Lower image: David Alfaro Siqueiros' "America Tropical." Credit: Museum of Latin American Art

Gilbert 'Magu' Lujan, influential Chicano artist, dies at 70

July 25, 2011 |  6:20 pm

Magu Gilbert “Magú” Luján, a painter, muralist and sculptor whose whimsical, slyly humorous artworks, which frequently evoked a rollicking, mythical view of Mexican American life, graced museum walls, the Hollywood & Vine subway station and other public places, died Sunday, according to a Facebook posting by his family. He was 70.

The Pomona resident had been battling cancer for several years, according to a number of friends and colleagues who confirmed the news of his death.

A pioneer of the Chicano art movement that took root in the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s and '70s, Magú, as he was universally known, was among the first U.S. artists of Mexican descent to establish an international career.

He also was an enthusiastic facilitator of gatherings and exhibitions of Chicano artists and art collectives, most prominently the Chicano collective known as Los Four, and a catalytic figure in bringing their work to the wider art-viewing public, as well as art scholars and critics.

“One only has to examine the barrio to see that the elements to choose from are as infinite as any culture allows,” Magú once remarked.

In an interview on Monday, Chon Noriega, director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center, described Magú as a “change agent” who drew inspiration not only from his deep knowledge of art history but from the various communities where he made his home in greater Los Angeles and the Fresno area.

Magú also was instrumental, Noriega said, in expanding the framework of Chicano art beyond mainly political concerns to aesthetic ones as well.

“He really defined a very unique role,” Noriega said. “Rather than seeing the art as merely a kind of instrument for social change,” Magú insisted that art “had to have integrity in order to have that impact.”

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Dance review: Final Ballet Nacional de Cuba 'Don Quixote' at the Chandler Pavilion

June 27, 2011 | 11:33 am

La magia de la danza DON QUIJOTE (Viengsay Valdés y Alenadro Virelles) 005 Foto Nancy Reyes For the final performance of its first North American tour since 2003, Ballet Nacional de Cuba danced a thrilling, go-for-broke “Don Quixote” on Sunday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Corps unanimity proved much stronger than at the Thursday opening, and nearly every soloist exemplified ideal Cuban incandescence. Highlights included Dani Hernández as a brilliantly sinewy yet aristocratic  Espada, Jessie Domínguez as a sparkling Mercedes and Osiel Gounod exploding into star-is-born virtuosity  as the Young Gypsy.

As Basilio, Alejandro Virelles contributed gorgeous floating jumps and a stylistic purity that would be welcome in any ballet of the repertory. And, as always, Viengsay Valdés as Kiri stopped time cold by coming out of supported turns into miraculously sustained balances on one pointe -- often with  changes of position midway through. There was one standing ovation before the solos in the grand pas de deux and another at the end. Unforgettable.

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File photo: Viengsay Valdés and Alejandro Virelles in "Don Quixote." Credit: Nancy Reyes

  

Dance review: Ballet Nacional de Cuba opens at the Pavilion in 'Don Quixote'

June 24, 2011 | 12:26 pm

DelgadoHas Ballet Nacional de Cuba been on the road too long? Opening in the full-length “Don Quixote” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Thursday the company displayed the extraordinary depth of training, technical bravado and expressive warmth that make it unique -- indeed, a joy. However, unison execution proved problematic throughout the first half of the ballet -- especially among the men. Even in the generally sharp final divertissement, the pas de quatre found Roberto Vega and Osiel Gounod badly mismatched.

The group dancing ought to tighten up with repeat performances (through Sunday). But the rumpled cloth scenery by Salvador Fernández  also suggests a shabby touring compromise. Created in 1988, the production by Alicia Alonso, Marta Garcia and Maria Elena Llorente adopts much of the familiar Petipa/Gorsky choreography but sets the action during the French occupation of Spain. Thus, as always, Don Quixote seeks his vision of the perfect woman, but now also exemplifies native resistance to the invader.

BalletcubapromoThis social/political context conditions but never obstructs the celebratory nature of the work, 
or the star performances at its center. Indeed, for Latin fire, high-speed bravura and drop-dead exactitude, Anette Delgado's performance of Kitri owned the night. The balances, the extensions, the turns, the flying splits, the freedom in the lifts -- here was a virtuoso dancer in her element. Her only failing: a rather constricted, emotionally vacant lyricism in the dream scene.

As Basilio, Dani Hernández looked so young that he probably needed a note from his mother to stay up as late as Act 3. But he partnered Delgado strongly, danced every demanding solo faultlessly and exhibited exemplary classical line down to the tips of his long, long feet.        

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Theater review: 'Solitude' at the Latino Theater Company

June 17, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Ash Solitude 246
The Latino Theater Company’s contribution to Radar L.A. is “Solitude,” by Evelina Fernández, a stylishly directed, charmingly acted but melodramatic and drawn-out portrait of Gabriel (Geoffrey Rivas), who reunites with his former best friend, Johnny (Sal López), and his first love, Ramona (playwright Fernández), at his mother’s funeral. 

Twenty years earlier, Gabriel abandoned the warmth and poverty of his childhood for financial success and emotional isolation in a childless marriage to beautiful, lonely Sonia (Lucy Rodríguez). It’s apparent early on that Ramona’s son, the confused and moody 25-year-old Angel (Fidel Gomez), is Gabriel’s son too, and that this revelation will emotionally tax both the characters and the audience. I found myself glancing at my neighbor’s watch as the climax loomed, wondering how much time and how many tears I would have to invest in it. (More than enough.)

The real angel of the story is Manolo or “The Man” (Robert Beltran), the uncommonly romantic limo driver who conveys the guests from the cemetery to a reception at Gabriel’s fancy penthouse (a gorgeous spare set by François-Pierre Couture made up of an off-kilter proscenium arch, a piano, a few chairs and lots of wine glasses). The Man is a self-styled expert on lovemaking, although he claims never to have been in love. A devotee of the famous Mexican writer, he punctuates his ruminations with the attribution “Octavio Paz!” Beltran’s presence and eloquence are absorbing. Fernández’s Ramona has an earthy, hysterical laugh that conveys both pluck and despair, and she’s gorgeous in a blowzy and downtrodden way in her tight dress and high heels (one of costume designer Nikki Delhomme’s nice ensembles). 

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Monster Mash: Details of Philadelphia Orchestra bankruptcy; injured 'Spider-Man' actor returning

April 21, 2011 |  7:50 am

Foxwoods Money woes: More details emerge on the Philadelphia Orchestra's bankruptcy proceedings. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Recovering: A lead producer of the Broadway musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" says the actor who was badly hurt when he fell from the stage in December is expected to be back rehearsing Monday. (Associated Press)

What money can buy: Times art critic Christopher Knight on Mexico City's new Soumaya Museum, the creation of billionaire Carlos Slim. (Los Angeles Times)

Joining the club: The New Mexico Symphony has filed for bankruptcy, surprising some of its musicians. (KOAT Albuquerque)

Infiltrated: An online petition to free Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was attacked by Internet hackers in China, according to the operator of the site. (Bloomberg)

Touchy subjects: The Smithsonian has announced its speakers for its panel talks on the controversial exhibition "Hide/Seek." (Washington Post)

Hitting the road: Poland will let Leonardo Da Vinci's "Lady with an Ermine" travel on a tour. (Agence France-Presse)

New job: Anthony Freud, general director of the Houston Grand Opera, will succeed William Mason as general director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago starting in October. (Chicago Tribune)

Stylish: The Denver Art Museum will be the only U.S. venue to host the traveling exhibition "Yves Saint Laurent," a retrospective of the late French designer's fashion creations. (Denver Post)

For sale: A self-portrait by Andy Warhol made shortly before the artist died could sell for as much as $40 million at auction next month. (Reuters)

Flop: "High," the new Broadway play starring Kathleen Turner, has posted an early closing notice. (Los Angeles Times)

Good cause: Actor Ben Stiller is teaming up with New York art dealer David Zwirner on a benefit auction called "Artists for Haiti." (Associated Press, via NPR)

Also in the L.A. Times: Music critic Mark Swed reviews the Tokyo String Quartet and Dilijan; theater critic Charles McNulty reviews "Cyclops: A Rock Opera" at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre.

-- David Ng

Photo: The Foxwoods Theatre in New York, home to "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

Streep, James Taylor, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins, Van Cliburn, Philip Roth among national arts and humanities medalists

March 1, 2011 |  1:45 pm

MarkdiSuveroWallyJ.Skalij Actor Meryl Streep,  musicians Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones, Sonny Rollins and James Taylor and “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee are the household names among this year’s winners of the National Medal of Arts, a career-achievement award that President Obama will confer Wednesday in a ceremony at the White House.

Those known more to aficionados are Abstract Expressionist sculptor Mark di Suvero (pictured); Robert Brustein, the theater critic and producer who founded two leading New England stage companies, the Yale Repertory Theatre  and American Repertory Theatre; and Donald Hall, who was poet laureate in 2006-07. Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in the rustic Berkshires of Western Massachusetts was honored as an arts institution.

Also announced were the National Humanities Medals, with authors Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates as the best-known names. Other honorees are poet/novelist/conservationist Wendell E. Berry;  publisher Daniel Aaron, founder of the Library of America; historians Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood; scholars Jacques Barzun of Columbia and Stanley Nider Katz of Princeton; literary critic Robert Gonzalez Echevarria;  and biographer and literary critic Arnold Rampersad.

Roth and Jones become double-dippers, the novelist having won the National Medal of Arts in 1998, while the composer-producer received the National Humanities Medal in 2000.

The National Endowment for the Arts manages the arts medals, while the National Endowment for the Humanities manages the humanities medals.

The White House said that Lee, Streep, Aaron and Barzun are not expected to attend the ceremony, which will be streamed live at 10:45 a.m. Pacific time at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

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Photo: Mark di Suvero at L.A. Louver Gallery in 2008. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Mission Art on View at Oakland Museum of California

February 26, 2011 |  8:30 am

Assisi In the spring of 1998, Michael K. Komanecky, then chief curator at the Phoenix Art Museum, took a tour of Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The religious artwork piqued his curiosity, but his guide didn't know much about it. Although the history and architecture of missions have been thoroughly examined, the works of art adorning the interiors have received less attention.

Komanecky reconnected with Clara Bargellini, professor of art history at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. The two decided to collaborate on a project exploring mission artwork. They spent 10 years gathering sacred objects from museums and missions in northern Mexico, California, the U.S. Southwest and Europe. The culmination of their efforts is on display in "Splendors of Faith/Scars of Conquest: Arts of the Missions of Northern New Spain, 1600-1821" at the Oakland Museum of California.

 "California history is shaped significantly by the missionary enterprise by Spain in the late 18th

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President of Museum of Latin American Art resigns unexpectedly after less than two years

January 25, 2011 |  6:17 pm

RichardTownsendMOLAAStephenHolman Giving little notice and surprising its board co-chairs, Richard P. Townsend has stepped down as president of the Museum of Latin American Art after less than two years in its top spot, the museum announced Tuesday. 

It's the third change at the top for the Long Beach museum in little more than 3 1/2 years since completing a $15-million expansion and renovation in 2007. "It caught us a little bit by surprise" when Townsend said he was resigning about a week and a half ago, said co-chair Mike Deovlet. "It isn't anything we'd had discussions about."

"He met with us and said he wanted to pursue other opportunities," said Burke Gumbiner, the other co-chair. "It was voluntary. We thanked him for his contribution. We like the artistic program and are going to continue the artistic program."

Townsend could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

The museum will engage a search firm and begin hunting soon for its next leader. "Our goal is to recruit a president who will stay longer than two years," said Gumbiner, whose  father, physician and hospital builder Robert Gumbiner, made a fortune in managed health care and was the museum's driving force, key funder and provider of the core of its art collection from its inception in 1996 until his death two years ago at 85.

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Monster Mash: L.A.'s planned Plaza de Cultura y Artes hits a snag; playwright Romulus Linney dies

January 17, 2011 |  8:11 am

Plaza

Complications: Officials have halted some excavation on the site of the planned La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown L.A., following complaints about the removal of skeletal remains that have been unearthed there. (Los Angeles Times)

Veteran dramatist: Playwright Romulus Linney, whose work was produced mostly off-Broadway, has died at age 80. (Associated Press)

For sale: The Cleveland Museum of Art will offer more than two dozen European old master paintings in the largest sell-off from its collection in more than a half-century. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

Looking likely: The jukebox musical "Baby It's You!" -- which ran at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2009 -- is said to be aiming for a Broadway run this spring. (Playbill)

Negotiations: Detroit Symphony Orchestra management has submitted a new contract proposal to a federal mediator, setting the stage for the resumption of face-to-face talks with musicians who have been on strike for 15 weeks. (Detroit Free Press)

Labor laws: A proposed New York state regulation would slash the number of hours for child performers. (New York Daily News)

Comeback: A violinist whose hand was crushed during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti has returned to performing. (NPR)

Rumor has it: Brad Pitt is said to have dined with playwright David Mamet recently in Santa Monica to discuss a project in which Pitt would be behind the camera as director. (X17Online)

Immortalized: Hershey's has created a sculpture of football star Emmitt Smith. (ESPN)

Passing: Stage and screen actress Susannah York has died at age 72. (Los Angeles Times)

Also in the L.A. Times: Music critic Mark Swed reviews opera star Rene Pape in his Los Angeles recital debut and Gustavo Dudamel conducting Mahler's Ninth Symphony with the L.A. Philharmonic.

-- David Ng

Photo: An archaeologist works on human remains found at a construction site for the planned La Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown L.A. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press

 

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