Essential Arts & Culture: Photos that capture L.A., Dudamel's White House show, Trump's 'Les Miserables' moment

Pictures that record L.A.’s automotive landscapes. A presidential candidate channels Victor Hugo. And Gustavo Dudamel puts on an unplanned show. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, and here’s your super-duper essential guide to all things fine art:

Photography with an L.A. lens

For half a century, L.A. artist Anthony Hernandez has photographed everything from broken-down trucks in empty lots to the well-to-do of Beverly Hills. Now the photographer is about to open the doors on his first retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He spoke with me about reconceiving street photography for the L.A. landscape, his lunch date with Diane Arbus and reading Artforum in Vietnam. “Cities are hard places,” he says. “They’re not very accommodating, especially Los Angeles.” Los Angeles Times

A Cuban artist gets her due in Los Angeles

Over her short career, the Cuban artist Belkis Ayón was known for creating large-scale prints full of ethereal figures that referenced the Afro-Cuban tradition of Abakúa. But in 1999, the artist took her own life at the age of 32, leaving behind a grief-stricken family and a voluminous output. Thankfully, those works will now be the subject a retrospective at the Fowler Museum. In advance of the opening, Times reporter Deb Vankin traveled to Cuba to meet with Ayón’s family. Los Angeles Times

Gustavo Dudamel’s impromptu White House debut

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel traveled to Washington, D.C., to give a keynote speech in honor of the recipients of the National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal. During a White House luncheon connected to the celebrations, he was so moved by a performance by the Marine Chamber Orchestra he ended up conducting Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 on the spot. Los Angeles Times

Trump’s theatrical ‘Les Miserables’ moment

When Donald Trump took the stage at a rally in Miami, he was accompanied by a musical number from “Les Misérables.” It’s not the first time a politician has appropriated the show’s politically charged lyrics, reports The Times’ David Ng. But Victor Hugo, who wrote the novel, had wildly different politics: He “had a big left-wing message,” says Kathryn Grossman, author of “Les Misérables and Its Afterlives.” Los Angeles Times

Art for a new gilded age

“The Gildless Age,” a group exhibition at the Torrance Art Museum, looks at the consumption that has fueled the rise of the much-covered 1%. Featuring video, sculpture and painting by a number of L.A.-area artists, the show is “a bit uneven and ultimately somewhat sparse,” writes Times critic Christopher Knight, but it “is nonetheless a welcome attempt to parse deep connections between art and society at large.” Los Angeles Times

Plus: Reviewer Sharon Mizota visits an exhibition by Andrea Büttner at the David Kordanksy Gallery that also explores the wealth divide. Los Angeles Times

An architect on his celebrated new museum

The new National Museum of African American History and Culture opens to the public this weekend. Its celebrated architect, David Adjaye, sat down with critic Michael Kimmelman for an interview. Of its Yoruban-inspired design he says: “It seemed like a way to start to tell a story that moves from one continent, where people were taken, along with their cultures, and used as labor, then contributed toward making another country and new cultures.” New York Times

Opera and bearded ladies

Composer Igor Stravinsky wrote the opera “A Rake’s Progress” in West Hollywood in the late 1940s, but it has never had a professional production by a Southern California company — until now. Pacific Opera Project has taken on one of opera’s most famous bearded ladies (Baba the Turk) in its new production. For POP, writes Times classical music critic Mark Swed, the show marks the moment in which “a scrappy young company has come of age.” Los Angeles Times

In honor of Edward Albee

In the wake of playwright Edward Albee’s passing, Times theater critic Charles McNulty pays tribute to what made him a standout on the American stage. “In fighting against the stultifying narrowness of the commercial theater, Albee was simultaneously fighting for his fellow playwrights and theater artists,” he writes, “many of whom owe him a great debt for the moral and financial support he provided through his friendship and foundation.” Los Angeles Times

Plus: Those who are interested in marinating in the playwright’s work can check out “The Play About the Baby,” currently on view at the Road on Magnolia in North Hollywood. Los Angeles Times

A theater festival for Morrissey

Casa 0101 in Boyle Heights is staging a theater festival that explores love, loss and the Mexican fascination with singer Morrissey. “Teatro Moz,” as the show is called, features eight short plays that touch on everything from obsessive fandom to the family struggles of a transgender teen. “[Morrissey] doesn’t sugarcoat life — it’s raw,” says co-director Elvia Rubalcava. Los Angeles Times

Meet the 2016 MacArthur fellows!

The new class of MacArthur Fellows — the recipients of the so-called “genius” grant — was announced this week. Among the notable culture winners:

Poet Claudia Rankine, author of “Citizen: An American Lyric.” Los Angeles Times Gene Luen Yang, a San Jose-based graphic novelist. Los Angeles Times New York curator Kellie Jones, who organized the Hammer Museum exhibition “Now Dig This!” Los Angeles Times L.A. cultural historian Josh Kun, a communications professor at USC. Los Angeles Times Maggie Nelson, of CalArts, whose written works fuse autobiography with criticism and philosophy. Los Angeles Times Composer Julia Wolfe, whose coal-mining-themed “Anthracite Fields” has also earned her a Pulitzer and a Grammy nomination. Los Angeles Times Lauren Redniss, a New York artist who fuses text, image and design in her storytelling. Los Angeles Times Artist Joyce J. Scott of Baltimore, who has brought social justice issue to craft. City Paper Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, of New York. Los Angeles Times Artist Mary Reid Kelley, known for creating bold video pieces. Huffington Post San Francisco abstract sculptor Vincent Fecteau. Newsday

IN OTHER NEWS…

— The Eisenhower family has dropped its objections to a Frank Gehry-designed memorial in Washington, D.C. New York Times

— Photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark is showing never-before-seen work at the United Talent Agency’s new exhibition space in Boyle Heights. Los Angeles Times

— Los Angeles financier Jeffrey Gundlach is helping make the expansion of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery — designed by Rem Koolhaas — a reality. New York Times

— Speaking of the Albright-Knox, an exhibition on view there shows how L.A. artist Mark Bradford has responded to that institution’s extensive collection of paintings by Clyfford Still. The Guardian

— A Dutch court has ordered performance artist Marina Abramovic to pay $280,000 to her former partner and collaborator, Ulay, over the sale of joint works. The Guardian

— “Rogue One” composer Michael Giacchino will conduct the “Lost” anniversary show at the Ford amphitheater. Los Angeles Times

— The Broad museum has a majority-minority audience. Its collection? Not quite as diverse. Los Angeles County Museum on Fire

— The Times’ Tre’vell Anderson speaks with photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders about his “List” portraits, which focus on African Americans, Latinos and transgender achievers. Los Angeles Times

— Why Argentina produces great ballet dancers. The New Yorker

— Washington, D.C.’s Suzanne Farrell Ballet, which is supported by the Kennedy Center, will disband in 2017. The Washington Post

— French auditors lambaste the Paris Opera Ballet and former star choreographer Benjamin Millepied (who is now back in Los Angeles) for excessive spending. The Guardian

— Tyne Daly talks about taking the stage in the complicated, rarely seen musical “Dear World” at the Valley Performing Arts Center. Los Angeles Times

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST…

Haiku of California state propositions. With these, I would vote every day! Damian Carroll

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