Essential Arts & Culture: Pacific Standard Time begins liftoff, listening like Dvořák, playing Dick Gregory

on Sep9

Exhibitions for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA are beginning to open up all over Los Angeles and it’s an embarrassment of riches. Plus, The Times pays a visit to the Salzburg Festival, a prominent TV actor takes on the life of Dick Gregory for the play “Turn Me Loose” and it’s time for our Fall Arts Preview. I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, sending love and best wishes to my peeps in the wrath-filled path of Irma. Here are the week’s top culture stories:

Pacific Standard Time in motion!

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, the Getty Foundation-funded series of exhibitions that focus on the art of Latin America and U.S. Latinos, officially debuts next week. But shows are already starting to open all over the Southland.

As a kickoff, I look at what the series will signify at this time of intense anti-immigrant sentiment: “As the shows prepare to shine a light on the cultures of Latin America, they also will serve to hold up a mirror to the United States. First, because the Latino presence is so critical in the U.S., the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. And because to be Latin American, in some ways, is to continuously contend with the outsize presence of the United States.” Los Angeles Times

Times art critic Christopher Knight, in the meantime, pays a visit to a pair of PST retrospectives: one devoted to late Chicano painter Carlos Almaraz; the other to Brazilian artist Anna Maria Maiolino. “L.A. is now one of the great cities of Latin America, and PST: L.A/L.A ranks as a significant cultural marker of the change,” he writes. “The usual East-West conversation flips to North-South.” Los Angeles Times

Critic Jason Farago also paid a visit to the Maiolino show, which he describes as “urgent viewing.” New York Times

And writer Steve Appleford talked with Almaraz’s widow, former LACMA contemporary art curator Howard N. Fox and others about the life and work of Almaraz, who died in 1989. Los Angeles Times

For a guide to some of the PST: LA/LA shows going down, check out the arts Datebook. Los Angeles Times

Symphony for a ‘New World’

In writing his “New World” Symphony, Dvořák’s intention “had been to demonstrate to Americans that our musical identity was to be found in our most original music, that of the Native Americans and African American spirituals, much of which had been generally dismissed,” writes Times classical music critic Mark Swed. The symphony was at the heart of a recent performance led by conductor Ken-David Masur at the Hollywood Bowl. Swed reports on how this work, along with others by John Cage, were all about the act of listening — something we could all use a little bit more of at this moment in time. Los Angeles Times

In other Hollywood Bowl news: The Muppets are taking the Bowl this weekend. And the forecast is froggy. Los Angeles Times

Salzburg as case study for why festivals matter

Mark Swed was recently in Europe, where he took in a number of performances at the Salzburg Festival, including Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito” (staged by L.A. director Peter Sellars) as well as a production of “Aida” designed by visual artist Shirin Neshat and conducted by Ricardo Muti. Swed explores how Salzburg’s economic, political and cultural vibrancy owes a certain cultural debt to Los Angeles — and how we might begin to think of capturing some of that here. Los Angeles Times

‘Scandal’ actor Joe Morton on stage

Dick Gregory, the pioneering comedian and civil rights activist who passed away last month, is the inspiration for the play “Turn Me Loose,” which will kick off the second season at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. In the role: Joe Morton, better known as Rowan “Papa” Pope in “Scandal.” Morton tells Times contributor Margaret Gray what it is like to step into the icon’s shoes: “Dick’s experiences in the play are things that I’ve experienced on my own, and the things he says are things that I wanted to say, that I thought needed to be said.” Los Angeles Times

Kobe Bryant and John Williams

How John Williams, the five-time Oscar-winning composer — one who never watches basketball — ended up scoring Kobe Bryant’s goodbye letter to basketball. Los Angeles Times

Fall preview time

The Times’ fall arts preview is out this weekend and it’s got Shakespeare, a “Hamilton” parody, a tattoo show and colonial Mexican painting. The ultimate fine arts agenda planner for the season. Do not miss! Los Angeles Times

As part of this, The Times’ Deborah Vankin takes a look at what’s coming down the pipe at downtown L.A.’s newest art institution, the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

Check out the complete fall guide, which also features essential entertainment coverage. Los Angeles Times

Sort of related: A gentle reminder that The Times is now listing the best shows to see at the city’s experimental theaters of 99 seats or less. Up this week are recommendations from Times contributor Philip Brandes, including a play about DACA, a touch of Ionesco and Lenny Bruce. Los Angeles Times

Checking in with Houston culture

Times reporter Sonaiya Kelley has a comprehensive look at how Houston’s myriad cultural institutions weathered Hurricane Harvey. Los Angeles Times

Plus: Miami museums hunker down in advance of Irma. The Art Newspaper

In other news…

— French street artist JR installed a giant image of a child looking over the border wall in Tecate. Los Angeles Times

— In reaction to President Trump’s decision on DACA, the Boyle Heights community arts group Self-Help Graphics set up a poster pop-up that provided free tips to immigrants. Los Angeles Times

— Photographer Ben Brody has a stirring essay on the images he can’t remember taking in Iraq. Witness

— Prolific filmmaker Jeffrey Tuchman, whose 17-minute film “The Man From Hope” introduced Bill Clinton at the Democratic Convention in 1992, has passed away at age 62. Los Angeles Times

Gin D. Wong, the architect who helped design iconic L.A. buildings such as the swooping Union 76 gas station in Beverly Hills and CBS Television City, as a founder of William L. Pereira & Associates, has died at the age of 94. Los Angeles Times

— The work of literary criticism that had a “convulsive effect” on American culture: Joy Press examines the legacy of “Sexual Politics” upon the death of its author, Kate Millett. The Cut

— DNA tests debunk a psychic’s claim that she is the daughter of Salvador Dalí. Artnet

— The first full-scale retrospective of the late Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica is on view at the Whitney Museum in New York. Elisa Wouk Almino writes of his life — defined by art, sexuality, cocaine and the Brazilian dictatorship. Paris Review

“Dear Evan Hansen,” the Tony Award-winning musical, will come to L.A.’s Ahmanson Theatre in the fall. Los Angeles Times

— In the meantime, the critically acclaimed “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” will shut down its Broadway production at the end of September — earlier than expected. New York Times

— How a 17th century naval engineer revolutionized opera set design. Atlas Obscura

— If you are tired of big cities dominating the conversation about urbanism, Citylab has a cure. A team of its writers has hit the road to examine development, preservation and other urban planning efforts in locales like York, Penn., and Laramie, Wyo. Citylab

— The leadership at the Indianapolis Museum of Art has made all kinds of changes to the institution. Critics say these have transformed the museum into more of an event space than an art museum. Indianapolis Business Journal

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