Summer salsa ‘stravaganza swarms Music Center

Architecture & Design · Dance · Theater

There’s quite a bit of ‘competition’ out there. Los Angeles has performing arts centers in abundance–dotted all around the Southland, in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Costa Mesa, Northridge, and Malibu. But there’s only one mothership, and that is the Los Angeles Music Center, a cultural anchor in our city since 1964. Home to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, and Walt Disney Concert Hall, ya’d think the precious jewel may have lost luster after all these years.

No such thing. A major redo of the Center has given rebirth to a people’s plaza, where Angelenos brave traffic and scant downtown parking to kick it, joyfully, in the cool night air. They also shake it, motor it, and jam it as part of DANCE DTLA sponsored by the Music Center. Smart move, guys! The big urban space now called the #JerryMossPlaza stands where the solemn Jacques Lipshitz sculptural fountain once splashed and spurted. It’s paved paved with its wonderful wood dance floor. Dancers by the droves — and we’re talking every shape, size, color, age, and skill level, took the opportunity on Friday June 17 to buddy up with their neighbors and dance the night away to the crisp salsa tunes, courtesy of a handsome deejay. There were queues for coffee,queues for cokes, queues for beer and wine. (I was a bit disappointed that ladies bathroom queues are still a Music Center signature …) The place was packed. Some watched, but most danced — and just look at the fun in these photos.

We also enjoyed absolutely amazing Swing dancing that was part of the ticket (a kind of outdoors Part Two, perfect for a pandemic) as part of the joyous performance of SW!NG at the Ahmanson Theater over the weekend.

Los Angeles Music Center, dance on!

A big artsmeme thanks to @willteeyang, who must have been flying around in a drone to get these fabulous photos!

DANCE DTLA | Jerry Moss Plaza | Summer Friday nights July 8 – Sept 2

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Happy Queen’s Jubilee from the Commonwealth’s indigenous artists

Visual arts
Vincent Namatjira. Elizabeth and Vincent (on Country), 2021.  Acrylic on linen. 48 x 60 inches. © Vincent Namatjira/ Courtesy the artist and Fort Gansevoort

A vibrant-looking, good humored show from an unusual clutch of artists — Vincent Namatjira, Kaylene Whiskey, and Tiger Yaltangki, three leading members of the indigenous Indulkana Community in the northwestern region of South Australia — soon opens at the Fort Gansevoort art gallery in New York. Iwantja Rock n Roll, a group exhibition of their new works opens July 9. Two are featured here.

Vincent Namatjira’s bold portraits explore the complexities of colonial history and its lasting effects on Aboriginal Australians. Inserting his own likeness into many of his paintings, Namatjira renders himself in fictional encounters with international political figures, including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and, in particular, members of the British Royal family. Painting with broad strokes in acrylic, Namatjira juxtaposes the aging Queen Elizabeth II’s visage with the rugged Australian landscape of his homeland. The continuous majestic mountain range fluidly links the individual portraits into a unified composition.

Kaylene Whiskey. Kungkas in Hollywood, 2021. Acrylic on linen. 65.75 x 78 inches. © Kaylene Whiskey/ Courtesy the artist and Fort Gansevoort

Kaylene Whiskey’s work celebrates heroic women, pop culture idols, and Anangu heritage. Whiskey’s chosen subjects include Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, , Cher, Dolly Parton, and Princess Leia. In her painting Kungkas In Hollywood, 2021, Whiskey inserts herself into a fantastical scene where she appears in conversation with Beyoncé and Dolly Parton. The artist refers to these iconic singers as her Kungkas, or her female cohort. Painting her figures in bright colors and in a superflat style, Whiskey fills the entire surface of her works with a kaleidoscopic design formed from images of commercial objects, plants, and wildlife. Utilizing the comic book convention of speech bubbles, the women quip to the viewer.

Iwantja Rock ‘n Roll | Fort Gansevoort New York | opens July 7, thru Aug 20

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Dance · Theater · Visual arts
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Film · Reviews
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Dance · Theater
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