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LA Cultural Calendar 2014 | The Best Art Events in CA

LA Cultural Calendar 2014 | The Best Art Events in CA

Picture of Helen Armitage
Updated: 9 February 2017
Owing to its massive urban sprawl and culturally, ethnically diverse inhabitants, Los Angeles quite rightly has an equally diverse arts and culture scene, offering a variety of activities throughout the year. From contemporary art shows and ballet productions to fairs promoting local street food and some of the most internationally respected film festivals imported straight from Hollywood, California’s City of Angels has something to do for everyone.

Hiroshi Sugimoto at J. Paul Getty Museum

4 February – 8 June 2014

In Past Tense, New York-based Japanese photographic artist Hiroshi Sugimoto presents a selection of prints from three bodies of his work spanning his career to date – Diorama (1975 – 1994), Portraits (1999) and his latest project Photographic Drawings (2008 – present). Sugimoto, also a skilled architect, leads viewers to question photography’s ability to capture history accurately through his images of museum displays, as with Diorama, photographs of wildlife displays, and Portraits, which presents life-size photographs of wax icons of historical figures – each giving the illusion of the subject being live. The artist has donated 18 gelatin silver prints from Photographic Drawings to the J. Paul Getty Museum. The prints were created when Sugimoto visited the museum to photograph images of British inventor and photographic pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot’s works.

J. Paul Getty Museum, 1200 Getty Centre Drive

Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible at LACMA

30 March – 29 June 2014

In her first solo exhibition at a major museum, Pasadena artist Helen Pashgian presents Light Invisible, a sculptural installation that invites viewers to meditate upon the nature of materials and light at the Los Angeles County Museum of Artin Hancock Park. Light Invisible features 12 large-scale, two-part columns, created by heating large sheets of acrylic until soft before wrapping them around wooden moulds and re-hardening; the result gives the illusion of hovering, as the sculptures reflect and refract light. A prominent member of the South California light and space art movement of the 1960s, which experimented with natural and artificial light in art, Pashgian was recently decorated with the MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts (2013). Inspired by 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s use of light, Pashgian originally created oil paintings before taking up sculpture in the late 1960s.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard

Mike Kelley at The Geffen Contemporary, Museum of Contemporary Art

31 March – 28 July

Described at the time of his death in 2012 by New York Times art critic Holland Cotter as ‘a pungent commentator on American class, popular culture and youthful rebellion’, artist Mike Kelley is widely held as one of the most important artists of our time. This self-titled exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MOCA) Geffen Contemporary gallery is the largest showing of Kelley’s work to date, spanning his entire artistic career from the mid-1970s until his death. Kelley, who worked with a variety of mediums including found objects, collage and video, had a longstanding relationship with MOCA. His work was featured in the museum’s very first exhibition back in 1983, and since then the museum has acquired 36 Kelley artworks and featured the artist in over 20 permanent collections, making this exhibition a befitting tribute to the life and work of Kelley.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 North Central Avenue

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

12 – 13 April 2014

This two-day-long event has been connecting readers and writers at the University of Southern California’s picturesque and historic University Park campus since 2011. Since its very first event back in 1996, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has become the United States’ most important literary festival, with over 150,000 visitors attending each year. A weekend packed full of events features sessions of storytelling, poetry readings, book signings and onstage interviews; past festivals have featured talks with award-winning author Margaret Atwood and best-selling novelist Dave Eggers, among others. The 19th annual festival will also include cooking demonstrations, live music and hundreds of exhibition booths with booksellers and publishers, as well as the festival’s famed What Are you Reading graffiti wall, upon which festival goers can share which books they are currently enjoying.

University of Southern California, 3351 Trousdale Parkway

Downtown Burbank Arts Festival

19 – 20 April 2014

Now in its 11th year, the Downtown Burbank Arts Festival takes place each April across four blocks of San Fernando Boulevard, attracting on average 12,000 art enthusiasts over the weekend-long event. The festival features the work of nearly 100 locally based artists, including painters, sculptors and photographers; festival goers can purchase their artworks alongside a range jewellery, ceramics, woodwork and other handcrafted items. In a nod to Burbank’s nickname as the ‘Animation Capital of the World’, 2014 sees the Downtown Burbank Arts Festival teaming up with Creative Talent Network, a collective of film, video and television animation professionals, to present a section themed around animation and visual effects. Prominent chalk artists from across southern California will also be on hand, creating animation-themed artworks on pavements.

San Fernando Boulevard, Burbank

Los Angeles Ballet: La Sylphide

31 May, 7 June, 14 June and 21 June

The Los Angeles Ballet, founded in 2004 by husband and wife and artistic directors Thordal Christensen and Colleen Neary alongside executive director Julie Whittaker, enters its eighth season this year, which includes a performance of La Sylphide, August Bournonville’s romantic two-act ballet first performed in 1832 in Paris. The enchanting ballet tells the tale of betrothed young Scotsman, James Ruben, who falls in love with a sylph, a mythological air spirit, while a meddling and nefarious witch tries to thwart their burgeoning love. This production of La Sylphide will also be accompanied by a performance of choreographer George Balanchine’s popular ballet Serenade to Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. La Sylphide will be performed at four locations across Los Angeles – the Valley Performing Arts Centre in Northridge, Glendale’s Alex Theatre, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Centre, and UCLA’s Royce Hall.

Venues across Los Angeles

LA Film Fest

June (Dates TBA)

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles Film Festival, the annual event showcasing the very best American and international independent films. The festival takes place in June over a ten-day period in venues across downtown Los Angeles, including the L.A. Live Entertainment Complex, Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art and Grand Park. Overseen by Film Independent, whose current board directors and members include film industry professionals such as Mary Sweeney (editor of the David Lynch cult classics Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me and Mulholland Drive) and actors Laura Dern and Forest Whitaker, the festival exists to celebrate and support the art of independent filmmaking. During its free community film screenings and Q&A panels with industry insiders, the Los Angeles Film Festival has previously shown indie hits The Good Girl Little Miss Sunshine and, in 2001, premiered the independent romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein.

Venues across Los Angeles

LA Street Food Festival

28 June 2014

Established in 2010 by friends and native Angelenos Shawna Dawson and Sonja Rasula, who share a love of street food, the LA Street Food Festival is the first of its kind in the city and promotes small, independent food vendors in the region. Taking place within the grounds of the Rose Bowl athletic stadium in pretty Pasadena, the festival programme includes around 100 street food vendors, celebrity chefs and street food recipes from some of the city’s top restaurants. Vendors at the 2013 festival included Sky’s Gourmet Tacos, a restaurant and food truck business that has been feeding hungry Angelenos delicious tacos since 1992, and Plant Food For People, L.A.’s first vegan fast food joint. Last year’s general admission was $50, which includes all food and drink, live music and a beer garden and cocktail bar for adults.

Rose Bowl, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena

Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival

July (Dates TBA)

For the past 32 years, Outfest has showcased thousands of films focusing on LGBT stories to audiences of around a million people. Since its launch in 1982 by a group of UCLA graduates, the festival has achieved international recognition for its efforts to promote LGBT rights through the arts. In 2000, Outfest gave filmmaker Jamie Babbit’s debut feature film But I’m A Cheerleader its L.A. premiere, and the organisation supported the early work of screenwriter, director and producer Dustin Lance Black, who went on to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 2009 Academy Awards for Milk, the biopic of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. Venues at the 2013 festival included the historic Ford Theatre, built in 1931 and set in 45 acres of parkland, and the opulent Orpheum Theatre, a former vaudeville and movie theatre opened in 1926.

Venues across Los Angeles

Once at Hollywood Pantages Theatre

15 July – 10 August 2014

Once tells the romantic tale of a down on his luck Dublin musician, Guy, who has fallen into a rut after breaking up with his girlfriend, given up on his dreams of stardom and consigned himself to a life of repairing vacuum cleaners in his father’s shop. That is, until a beautiful young Czech woman, known only as Girl, takes an interest in his music and re-inspires him to follow his dream. Based on a 2006 Irish film of the same name Once features a talented ensemble cast of actor-musicians who play their own instruments on stage, and rave reviews have earned the musical eight Tony Awards including Best Musical in 2012. The musical’s month-long run at the Pantages Theatre in the heart of Hollywood marks the Los Angeles debut of the production.

Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Boulevard