Sunday, May 31, 2009

Throwing a monkey wrench into Monkey Wrench Collective's plans..

Read my OC Register blogpost:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SparkOC Selects Goldstar as Discount Ticket Partner

Arts Orange County's new SparkOC website is off to a great start, with nearly 300,000 visitors since its launch! At launch, we immediately began offering a half-price ticket marketplace, thanks to our sponsor Pacific Life Foundation, which we called "SparkTIX." Since then, many have urged us to join forces with the behemoth of arts & cultural events ticket discounting, Goldstar Events, and after discussion with its founder and CEO Jim McCarthy, we have now partnered with Goldstar to serve as SparkOC's official discount marketplace, which takes effect today!

Click here to browse current offers on Goldstar. Once you've decided on what to purchase, there is a simple, free registration required.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today's OC Register Blogpost

Read it here.

Yesterday's Blogpost on Arts Journalism: Picked Up Today on Arts Journal

Arts Journal, the online digest of arts-related news and commentary from around the globe, selected my blogpost of yesterday on the topic of arts journalism for inclusion in their site today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Aviation Art Contest Winners

by Janie Lee

by Yoo Kyung Na

by Jeremy Pan

Three Orange County students were 1st Place California State Winners in the 2009 International Aviation Art Contest conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration, Western-Pacific Region in cooperation with the County of Orange John Wayne Airport Arts Commission.

Janie Lee, age 14, the winner for Category III (Ages 14-17), and Yoo Kyung Na, age 12, the winner for Category II (Ages 10-13), both also won Second Place in the National Competition, and their art has moved on to the International Contest judging. Jeremy Pan, age 9, also won Third Place in the National Competition.

Presentations to the winners were made on May 12 at the Old Orange County Courthouse Museum in Santa Ana.

My OC Register Arts Blog today...

... is about the future of arts journalism:

Sunday, May 17, 2009

He's baaaa-aaaack!

I'm writing for the Orange County Register's Arts Blog while OCR's theatre critic Paul Hodgins is on vacation.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Fail better."

Colleague John Killacky, program officer for arts & culture at the San Francisco Foundation, blogged today about "Survival Strategies for the Arts."

I was delighted that he quoted Samuel Beckett's Worstward Ho:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

OCMA Director Dennis Szakacs On Access

In his introductory letter in the latest issue of Orange County Museum of Arts' newsletter, director Dennis Szakacs concludes with the following statement:
Access to artistic excellence for our families, public schools, and young adults
is not a luxury. It is fundamental to a culture that values creativity,
individualism, and entrepreneurship.
I couldn't have said it better!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Breaking News: Broadway Producer Appointed NEA Chairman

Broadway producer and theatre owner Rocco Landesman has been appointed to Chair the National Endowment for the Arts, according to this report in the New York Times.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is OC too square for cutting edge theater?

I ran into Dave Barton last week, the indefatigable co-founder of the once-formidable-but-now-disbanded Rude Guerrilla Theater Company in Santa Ana. I was curious to know how plans were going for his successor organization, The Monkey Wrench Collective, and he told me they are Long Beach-bound. Essentially, he believes there is more critical mass there for the kind of audience his work attracts and much more chance for press coverage in the larger LA county media market.

I was sad to hear that assessment, as I've seen the OC grow up quite a bit since I first landed here 22 years ago. I felt certain a small cutting edge company like Dave's could make a go of it.

Oh, well. Perhaps one of the other small companies will take up the cause.

Or maybe one of our presenting organizations will "import" a Monkey Wrench production from Long Beach.

(Facebookers who want to keep tabs on its progress should visit its group page here.)

To boldly go...

I wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool Trekkie growing up with the original series, but over time, the franchise grew on me. The new generation of television versions acquired a certain sanctimonious quality I found startling in comparison to watching Captain Kirk's fistfights, and while Captain Jean-Luc Picard exuded the Zen of starship maintenance, I grew tired of where it and its successor series were leading me. The grittier Babylon 5 succeeded in grabbing my attention as the un-Trek--helped along by Claudia Christian, whom I later had my own adventure directing on stage (saving that story for later!).

Well, consider me brought back into the fold with the new Star Trek movie. Its remarkable evocation of the original series characters without resorting to camp and its action-packed willing-suspension-of-disbelief plot are a real shot-in-the-arm for this franchise.

Live long and prosper.

Lessons from Lincoln Center for Orange County?

This provocative New York Times review of the 50 year history of New York's Lincoln Center wonders out loud about the viability of the "performing arts center" concept today. Some of the issues are not dissimilar to those faced by the Orange County Performing Arts Center, yet our local business model is actually different from Lincoln Center's and is, perhaps, better positioned to adapt to the changing landscape of the performing arts.

Friday, May 8, 2009

2 OC Groups Win NEA Grants

The latest round of National Endowment for the Arts grants made awards to San Clemente's Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens and to the Garden Grove-based international organization, Guitar Foundation of America. The former received $5,000 for its readings series, which is regularly showcasing outstanding writers at this historic Ole Hanson mansion overlooking the sea. The latter received $7,500 for its continued work archiving important musical scores for classical guitar. Kudos to both organizations!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Not Dead - Only Resting

My apologies to Simon Brett for copping his title. (Brett is a British actor-turned-mystery-writer whose protagonist, a mostly unemployed actor, unwittingly finds himself in the middle of crimes that he's the only one capable of solving.)

The point being?

I've been remiss in keeping up with my posts here--lot's happening, but I won't bore you with my excuses.

Spark-e! subscribers got a taste of what I planned to post here--brief descriptions of the visual arts exhibitions I took in last weekend:

It's a rare treat to have the works of famed artist Georgia O'Keeffe visit the OC, and all the more so in the newly-opened exhibition at the Orange County Museum of Art, entitled Illumination, which contrasts her work with three of her less well-known contemporaries, Agnes Pelton, Agnes Martin, and Florence Miller Pierce. They all explore abstraction in their paintings, even when the clear inspiration comes from the natural environment. Anyone familiar with O'Keeffe's works knows that she had a knack of transforming flowers and landscapes into broadly abstracted expressions--really wonderful. Thanks to OCMA's Karen Moss for organizing this exhibition. OCMA is also offering two video exhibits, and I couldn't take my eyes off some of these works. One was an ever-changing video projection on a box full of sand that adapted to the contours of each wavy dune. But perhaps the most exciting of all was the chance to sit in the H Box--an innovative traveling screening room, where I watched a city constructed and deconstructed in a sharp and imaginative video by Cao Fei, entitled The Birth of RMB City.)

At the Grand Central Art Center Gallery is a show that will amuse and amaze you, Allegedly: The Hugh Brown Chainsaw Collection. Artist Hugh Brown offers a sweeping history of modern art as he pays homage to some of its greatest purveyors--with the ironic twist of incorporating a chainsaw into each and everyone, like the Roy Lichtenstein parody pictured here. I was particularly enamored of the spin on Diane Arbus's famous 1962 photo of a boy with a hand grenade in his hand in Central Park in New York City--an eerily identical shot, but with a chainsaw, of course. This is another example of the imaginative programming we see in this California State University, Fullerton space in Santa Ana's Artists Village.

That evening happened to be the Santa Ana Art Walk night as well, and the pedestrian plaza in front of Grand Central Art Center was filled with performers, craftspeople and fine artists selling their works. The restaurants were packed: my favorite, Lola Gaspar; Memphis; and The Gypsy Den. Broadway was teeming with people checking out the shops & bars, and we joined many descending to the basement galleries in the ornate, historic Santora Building, including Avant Garden which features a collective of artists associated with OC Fine Arts.

Down the block, the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art is proving once again that the talents of its artistic collective can morph to whatever theme gets tossed their way, as in their latest show, Pretty:Disturbing.

@Space Gallery's show Apophenia brings new meaning to the term "rorschach test," with Jane Bauman's vividly colorful creations (see my earlier blogpost about it).

And at Soka University's Founders Hall, you'll find Mark Kirschner's extraordinary black & white photography of Manzanar. The austere beauty of high desert-meeting-mountains contrasts with the melancholy history of the internment of Japanese-Americans there during World War II.