‘Tis the Season – for Winter Sounds in West Hollywood

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The season has arrived – for holidays, the winter solstice, gift-buying frenzies, but best of all, for Winter Sounds, the city of West Hollywood’s free indoor concert series.

This year, three Saturday evening concerts are on tap, beginning this weekend, on December 2nd, with the smooth sounds of Jennifer Leitham and her holiday jazz show.  A world-renowned jazz bassist, composer, and vocalist, Leitham has played on upwards of 140 albums, including ten of her own. She’s performed with Mel Torme, Doc Severinsen, Peggy Lee, and k.d. lang, among others, and is the subject of  the award-winning film I Stand Corrected, a documentary about her public gender transition from John to Jennifer. At Winter Sounds, she’ll perform both warm holiday classics and standards.

Come January, when the holiday rush has settled down, listeners will have something to “hear” forward to – Paris Chansons French and Russian classics, on January 20th.  Los Angeles’ premiere French and international band, Paris Chansons offers original renditions of favorites from Aznavour, Brel, Dassin, Piaf and Montand, as well as songs by contemporary artists including Zax.  Their exhilarating performances feature four multilingual singers and keyboard, violin, bass, guitar, and drums . Along with international classics, traditional jazz standards will be on tap as Paris Chansons leads listeners on a global journey that may make you want to get up and dance. 

And February 17th, enjoy the American jazz standards of the Peter Kavanaugh Quartet.  A guitarist, bandleader and composer, Kavanaugh interprets jazz standards and popular American songs with a smoothly sophisticated take that’s infused with West Coast jazz. His upbeat sound features electric guitar and vibraphone as he transports listeners to the leisurely swing of post-war, mid-century-modern Southern California, and adds in unexpected thrills like Bossa Nova, blues, bop, and gypsy jazz.

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The concerts each begin at 5 p.m., offering an hour and fifteen minutes of scintillating sounds. All concerts are held at the West Hollywood Park Public Meeting Room/City Council Chambers at the West Hollywood Library; seating is first come, first served. 

The Library is located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd. Free validated parking is available for the multi-story parking structure adjacent to the library.

Winter Sounds is sponsored by the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts program.  Click here for an online listing of the 2017-2018 Winter Sounds concerts.

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Zoo Lights: Dazzling Displays and Nocturnal Creatures

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The Los Angeles Zoo’s now-traditional, always dazzling holiday offering, Zoo Lights, is back through January 7th. With live reindeer, a beautifully decorated Santa stop on select dates, and GLAZA’s opulent carousel to ride, this is a family fest that shouldn’t be missed.

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Above, a new LED-lit tree at the Zoo Lights entrance.

This year, tots in tow really got into the act, dancing to the holiday music, saying “Wow” to the lustrous display.

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Favorite sections of the show return this year, such as the purple lights and disco balls, the pink flamingos, the almost other-worldly green and orange ornaments with sparkling green lights dancing over the ramp that visitors can use instead of steps to enter the zoo.

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Awarded USA Today’s “10 Best Zoo Lights” honors in 2015 and 2016 and nominated again this year,  new features include a musical holiday tree, a re-designed water show, and a beautiful Northern Lights series of animal constellations.

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The finale – after passing through a more-dazzling-than-ever glittering tunnel, replaces the tribute to Hollywood visuals with a new Wild Wonderland that highlights endangered and vulnerable animal species. Faux snow also falls in a fun dance area which every small child we saw was absolutely thrilled by. 

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The ceiling of the reptile house, open for visitors to explore the exhibits, is more decorated than ever, too.

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As to the living creatures at the zoo, along with amphibians basking in the warm light of the reptile exhibit, there’s a lovely aquarium display.  Outside, swans sail and meerkats pop up for nocturnal views.

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A docent passed a set of shed-antlers from the reindeer, offering kids and adults alike a chance to touch these as well as watching Santa’s friends in their enclosure.

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For more information and tickets, click here. 

The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Dr. in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos Jack Burke

What a Place: Art in Place at the Newberry Lofts Long Beach

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A dazzling array of artists are hanging out at the Newberry Lofts in Long Beach. Or rather, hanging at.  A stellar, museum quality show presented by
ViCA in association with Engels & Volkers – representing the Newberry Lofts Long Beach, Art in Place offers over 80 works by 55 artists. Curated by Juri Koll in 7000-square-feet of exhibition space, the wide variety of Southern California-based contemporary artists represented is really quite extraordinary.
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Using individual lofts on two separate floors as galleries,  the artwork both compliments and creates an intimate setting. Artists are well-paired in the lofts,  in a thoughtful merging of styles, colors, and contrasts. Open by appointment through the end of January, the exhibition will have a closing open to the public on January 27th, and will be issuing a catalog for this extensive show with signed copies available at the closing.

Presenting artists include: John Baldessari, Sandy Bleifer, MB Boissonault, Jodi Bonassi, Bob Branaman, Cosimo Cavallaro, John Eden, Sam Francis, Gloriane Harris, Joel King, Barbara Kolo, KuBO, Maria Larsson, Lawrie Margrave, Stefanie Nafe, Hung Viet Nguyen, Terry O’Shea, Max Presneill, Osceola Refetoff, Phil Santos, Sonja Schenk, Theodore Svenningsen, Reginald Van Langenhove, J. Renee Tanner, Edmund Teske, Ron Therrio, Jae Hwa Yoo, Ginny Barrett, Chenhung Chen, David Clark, Denise DeGrazia, Jeanne Dunn, Matt Ehrmann, Lewis Francis, Stephanie Han, Courtney Heather, Elena Kulikova, Cody Lusby, Emily Maddigan, Kim Marra, Bruce McAllister, Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass, Lena Moross, Cat Phillips, Linda Sue Price, Caryl St. Ama, Mark Rebennack, Georgina Reskala, Frederika Roeder, John Rosewall, Karrie Ross, Christine Sawicky, Linda Stelling, Katie Stubblefield, Stephanie Sydney, Scott Trimble, and Tracey Weiss.
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Above, the work of Cat Chiu Phillips – the medium here is unspooled video tape.
 
According to Koll, who often curates in alternative spaces as well as museums and galleries, artist and former public art project manager Renee Tanner spoke with Koll during a recent exhibition he co-curated at Muzeumm, Gimme 5. Tanner asked if Koll would like to show in Long Beach, and the extensive project was born.
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Above, the work of Barbara Kolo 
 
“I said depending on the circumstances, of course I would,” Koll reports. “She brought me down, introduced me to the folks at Engel & Volker who run Newberry Lofts, and we decided to partner up. Renee referred new artists to me, handled parts of the organization, and did a great job helping with the show. Her work is featured prominently in the show.” Below, Tanner presents a meditative installation “Show of Hands,” shaped from canvas, gloves, and pins, in colors as soft as a spring sky.
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Seeking to avoid predicability in shaping the exhibition, Koll says “I believe people deserve something new every time, something they haven’t seen before. In short, a real show. A real exhibition. I work very hard to make that happen. I believe in these artists and what they represent. I do a lot of research. All too often in the art or entertainment world things remain hidden in artists’ studios, never to see light of day. I love discovering them.For example, Gloriane Harris’s monumental quadriptych was painted in the early 1980s and has only been seen once in public in the mid-90s…so I got her to agree to show them. In the same room, the work by Terry O’Shea has never been seen since it was made by the artist in the early 70s.”
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“The large wooden sculpture by Ron Therrio was commissioned especially for this exhibition. He worked night and day for months to make it happen, and it’s a show-stopper.”
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Indeed, this room is gorgeous. Therrio’s plywood work, “Title Unknown,” is both alien and intensely familiar, smooth and supple, a work in which one feels immediately connected to the being he’s created, something from another dimension that the viewer feels privileged to enter.” Therrio’s work is super solid with a strong dose of sly humor,” Koll says.
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Harris’ lush, large scale oil paintings are born of the sea and buoyed by light, her “Vermillion Morning,” “Breaking Bright,” “Late Afternoon Break,” and “Azure Early Evening,” are indeed magnificent. “She uses classical glazing technique, along with a nod to Monet’s ‘Haystacks’ in their use of differing light and times of day, and a unique Southern California aesthetic. She’s always been near water, and it shows,” Koll notes.
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“I started with an overall concept of picking only the best works I could find, and that they had to have some connection to something else I’d selected. I started with the title, Art in Place because it seem general enough. Then, work I was attracted to often had a sense of place built in. That’s a major and unique trait of work made here in Southern California, I believe,” Koll says. Above, Koll stands next to a work by Jae Hwa Yoo.
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Eden’s large scale dimensional works here are an homage to Jay DeFeo; O’Shea’s rich resin “The Milky Way” and “Tar Pit Triangle” are deep and mysterious.
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Koll describes hanging Max Presneill’s vibrant abstract “Redact 091” and KuBO’s intense pieces which “dance around the surreal” with his “WH81” and “WH82,” both artists’ works shown above, across from each other in a juxtaposition of color and shapes.
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Some of Koll’s favorite pieces, along with those mentioned above are works by Sonja Schenk, whose floor sculpture/painting is a wonderful reflection back to her wall-mounted oil painting that suspends a mountainous rock formation in the sky.  Both pieces, “Me Falta” and “Two Skies” are riveting and original looks at the natural landscape.
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Theodore Svenningsen is another stand-out. “These pre-Google Earth/internet map paintings – all over the show – are prescient, painterly, magnificent, and have never been seen in a gallery setting – they come direct from his studio where he painted them in the early 80s.”  Acrylic on canvas, Svenningsen’s evocative, almost ethereal works map the human spirit as much as the locales he depicts, such as “The Road to Mandalay.” Maria Larsson with lustrous archival pigment prints “Levitate I, II, III, IV, V;”  Reginald Van Langenhoven, and Jae Hwa Yoo, are all artists whose work Koll feels passionately about. Of course, there are many more wonderful pieces here as well.
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Above, in a collection of multiple works from his astonishing “Sacred Landscapes” series, above, Hung Viet Nguyen’s water, earth, and sky, undulate both in texture and subject, transfixing viewers with their beauty and sense of harmony.

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Caryl St. Ama’s “Combined Forces,” created in encaustic monoprint and silkscreen on wood panel is a mystical, involving work.

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Karrie Ross’ abstract work, “Reaching,” glows both from her use of material – acrylic, metal leaf on panel, and from a sense of something arising within.

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Chenhung Chen’s “Aerial #2” and #3 are delicate, web-like abstracts that startle with bursts of green and blue color.

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Several dark-toned visceral pieces by John Rosewell, “Drive” and “Push,” above, are also standouts. 

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Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass’ “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” is an electrically striking piece as well.

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And the moody, figurative abstract of Scott Trimble’s “Worry Not, for Perfection is Merely A Notion that Does Not Exist” is both haunting and delicate. 

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Photographic artist Osceola Refetoff offers two pieces that capture a fresh view of the world beyond SoCal, the archival pigment prints “Julie & Mita – Arena Blanca Bioko, Equatorial Guinea” and “Wildebeasts Running With Tree – Masai Mara National Park, Kenya.” The former work is vivid with color, as alive as the two women it depicts, the latter a moodier long shot of fragile-looking wildlife.

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Works by Barbara Kolo are spread throughout the exhibition. The artist’s amazingly detailed impressionistic abstracts are truly special, reminiscent at times of Seraut; colors seeming to glow.

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Phil Santos exhibits two incredibly lovely tributes to DTLA architecture, “Eastern Building” and “Million Dollar Theater.” Acrylic on panel, these are memorably vibrant, richly detailed realistic works.

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At the November 4th opening, Santos live-painted.

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Tracey Weiss has created two mixed media installations, one hangs in the courtyard of the 4th floor of the exhibition, the hanging sculpture “Polyethylene Sepentes” crafted from PET plastic bottles and monofilament; and the walk-in-closet sized “Carousel,” a sculptural installation that uses 35mm slides, slide carousels and boxes, rendering even the unseen images magical.

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And don’t overlook the lush work of Mb Boissonault with her oil work, “The Hoax,” or the somehow quintessentially Californian lustrous modern neon of Linda Sue Price’s glowing beaded orange “Consistency is Not a Virtue.”

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Jeanne Dunn’s oil on canvas, “Entwined II,” depicts the miraculousness of nature in a way that only Dunn can, with a grace and purpose that immortalizes the fragility of that world. 

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Emily Madigan’s marvelous, mythic sculptures – three in this show, including the life-size figure “Anima,” above, encompasses materials such as foam, antlers, sequins, pins, and beads creating blinged, surreal creatures.jodi mine

Jodi Bonassi’s work often seems the visual equivalent of “magical realism” in fiction, and here in an untitled work, offers more of her deeply, wonderfully detailed visionary takes on humanity.

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Lena Moross, working in watercolor and ink, makes a still life of a soft blue sofa into something utterly alive in “Couch #11.”

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Along with other works, Koll has displayed some classics from his own private collection, including pieces by Sam Francis, Bob Branaman, photographer Lawrie Margrave, John Baldessari, and one of Koll’s mentors, Edmund Teske, whose works were acquired in the mid-70s.

Put the January 27th closing on your calendars, and prepare to fete an outstanding collection of artworks.

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Above, sculpture by Ginny Barrett
Genie Davis; photos Genie Davis, additional exhibition opening photos provided by VICA.

Crystal Clear: Catalina Glows with Chihuly Glass Exhibition and Zip Line Sunshine

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Above, Chihuly at the Catalina Island Museum

The winter months are the off-season in Catalina, home to to the iconic Casino building, kitschy shops, and beautiful, once-made-in-Catalina pottery and tile work. But off-season or not, there are some very wonderful reasons to check out the island before the holidays.

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The glow begins early with sunlight dazzling over ocean views heading from the mainland to the island. Catalina Express offers multiple, less-busy-than-summer crossings in high speed boats from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana Point. The fleet of high-speed ferries makes traveling the 22 miles across the sea effortless and smooth; we had beautiful crossings early in the morning and by moonlight and sunset.

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Outdoor seating is surprisingly comfortable, no hard plastic benches here; indoors the lounge area offers a bar, tables, and padded seats.  If you’re looking for even more luxury, you can upgrade to the Commodore Lounge, with a complimentary beverage, packaged snack, and reclining seats.

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Once on the island,  the adventurous in our group of four took a thrilling ride on one of the island’s newest attractions, the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, (above and below.) Grand vistas of the crystal clear harbor water spread out before the intrepid duo who were thrilled with propelling down 5 separate zip lines, and dropping from 600 feet above sea level. One run traversed 1,100 lineal feet. In total, participants travel approximately 3/4 of a mile at a whistling speed of up to 30 miles per hour.

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Our pair was shuttled to the top of the zip line course from Descanso Beach. Their return to home base included pauses at several eco-stations where zip line operators discussed the flora and fauna of Catalina Island. The adventure lasts close to 2 hours, and both zippers were exhilerated by the experience.

Below, The Catalina Island Museum.

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Until December 12th, there’s another way to experience the crystalline glow and excitement of the island. The Chihuly glass exhibit at the Catalina Island Museum is a stunning array of work by glass artist Dale Chihuly.  The museum itself is a sparkling gem; opened just over a year ago in 2016, it makes the most of both natural light inside and some outdoor exhibit space which was perfect to create a garden glass for some of Chihuly’s ephemeral works.
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The glass sculptor’s works here are a true fit for the island, the delicate translucent pieces mimic water and sea creatures, mysterious flowers, sea weed and seashells.
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Dazzling works seem to be a part of the island’s clear waters themselves. From well-known Chihuly works such as Seaforms, Red Reeds, and the towering chandelier Sea Blue and Green Tower to those less familiar, such as Mille Fiori, these are brilliant, inwardly illuminated artworks, the stuff dreams are made of.
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The museum is currently fundraising to keep one of these pieces as a part of its permanent collection, Aureolin Yellow Spire Chandelier, a hot yellow sun, below, which vibrates with light and color.
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There is something entirely magical about Chihuly’s work, his vast range of color, the soaring spirit of each piece, the voluptuous sea forms, and his flower-petal-like baskets, inspired by Native American basket art. The museum itself offers a series of insightful permanent exhibits; a film documents the history of the island, old newsreel footage, and a segment on Chihuly; exhibits include island-made pottery, island history, and island folklore.
The Museum is located at 217 Metropole Ave. in the heart of Avalon, and is open 10 to 5 daily.
The island, open year ’round, is waiting.
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So, doff that sailor’s cap, hop on a ferry, and follow the glow, whether you’re taking a zip, a sea-dip, or a dive into celebrated art work.