After It Happened – Invertigo Dance Theatre Thrills

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Los Angeles contemporary dance company Invertigo Dance Theatre is awe-inspiring. With sinuous movements that seem to defy gravity and the human body, an enthralling flow of dance and a testament to the human spirit ignites audiences in After It Happened.

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Choreographed and directed by artistic director Laura Karlin, the beautiful, poignant story of the aftermath of a natural disaster is a vibrant and involving 90 minute performance that’s truly a must-see. Playing at the newly re-opened Ford Theaters on Cahuenga September 30th only,  After It Happened will also be performed in Santa Barbara October 22 and 23 and is well worth the drive.  We saw the dress rehearsal tonight, and were as blown away as if a hurricane or tidal wave had carried us.

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Originally sold out when performed in 2014 (see photo directly above), the production chronicles what occurs in a community as it rebuilds following an unspecified natural disaster. The community is near the sea – awash in blue light, with fishing, boating, and triumphant performer/waves appearing at certain points in the production.

Even during light-heartened moments there is a tinge of deep seated sorrow underpinning the often-ecstatic choreography, as this isolated community turns to its own members for the strength to rise again.

Artistic director Karlin wrote the story as well as creating the dances through which its told – in what she describes as “an intensely collaborative” effort.

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The piece opens with the occurrence of the disaster, moves through clean-up, disaster-porn tourism, robbery out of hunger, the rise – and fall – of dictatorship, rebuilding, illness, and the memories nearly lost in the terrible destruction of a place that was once home. Ending with a spirit of renewal and rebirth for the devastated community, the performance is nothing if not redemptive; both story and choreography are transformative.

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This is the second piece I’ve seen from Invertigo, the first being last year’s relationship story,  Reeling. Like Reeling, the production is an incredibly intense, truly jaw-dropping spectacle of human movement, one that wrings emotion from viewers and serves up inspiration to compensate. To create the living sculptural art that are these dancers bodies is no small feat, to infuse this performance art of the highest order with such heartfelt, political and emotional substance is rare indeed.

But above all, Invertigo offers pure pleasure: through modern, eclectic dance, contemporary live music and song, imaginative costumes and set design. As a side note,  John Burton, the company’s set designer worked with the community at large and CAFAM in the creation of collaborative set pieces such as a tree that grows and blossoms in the back of the stage.

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And beyond the wonder that Invertigo shapes, there is the fact that the company supports such terrific causes. Invertigo offers engagement programs such as Invert/ED youth education and Dancing Through Parkinson’s. “We believe in empowering people through the creative process ,and the idea that dance is for everybody and every body,” Karlin has said.

As to After It Happened, the performance is an experience – of heart and soul, mind and body. The compact, rehabilitated Ford amphitheater setting adds to the vibrance of the production, but frankly it could be performed in a parking lot and lose none of its wonder.

Fan of performance art? Dance? Fine music? Subtle but seductive stage design? Then hurry to the Ford Theaters or plan a late October drive north to Santa Barbara – you won’t want to miss the visceral impact and adrenaline-rich excitement of After It Happened – get there before, not after, the show.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Invertigo and Genie Davis

 

 

West Hollywood Public Library: 5th Anniversary Bash

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What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a party and other free events? On Friday September 30th and Saturday October 1st there will be mix of activities including a Friday evening panel, festivities all Sunday afternoon, and the opportunity to view library artworks.

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The library opened October 1st 2011, a heralded architectural structure that has become a destination renowned for its art installations, cultural programs, and events as well as providing a terrific space for reading and working. The building includes the 32,000-square-foot library itself, a strong commitment to the community’s passion for life-long learning. The structure also holds the City Council Chambers and public meeting rooms, CATV facilities, and 2.5 acres of green and open space; tennis courts and two municipal garages complete the space.

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Friday at 7 p.m., there will be a panel presentation titled “Do Libraries Have a Future.” The presentation promises to be a lively discussion created by a partnership between the City of West Hollywood’s continuing literary and author series and Zócalo Public Square. Zócalo is a non-profit organization that often partners with educational, cultural, and philanthropic institutions. Topics include how librarians have enlightened generations of readers and researchers, and what purpose libraries have going forward, when so much information is available on smart phones and computers with a simple click.

Panelists include the former director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services Susan Hildreth, Director of the Center for the Future of Libraries at the American Library Association Miguel Figueroa, and UCLA Deputy Librarian Susan Parker. Together they’ll explore just how libraries can keep their mission relevant by resetting their purpose in our connected, online world. Following the panel, there will be a reception and further time for discussion with panelists. Seats can be reserved – although reservations are not required – by visiting http://www.weho.org/residents/arts-and-culture/weho-reads-2016. The event will be held in the West Hollywood Park Public Meeting Room/Council Chambers at the library.

All ages are welcome at the library’s Saturday festivities. At 11 a.m. children will enjoy a special birthday-themed reading hosted by BookPALS in the library’s Children’s Theater. BookPALS is a children’s literacy program of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Foundation, providing gifted union performers as storytellers.
Attendees will receive free books from the West Hollywood Library – a lasting party favor indeed.

They’ll also receive books at the 12 p.m. soundSpark concert of live experimental music sure to get young hands clapping. The performance will be held in the theater as well. The concert will be presented by the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS), a catalyst for the creation, presentation, and recognition of experimental art and sound practices in the Los Angeles area.

The main event: a birthday party in the library’s community meeting room from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Treats and activities include, of course, birthday cakes and refreshments, plus special giveaways. Adults and kids alike will enjoy a crafts table, a caricaturist, henna tattooing, and face painting activities. For entertainment, there will be an eclectic mix of juggler, magician and balloon artist.

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Attendees can also see art works on display in the library, including Pat York’s current exhibition of photography, Worth A Thousand Words: Portraits of Artists and Writers. Also on display are Mr. Brainwash’s “Heart Sculpture;” as a part of the city’s Urban Art Program, “Peace, Freedom, and Creativity” by Shepard Fairey displayed in the Council Chambers lobby, and David Wiseman’s “Platanus biliotechalis” exhibited in the atrium staircase. Three Art in the Streets murals are on view on the sides of the library’s parking structure, installed as a part of MOCA’s Art in the Streets exhibition and created by Kenny Scharf, RETNA, and Shepard Fairey.

All this and books, too. The events take place at the library which is located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., in West Hollywood. Help the city celebrate!

The Ice Cream Man Cometh

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On the first day of fall, it’s appropriate to write about a closing exhibition that was all summer. At the end of July, in the height of an LA heat wave, artist Gregory Siff had a pretty amazing exhibition in his own workspace with a closing party we were delighted to attend, one that drew throngs to see his work and taste the flavors of an East Coast summer. Egg cream anyone?

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Gregory Siff, right, with author.

This is an artist to look for, with cool-as-ice-cream style that makes a sweet treat for art lovers.

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“The focus of this idea came from growing up in Rockaway Beach, New York. The more I did work in LA, the more I felt like the ice cream man at the beach. People came to my shows, the come to modern day artists like they’re the ice cream man with a menu of different choices,” he explains. “I was trying to figure out what I could do not to lose that kind of fervor from people, the kind you feel following the ice cream truck around when you’re a kid. I first followed it, now I drive it,” Siff said.

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“The periodic table here represents all the things I see in myself and in you,” he explained. In short: his art is not just about himself, it’s also about the viewer. What he sees, you see. And like that ice cream truck with the chocolate jimmy soft serve, you want to see more.

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Siff said of this show “I went away from doing abstracts. I wanted to take departure from symbols and faces, I wanted to do something different here, so I used many materials. For a recent piece, “Truth,” I burned sage into the acrylic. I love to use whatever is int he moment. If I’m drinking champagne, I want to add that.”

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Asked what’s next for the artist, he replied “I want to combine what everyone ever loved about me with the unknown. I want to uncover the truth. It’s always the greatest hits with artists. I am very experimental, I’m in a very experimental spot right now with no rules.”

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Siff worked here in unmixed pigment from Italy, new materials that “explode, not with a brush, but pressed into the surface, breaking into new areas.” A number of his works feature ink, acrylic, and chalk.

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Above, Siff turns a jacket to art. Below, party DJ rocks out.

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Siff aims for pleasure – the vibe of LA, and the vibe of his art.

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It’s not just the ice-cream theme that makes Siff’s work cool, it’s the mix of materials, styles, and edgy fun.

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So summer is over – yes, even in LA – but that doesn’t mean you can’t follow the ice cream truck around. Watch for Gregory Siff as he rings that artistic bell.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke

Corey Helford Gallery: Spectacular Anniversary Show Closes this Saturday

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Crashing into the art scene ten years ago, Corey Helford Gallery has always served up fascinating shows.

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There is pretty much only one way to describe the 10th Anniversary Gala Group Exhibition now at Corey Helford Gallery in DTLA – and that’s spectacular. So don’t miss the chance to turn out for this feast of an exhibition, closing this week.

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Featuring the work of a wide variety of artists exhibited at Corey Helford over the years, “Ten Years of Amazing Artists:  Corey Helford Gallery and Friends Celebrate!” is a terrific retrospective, a kaleidoscopic survey created by curated by Jan Corey Helford & Caro of the diverse artists shown here.

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Making great use of the gallery’s grand 12,000-square-feet of space, artists showing include Chris Anthony, Caia Koopman, Carlos Ramos, Gary Baseman, Camille Rose Garcia , Ron English, Shag (Josh Agle), Andrew Brandou, Korin Faught, Natalia Fabia, Kinsey , Lola , Simone Legno (Tokidoki) ,Kukula (Nataly Abramovitch) , Luke Chueh, Buff Monster, Van Arno, Sarah Folkman, Sylvia Ji, Brandi Milne, Joey Remmers, David Stoupakis, Annie Owens, Jason Shawn Alexander, Henry Lewis, Eric Joyner, D* Face, Chloe Early, Greg Gossel, Colin Christian, Nouar ,Michael Mararian, Ray Caesar, Sas Christian, Mike Stilkey, Adam Wallacavage, Michael Page, Eine , Billy Norrby, Tom Bagshaw, Shawn Barber, Risk , Kazuki Takamatsu, Erik Mark Sandberg, Victor Castillo, Beau Stanton, Richard J Oliver, Ben Frost, Soey Milk, Hikari Shimoda, Jennybird Alcantara , PETER GRONQUIST , Nicomi Nix Turner , HUEMAN , Redd Walitzki , Yosuke Ueno , Herakut , Naoto Hattori , Lu Cong , R. Leveille ,Hannah Yata , Lori Nelson , Joanne Nam , Travis Lampe , Brian Donnelly , Hirabayashi Takahiro , Kisung Koh , Mary Jane Ansell , Kelsey Beckett , Logan Hicks , Sarah Dolby , Carlo Cane , Joe Hengst , Okuda , Nathan James , Mikael Takacs , Mandy Cao , Miho Hirano , Adrian Cox , Lauren Marx , Yasuyo Fujibe , Stephanie Inagaki , Amandine Urruty , Stickymonger , Sarah Emerson , Riikka Hyvönen , Pip & Pop , Nicole Gordon , Meredith Marsone , Mara Light , Lauren YS , Kris Lewis , Lala Abaddon , Kristen Liu-Wong , Keun Young Park , Joey Bates , Jean-Paul Mallozzi , Haroshi , Heidi Taillefer , Ewa Pronczuk-Kuziak , Alessia Iannetti , Scott Musgrove , Amy Fry , Scott Hove , Olivia De Berardinis , Ian Francis , Glazed Paradise , Jonathan Viner , Marion Peck , Nigel Cox , Handiedan , Glazed Paradise (Mark Jenkins & Sandra Fernandez).

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Culling from the gallery’s catalog of artists, the show highlights an emphasis on the cutting edge, the surreal, the subversive, and the simply beautiful.

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The gallery grew from a personal collection of Jan Corey Helford, who founded the gallery with husband Bruce. Previously housed in Culver City, the larger space has led to richer shows, with space not merely filled but with art work but space used to create an immersive experience of pop surrealism, street art, and all works contemporary.

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So sit back and enjoy a look at some of the stellar pieces that represent the gallery’s exhibitions over the years, then head downtown for the closing this weekend.

The beautiful photos here are all from the camera of Jack Burke.

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Corey Helford Gallery is located at 571 Anderson Street in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke