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A handy arts guide to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

April 24, 2009 | 12:58 pm

Fob08_theme3 The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is a necessary pilgrimage for any cultural enthusiast, and this year's event (running Saturday and Sunday at UCLA) is typically jampacked with writers, publishers and commentators from all intellectual fields.

For arts lovers, there is plenty to choose from this weekend. To help you make your way through the throngs of bibliophiles and tchotchke hoarders, Culture Monster has assembled this modest guide to the festival's arts-related events.

First, a few words of motherly advice: Be sure to bring a map (pdf), plenty of water and comfortable shoes. Most events require tickets, so plan accordingly. Patience helps too. If you accept the fact that there will be crowds of people, some of the whom move very slowly, your time at the festival is certain to be a more pleasant experience. 

Keep reading for a roster of arts personalities and organizations scheduled to appear ...

Author Talks / Panel Discussions

Sara Wolf (panel: "Status Update: Social Networking and New Media") Saturday, 10:30 a.m. at Franz 1178.

Wolf is a freelance dance reviewer for The Times and co-editor of Itch, a webzine dedicated to the arts. She's also a teaching fellow at UCLA's department of world arts and cultures.

Barbara Isenberg (panel: "Biography: The Artist's Life") Saturday 2 p.m. at Haines 39.

Isenberg recently published "Conversations With Frank Gehry," an in-depth talk with the legendary L.A. architect. She is also a frequent contributor to The Times' cultural pages.

Kristin Chenoweth (author of "A Little Bit of Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages") Saturday 2 p.m. at Los Angeles Times Stage.

The effervescent Broadway performer, best known for her role in "Wicked," recently published her memoirs about life in the theater.

Gore Vidal (in conversation with Richard Rayner) Saturday 2:30 p.m. at Ackerman Grand Ballroom.

The elder statesman of American culture, letters and politics is always a droll and witty interview subject.

Sandra Tsing Loh (panel: "Writers as Activists") Sunday 10:30 a.m. at Korn Convocation Hall.

The multi-hyphenate cultural commentator and stage performer is a ubiquitous presence in the L.A. arts scene.

Culture Clash (reading and improv performance) Sunday 11 a.m. at Etc. Stage.

The popular L.A. theater troupe specializes in Latino-inflected comedy and improvisation.

Gary Foster, Ben Hong and Steve Lopez (panel: " 'The Soloist' From Page to Screen") Sunday, 12:30 p.m. at Ackerman Grand Ballroom.

Learn more about the making of the feature film "The Soloist," which is based on a series of articles by Lopez, a Times columnist. The film follows the relationship between Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, a former classical music prodigy who lives on skid row. Several scenes in the movie were shot in and around Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A.

Author signings

Sandra Tsing Loh: Sunday 2 p.m. at Booth 367 and  3 p.m. at Booth 532

Steve Lopez: Sunday 3 p.m. at Booth 501

Exhibitor booths (festival sponsors and other local arts organizations will promote their latest publications and projects)

Center Theatre Group — Exhibitor booth 647
City of L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs — 147
Distributed Art Publishers — 315
Getty Publications — 515
Huntington Library Press — 342
L.A. Opera — 404
L.A. Theatre Works — 344
Ojai Music Festival — 662
Geffen Playhouse — 404


Be sure to pick up a copy of Jackie Wullschlager's "Chagall: A Biography," which is a finalist for this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prize for biography.

— David Ng

Illustration credit: Los Angeles Times Festival of Books