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Jazz & junkies in Shirley Clarke’s “The Connection” @ New Beverly Cinema


This recco comes from arts·meme friend Ross Lipman, who was the chief restorationist for the film …

Just wanted to let you know that Milestone Films is nationally releasing UCLA’s restoration of THE CONNECTION, and it will be running for a full week at the New Beverly, opening this Friday. Shirley Clarke‘s 1961 portrayal of NY junkies (based on the famous Living Theatre stage production) is one of the first “pseudo-documentaries” — it also has some absolutely stunning jazz sequences with the Freddie Redd quartet, including Jackie McLean.  Jazz fans in particular won’t want to miss it.

image: THE CONNECTION (Shirley Clarke, 1961)

“The Connection” newly restored | EmailLinkedInPinterestShare

In Pittsburgh, with Andy Warhol


It was a great joy to exit my United Airlines flight last weekend — yes, the pleasure of getting off the damned airplane was augmented by an exhibition of Andy Warhol art work right there at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Capturing my eye in particular was a display case of photos illustrating Warhol’s rather impressive transition from geeky Pittsburgh kid-hood to becoming the king of the uber-hip New York art world.

In thinking about my attachment to this great 20th century artist it’s hard to get beyond the fact that he’s a homeboy and I feel like I “get” the sensibility. The irony — mixed with a relentless work ethic — is a Pittsburgh thing.

Thanks, Andy and cheers!  [photos clickable]

The World of Warhol | Pittsburgh International Airport | thru Jan 2013

warhol flower photo from here.
Andy as Kid: Unknown photographer, Andy Warhol at the age of 8, c.1936

Thank you, The Warhol (museum)


Gary Lucas’s “scary magical Jews” terrify in “Der Golem” @ Cinefamily


Grammy-nominated Gary Lucas, whom Rolling Stone calls “one of the best and most original guitarists in America,” performed his well-traveled and exceedingly harrowing  score to “Der Golem,” the brilliant 1920 silent horror exemplar of German expressionism. The sold-out performance took place earlier this evening at The Cinefamily on Fairfax Avenue — speaking of ghostly Jewish populations.

And he scared the bejesus out of this nice Jewish girl. The guitar virtuoso’s stringed accompaniment of the progenitor ‘Jews-as-outsiders’ monster movie swapped between a sustained screech and a horrifying scream, and he traded, as well, between two guitars, one electric the other acoustic. Admitting that he improvised against established themes nearly half the time, Lucas had his way with his audience, ramping it up to aural freak-out zone during the movie’s most disturbing bits. I literally had to clutch at my heart the terror was coming so fast and furious.

A baroque nightmare of fantastic imagery, “The Golem” (Carl Boese & Paul Wegener, 1920, 86 min.) is the only surviving film from actor/filmmaker Paul Wegener’s series based on the 16th Century Bohemian folk legend of Prague. Played by Wegener himself, the astounding titular monster is molded from clay and brought to life by the Hebrew incantations of a rabbi wishing to defend a Jewish ghetto facing exile.

Steeped in 1920s controversy stemming from false accusations of occult endorsement and Weimar anti-Semitism, this dark, moody fable of a lumbering, lovelorn automaton became the inspiration for Boris Karloff’s portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster over a decade later.

Since debuting his live score in 1989, Gary has accompanied the film all across the globe in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Florence, Budapest, Toronto, St. Louis, Miami, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Krakow—and in Prague, home of Der Golem. 

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Zorina in Balanchine’s “Zenobia” ballet


Here’s the esteemed Mrs. George Balanchine #2, also known as the Continental beauty Vera Zorina — luscious, lovely, and delectable. In this precious video, Zorina dances the Princess Zenobia pas de deux made by Balanchine for the Richard Rodgers musical “On Your Toes” (1936).

Oh my god, I love when toward the end she balances her torso across his calf muscle! How does Balanchine get her there? And once he gets her there, how on earth does he gets her out?!

Shades of “The Prodigal Son” peek through … enjoy!

merci, marcus galante, pour le video.

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Gwen Samuels’ skyscraper stitchery @ A & D Museum


Looking forward to seeing artist Gwen Samuel’s amazing architectural clothing installed at the Architecture and Design Museum on Wilshire Boulevard across from LACMA. 

Samuels considers that when we dress and go out into the world we turn ourselves into a moving canvas or a sculpture … or even a classic building. Whatever building I am, I hope it is tall and slender!

Samuels uses mixed media, decidedly inspired by architecture and design, to fashions women’s clothes to resemble buildings, objects, and decorative patterns. She manipulates digital images imprinted on plastic sheets, and hand sews the pieces together to create abstract compositions.

Samuels’ installation at the museum will consist of one-of-a-kind hand-stitched architectural buildings inspired by fashion. Grouped to create a variety of relationships in size and shape, the piece will be comprised of architectural details from over 7,000 digital images.

The exhibition will feature 25 women designers, hailing from each of the design disciplines, who have been invited to transform the museum’s space with their work via installation. All areas of the museum will be open to “invasion” with no rules or limitations as to what they can fabricate, station or create.

Gwen Samuels | Come IN! Les Femmes | A&D Museum | opens July 12

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Diverse crop of dance makers selected for annual National Choreographers Initiative


The ninth annual National Choreographers Initiative takes place this summer from July 9-27, 2012.

During the three weeks of intense creative effort at the dance studios of University of California, Irvine, teams of choreographers and professional dancers produce new dance works culminating in a public performance at the end of July.

The invaluable program is overseen by its passionate and steady director, Molly Lynch, who beyond her devotion to injecting new creative outpouring in the field, has a deep commitment to diversity in classical ballet.

The best evidence comes in the interesting quartet selected as choreographers in this year’s program: Melissa Barak, Thang Dao, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and Wendy Seyb. [bios below]

Each choreographer is given complete freedom to choose the style and theme of the work. Artistic Directors from dance companies around the country have been contacted for their input and involvement and will be invited to preview the new works for possible inclusion in their company’s repertoire. [The choreographers retain the right to promote and license the works they have created to other companies.]

Thirty-two choreographers have churned new ballets at NCI since its inception in 2004. Nineteen of the works have been performed with various companies around the country.

NCI Discovery | Irvine Barclay Theatre | July 28, 2012,  8pm   

choreographer bios to follow …

Melissa Barak was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She trained at the Westside School of Ballet. In 1997 she entered the School of American Ballet in New York and joined the New York City Ballet as a company member in 1998.While dancing with the New York City Ballet, she began exploring her choreographic talents. She was invited by Peter Martins, director of the New York City Ballet, to participate in the first NY Choreographic Institute. Then he asked her to create a piece for School of American Ballet, Telemann Overture Suite, which was met with critical acclaim. Mr. Martins brought Telemann into the company’s repertoire the very next season, and immediately asked her to choreograph again, this time on the company. She was only 22, making her the youngest choreographer in New York City Ballet history to be commissioned an original work.  Melissa has been awarded the Mae L. Wien and Choo San Goh Awards for Choreography and was named one of the “Top 25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine. She has had numerous articles written about her in such publications as Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit, TimeOut NY, ELLEgirl, Angeleno, and Los Angeles Times. She has created new works for American Repertory Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and Los Angeles Ballet as well as the National Choreographer’s Initiative and several New York Choreographic Institutes. In 2009 and 2010, she was invited to return to the New York City Ballet where she created two more works.

Thang Dao was born in Danang, Vietnam. He currently resides in New York City as a dancer and choreographer. Thang received his formal dance education from The Juilliard School and the Boston Conservatory. Thang holds a BFA in dance from The Boston Conservatory and an MA from New York University. He danced for the Stephen Petronio Company from 2001 to 2006, leaving to focus on his choreographic career. He has also worked for the Metropolitan Opera and Little Orchestra Society. Thang has presented his works in Boston, New York City, and Austin, with acclaimed reviews by The Boston Globe, Austin 360 and The New York Times. In 2006, his ballet Stepping Ground, choreographed on Ballet Austin for the 1st Biennial New American Talent/Dance, received the Audience Choice Award on all four nights. Thang is also the recipient of the 2008 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship.

Darrell Grand Moultrie was born and raised in Harlem. Darrell is a graduate of Juilliard in 2000, and a proud recipient of the 2007 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award. Darrell’s work has been performed by Ailey 2, North Carolina Dance Theater, Cleo Parker Dance Ensemble, Colorado Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, The Juilliard School, BalletMet Columbus, Milwaukee Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Rasta Thomas and his Bad Boys of Dance, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. In October 2010, he was invited to participate in Sacramento Ballet’s Capital Choreography Competition where his work Moved took home both the judges and the audience awards. Darrell has taught at many institutions across the United States including The Juilliard School, the Ailey School, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Perry Mansfield, and served as the Director of Musical Theatre at the Harbor Conservatory of the Performing Arts. As a performer, Darrell was part of the original cast of the hit musical Billy Elliot on Broadway.  He has also been seen in West Side Story, Radiant Baby, Sweet Charity, and The Color Purple. He was seen on Broadway in the smash hits Hairspray The Musical and AIDA.

Wendy Seyb is an alumna of Boston University where she received her bachelor’s degree in archeology. Wendy creates in the worlds of theater and dance; her choreography has been seen in musical theater, comedic and dramatic plays, premieres and revivals. Her theater career includes choreographing The Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway, Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns, and the award winning The Toxic Avenger musical which garnered Wendy three nominations for her choreography: a Lucille Lortel Award, a Joe A. Callaway Award, and Toronto’s DORA Award. She was nominated for a second Lucille award for her choreography in TheatreworksUSA’s production of Click, Clack, Moo during the same season as Toxic, making her a double nominee for 2009-2010. Her company EveryDayMan Adventures has presented her dance comedies at Dance Theater Workshop, Joyce SoHo, Baryshnikov Arts Center, HERE arts Center, The Flea Theater, The Zipper Theater, St. Mark’s Church, The Duke Theater, The Ailey Citigroup Theater and SUNY Purchase. Wendy proudly participated in the Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab in 2009 and DanceBreak in 2008. In 2007, she was honored to be invited to show her work at the Dancers Responding to AIDS gala hosted by Bill T. Jones. Also in 2007, her Supernovas was awarded a Golden Nose Award; and she was nominated for an Innovative Theatre Award for her physical work and movement in the play The Great Conjurer. In 2007 and 2008 Wendy co-created and co-hosted Freshly Tossed, an evening of new innovative dance comedy choreography from a range of dance artists that was presented by the New York Musical Theatre Festival. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.


Fred & Barrie for the Fourth


The meeting of two slenderellas …. in her red jumpsuit, Barrie Chase looks like a Fourth of July firecracker!


It’s good to be a Raelette — at the Hollywood Bowl’s Ray Charles tribute program


A stellar line-up heading our way at the Hollywood Bowl July 11. It’s the Ray Charles tribute concert co-produced by Phil Ramone and Gregg Field in association with the LA Philharmonic. At the core of a packed program (I hope it’s coherent; there so much talent crammed in) — four amazing “girl” singers replicating the great backup singing of Charles’s girl group, the Raelettes. The ladies (alphabetically not by order of greatness) include Patti Austin, Lynne Fiddmont, Siedah Garrett and Monica Mancini.

Other top-of-bill performers include  Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Martina McBride, Dee Dee Bridgewater, BeBe Winans. 

An all-star band has been assembled:George Duke, piano; Shelly Berg, organ; Terence Blanchard, trumpet; Scotty Banhart, trumpet; Dave Koz, alto sax; Houston Person, tenor sax; Tom Scott, baritone sax; Grant Geissman, guitar; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Gregg Field, musical director/drums.

The Count Basie Orchestra will also wail. The Philharmonic is promoting the program as “Genius + Soul = Jazz.” I think that sums it up well enough. What a night!

Ray Charles “Genius” tribute | The Hollywood Bowl | July 11, 2012


Amy Jean Boebel’s intriguing mesh-metal sculptures


I am really liking artist Amy Jean Boebel’s beautiful wire and mesh screen sculptures. The Santa Monica sculptress and creator of wearable art also makes tutus!

Boebel, who studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Tulane University School of Architecture, will showcase not this work, but a new installation at Diverted Destruction 5 at The Loft at Liz’s opening this Saturday night.

Boebel creates high fashion, sculpture and assemblage out of ordinary construction materials found in hardware stores. Her primary medium is aluminum screen, which she effortlessly transforms into a variety of functional art forms, from cloud-like canopy installations to whimsical sculptures, to women’s bodices and ballet tutus.

Another new installation happens at the A + D Museum, as part of an annual show “Come In Les Femmes” —15 women artists selected to ‘invade’ the museum with art installations from the ceiling to the ladies room. 

At the A&D (opening July 12), Boebel will hang sculpted dresses and garments of aluminum screen from the ceiling, creating a vast array of abstracted work.

Artist Gwen Samuels, who hand stitches women’s dresses out of photo imagery (made to resemble iconic buildings), will also be featured in the A + D show.

Both artists explore women’s clothing and feminine imagery.

 Amy Jean Boebel | The Loft at Liz’s | June 30- Sept 4
“Come in! Les Femmes” | A & D Museum | opens July 12
[Click on photos for detailed view.]



A note from Ojai on the 2012 Music Festival…


Correspondent Thomas Aujero Small contributes this note from the 66th annual Ojai Music Festival. 

The rural town of Ojai is a little more than an hour and a little more than a lifetime outside of Los Angeles. In my mind’s eye Ojai is dreamlike and fantastical, like the Hundred-Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh (in reality Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, a little more than an hour outside of London.) The Ojai Music Festival takes place in a rustic outdoor amphitheater, Libby Bowl, near the center of town. Recently, the band shell and seating have been updated into a superbly crafted and architected modern music venue, with the latest in sound and lighting technology. A vast wooded park with a scattered forest of sycamores and oaks, pocket meadows and paved pathways, tennis courts and a large playground surrounds the bowl.

In its hallowed past, the festival hosted such legendary figures as Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copeland and Pierre Boulez. The renowned Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andses served as Music Director this year, as will the dancer and opera director Mark Morris next year. Artistic Director Thomas Morris, formerly of the Boston Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, also oversees the Spring For Music Festival at Carnegie Hall. His signature approach to the music of our time, through its connection to the history of music, will distinctly guide the festival toward its 70th season in 2016. I plan on writing a more extensive portrait of Ojai later this year, and here offer only a glimpse of its magic.

To open this year’s festival, Inuksuit, John Luther Adam’s composition of percussive and musical sounds, took over all of Libby Park, and by extension all of Ojai and the entire universe. The experience was both ephemeral and eternal, almost a new art form, akin to the rambling stone installations of Andy Goldsworthy and the labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges. A loose group of more than a dozen musicians and percussionists scattered themselves around the park, to make sounds that were initiated and ordered by the composer but seemingly orchestrated by nature itself.

The entire space was open to the public, filled with spectators, wanderers, couples and small groups quietly chatting, listening and going about their lives. Children played on the jungle gym, my five-year old son Joseph among them. The renowned percussionist Steven Schick led the piece, eventually moving onto the jungle gym as well, performing from there. The music started softly, like a rockslide in slow motion or a quiet drawn out drum roll, and then grew into various crescendos moving around the park and among the audience, before coalescing and dying to a close more than an hour later.

Steven Schick directs the West Coast premiere of Inuksuit at the 66th Ojai Music Festival on June 7, 2012 in Ojai, CaliforniaThe Inuit word Inuksuit refers to the small towers of stones that the Inuit build as landmarks or guides in the vastness of the tundra, but it also means: “to act in the capacity of the human.” John Luther Adams wrote the piece as a wedding gift for his friend Steven Schick, who first performed it outside of Banff with 18 percussionists and three audience members. The sounds of the music are not quite natural, but perhaps supernatural, as if we look out on the world, listen to the world, and the world listens back. When we drove past the park the next day, with the windows open to the sun and breeze, my little boy Joey asked: “Daddy, where are the magicians?” He thought the musicians were there playing that music every day. Offering me window on his childlike, Borges-like, view of the universe, it seemed for a moment that the music simply extended out into the Milky Way, always resounding between the stars and the darkness.

Although only an introduction to an avalanche of music over a long extended weekend, Inuksuit was the perfect beginning to the Ojai Festival this year. More than ever, Ojai seemed to address the great questions in the (classical) music of our time: How will it move forward? How is it relevant to our lives? How does it continue to exist and to speak to a new audience in this insanely globalized and terrified modern world? How can the depth, power and beauty of ancient and romantic music not be simply swept away on the river of time, lost and unintelligible to our children and grandchildren? Perhaps more than anywhere else in my experience, utopian Ojai confronts these questions head on. The Ojai Festival offers music making at the highest level, worldwide; with a sense of humor, without pretension, and with a community of musicians that intensely engages and embraces its audience.

photo credit © Timothy Norris