5 design things to do this week

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This week, you can: learn about the landscape ‘choreography’ of Lawrence Halprin; see the embellished Southern California version of Spanish Colonial Revival; spend the weekend at Watts Towers; parade through car-free streets in Santa Monica; and explore Cuban culture, low and high-tech.

The Lawrence Halprin-designed Bunker Hill Steps, completed in 1990. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

1) The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY during the first half of the 20th century, Lawrence Halprin opened his landscape architecture firm in San Francisco after WWII.  By the mid-1960s, Lawrence Halprin and Associates had gained recognition for their urban landscape redevelopment projects and continued to receive major commissions and awards for another three decades.

Halprin was known for his modernist designs and his emphasis on the user-experience and collaborative design process.  Notably with his wife and long time collaborator, avant-garde dancer Anna Halprin, he explored the intersection of choreography and how users move through public space, as in a dance.  His work includes projects for UC Berkeley, the Seattle World’s Fair, Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and Grand Hope Park here in Los Angeles, and many more urban parks, plazas, commercial and cultural centers of congregation across the country. Halprin’s range of projects demonstrate his vision of the garden or open space as a stage.

Organized and curated by The Cultural Landscape Foundation, The Landscape Architecture of Lawrence Halprin at the A+D Museum features 56 newly commissioned photographs by leading landscape photographers, offering an overview of Halprin’s life and work. You can view a complimentary online exhibition with additional photography, recollections by clients and colleagues, and segments of a video oral history with Halprin here.

There’s also an exhibition of rarely-seen drawings at Edward Cella Art + Architecture. It opened on September 9 and runs through October 28. The gallery will host a public performance this week by Lucky Dragons. The multi-media art and music collaborative use Lawrence and Anna Halprin’s workshop-based approach to the creative processes to explore how drawing, performance, notation, and evaluation give tangible form to the immaterial aspects of our environment, and help us to better communicate the patterns of the lived experience.

When: This celebration of Halprin’s work included multiple exhibitions and public events over several months.  Complete details here.  This week, there is a landscape photography exhibition of Halprin’s work opening on Friday, Sept 29 and a public performance by Lucky Dragons on Saturday, Sept 30.

Where: Photography exhibition opening at A+D Museum, 900 E 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013.  Lucky Dragons performance at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Tickets: Free.  Please RSVP here for the Lucky Dragons performance.

The historic Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside is a spectacular amalgamation of the historic and the imagined. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

2) Myth & Mirage: Inland Southern California, Birthplace of the Spanish Colonial Revival

As part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, the broad reaching collaborative group of exhibitions focusing on the influence of Latin American art and architecture in Southern California, Myth and Mirage takes a look at the history and evolution of Spanish Colonial Revival in the Inland Empire. While claiming ties to Colonial Spain and Mexico via their cultural and design traditions, the style was actually based largely on myth and invention, fabricated as a marketable past that was European and civilized to sell the mirage of wealth and paradise to Anglo settlers and tourists.  The exhibition will use architectural and archival materials, decorative arts, paintings, and photographs to explore the style’s origins and continuing popularity, including the implications of the “refried” version of the SCR today.

When: Opening celebration Saturday, Sept 30, 6 – 9 pm.  Show runs through January 28.

Where: Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, CA, 92501

Tickets: Opening celebration is free.  General admission for the ongoing exhibit is $5.

Also, the opening celebration is paired with UC Riverside’s ARTSblock presentation of Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas, which brings together contemporary artists from across the Americas who have tapped into science fiction’s capacity to imagine new realities, both utopian and dystopian.  The exhibit explores themes of colonialism and alienism in the Americas, and diverse perspectives about the past and the future. The exhibition runs through Feb 4 at ARTSblock, 3824 Main Street, Riverside, CA 92501.

The Watts Towers, built by Simon Rodia (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

3) Two Festivals at  Watts Towers: Day of the Drum and  Simon Rodia Jazz Festival

In 1921, an Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia started work on what would become his magnum opus.  For 33 years, Rodia wrapped concrete with steel and embedded porcelain tiles, glass and other found objects to build 17 sculptures, with heights up to 99 feet.  The project would come to be known as the Watts Towers and become a State Historic Park, inspiring visitors and the community at large for years to come.  This weekend, you can come out for two festivals honoring the site and the community spirit it has inspired.

Saturday’s Day of the Drum Festival is led by Masters of Ceremonies Ndugu Chancler and James Janisse, beginning with a Yoruba ground blessing ceremony by Alaadun, which unites all cultures based on common themes and principles. Nonosina Polynesia music will follow, highlighting more than a half century of culture, art, song, storytelling, and Tahitian dance before experiencing Bate Batuque-Bloco Obini “All Queen Ensemble.” Afternoon highlights include The Drum Apostles, Kouman Kele West African Dance & Drum Company, and Rhythm Roulette, a soulful infusion of musical elements to conclude the opening day’s program.

Sunday’s Jazz Festival is hosted by Masters of Ceremonies Kamau Daáood and James Janisse, and kicks off with the Yoruba ground blessing by Alaadun. Greg Clayborn & Message Groove follows with “groovy” music and a message to move the soul. Next up is former Lady of the Watts Prophets, Dee Dee McNeil Jazz Band, an artful blend of jazz and poetry. Roy Gaines & his Orchestra Tuxedo Blues follows, delivering authentic blues that will bring down the house. Sunday’s festival also features Danny Cortez & Tony Harris Big Band, a tribute to great artists and music of musicians from the past.

When:  Day of the Drum Festival: Saturday Sept 30; Watts Towers Jazz Festival: Sunday, Oct 1.  10 am – 6 pm both days.

Where: Watts Towers, 1727 E 107th St, Los Angeles, CA 90002

Tickets: Free.

The COAST Open Streets Festival in Santa Monica includes 2 miles of car-free streets. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

4) COAST Open Streets Festival

Driving in Santa Monica near the Pier can be like sitting on the 405 during ‘rush’ hour.  This weekend, experience this area car-free during the COAST Open Streets Festival.  Bike, skate, walk, bus or train out to this celebration of mobility, sustainability and arts.  Live music and DJ sets, including KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez, dance performances and classes, interactive arts, great food and street performances will abound.  Learn about city programs, the latest transportation initiatives, earthquake preparedness and sustainable living.  Extended farmer’s market hours and more.

When: Sunday, Oct 1, 10 am – 4 pm

Where: Ocean Ave and Main Street in Santa Monica.  A two-mile route will be closed to car traffic:  Ocean Avenue from Wilshire Blvd to Tongva Park, Main Street from Colorado to Marine Street.

Tickets: Free. More information here.

Cubans get connected through “El Pequete”, weekly digital downloads from around the world. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

5) Three PST:LA/LA exhibitions focusing on Cuba and Cuban Artists: The Cuban Matrix at the Torrence Art Museum;  Cuba Is and Resolviendo at Annenberg Space for Photography; and a guided tour of Hollywood in Havana at the Pasadena Museum of California Art

The Cuban Matrix  takes an in-depth look at contemporary Cuban artwork with an emphasis on the digital media exchange culture that has arisen around the phenomenon of “El Paquete Semanal”: a weekly terabyte packet comprised of downloaded webpages, information, and entertainment that is shared and consumed throughout Cuban society.  The Cuban Matrix explores the intersection between the country’s isolation and its increasing interaction with modern technology. Through Nov 4 at Torrance Art Museum, 3320 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA 90503.  FREE.

Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves.  The Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, and the underground system of sharing digital content—“El Paquete”.  Resolviendo or “creative drive; resolve” describes the by-any-means-necessary sensibility of Cuban artists, creating their work despite a lack of resources.  Throughout the exhibition, guests will see and experience the imaginative and creative solutions of the Cuban people, with a special focus on technological improvisations. Through March 4 at Annenberg Space for Photography, 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067. FREE.

Catch a docent-led tour of “Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting US Films” featured here in our post from a few weeks ago. Saturday, Sept 30, 2 pm , Pasadena Museum of California Art, 490 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91101. FREE.