Essential Arts & Culture: LACMA's new look, protests at MOCA, celebrating a California composer

Redesigning the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Photography that chronicles the desire for wealth. The life and work of an important California composer. And protests at the museum. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, with your weekly dose of all things culture:

Tan is the new black at LACMA

What began as an inky black form that hovered next to the La Brea Tar Pits has evolved into a sharper design in sand-colored concrete — for a look that is less Battlestar Galactica and more Indiana Jones. LACMA director Michael Govan and architect Peter Zumthor presented new renderings of the museum this week. “I think I’ve figured it out,” Zumthor tells Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne. “I’m happy. It’s less slick and more substantial.” Los Angeles Times

Challenging the whiteness of architecture

Hawthorne also writes about Sharon Egretta Sutton’s new book, “When Ivory Towers Were Black,” which looks at a short moment in the late 1960s and early ’70s when Columbia University made a concerted effort to recruit students of color to study architecture and urban planning — and succeeded. Los Angeles Times

Protests at MOCA’s Carl Andre show

More than three decades after artist Ana Mendieta fell to her death from a New York City high-rise, her untimely death continues to serve as a flash point. Arts workers staged an action at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art in her memory at the opening of an exhibition by Carl Andre. The minimalist sculptor, Mendieta’s husband when she died, was acquitted of second-degree murder charges in her death. Los Angeles Times

Addicted to bling

For 25 years, photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has documented what she describes as “the influence of affluence,” the consumer culture that encourages people the world over to buy, buy, buy. Now she is bringing all of that work together in a new exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City. “If we stay on this road, it’s unsustainable,” she tells The Times’ Jessica Gelt. “It’s unsustainable environmentally, it’s unsustainable morally, it’s unsustainable for communities and families.” Los Angeles Times

Must-hear: Celebrating a California composer

Of the late composer Lou Harrison, choreographer Mark Morris once wrote, “You either love Lou’s music, or you haven’t heard it yet.” Thankfully, the upcoming celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth offer ample opportunity to hear his work: MicroFest at UCLA later this month, a 24-hour birthday bash in Joshua Tree in May and a staging of his opera “Young Caesar” at Walt Disney Concert Hall in June. Times classical music critic Mark Swed says more could be done: “There are major symphonies (which you never hear) and concertos (which are more often, but not all that often, programmed).” Los Angeles Times

The mastermind of Nonesuch

Robert Hurwitz, who for 33 years has been the exacting head of Nonesuch Records, is retiring — and to mark the momentous occasion, a concert was held in his honor in New York featuring John Adams, Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson and Caetano Veloso, among many others. Swed attended the concert and revisits Hurwitz’s storied career, suggesting that he might be a good fit to take over for departing CEO Deborah Borda at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Hurwitz says he has no intention of working for anyone else. “But,” writes Swed, “it might be worth the Herculean effort to try to change his mind.” Los Angeles Times

Rénee Fleming says farewell

The superstar soprano Renée Fleming is bidding adieu to staged operas. But first, one more role: She is playing Marschallin in Richard Strauss’ “Der Rosenkavalier” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, which opens next week. For Fleming, it’s about retiring from the stage on a (literal) high note. “You don’t want people to be saying, ‘Oh. my God, please stop,’” she tells Charles McGrath. “Or, ‘I heard her when.’ ” New York Times

Comic melodrama for the 21st century

A germophobe. A haughty man with a romantic chip on his shoulder. And a duel. “Rules of Seconds” at the Los Angeles Theatre Center through April 15, writes Times theater critic Charles McNulty, features all the “tense plots, whiplash turns and weepy reconciliations” of melodrama, with some salty 21st century language to boot. McNulty says the play “mostly succeeds” and offers plenty to chuckle about — all abetted by the “luminous clear-sightedness” of Amy Brenneman’s character, Martha. Los Angeles Times

McNulty also sat down for a wide-ranging interview with writer, actor and director Simon McBurney, who is currently staging his one-man show “The Encounter,” at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts through April 16. Inspired by a book about the Amazon rainforest, the show plumbs deep psychological territory. Los Angeles Times

A loss for S.F. theater

After 25 seasons, Carey Perloff, the artistic director of the American Conservatory Theater, is departing. McNulty pays tribute: “In an era that has seen nonprofit theaters become clearinghouses for jukebox musicals and other commercial trifles from Broadway,” he writes, “she has shored up A.C.T.’s reputation as one of the most principled regional theaters in America.” Los Angeles Times

And because everyone seems to be retiring these days: Brent Assink is leaving his post as executive director of the San Francisco Symphony. San Francisco Classical Voice

L.A. without the NEA

The Times continues its series on the SoCal cultural programs that would be affected if the National Endowment for the Arts were slashed:

— YOLA at HOLA, the Los Angeles Philharmonic: Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at Heart of Los Angeles, the jewel of a music program for kids in Westlake, Pico Union and Koreatown. Los Angeles Times

— The Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Repertory, which involves the participation of seven playwrights, six directors, five dramaturgs, 44 actors, seven interns, among many others. Los Angeles Times

— A special art-making program for day laborers hosted by Self Help Graphics in Boyle Heights. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Sociologist Eve L. Ewing theorizes on why the Trump administration might want to cut support for the arts. “It’s not about making America a drab and miserable place,” she writes in an op-ed. “It’s about creating a society where propaganda reigns and dissent is silenced.” New York Times

Designing the border wall

The designs for President Trump’s proposed wall at the U.S.-Mexico border have started to roll in. And there are renderings, lots of renderings — featuring solar panels, gardens, rammed earth, a monorail and even nuclear waste. San Diego Union-Tribune, NPR

In other news…

— A doctored picture of Vladimir Putin wearing makeup has been banned by the Russian justice ministry as “extremist.” The Guardian

— A Jewish photographer took secret — and very poignant — photos of the Lodz Ghetto in Poland during World War II. Henryk Ross’s images are now on view in Boston. Mashable

— Booing is becoming a thing for audiences at British operas. The Guardian

— The Spanish trend of micro theater, very short plays at small prices in tiny venues. My cubicle for a micro play! American Theatre

— The Joffrey Ballet’s archive is headed to the New York Public Library. New York Times

— James Rosenquist, a pioneer of pop art, has died. New York Times

— What Thomas Campbell’s departure from the Metropolitan Museum reveals about the museum’s management issues. Good read. New York Times

— Museum visitation rankings are in! No L.A. museums broke the top 10. But LACMA’s numbers are on the rise, and the new Broad museum garnered some impressive numbers. The Art Newspaper

— How “Power,” the new exhibition at Sprüth Magers gallery in Los Angeles is telling a story about several generations of African American women artists. The Guardian

— How Danielle Brazell, the general manager of L.A.’s Department of Cultural Affairs, wants to take public art and cultural projects to every corner of Los Angeles. Curbed

— And why refilling the Silver Lake reservoir was “an acute urban planning failure.” Alissa Walker looks at how L.A. has once again blown it on the issue of creating great public space. Curbed

And last but not least…

Hiplet: That groovy point where ballet and hip hop intersect. Great Big Story

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