Artists, scholars and politicians on the museum stage

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Most of the time, when we go to museums, we are there to see the exhibitions - especially the so-called "blockbusters." One such blockbuster, Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage, is currently drawing crowds at LACMA. Last weekend, I went to see it for the third time, and I'm sure it won't be my last.

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Frank Gehry, Thomas Krens, William Weld, and Michael Govan on the Bing Stage at LACMA for the conversation, "Three Cities: Transformations in the Urban Environment," with an image of the Guggenheim Bilbao.

But, it's also worth keeping one's eye peeled for what happens at museums after the doors to their galleries have closed. Last night, LACMA's Bing Theatre was packed with people who came to hear architect Frank Gehry, former director of the Guggenheim Foundation Thomas Krens, and William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, in conversation with LACMA Director Michael Govan.

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Frank Gehry, Thomas Krens, William Weld, and Michael Govan on the Bing Stage at LACMA for the conversation, "Three Cities: Transformations in the Urban Environment," with an image of the Los Angeles River.

These four bigger-than-life personalities, with several decades of collaboration under their belt, talked about three cities – North Adams, MA; Bilbao, Spain; and of course, Los Angeles – that have been dramatically transformed by visionary architectural projects.

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Dolores Zinny and Juan Maidagan, Word for Word: Decor for Distance, 2017
South façade of LACMA's Broad Contemporary Art Pavilion
© Dolores Zinny & Juan Maidagan

Leaving LACMA last night, I was happy to see that Metro construction on Wilshire and Fairfax has ended, and all the barriers in front of LACMA and Petersen Auto Museum were at last removed. And, what a pleasant surprise it was to discover two gigantic banners placed on the façade of the Broad building at LACMA (BCAM), with semi-abstract images of palm fronds, interacting with actual palm trees on the sidewalk. Reading the museum's press release, I see that this is work by Argentinian artists Zinny & Maidagan, and part of an upcoming multisite exhibition that engages 16 US Latino and Latin American artists, A Universal History of Infamy. This exhibition is part of the Getty's sweeping Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (Los Angeles / Latin America) project, which explores Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.

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David Hockney, center, smokes on stage at The Getty while a special surprise guest of the talk with Lawrence Weschler, Tacita Dean, Ramiro Gomez, and Charles Falco, "Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney."

Another one-night-only museum event took place last week at the Getty Center. There, on the stage of Harold Williams Auditorium, were five chairs – one empty, and four occupied by author Lawrence Weschler, artists Tacita Dean and Ramiro Gomez, and physicist Charles Falco. All of them were engaged in conversation about David Hockney and his interest in science and philosophy. Suddenly, Hockney himself surprised everyone by coming on stage, taking a seat, and lighting a cigarette. Who could say no to David Hockney, whose 80th birthday Getty Museum is celebrating with two concurrent exhibitions of his paintings and photographs?

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Promotional image of Mark Bradford, Sharon Lockhart, and Katy Siegel in anticipation of their conversation at the Orpheum Theatre as part of The Broad museum's art talk series, Un-Private Collection.
Image courtesy The Broad

So, here is another intriguing after-hours museum event that you might want to attend. This one takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Orpheum Theatre downtown, as part of the Broad Museum's Un-Private Collection lecture series. Celebrated Los Angeles artists Mark Bradford and Sharon Lockhart, both featured at this year's Venice Biennale, will be on stage talking with art critic Katy Siegel.

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Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016
Photo by Tomoaki Makino / Courtesy of the artist ©Yayoi Kusama
Image courtesy The Broad

And, be sure that you order tickets for the upcoming blockbuster making a stop at the Broad in October, Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. At previous stops in Washington, DC and Seattle, this exhibition was sold out in the first few days. Here in Los Angeles, tickets will be released on September 1 at noon.

All photos are by Edward Goldman unless otherwise noted.



Benjamin Gottlieb