Roaring Good Fun Lights Up the LA Zoo

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Now through January 8th, join the roar and wonder of lights at L.A. Zoo Lights. The Los Angeles Zoo’s now-traditional, always dazzling holiday offering is a justifiably popular replacement for the DWP Holiday Light Festival, a drive through that once called Griffith Park home.

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The Zoo display is a delightful crowd pleaser, with a cheerful color palette, a rain forest canopy, recycled water bottles recreated as illuminated frogs – all fantastic fun for all ages. Adults, babies in strollers – grab a churro or a hot chocolate or cocktail and enjoy.

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Silver birds soar through one of our favorite sections, all purple lights and shimmering mirrored disco balls.

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Flamingos as lithe as pink musical notes hop; neon meerkats dazzle.

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Entering along a path lit by large glowing holiday ornaments sets the stage for what’s to come, an animal-centric, whimsical display of illuminated critters.

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In a new and more easily viewable location this year are crowd-favorites like elephant statues illuminated with a changing pattern of designs from Christmas sweaters to sparkling lights to tribal markings. Santa and his live reindeer continue to charm children.

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Below, LAIR

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The now-open LAIR reptile house makes a fascinating stop and a good way to step out of chilly night air. Friendly docents explain what these nocturnal critters do.

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Around the corner an even more spectacular water and light show this year runs in fifteen minute intervals, creating glowing surreal images out of the mist.

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Palm trees become multi-colored and fanciful, a parade of Christmas trees vies for attention with alligators and rhinos, and there are tunnels of lights leading into and out of the Hollywood scene that concludes the exhibit, with a Hollywood-premiere red carpet, and illuminated images of the Hollywood Bowl, freeways, and Capitol records.

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Two hours allows for a leisurely look and a quick cup of cocoa, stay longer to visit Santa.

L.A. Zoo Lights runs 7 days a week through January 8th, from 6 to 10 p.m. , closed December 24 and 25. Don’t miss the Family New Year’s Eve celebration, with express entry to L.A. Zoo Lights, a dinner buffet with soft drinks and dessert, a carousel ride, games, DJ dance party, and live broadcast of the Times Square ball drop.

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More details and tickets can be found here. The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Dr. in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos Genie Davis, Jack Burke

Feeling Blue? The Loft at Liz’s Has What You Need

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Above: artist Gary Brewer

Feeling blue? Then it’s time to immerse yourself in the wondrous rush of the color, emotion, and vibrations of blue at Loft at Liz’s. The show features the work of artists

Brad Howe
Angel Chen
Gary Brewer
Barbara Kolo
Shana Mabari
Miguel Osuna
Stephen Rowe
June Edmonds
Campbell Laird
Moses Hacmon
Bertil Petersson
Michael Hayden
Crystal Fischett

Blue is a seminal show, a rush of sky, sea, flowers, planets, windows to the spirit. The only question is, how blue are you?

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Above, Gary Brewer’s work evokes both water and light,  a moment captured in freeze frame, motion and emotion, both transcendent and incandescent. It’s a love affair with the color of spirit. His “Alchemical Language,” above, is alive and transformational.

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Above and below, the work of June Edmonds.  “Aquatic Pastoral” and “Royal Roost.” Like a feathered kaleidoscope, Edmonds spins viewers into her richly textured work.

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Above, Miguel Osuna dazzles with a vortex of blue light, a planet spinning outward. The oil on canvas work is both fragile and strong, something gestating.

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Above, Angel Chen gives us stoneware, earthenware, sculptures that capture a wave, a seahorse, a goddess, a portal, blue coral – fossils that represent the color blue, glorious stepping stones into another dimension.

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Above, Brad Howe’s abstract blue sculpture is built of stainless steel, aluminum, and urethane, 23 separate pieces linked like mysterious alien musical notes.

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Above and below, Barbara Kolo creates Sky, Harbor, Tide in ink and colored pencil so rich that they appear, at first glance to be paint. These shades are like a Rorschach test for color. Each piece has an inward glow.

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Below, Gary Brewer with wife and artist Aline Mare (Mare has her own exhibition across the street from Loft at Liz’s at the Jill Joy Gallery).

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Below, power art couple Osceola Refetoff and Shana Nys Dambrot.

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Above, Michael Hayden uses encaustic mixed media to create, in his words, “rough, smooth, bright, dark –  in my mind the kind of way that it works for me.” Using resin and beeswax melted together contrasts the burlap and thin layers of wax over burlap.  “I’m so attracted to the ever-changing, hypnotic horizon line. You never get tired of getting lost on the horizon line. I just moved from West Hollywood to the Marina just to experience it.” Viewers can experience it in his art, which also employs silver leaf for high gloss and shine.

Not pictured but equally powerful are the works of Campbell Laird – his resin film print Blue Beneath the Pier, Venice CA is a stunner; Stephen Rowe, who uses dots, lines, and a pointillist technique to create acrylic on canvas works of complex abstraction; Crystal Fischeti’s geometric blue acrylic and oil pieces which have the quality of stained glass; Moses Hacmon’s archival pigment on aluminum panels which capture the wonders of the deep; Bertil Persson’s painted steel and lucite cubes; and Lauren Kasmer’s mesmerizing silk and chiffon dresses and jackets as wearable blue art.

Go for the color of creation…and check out Kasmer’s exciting December 8th presentation of Not So Blue, an evening  of small bites, R&B, hip-hop, video, and wearable art. The event is free but be generous – donations benefit two local charitable organizations dedicated to feeding and sheltering women and children in need.

Loft at Liz’s is located at 453 S. La Brea Ave., and the show itself runs through January 9th.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke

Mardi de Veuve Alexis: Abstraction as Perfection

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According to abstract artist Mardi de Veuve Alexis, her art “often evolves from an emotional response I have to current events and the human condition.” Using patterns and texture in works of mixed media and collage, Alexis creates intricately layered themes and palettes that burst with shape; as tactile as they are transformational.

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Born and raised in California, Alexis studied art and design at UCLA, and has been painting for more than a decade. Exhibiting and traveling internationally, she’s found “the freedom to express without judgment or boundaries. Thoughts and ideas spill out on canvas, panel, or paper as drawings, layered patterns, shapes, colors and textures that are merged, transformed and energized with paint, papers, mylar and other elements.”

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Her work is often a study in contrasts. Witness her recent “After the Earthquake,” a mixed media collage in which houses, boats, and humans float in delicate drawings riven by thick black and brown sinewy lines. Thinner lines that look like a tangle of electric wires also emerge from the contrast of curved and harsh shapes. While everything is askew, it is also transformed, there is a grace in the chaos.

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Such peace in the middle of change appears often in Alexis’ work. Her “Santa Fe Cool” is an example. It uses more pastel shades and plays like visual jazz, blossoming from patterns of pale lime green, pink, and a splash of bright magenta. Curves that could be human forms, thin black lines, and above all else, a vibrating energy reminds the viewer of puzzle pieces coalescing. However, the predominant feeling is one of serenity in the midst of change.

“I love working with contrasting as well as complementary textures and patterns by combining various materials in my work, both organic and man-made,” Alexis says. “ Irregular lines and remnants of ripped paper or newsprint, fabric, tree bark and the coarse hairs of a palm tree become exciting designs and focal points – their beauty recast. Even those irregular globular shapes from thickly dried acrylic have become abstract elements on their own accord.”

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Her “Cocoon” looks like a butterfly about to explode its boundaries. Bright aqua, amber, and a rich black divide what could be stained glass, feathers or butterfly wings, something about to ripen, about to be birthed. There is the tension of waiting, of a happening, of a precipice about to be crossed, but again there is a sense of stillness.

“I’m inspired by nature and diverse cultures. Human emotion, expressions of joy, sadness and despair capture my attention and are often revealed in my work,” Alexis explains.

The artist’s current works are created on canvas, panel, and paper, with collage elements adding an extra layer of depth and exploration to her images.

One of the most interesting aspects of Alexis’ work is a feeling of vibration emanating from them. As already mentioned, some remind the viewer of visualized jazz, or of the calm and craziness of giving birth, gestation, tumult and transcendence.

Working with acrylic, charcoal and mixed media, Alexis defines her work in shapes, lines, patterns, and palette.

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Feel the hum of power and persistence in “Pecking Order,” in which a bird with a red wing on the right of the work is poised before a jungle of black, aqua, and red. Within that jungle are forms that could be the clenched fingers of a human hand, a portal to another dimension, an open window, a closing door. These abstract shapes pull the eye from the otherwise dominant bird into the void, into a promise of meaning. Is the bird trying to get in, to get out, to crack the shell that contains existence itself?

Many of Alexis’ works incorporate animal or human shapes, almost totemic figures; there’s a swirl inside of which an unseen meaning spins, circling in and out of the viewer’s vision, something magical and captured almost at the edge of understanding.

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The shapes are more defined and geometric in Alexis’ “Behind the Scenes,” where circles, triangles, and squares float through what could be a world inside our own world in this acrylic and collage work on wood panel.

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“My new body of work is inspired by an evolving local urban environment, urbanization as a condition, and contemporary culture,” Alexis says. “There is the noise and energy of new construction. Resulting structures are rising vertically to unexpected new heights, marginalizing once amply sun lit creative spaces. Graffiti of all shapes and sizes most often depicted on the grey backdrop of concrete has become rampant as an exciting urban art form communicating an evolving cultural diversity. This is change and evolution, disturbing and exciting at the same time.”

Disturbing and exciting could also describe the artist’s own work. See for yourself: viewers are compelled to study, assess, and in the end simply succumb to the inchoate pull of Alexis’ art.

A Taste of Honey: Still Sweet

 

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A Taste of Honey, now at the Odyssey Theatre through November 27th is a deeply felt revival of a 1958 classic. Directed by Kim Rubenstein, the once shocking Shelagh Delaney play is in firm hands, with innovative staging and a terrific cast.

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On paper the play sound like a sad but pulpy tale. Teenage Jo (Kestrel Leah) is left by her mother Helen (Sarah Underwood) when the latter runs off with her latest paramour,  uncouth but moneyed Peter (Eric Hunicutt). Left unattended, Jo has an affair with a handsome black sailor Jimmie (Gerard Joseph), becomes pregnant, and with both mother and lover MIA, invites a tender, caring gay friend, Geoff (Leland Montgomery) to live with her. He’s ready to help her raise her baby until mama, rejected by her lover, decides to move back in.

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That Geoff’s character even existed as a serious and admirable member of the cast was shocking in 1958, now it hardly stands out. What does remain vigorous and noteworthy is the sharp and pointed dialog,  and the show’s equally-groundbreaking-at-the-time breaking of the 4th wall, as characters address the audience, and here interact with a live trio on set.

The music and the lighting here adds a quality of hip, slightly surreal, and intrinsically contemporary gravitas to the production, which is very much rooted to it’s setting in the U.K., and it’s time period.

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Yes, the story is the stuff of melodrama and neither the sexual orientation nor race of the characters are cutting edge today. All the same, this is a story of tragedy, loss, birth, death, and the potential, perhaps lost, for redemption. That makes it classic, rather than dated; and the Odyssey’s production is a fine showcase for the play. Directing and performances are both top rate, adding new lustre to an old jewel.

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The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. on the west side. Performances run 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays (also 8 p.m. some Wednesdays and Thursdays) through Nov. 27th.