Essential Arts & Culture: The Lucas Museum, reflecting on culture, zoot suits and racy French sculpture

Another museum lands in Los Angeles. What zoot suits reveal about youth culture. And how a young choreographer made it to the Wallis. Plus: Looking long and hard at how our culture industries reflect American culture. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, and here’s everything you need to know about arts and culture this week:

Lucas museum lands in L.A.

After much back and forth, Los Angeles has been chosen to house George Lucas’ collection of paintings, illustrations and film memorabilia in the new Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. The new museum is predicted to open in Exposition Park sometime in 2021. Times reporter Deborah Vankin has the story. Los Angeles Times

In the meantime, architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne examines the plans within the context of Exposition Park, which consists largely of state-controlled lands in a part of Los Angeles that is notoriously park poor. “It also played to — and in the end confirmed — certain ideas Los Angeles has about itself,” writes Hawthorne of the process of site selection, “that it’s a city without a robust culture of civic engagement, that builds first and asks questions later.” Los Angeles Times

Speaking of which, this week, Hawthorne launches a new weekly column called Building Type that will examine contemporary architecture in the broad terms — from a single new building to larger questions of design in the context of city, culture and place. Los Angeles Times

How clear is our cultural mirror?


How do film, book publishing, art and television reflect – or not — the social realities of American society? That was the big, messy topic a team of Times writers tackled in a package of stories that examined Hollywood Values as everything from the depiction of women and Muslims in TV and the movies to the ways in which Gamergate offered a cultural preview of Donald Trump’s election. Fill your coffee cup and get reading. This is an excellent primer on the burning cultural issues of our time. Los Angeles Times

Times classical music critic Mark Swed contributed an essay to the package on why the idea of naming Sylvester Stallone the head of the National Endowment for the Arts (as floated by a British tabloid) wasn’t all bad. “What the agency needs now more than vision is a fighter,” he writes. “A little star power wouldn’t hurt, either. Could Rocky save it?” Los Angeles Times

And I spoke with artists who attended the Dakota Access pipeline protest at Standing Rock in North Dakota, to see how culture shaped that action, and how it will shape protest in turn: “A cultural encounter that has provided fresh ways of thinking about everything from the contours of the landscape to the nature of protest.” Los Angeles Times

I have a related interview with artist Cannupa Hanska Luger, who was born on the Standing Rock reservation and is a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. “Everybody came in hoping to experience something new,” he told me of Standing Rock. “But when they got there, they realized they’re not a part of something new, they’ve just been absorbed into something that is much older than the entire country. That’s incredibly humbling.” Los Angeles Times 

The power of Obama’s oratory

Times staff writer Jeffrey Fleishman reflects on President Obama’s oratorical skills, exploring how poetry and literature influenced his words and his ideas. “The nation’s narrative in coming years will change not only politically,” writes Fleishman, “but also  poetically in how our essences are framed and our meanings distilled.” Los Angeles Times

Zoot suits and beyond

The exhibition “Tastemakers & Earthshakers” at the Vincent Price art Museum at East Los Angeles College is a sprawling look at the intersection of youth culture and society — starting with the all iconic zoot suit, a symbol of Mexican American identity that also became a source of persecution in the ’40s. The show, writes Times art critic Christopher Knight, is “big” and “loose-limbed,” but it “smartly pick[s] and choose[s] in order to locate style within a specific narrative — a story of social justice.” Los Angeles Times

Meanwhile on the Westside, Knight checks in with the Getty Museum’s new exhibition of work by 18th century French sculptor Edmé Bouchardon, renowned for his naturalistic depictions of the human form. “His work nudged the visually delightful excesses of Rococo art toward the more sober gravity of Neo-Classicism,” reports Knight. It also got pretty bawdy. Just get a gander at that hubba hubba “man-spreading” Satyr currently parked in the museum’s rotunda. Los Angeles Times

Love and lies

In the wake of losing her husband, a widow discovers the secrets he kept buried in life. “13 Things About Ed Carpolotti,” a cabaret-scale musical currently on view at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, is just the sort of intimate vehicle for the Emmy-winning actress Penny Fuller, writer Times theater critic Charles McNulty. Her portrayal, of a woman filled with contradictory feelings for the man she loved, he writes, delivers a “humane truth.” Los Angeles Times

Plus, McNulty attended a tribute to Mark Taper Forum founder Gordon Davidson organized by the Center Theatre Group. The event, he writes, “reminded us of the gentleness of this theater giant.” Los Angeles Times

A resonant recital

Pianist Mark Robson — wearing bells — rang in the new year for the Piano Spheres series at REDCAT and Times classical music critic Mark Swed was there to check it out. It was a performance that included compositions by Stockhausen, Philip Glass and Furruccio Busoni. Of Robson, Swed writes: “His Old World virtuoso lack of theatricality, tied to his exacting musicality, is one of the things that makes him special.” Los Angeles Times

Choreographing a career

Times culture writer Jessica Gelt reports on Jacob Jonas, who has built a successful career as a choreographer with unique combinations of movement — featuring acrobatics, modern dance and ballet — via flash-mob-style performances that are shared on social media. This week, his troupe is premiering two new pieces at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Los Angeles Times

In other news…

— The U.S. Department of the Interior has named 24 new National Historic Landmarks, including Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House in Silver Lake, Chicano Park in San Diego and the Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel in San Jose. Los Angeles Times

— Kriston Capps parses the Ben Carson confirmation hearings to try to get a sense of what the future holds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and therefore, the shape of our cities. So far, he writes, much remains a mystery. Citylab

— That new L.A. Chargers logo … looks an awful lot like the L.A. Dodgers logo. KPCC asked Angelenos how they would redesign it. Some creative responses. Take Two

— The L.A. Art Show reinvents itself with on-site programming from eight Southern California arts institutions, including LACMA, MOCA and the Autry Museum of the American West. Los Angeles Times

— New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art will delay construction of a new $600 million wing until it manages its current budgetary deficits. New York Times

— Art dealer Guy Wildenstein is cleared by a judge after one of the biggest tax fraud trials in French history. The Guardian

— From the annals of artist activism: British artist Jake Chapman has donated a 75-class lifeboat to refugee rescue efforts and artist Richard Prince has disavowed a work he sold to Ivanka Trump, returning payment as protest. Artnet, New York Times

— Plus: A tongue-in-cheek petition by artist Luis Camnitzer, suggesting that Trump ask artist Christo to build the border fence to “help improve the image of the U.S.,” has picked up steam online. Artnet

— A group of prominent artists have called for a culture strike on Inauguration Day, dubbed #J20, to protest Trump’s policies. Critic Coco Fusco argues for; Jonathan Jones, against. Hyperallergic, The Guardian

— In the meantime, CalArts students prepare to walk out on Inauguration Day as well. Hyperallergic

— A two-movement violin concerto inspired by civil rights activist Rabbi Joachim Prinz will soon land at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Los Angeles Times

— And the new documentary that tracks choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s time at the Paris Opera Ballet. Los Angeles Times

Last but not least…

Because I seem to be on a ballet kick: Your moment of Bauhaus ballet. Love the dudes dressed like medieval pole weapons. Atlas Obscura

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