Arts in L.A. Quarterly Calendar: Cultural events through Feb. 2009


ALTTEXT

Robert Dowd — Pop Art Money — See Jan.17 listing

DECEMBER

Fri., Dec. 12
“Laemmle Through the Decades: 1938-2008, 70 Years in 7 Days.” It must have been an extraordinarily difficult task to select only seven films to represent the rich and diverse history of the Laemmle Theatres chain. But someone did it. For the next week, Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles will screen the seven most iconic foreign-language films to have graced the company’s silver screens, each one representing a different decade of its existence. The lineup includes “Children of Paradise” (1945, France), “La Strada” (1954, Italy), “Jules & Jim” (1962, France), “The Conformist” (1970, Italy, France and West Germany), “Fanny & Alexander” (1982, Sweden), “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (1988, Spain) and “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001, Mexico). Films will screen several times a day. Through Dec. 18. $7-$10. Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles. (310) 477-5581. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ecogift.com.

Sat., Dec. 13
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” With a long list of Top 40 favorites, such as “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Yakety Yak,” “Stand by Me” and “On Broadway,” this musical mishmash of Leiber and Stoller hits is ideally jubilant for the holiday season. Since its 1995 premiere on Broadway, the 39-song revue has been nominated for seven Tony Awards, won a Grammy Award for the legendary duo’s songs and featured special appearances by megastars such as Gladys Knight, Gloria Gaynor and Rick Springfield. Starring in this NoHo production of “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” are DeLee Lively, Robert Torti and a host of other talented stage veterans. Special performances include tonight’s opening night gala and two New Year’s Eve shows, one with a champagne reception, the other followed by an all-out party with the cast. 8 p.m. Wed.-Sat. Through Jan. 4. $25-$150. El Portal Theatre, Mainstage, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 508-4200. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.benjamintrigano.com.

Sat., Dec. 13
“Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee.” Charles Phoenix is addicted to thrift store shopping. Luckily for us, Phoenix has put together a collection of the goodies he has found. Now, Moonlight Rollerway, which calls itself Southern California’s last classic roller rink, is presenting Phoenix and his quirky, retro holiday slide show. The viewing event will be followed by a roller-skating revue spectacular, featuring 75 championship skaters and celebrating the entire year’s holidays, including Cinco de Mayo and Valentine’s Day. Snacks and an after-show skating party are included. 8 p.m. Also, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. $35. Moonlight Rollerway, 5110 San Fernando Road, Glendale. (818) 241-3630. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.mbfala.com.

Sun., Dec. 14
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Annual Winter Concert. There is an Academy Award-nominated documentary about this choir. It has toured Brazil, China, Italy and Poland, among other nations. And since its inception in 1986, the chorus has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Approximately 250 talented and dedicated children between the ages of 8 and 12 make up the LACC. The angelic voices of these preteen choristers will bring to life works by composers such as Aaron Copland, Pablo Casals, Randall Thompson and J.S. Bach in a winter concert inspired by literary luminaries Robert Frost, William Shakespeare and others. The program follows the 2008-2009 season theme, “The Poet Sings,” and features a varied selection of classical, folk and contemporary pieces. 7 p.m. $24-$42. Pasadena Presbyterian Church, 585 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 793-4231. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lamoth.org.

Mon., Dec. 15
Reel Talk: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Stephen Farber, film critic for Hollywood Life magazine and The Hollywood Reporter, has been treating audiences to sneak previews of the industry’s hottest films for more than 25 years. The veteran film buff concludes this year’s preview series with a fascinating film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story about a man who is born in his 80s and ages backward. Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swinton, the odd tale is already making waves and is set to hit theaters during prime-time movie-watching season, Christmas. The screening will be followed by a discussion with members of the filmmaking team, including Oscar-nominated costume designer Jacqueline West. 7 p.m. $20. Wadsworth Theatre, 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 365-3500. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lacma.org.

Tue., Dec. 16
Carrie Fisher presents and signs “Wishful Drinking.” It’s not easy being an action figure before you can legally drink a beer, but that didn’t stop Princess Leia from having one, or two, or many more. Fisher’s first memoir, adapted from her one-woman stage show, is a revealing look at her childhood as a product of “Hollywood in-breeding” and her adulthood in the shadow of “Star Wars.” After electroshock therapy, marrying, divorcing then dating Paul Simon, a drug addition and a bipolar disorder, Fisher still manages to take an ironic and humorous survey of her bizarre life. Meet Fisher and get a copy of her book signed at this WeHo book haven. 7 p.m. Free. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Fri., Dec. 19
“Peter Pan.” Tinkerbell, Captain Hook, pirates, Indians — we know the cast of characters well. But how many of us have actually seen a full production of J.M. Barrie’s classic fantasy play, “Peter Pan” — especially one that features the complete musical score by Leonard Bernstein? Composer Alexander Frey — who helped reconstruct portions of Bernstein’s score that had been previously lost for a special CD — is flying in from Berlin to conduct the live orchestra. 7 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Dec. 28. $30-$70; $10 (seniors and students). Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara. (805) 963-0761. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.ticketmaster.com.

Wed., Dec. 24
“49th Annual Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration.” Los Angeles’ biggest holiday show, featuring 45 groups and 1,200 performers, is a proud tradition — and it’s absolutely free! Running approximately six hours, the holiday extravaganza features the county’s cultural diversity. This year’s highlights include hip-hop group Antics Performances, South Bay Ballet and Grammy-nominated Lisa Haley and the Zydekats. Audiences will have the opportunity to listen to sounds and see sights from the world over, including Asia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East. For those of you who can’t make it to see the event in person, KCET-TV will also be airing the event live. Sponsored by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and produced by the County Arts Commission. 3-9 p.m. Free. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (213) 972-3099. http:www.holidaycelebration.org.

Rebuilding lives, one broken tile at a time


It was an elegant opening for a gallery exhibition.

Artists and art enthusiasts mingled affably among more than 230 original mosaics — elaborate and dramatic, whimsical and rhythmical — that included mirrors, light boxes, flowers pots and Judaic designs with hamsas and candlesticks. They sampled catered hors d’oeuvres and listened to remarks by Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. This exhibition, titled, “Pieces of Hope,” opened Nov. 2 in the Alpert Jewish Community Center‘s Pauline and Zena Gatov Gallery and runs through Dec. 1.

It was difficult to discern, on the surface, that the artists represented some of Los Angeles’ most impoverished citizens, residents of Skid Row and South Los Angeles, who are actually using the broken bits of tile, stone and other rejected and recycled materials to rebuild their own lives. They’re participants in a microenterprise arts initiative called Piece by Piece, and they generally receive 80 percent all of sales proceeds. On that day, about 50 pieces sold, amounting to $8,500. But the financial reward is only part of the program’s success.

“I hate to be a drama queen, but this has pretty much saved my life,” said Paula LeDuc, 58, a Skid Row resident, recovering addict and breast cancer survivor who had two frames made of fossilized stone featured in the show. “It’s given me something to do.”

Piece by Piece is the brainchild of Sophie Alpert, 50, daughter-in-law of Long Beach JCC leaders Barbara and Ray Alpert, who was impressed on a trip to South Africa in spring 2006 by microfinance projects that enabled HIV-positive women to create placemats, dolls and other objects with beads.

“It seemed so simple,” said Alpert, who compared the seemingly hopeless conditions of those South African women and their families to what she calls “Third World” areas of Los Angeles. She had worked as a grant writer and fundraiser for the nonprofit family service agency, Para Los NiƱos, in the 1980s, before taking time off to raise her four children, and she has never forgotten those families.

When she returned from South Africa, she couldn’t forget that experience either.

“I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t get it out of my head,” she said.

Alpert agonized over a way to replicate the microenterprise bead workshops, which she knew were impractical for Los Angeles, until she came up with the idea for mosaics — something not prohibitively expensive, something that could be easily taught and done independently, and something that produced colorful and relatively quick results.

Artistically inclined and experienced in mosaics, Alpert nevertheless returned to school, taking three weekend classes at the Institute of Mosaic Art in Oakland. She also set out to find instructors — insisting on hiring and paying professional artists and teachers, including current artistic director Dawn Mendelson — as well as venues.

Alpert saw these first moves as a kind of pilot program, to determine if the idea was even viable.

“I couldn’t answer every question; I just had to start,” she said.

Arts in L.A. Quarterly Calendar: Cultural events through November 2008


SEPTEMBER

Fri., Sept. 12
“A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People.” Angelenos can explore the legacy of one of the Catholic Church’s most beloved popes in a new Skirball Cultural Center exhibition. Through artifacts, photographs and audiovisual recordings that first appeared at Cincinnati’s Xavier University only weeks after the pope’s death in 2005, visitors can explore the life of Pope John Paul II and the historical and personal circumstances that led him to aggressively reach out to Jews worldwide. Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to enter a synagogue, recognize the State of Israel and formally apologize for the Catholic Church’s past treatment of the Jewish people. The Skirball will also offer several public programs related to the exhibition: an adult-education course on “Jesus and Judaism” and film adaptations of biblical epics, among others. Through Jan. 4. $10 (general admission), free to all on Thursdays. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.thenewlatc.com.

Sat., Sept. 13
“Speech & Debate.” The town is Salem, Ore., and, as in countless other American cities, teenagers are on the prowl for like-minded adolescents via the Internet. However, the three teenagers who find one another in “Speech & Debate” don’t just bond over music, books and movies, but are linked through a sex scandal that has rocked their community. The three adolescent misfits do what anyone else would to get to the bottom of the scandal: form their school’s first speech and debate team. Check out the West Coast premiere of the play, which critics are calling “flat-out funny.” 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun. Through Oct. 26. $22-$28. The Blank Theatre, 6500 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 661-9827. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.plays411.com/ragtime.

Sat., Sept. 13
Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival. Camarillo is offering visitors a one-day extravaganza filled with music, artists and gourmet food, all culminating in an evening concert under the stars. The 2008 Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival will include gospel and bluegrass music, a farmers’ market and more than 50 artists showcasing their work. By evening, retro-band Royal Crown Revue will warm the stage for a secret, Grammy-nominated headliner. 8 a.m. (farmers’ market), 10 a.m. (music and art walk). $20-$60. 2400 Ventura Blvd., Old Town Camarillo. (805) 484-4383. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.apla.org.

Fri., Sept. 19
“Back Back Back” at The Old Globe. There’s nothing poignant about professional athletes using steroids. Or is there? Old Globe playwright-in-residence Itamar Moses delves into the controversial topic and takes the audience beyond the newspaper headlines and congressional hearings to the sanctuary of sports — the locker room. With humor and insight, Moses unfolds the stories of three major league baseball players who struggle to compete in the unforgiving world of professional sports, as well as balance their personal lives and professional images. The up-and-coming playwright has “clearly demonstrated tremendous talent along with a willingness to tackle complex ideas in his plays,” said The Globe’s Executive Producer Lou Spisto. Moses’ other works include “The Four of Us,” which won the San Diego Critics’ Circle Best New Play Award last year and “Bach at Leipzig.” 8 p.m. Tue.-Sun. Through Oct. 26. $42-$59. Old Globe Arena Theatre, James S. Copley Auditorium, San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 234-5623. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.nhm.org.

Sun., Sept. 21
KCRW’S World Festival. A remarkable, eclectic lineup marks the last week of KCRW’s World Music Festival. Ozomatli toured the world, engaging audiences with its blend of Latin-, rock- and hip-hop-infused music, as well as its anti-war and human rights advocacy. The multiethnic group headlines this special night at the Hollywood Bowl, along with Michael Franti, a former member of the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and his latest band Spearhead. Mexican singer Lila Downs as well as Tijuana’s premiere electronic band, Nortec Collective and its members Bostich and Fussible, will make it impossible for anyone not to get something out of the mix. If you haven’t had the chance to catch this spectacular summer concert series, don’t miss this last opportunity. 7 p.m. $10-$96. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. (323) 850-2000. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lfla.org/aloud.

Wed., Sept. 24
Brad Meltzer signs “Book of Lies.” The New York Times best-selling mystery writer is back with a riveting new thriller that links the Cain and Abel story with the creation of Superman. Young Jerry Siegel dreamed up a bulletproof super man in 1932 when his father was shot to death. It may sound like a strange plotline, but trust Meltzer, who has written six other acclaimed page-turners as well as comic books and television shows, to produce a great read. The novel is already receiving major buzz and you can get in on the action in a variety of ways: By watching the trailer on Brad Meltzer’s Web site (yes, the book has a movie trailer), listening to the book’s soundtrack (yes, the book has a soundtrack) and by coming to a reading and book signing by the author. 7:30-9 p.m. Free. Barnes & Noble, 16461 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 380-1636. ” target=”_blank”>http://arts.pepperdine.edu.

Sat., Sept. 27
“Skinny Bitch: A Bun in the Oven.” If there is one thing that doesn’t ever get old, it’s mocking our own culture. Authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin do just that in their newly released “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven,” a sequel of sorts to their best-selling cookbook “Skinny Bitch.” The book is a guaranteed laugh riot and today’s in-store reading and signing could offer a sassy twist as the two authors show up in the flesh to dish about expecting mothers. And don’t be fooled, just because the subjects of this book are in a more fragile state of mind, Freedman and Barnouin refuse to make any exceptions to their insightful and illuminating critiques. 2 p.m. $14.95 (book price). Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (310) 659-3110. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.jamescolemanfineart.com.

Sat., Sept. 27
“Jack’s Third Show.” Long hair, dramatic eye shadow and electric guitars return for an ’80s afternoon. Billed as a benefit for autism education, radio station JACK-FM stages an edgy blend of retro and new wave rockers. Billy Idol joins Blondie, The Psychedelic Furs and Devo for a musical bash that will have you dancing all day long. 2 p.m. $29-$89. Verizon Amphitheater, 8808 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine. (213) 480-3232. ” target=”_blank”>http://www.931jackfm.com.

Sat., Sept. 27
Museum Day. Art and cultural institutions are hoping to attract folks from all walks of life by making them an offer that’s hard to refuse: free admission to museums across Southern California. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, this event gives art lovers and art novices alike the opportunity to visit venues from the Getty Center to the Craft and Folk Art Museum, free of charge. Natural history and science museums, like the California Science Center are also participating in the event. Regular parking fees do apply and advance reservations are recommended for some exhibitions. For a complete list of participating museums, visit ” target=”_blank”>http://www.museumsla.org/news/asp.

Sat., Sept. 27
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s 40th Season Opening Gala. L.A. Chamber Orchestra’s first musical director, Sir Neville Marriner, will conduct its current director, Jeffrey Kahane, in a piano solo to celebrate its 40th year. A symbolic bridge between the orchestra’s past and its future, expect to hear classical masters Beethoven, Schumann and Stravinsky, followed by dinner, dancing and a live auction for patrons. 6 p.m. $35-$125 (concert only), $750 (full package). The Ambassador Auditorium, 131 S. Saint John Ave., Pasadena. (213) 622-7001, ext. 215.

AJ Congress wowed; Shaare Zedek gets record donation; Koufax in the house


Woolsey Wows AJC

It was an extraordinary evening when the American Jewish Congress (AJC) honored former director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey at a black-tie gala dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel Dec. 10.

Woolsey received the AJC’s Jerusalem Award for his extensive work on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. The honor recognized Woolsey’s efforts in combating the United States and Israel’s reliance on oil from the Middle East. His work promoting energy independence has enhanced the security of the State of Israel and the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Woolsey’s political and legal career, including presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations, has reflected consistent environmental involvement. He has worked closely with the advisory boards of the Clean Fuels Foundation, the New Uses Council and the National Commission on Energy Policy. He had been adamant in his beliefs and said, “The United States cannot afford to wait for the next energy crisis to marshal its intellectual and industrial resources.”

Special guest of the evening was Richard Perle, former assistant secretary of defense during the Reagan administration. Perle is a former chair of the Defense Policy Board and has served on the board of advisers for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Shaare Zedek’s Healing

Dr. Norman Levan, a 90 year-old dermatologist in Bakersfield, donated a record-setting $5 million to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem to establish a Center for Humanistic Medicine.

The Dr. Norman Levan Center for Humanistic Medicine will seek out innovative and practical ways to further develop humanistic medicine within Shaare Zedek. The center will coordinate and host training seminars for staff from all departments within the hospital while helping to instill the importance of placing compassion as a primary objective in all interactions with patients and guests of the hospital.

In announcing Levan’s gift, professor Jonathan Halevy, Shaare Zedek director general, stated, “This most generous gift will allow us to further expand the legacy of compassionate care that has characterized Shaare Zedek for more than a century.

Levan’s contribution will enable the advancement and expansion of the medical center’s many existing programs.

Score one for the McCourts

The American Friends of Hebrew University hit a home run last week when they honored Dodgers co-owners Jamie and Frank McCourt with the prestigious Scopus Award. Former Vice President Al Gore showed his sense of humor as he spoke to the overflowing crowd in the Hilton Ballroom kibitzing and shooting barbs at Don Rickles, who’d entertained the crowd with his outrageous humor. Gore turned serious when praising the university, noting its three recent Nobel Prize-winning graduates as an example of “questioning intellect combined with a profound sense of moral purpose.”

Gore said he believes that love of knowledge has sustained the Jewish people through the ages and now Israel, as well. He said Israel possesses an abundant knowledge-based economy. Gore’s mood became somber when he turned the discussion to Iran, saying the world can’t ignore the threats and must be proactive, taking necessary action if talking fails.

Throughout the night, whispers of excitement were heard about the attendance of baseball legend Sandy Koufax, who presented the McCourts with their award. Vin Scully, hall of fame broadcaster and “voice of the Dodgers,” served as master of ceremonies.

The dress was formal, but the room was warm with generosity and good wishes as the event raised more than $3 million.

Open to Art

Rain and cold weather couldn’t deter several hundred people from attending the opening reception of the L.A. Art Association annual exhibition, “Open Show,” at Gallery 825 on Dec. 16. Collectors, artists, family members and friends crowded the gallery to view more than 1,400 works submitted by more than 400 California artists.

Only 61 works were selected by Ann Philbin, director of the UCLA Hammer Museum of Art, to be included in the exhibition. Two of the works were by Israeli-born American Sigal M. Bussel, who draws from her experiences in both countries. Bussel received an undergraduate degree from UCLA and a master’s from Harvard University.

The L.A. Art Association is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide opportunities, resources, services and exhibition venues for L.A. artists. Seen enjoying the exhibits were Danny DeVito and wife, Rhea Pearlman; actress Mindy Sterling, and Laurent and Bibiana Urich. The artworks will be on display until Jan. 20.

Not Just for Kids Anymore


Storyopolis, the children’s art gallery and bookstore, is kicking out children next week for a grownups-only project, an Artists’ Studio Series featuring the not-so-kid-friendly art created by children’s book illustrators they work with regularly.

While appealing to the 21-and-over crowd may seem a departure for the gallery, Storyopolis owner, Matthew Abromowitz, maintains it makes perfect sense.

“What I found out when I looked into the artists was that about 60 percent of them do editorial work for magazines and newspapers, too,” Abromowitz said. He said he believed their adult-oriented art deserved a forum as well.

Thursday’s catered exhibition will feature works by “Little Gorilla” author and illustrator Ruth Lercher Bornstein. Aside from “Little Gorilla” (Clarion Books, 2000), Bornstein is best-known for her books “The Dancing Man” (Houghton Mifflin, 1998) and “Rabbit’s Good News” (Houghton Mifflin, 1997). She has been a published children’s book writer and illustrator since 1972, but the septuagenarian also paints and does collage work inspired by her Jewish heritage and her personal experiences. The aftermath of World War II, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust are some themes she’s explored in her more adult work.

Launched on July 8, the Artists’ Studio Series will feature new art every two weeks in the store’s gallery space. One future exhibition will feature the work of Gennady Spirin, the illustrator of some 30 children’s books, including Madonna’s recently released “Yakov and the Seven Thieves” (Callaway Editions).

Free. 116 N. Robertson Blvd., Plaza Level A, Los
Angeles. R.S.V.P., (310) 358-2509.

Painter With a Camera


Robert Sturman said he never felt the need to observe Jewish rituals. Born in Los Angeles to Jewish parents, the 33-year-old photographer-painter said, “I would do anything to stand up for the Jews … but religion is a whole ‘nother story.”

Although he still doesn’t practice Judaism, a stop in Auschwitz-Birkenau in July 2002 intensified his Jewish identity. In his gallery book, “Reflections for the Soul” Sturman crafted four pieces of artwork that symbolize Jewish destruction and then triumph in war-torn Europe. Inspired by the pen drawings of prisoner artists, Mieczyslaw Koscielniak and Wladyslaw Siwek, Sturman sought to capture the haunted nature of the death camp.

Two days after Auschwitz, Sturman took photographs in Kazimierz, a small Jewish town in Krakow, Poland. He came upon a poster framed by flowers advertising a film about the remaining Jews in Poland. As he was shooting, Sturman was accosted by an undercover police officer who began ridiculing Jewish practices. For Sturman, who never experienced anti-Semitism first hand, the encounter made what he had seen in Auschwitz-Birkenau all the more real. Titled “Memory and Healing: Krakow, Poland,” the piece sends a message of life in contrast to his darker shots at the death camp.

There is fluidity to all of Sturman’s pieces, as if one is viewing the artwork submerged in water. He first captures his images using Instamatic film, and then carves into the surface of the film while the emulsion is still wet. Though his work looks more like an impressionistic painting, the brilliant colors and contrasts are not painted in, but testify to his skill in achieving the perfect lighting for his shots. While the artistic process is intricate, Sturman said that the art is in the subject and the message — not the techniques.

Now that his Jewish identity has been reinforced, Sturman has an overwhelming desire to do a series in the Holy Land.

“I want to celebrate the culture … eat falafel and drink Coca-Cola with Hebrew writing on it,” he said.

Robert Sturman’s gallery book is available through his
Web site. His next solo exhibition is in May 2004 at the Riskpress Gallery, 8533
Melrose Ave., Los Angeles.

Building the Perfect Painting


For local artist Rebecca Levy, building a body of work literally begins with the building. "Each one is different and has a charm of its own," Levy said of her fascination with edifices from all over the world. "Rebecca Levy: A Visual Wanderer’s Retrospective," a one-woman show opening Sept. 16 at The Workmen’s Circle’s A Shenere Velt Gallery, invites the public to take in the angles and archways, doorways and dormers that populate her paintings.

Levy, who moved to Los Angeles from New York many decades ago, has produced numerous paintings based on edifices that caught her eye during her travels with her late husband, Herbert. Subjects include buildings in Mexico City, Rome and Amsterdam. One intriguing painting is a based on a photograph inside a El Salvadorian church, where a mother and child sit in one corner, while a lone man sits across the aisle. Another painting depicts a storybook house that used to stand before the Beverly Center was erected in the early 1980s.

"As we were traveling, I was really attracted to the architecture," Levy said. "It really struck me that the people who build them don’t live in them."

Levy admits that she is not particularly religious, and yet the nonarchitectural, abstract and figurative paintings that fill her home convey a Chagallesque spiritual whimsy.

While there are gems among the exhibit, many of her best works will not be in the show. But the good news is that the Workmen’s Circle is the first of a slew of art connoisseurs with interest in displaying her work.

Levy has plenty of architectural paintings ahead of her, and despite her incredible view of the Grove from her living room window, "I never approached the Farmer’s Market," she said with a twinkling smile.

"Rebecca Levy: A Visual Wanderer’s Retrospective," Sept. 16- Oct. 10, The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring’s A Shenere Velt Gallery, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. Levy will appear at a Sept. 20 reception, 4-7 p.m. For more information, call (310) 552-2007.

The Art of the Matter


When artist Ted Meyer was first diagnosed with Gaucher disease, a lipid-storage disorder that is the most common genetic disease affecting Jews of Eastern European descent, he used his artistic talents to express his pain.

Now fully recovered due to breakthroughs in treatment, the 44-year-old, who is also a designer, illustrator and the author of two books, reflects on the progression of his work in relation to the course of his illness.

In October, Meyer’s two exhibits, "Structural Abnormalities" and "Scars" will be on display at the Biola University Art Gallery in La Mirada. The artist began the former series about 10 years ago when his illness was in full swing. Gaucher disease, caused by a genetic mutation, primarily consists of bone pain and damage to the shoulder or hip joints as a result of an enzyme deficiency. Meyer had a hip replacement and will undergo another this November, although he is now healthy and receives enzyme replacement every two weeks.

Although his illness has been compared to Tay-Sachs because of its association with Jews, Meyer doesn’t relate Gaucher disease to his religion. "It doesn’t come into play because African Americans have Tay-Sachs. I just see it as evolution," said Meyer, who said he feels "culturally Jewish, but not religiously Jewish."

"Structural Abnormalities" depicts images of skeletons crouching and kneeling, as if locked inside the boundaries of the canvas. "I started the skeleton paintings about six months before I had my first hip replacement done. I was at the point where I couldn’t walk very well and I felt very trapped in my own body," explained the New York native. "So, I started these contorted, painful skeletal images. Many of them are sort of compressed, which is how I felt." As his symptoms subsided, the figures in the series became rounder and fuller than the earlier works. Most of them also include more than one person, symbolizing the end of his own isolation.

"I started bringing in the outside world," Meyer said. "I was healthy and I wanted to be excited about that." Several paintings from "Structural Abnormalities" were included in the high-profile "eMotion Pictures" exhibit, which toured the Chicago Cultural Center, the United Nations and is currently continuing its U.S. tour.

Meyer’s second series, "Scars," was inspired by a woman he dated who had an 18-inch scar from when she broke her back and, as a result, was wheelchair bound. "I would see her back at night as we slept," he remembered. "I liked the shape of the scar." Meyer felt the visible memory of the wound revealed his friend’s strength and uniqueness. He took an imprint of the scar and then created a painting, which he felt was, in essence, a portrait of the woman herself. "It really marked where her life had changed," he said.

Meyer’s girlfriend encouraged him to reach out to others, as she was very active in the disabled community. "She really got on my case and felt that I lost touch with my psyche because I was now healthy and I wasn’t relating." Meyer first displayed his new piece in the Art Walk, an exhibit at Brewery, the world’s largest artist complex, located in Los Angeles, which he has called home for the last five years. People were fascinated by the piece and even approached him with their own scars and the stories behind them. From there, Meyer began a collection of the scar paintings.

While he admits that his work doesn’t appeal to everyone, most art enthusiasts feel the paintings are very powerful. For those who have had surgery, viewing Meyer’s work can be cathartic.

"I’ve had people come to the studio and just break out crying," Meyer said. "That’s what every artist wants: To resonate with people." The upcoming exhibit will include 16 pieces from the series.

As for the scar bearers, the experience of seeing reminders of their past pain transferred to the canvas has been a positive one: "Many people say, ‘I never thought anything good could come from this scar and now it’s going to be art,’" Meyer revealed.

As his work progressed over the years, he feels he’s able to reach out to others in a way he was once unable. "My art work has gone from being very ‘Ted-centric’ to being about everyone else," the artist said.

Ted Meyer’s exhibits can be seen at Biola University Art
Gallery, 13800 Biola Ave., La Mirada, Oct. 7-27; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. (Monday-Friday),
noon-5 p.m. (Saturday). Meyer will be at the gallery Oct. 8 from 6-9 p.m. For
more information, call (562) 903-4807. For more on Meyer’s artwork, visit www.artyourworld.com .