7 Days in the Arts

Saturday the 2nd

This weekend represents a final opportunity to view two Skirball Center multimedia exhibitions. “Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography” presents photos, video and multimedia pieces by emerging and mid-career artists, exploring the theme of Jewish identity. “L.A. River Reborn” focuses in closer to home, on the Los Angeles River and the relationship between society and the environment.

Through Sept. 3. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500. ” border = 0 align = left vspace = 6 hspace = 6 alt = “”>

Monday the 4th

This Labor Day the Workmen’s Circle hosts an opening reception for “Peter Whittenberg: Prints,” an exhibition of politically minded graphic art. The decidedly adult-only show features Whittenberger’s recurring character, Robert P. Vonruenhousen IV, who has male sex organs for a head, and represents what the artist feels is wrong with America today.

5-7 p.m. Free. 1525 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 552-2007. ” TARGET=”_blank”>www.thelikud.org.

Wednesday the 6th

Community spirit can be found at the Robertson Branch Library tonight. Families and kids of all ages are invited for “Neighbors Celebrating Neighbors: An Evening of Music and Stories.” The event features Uncle Ruthie Buell of KPFK, children’s book author Barney Saltzberg ,singer and recording artist Tiana Marquez and singer Tonyia Jor’dan.

6:30 p.m. Free. 1719 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles. (310) 840-2147.

Thursday the 7th

The Academy does it short and sweet, this week. The Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is the largest fest of its kind. Included among this year’s films are “George Lucas in Love,” directed by Joe Nussbaum (“American Pie 5: The Naked Mile”) and “In God We Trust,” by Jason Reitman, director of “Thank You For Smoking” and son of director Ivan.

Sept. 5-14. ArcLight Cinemas, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. ” align = right vspace = 6 hspace = 6 border = 0 alt = “”>
Homage is paid to the brothers Gershwin in the 1983 Tony-winner “My One and Only.” Head to UCLA’s Freud Playhouse to see Reprise’s production of this “Funny Face” adaptation, that also includes Gershwin music from other sources.

Sept. 5-17. $60-$75 (single tickets), $165-$195 (season tickets). Macgowan Hall, UCLA, Westwood. (310) 825-2101.

Big Apple Of His Eye

He was the guy with all the good lines. The late Saul Steinberg helped establish The New Yorker magazine as a purveyor of visual excellence. "Art of the Spirit," an exhibit at The Jewish Federation running through Dec. 15, is a welcome reminder of the late illustrator’s visual wit.

For nearly six decades, Steinberg’s art became a graphic trademark of The New Yorker. Most famous for his "View of the World From Ninth Avenue," a snooty, poster-ready geographic graphic that gave us a New Yorker’s worldview of the United States (New York = cultured, bustling; Rest of country = barren, barely registering), the artist took magazine illustration to Empire State Building heights. In 1966, he became artist-in-residence at the Smithsonian Institution.

Born in 1914 in Romania, where his father’s cardboard factory produced matzah boxes, Steinberg shifted from studying philosophy in Bucharest to architecture at Milan’s Politecnico. From architectural drafting, Steinberg gleaned a linear precision and a profound understanding of creating complex three-dimensional forms from spare two-dimensional lines. Steinberg applied this approach to cartoons he created for the satirical biweekly Bertoldo. By the time Steinberg left in 1940 — a move expedited by Fascist Italy’s anti-Jewish laws — his drawings surfaced in Life and Harper’s Bazaar. In 1942, while awaiting entry to America, Steinberg began illustrating for The New Yorker — what became a nearly six-decade association that produced 85 covers and 600 drawings before his death on May 12, 1999, at age 84.

You don’t need much backstory to enjoy the images Steinberg created during his 1984, 1993 and 1997 visits to West Hollywood’s Gemini G.E.L. The Melrose Avenue publishing workshop, founded in 1966 by Sidney Felsen, Stanley Grinstein and Kenneth Tyler, donated the "Spirit" collection, which includes "North Dakota," featuring a horizon where the sky is humorously busier than the plains; and the 1997 "Gogol" series, which comically captures — in six- and seven-color etchings — Russian Revolution poet Nikolai Gogol in a gendarmes-like uniform.

Also included: prints by Jonathan Borofsky and beat poet Allen Ginsberg, whose busy doodlefests — "The Ballad of the Skeletons" and "Harry Smith’s Birthday Party," which were created before Ginsberg’s 1997 death — nicely complement Steinberg’s sketches.

"Art of the Spirit" runs through Dec. 15 at the Bell Family Gallery, The Jewish Federation Goldsmith Center, 6505 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. By appointment only, (323) 761-8352.