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Hot Summer Nights with Graffiti, Prisoners and Guards

Ray Bradbury once wrote---only half-jokingly---about the way the world perceives this city, "Los Angeles---City of Eternal Sunshine---oh, how they do hate us for that." But never mind the world. Let's stop for a moment and think of the cool things to do here during the hot days of summer.

I'm certain that you are smart enough to know that museums are literally the coolest places in town. The other day, I found myself freezing inside the Getty, while the temperature outside reached the mid-90's. And if that's not enticing enough, how about special evening hours? The Getty is always free, but on Friday and Saturday nights they're open unusually late---until 9pm. To see the Impressionist landscapes--before stepping out onto one of the numerous museum terraces to watch the actual sunset---is a guilty pleasure everyone should experience at least once. And, if you have an extra dollar burning in your pocket, treat yourself to dinner at the museum's excellent restaurant, with views to die for.

has the friendliest hours in town: It's open every day till 8pm and on Fridays, during their popular jazz concerts in the museum courtyard, the galleries stay open till 9. Better still, every day after 5 admission is free. But be warned: All of this has nothing to do with the King Tut Show, whose cash registers busily ring around the clock, and whose organizers wouldn't allow even Mother Teresa to visit for free.

With Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, MOCA's hours are slightly confusing. But on Thursdays the museum is open till 8, and what's more, after 5 the admission is free. Having a blockbuster on their hands right now---the excellent Basquiat show---MOCA has grabbed the opportunity to turn its galleries into one of the city's hottest spots on Saturday nights. Every Saturday, the Basquiat show is open until midnight, and while visitors still have to pay the $8 admission fee, they have the chance to hear poetry, live music or DJ's. This special arrangement will last through the run of the Basquiat show, until October 8.

But the ultimate prize should go to the Hammer Museum, which announced in June that this summer it would keep its doors open free of charge every day including Thursdays, when the museum is open till 9pm. Now, that's what I call a class act. But hurry up, as all good things must end, this arrangement ends this Sunday, September 4. As is always the case with the Hammer, there is a cluster of interesting exhibitions. The exhibition of the wistful, melancholic landscapes by photographer Stephen Shore, presents America's Heartland, wearing its heart on its sleeve. No makeup, so to speak, no special lighting---just things as they are. And what they are is pure poetry. My favorite exhibition is the rather theatrical and unsettling video installation by Fiona Tan, where I found myself surrounded by six hanging screens, suspended from the ceiling, with video portraits of 300 inmates and prison guards, projected onto them. You see them staring right at you and it takes some time to notice that these are not photographic portraits but live videos, showing the almost imperceptible movement of their bodies. It comes as a shock to realize that, with the exception of their clothing, there is no difference between the prisoner, the guards...and us, staring at them.

Fiona Tan: Correction
Through October 16

The Biographical Landscape: The Photography of Stephen Shore
Through October 16

The Hammer Musuem
10899 Wilshire Blvd.
Tel. 310-443-7020

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