Maurice Sendak became famous and beloved by showing generations of children and parents “Where the Wild Things Are.” Now the author-illustrator is pointing to where the beautiful menorahs are.
For its current exhibition, “An Artist Remembers: Hanukkah Lamps Selected by Maurice Sendak,” the Jewish Museum in Sendak’s native New York asked him to browse its extensive collection of ceremonial candelabra and pick 33 to go on display.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is squaring off against the Armenian Orthodox Church in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and on Thursday the church won the first important procedural round in its bid to reclaim eight prized medieval manuscripts (a detail is pictured above) it contends were stolen goods when the Getty bought them for $950,000 in 1994.
The Getty tried to have the suit dismissed on statute-of-limitations grounds, arguing that church officials were aware of the manuscripts' whereabouts by 1952 and should have sued at that time, when they were owned by an Armenian-American family in Massachusetts -- the heirs of a man who had brought them out of the province of Cilicia as the Ottoman Turks were expelling the province's Armenian population during the World War I-era Armenian genocide.
Superior Court Judge Abraham Khan denied the Getty’s motion, saying that it was "not clear" that church officials knew what the Getty says they knew when it says they knew it. He said the statute-of-limitations law could come into play in a future hearing but that he would want to hear evidence about the complicated path the 755-year-old pages took starting in 1916, when they were separated from a larger bible known as the Zeyt'un Gospels.
The Getty’s pages are lavishly illustrated Canon Tables -– citations of parallel verses from the four New Testament gospels, which served as a kind of frontispiece for the bible created in 1256 by T’oros Roslin, considered the greatest Armenian manuscript illuminator.
The church aims to make the Zeyt’un Gospels whole again by winning back the missing pages from the Getty and sending them to the Matenadaran, a major manuscript museum in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, which has housed the rest of the Zeyt’un Gospels since the late 1960s.
Here's the full story about the decision. It includes a rarity in the controversy-shy, ultra-cautious art-museum world: Columba Stewart, executive director of the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John's University in Minnesota and a Benedictine monk, is openly calling on the Getty to repatriate a contested masterpiece. Stewart says the issue shouldn't be decided by legalities, but by the ethical imperative of turning a fragmented artwork into one that's whole.
This post has been corrected. Please see note at bottom for details.
With Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, about to begin Friday evening, there’s news of a new recording, in a different arrangement, of Arnold Schoenberg’s 1938 choral adaptation of “Kol Nidre,” one of the holiday’s central prayers.
Schoenberg himself conducted the 14-minute work’s premiere on Oct. 4, 1938, at the Ambassador Hotel’s Coconut Grove Ballroom, which the Society for Jewish Culture, a liberal congregation also known as Fairfax Temple, had rented for its Yom Kippur services.
Fairfax Temple’s rabbi, Jacob Sonderling, had asked Schoenberg to compose a new version of “Kol Nidre,” and Sonderling narrated the piece. While the rabbi drafted a text, Schoenberg’s extensive revisions made it largely his own work as well.
The Viennese composer was born Jewish in 1874, converted to Christianity in his 20s, then returned to Judaism in 1933, the year he emigrated from Nazi-ruled Germany. He had hopes that other forward-looking synagogues throughout the English-speaking world would use his “Kol Nidre,” which is not one of his atonal works, but nevertheless sounds nothing like the traditional medieval chant. The Los Angeles premiere may have been the only time it was sung in a worship service.
Nevertheless, the Schoenberg “Kol Nidre” has had a life as art music. The available recordings include Pierre Boulez leading the BBC Singers and BBC Orchestra, John Neschling conducting the Sao Paolo Symphony and Choir, and Robert Craft performing with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Simon Joly Chorale.
The new version will be released online this fall by L.A.’s Milken Archive of Jewish Music, which houses music relating to the American Jewish experience.
It has its roots in the composer’s frustration that his piece wasn’t fulfilling its intent of being heard by congregations on Yom Kippur.
Religious icon: The artist who created a widely criticized sculpture of the late Pope John Paul II said he will carry out changes recommended by a committee. (Associated Press, via ABC News)
Master builder: Architect Frank Gehry will discuss the creation of the Eisenhower National Memorial in a talk scheduled for Oct. 5 at the National Archives. (Washington Post)
Speaking out: The wife of artist Ai Weiwei is urging Chinese lawmakers to reject draft legislation that would formalize police powers to hold dissidents in secret locations without telling their families. (Reuters)
Party time: A look at conductor Gustavo Dudamel and musician Herbie Hancock at the L.A. Philharmonic's season-opening gala. (Los Angeles Times)
Impressive line-up: New plays by Edward Albee, Kenneth Lonergan and Katori Hall will be part of the new season at New York's Signature Theatre Company. (Playbill)
Pretzel wars: Food vendors are involved in a new skirmish for prime spots in front of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. (New York Times)
Trippingly on the tongue: Shakespeare's Globe in Britian will host multilingual performances as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. (The Stage UK)
Second chance: A British dance company mixes former drug addicts with professional dancers. (BBC News)
Surprise find: Police in Poland are puzzled by the discovery of a collection of 300 paintings that is believed to be worth in the millions of euros in a bricklayer's shed. (Telegraph)
Supporting the troops: Producers of Broadway's "War Horse" said they will donate the net proceeds from the Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day performance to the USO. (Playbill)
Separate ways: A court has approved the severance between the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Philly Pops. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Signed: The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's musicians and management have agreed to a new five-year contract. (Buffalo News)
Also in the L.A. Times: Music critic Mark Swed on the L.A. Philharmonic's season-opening concert with Gustavo Dudamel; a review of the San Francisco Ballet at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
-- David Ng
Photo: Sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi's controversial depiction of Pope John Paul II in Rome. Credit: Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press
Dark period: A new museum in Wyoming is opening on the site of a former Japanese American internment camp from World War II. (Los Angeles Times)
Struggling: New York's American Folk Art Museum is considering shutting down following an extended period of financial difficulty. (New York Times)
Public art: A large, outdoor sculpture of a paintbrush by Claes Oldenburg is going up in Philadelphia. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Clafoutis, anyone?: A look at the first trailer for Roman Polanski's "Carnage," based on the play "God of Carnage" by Yasmina Reza. (Los Angeles Times)
Racy: A recent art performance in Times Square featuring a topless woman drew onlookers and eventually police. (New York Post)
Sacrifices: Musicians of the Wichita Symphony Orchestra voted recently to accept a 20% wage cut for the upcoming season. (Wichita Eagle)
Sacrilege?: A court in Russia has banned a painting depicting the Sermon on the Mount that features Mickey Mouse instead of Jesus Christ. (RIA Novosti)
Speaking up: A former senior curator at the Tate Modern says that new visa rules in Britain are detrimental to culture. (Telegraph)
-- David Ng
Photo: Former Sen. Alan Simpson, second from right, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, third from right, and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, right, gather to open the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center in Wyoming. Credit: Casey Page / Associated Press
Celebrity art: Sketches by Michael Jackson as well as a signed portrait of the entertainer have been donated to Children's Hospital Los Angeles by the late pop star's family. (Associated Press)
Blockbuster: New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art reported that its recent Alexander McQueen fashion exhibition drew 661,509 visitors, making it the eighth-most-visited show in the museum's history. (Wall Street Journal)
Unwound: Thieves took off with "yarn bombs" displayed at Laguna Beach's Sawdust Arts Festival. (Coastline Pilot)
Sacrilege?: Former Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos has added her voice to a protest against an art exhibit in Manila that combines religious images with phallic symbols. (Voice of America)
Don't cry for him: Actor Michael Cerveris will join the cast of the upcoming Broadway revival of "Evita," starring Elena Roger and Ricky Martin. (Broadway World)
Musical genius: Marquette University has established the Stephen Sondheim Research Collection after acquiring materials relating to the works of the composer. (Washington Post)
Robbery: Two gunmen stole more than $120,000 in catering proceeds Friday during a lunchtime holdup at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Hard times: The Alliance for the Arts is transferring its primary activities to the Municipal Art Society and to WNET, in response to the difficult economic environment. (New York Times)
Coming soon: Athol Fugard's "The Road to Mecca" will open on Broadway in January with a cast including Rosemary Harris and Carla Gugino. (Theatermania)
Reverent: A new art exhibition in Rome is celebrating the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's ordination. (The Art Newspaper)
Anachronistic: An unlikely mix of country music and William Shakespeare at L.A.'s Independent Shakespeare Co. (Los Angeles Times)
Also in the L.A. Times: Theater critic Charles McNulty reviews "This," by Melissa James Gibson, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.
-- David Ng
Photo: LaToya Jackson and Michael Jackson's children, Prince Jackson and Blanket Jackson, attend Monday's art-donation ceremony at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Credit: Valerie Macon / Getty Images
It isn't often that the world of opera intersects with the celebrity blogosphere. But over the weekend, the family of tenor Plácido Domingo found itself the subject of intense online chatter and speculation more fitting of a Hollywood scandal. The culprit: a former association between the singer's second son and the Church of Scientology.
On Saturday, the Village Voice published a blog interview with Plácido Domingo Jr. in which he accused the church of taking retaliatory measures against him for his decision to leave the organization after 20 years. The interview -- in which Domingo Jr. called Scientology's actions "scary and pathetic" -- has been picked up by gossip blogs, including Radar, as well as Britain's Daily Mail.
In the interview, Domingo Jr. said he was finished with the church and angry at the way it had tried to make him "disconnect" from his ex-wife, Samantha Domingo. He added that the church had encouraged its members to un-friend him on Facebook, and that leaders had escalated attacks on him by posting online details of his personal life that he only revealed during confidential auditing sessions.
Passing: Cy Twombly, one of the key figures in modern art, has died at 83. (Los Angeles Times)
New appointment: New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman has been named the paper's new architecture critic, replacing Nicolai Ouroussoff, who is moving on to write books. (Chicago Tribune)
Under consideration: Chapman University has made a $46-million offer for the Crystal Cathedral site in Orange County. (Los Angeles Times)
Script doctor: Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa writes about his experience working on Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." (Broadway.com)
Expensive: Performing arts groups in L.A. and around the country are adopting dynamic ticket pricing. (Los Angeles Times)
Missing: A thief is believed to have stolen a Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Another decade: Conductor Daniel Barenboim has signed a new contract to remain musical director of Berlin's Staatsoper opera house for 10 years. (Associated Press)
Lawsuit: A forensic art expert is suing over a New Yorker article, alleging false and defamatory reporting. (New York Times)
Ensemble musical: Elaine Page is joining the cast of the upcoming Broadway revival of "Follies" that recently ran at the Kennedy Center. (Playbill)
Also in the L.A. Times: The Board of Supervisors has approved $4.1 million in L.A. county arts grants.
-- David Ng
Photo: Cy Twombly. Credit: Associated Press
Jeopardy: Chicago's famed Joffrey Ballet has cut the beginning of its 2011-12 season as a result of unresolved negotiations with the dancers union. (Chicago Tribune)
Controversial: An opera featuring primary-school performers has been canceled after the writer refused to remove references to a gay character's sexuality. (BBC News)
Nominated: Cate Blanchett and productions of "Mary Poppins" and "Love Never Dies" are among the nominees for Australia's Helpmann Awards, the country's equivalent of the Tonys. (Sydney Morning Herald)
Temporarily grounded: Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" experienced technical difficulties with flying scenes on Thursday, forcing the show to offer refunds. (Broadway World)
Mega-production: Choreographer Matthew Bourne will cast amateurs in his "Lord of the Flies" ballet scheduled for 2013. (The Stage UK)
Religious art: The story behind the numerous outdoor depictions of the Virgin of Guadalupe across L.A. (Los Angeles Times)
Big day approaching: The Barnes art collection is in its final days at its home in suburban Philadelphia before moving to the Center City area. (Reuters)
Kindred spirits: Andrew Lloyd Webber says he once considered casting Michael Jackson as the title character in a film version of his musical "The Phantom of the Opera." (Sydney Morning Herald)
Also in the L.A. Times: Theater critic Charles McNulty reviews a revival of Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," starring Kristin Scott Thomas, in London.
-- David Ng
Photo: Members of the Joffrey Ballet performing in Los Angeles in 2010. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
"Jerry Springer: The Opera," the tongue-in-cheek musical comedy about the notorious talk-show host, has been turning heads and ruffling feathers ever since it was first produced in London in 2003. In anticipation of the show's belated Southern California debut in July, some Catholics are protesting what they regard as a blasphemous stage production that disrespects God and the Catholic faith.
The musical, written by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, is scheduled to begin performances July 9 at the small Chance Theater in Anaheim. The show follows a fictionalized Springer as he interviews an array of grotesque guests on his TV show. After he's accidentally shot, Springer travels through the afterlife, where he meets a variety of religious figures including Satan, Jesus and God.
A national group called the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property has launched an email campaign against the production in Orange County, encouraging people to send emails to the theater. On its website, the group objects to the musical's "profanity, nudity and blasphemous content." It also objects to the show's description of Jesus as "the hypocrite son of the fascist tyrant on high," as well as its treatment of the crucifixion and the Eucharist.
The Chance Theater said it has so far received more than 1,500 emails protesting the musical production. Oanh Nguyen, the Chance's artistic director, said that the company was expecting to see some form of protest. "I don't really think the musical is in any way blasphemous," he said. "It's not a commentary on religion at all.... It's much more a commentary on Americans and American television."
Nguyen said that most of the protest emails have come in the last four days. Most of the emails seem to have been spurred by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property. (The religious group runs the site America Needs Fatima.)
"Jerry Springer" has fomented protest in productions around the world. The Catholic League condemned the musical when it was produced at Carnegie Hall in New York in 2008. The BBC received a barrage of emails and phone calls when it aired the show in 2005.
-- David Ng
Photo: Jerry Springer. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times