Art & Literature Reviews

Rock 'n' roll gets an encore at Forest Lawn in Glendale

Rock 'n' roll gets an encore at Forest Lawn in Glendale

When rock ‘n’ roll first infected American culture almost 60 years ago, it sent shock waves through to the nation’s very core. Perceived as an unspeakable threat to moral decency, second only to Communism, no less an authority that Frank Sinatra characterized it as “the...

Theater Review: Joplin's 'triumphant return'

Theater Review: Joplin's 'triumphant return'

“A Night With Janis Joplin,” Randy Johnson’s musical based on 1960s rock legend Janis Joplin, opens Wednesday at the Pasadena Playhouse, where it broke box office records in 2013 and is still the theater’s highest-grossing show to date. The return engagement marks the show&...

Huntington exhibit spotlights period of British artwork

Huntington exhibit spotlights period of British artwork

The little room on the second floor of the Huntington Library’s European Gallery currently displays a grouping of one-dimensional art that opens a window onto a fleeting time in England.

Sister Mary's colorful legacy

Sister Mary's colorful legacy

The poster as a medium of communication underwent a renaissance in the 1960s. Provocative statements, bold colors and clever images were everywhere — from retail spaces to protest marches to classrooms and college dorms. Important graphic designers like Milton Glaser, Andy Warhol and the...

Stage Review: A playwright runs from his past

Stage Review: A playwright runs from his past

Playwright Charlie is in the first stable relationship of his life with beautiful, loving Shelly. What could possibly go wrong?

Theater company to present pair of play readings

Theater company to present pair of play readings

As part of its ongoing “Words Within” play reading series, Pasadena-based classical repertory theater company A Noise Within will present staged readings of “Lulu, A Sex Tragedy,” by Peter Barnes (June 3); and Ronald Harwood’s “The Dresser” (July 15),...

Armin Hansen captures impression of a harsher reality

Armin Hansen captures impression of a harsher reality

The California painters of the early 20th century are often identified by a brand of sun-kissed Impressionism. This style is so strongly identified with our state that it’s not difficult to find contemporary California painters who work exclusively in this mode. For them, every image exists in...

Artist Ikko Tanaka's work shows design as a primer on culture

Artist Ikko Tanaka's work shows design as a primer on culture

Good graphic design imparts ideas. It’s like a short trip: from Point A to Point B in the most direct fashion, with a little information payoff at the end. Great graphic design is no less straightforward in imparting its concept, but it allows the viewer to enjoy the scenery and imparts some...

Author William Hackman chronicles a culture of creativity

Author William Hackman chronicles a culture of creativity

When art critic Peter Plagens published “Sunshine Muse: Art on the West Coast, 1945-1970” in 1974, it was a long-needed history of California’s contribution to contemporary art. Though there were the inevitable gripes (“How could he leave out…?”), it’s...

"The Whipping Man" is steeped in the aftermath of battle

"The Whipping Man" is steeped in the aftermath of battle

Obie Award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez explores the complexities of race and family through a post-Civil War lens — and through the resonance of a Passover Seder — in his powerful drama, “The Whipping Man,” presented by the Pasadena Playhouse in association with South...

The 'serious fun' of John Lennon's art

The 'serious fun' of John Lennon's art

As a young man in Liverpool, John Lennon had two creative passions in life: art and rock ‘n’ roll. One fed the other, and each revealed something of an emerging personality with a playful, sometimes biting view of the world around him. The Beatles eventually made him famous, but he never...

Alex Theatre has an uplifting story to tell

Alex Theatre has an uplifting story to tell

The survival of the Alex Theatre in Glendale was in serious doubt when the landmark venue nearly lost vital funding with the state’s elimination of local redevelopment agencies in 2012. Its prospects look considerably rosier now.

Art in the family

Art in the family

There are family singing and dancing groups galore, families of pro chefs and pro writers, and even family magic acts, but it’s not every day that a nuclear household can brag of three world-class painters. Morgan Weistling, his wife JoAnn Peralta, and their eldest daughter, 19-year-old...

The vice that became a dance phenomenon

Aside from acting, actor Robert Duvall’s grand passion is tango dancing. He combined those two loves in the “Assassination Tango” movie (2002), playing a hit man in Buenos Aires. Quite the expert tango dancer, Duvall once remarked that it takes 15 minutes to learn a tango pattern,...

Alex production taps into dancers' old-movie legacy

Alex production taps into dancers' old-movie legacy

With all due respect to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron, the silver screen’s most electrifying dance duo was the Nicholas Brothers. While Astaire and Kelly glided with their respective dance partners in classic movie musicals, Fayard and Harold Nicholas slid,...

Ancient Nepali art on display

Ancient Nepali art on display

The intricate Mithila art is made up of hundreds, maybe thousands, of fine lines and details, depicting human figures with proportionately large eyes and noses, telling the stories of the rituals, customs and everyday life in the ancient Mithila region.

The Huntington adds highlights to its American collection

The Huntington adds highlights to its American collection

Gainsborough's "Blue Boy," Thomas Lawrence's "Pinkie," landscapes by Constable and Turner: British art from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries will always be a hallmark of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. Yet the institution's collection of American art,...

Joan Quinn portrait exhibit spotlights artist's champion

Joan Quinn portrait exhibit spotlights artist's champion

Like all creative types, artists often benefit from the largesse of others. Genuine patrons of the arts, though, are scarce these days. The N.E.A., charitable foundations and corporate grants have largely replaced benefactors of earlier times like collector Peggy Guggenheim or new music doyenne...

Music pours life into artist's work

Music pours life into artist's work

When you wander through the show of acrylic constructions by artist Megan Madzoeff at the Offramp Gallery in Pasadena, don't be surprised if the nonrepresentational images bring to mind impressions of music. Strictly speaking, it's not what she has in mind, but the 38-year-old Madzoeff understands...

Taking a tour through the past at Museums of the Arroyo

Taking a tour through the past at Museums of the Arroyo

You may know that those colorful Victorian houses visible from the Arroyo Seco Parkway (the old Pasadena Freeway) are all part of the Heritage Square Museum. You may have visited the 1908 Arts and Crafts Gamble House once or checked out an exhibit at the Southwest Museum — 100 years old this...

Enjoy this 'Lion' while it roars

Enjoy this 'Lion' while it roars

Ah, Christmas at home in the 12th century with Henry II and family. Dinner, a little tree-trimming... and threats of fratricide, patricide and war, fueled by marital malice: What could be cozier? (“What shall we hang, the holly or each other?” asks Henry).

Getting to know the artist behind Gonzo

Getting to know the artist behind Gonzo

For decades, artist Ralph Steadman was author Hunter S. Thompson's main collaborator in the creation of Gonzo journalism, as it appeared in startling drawings in the books "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "The Curse of Lono" and elsewhere. The art took a hilariously dark view of American politics...

Portraits of intimacy at the Norton Simon

Portraits of intimacy at the Norton Simon

Regardless of size, a good art show can transport an audience outside of its everyday reality and into another space of consciousness, however briefly. If a small-scale exhibition does this, the possibility of a meaningful emotional connection between a viewer and the artist increases exponentially....

Play and replay

Play and replay

“Everyone dies with secrets, why can’t I?” Convalescing at home after a fall, Lilith Fischer, age 87, is snappish with her son on the phone, rude to her in-home aide and determined to keep the memories of her youth buried.

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Columns

Read On: Time for a midsummer Q&A

Read On: Time for a midsummer Q&A

Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s mid-July and I have yet to enter a swimming pool this summer. Maybe it’s just that life leaves me filled with confusion.

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