Started in 1979, John Ramirez and the late Stuart Timmons, two students at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) founded a gay film festival. By 1982, it had become known as the “Gay and Lesbian Media Festival and Conference”, later as the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. The name was changed to Outfest in 1994. Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival is eleven days of world-class films, panels, and parties. This year, the roster has some outstanding films including documentaries, KEVYN AUCOIN: Beauty & The Beast in Me, (tonight at Director’s Guild of America (7920 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOHN SKALICKY
“In some ways, Empire is where The Get Down leads to— a corporate culture of rap music. Where The Get Down was about the rise of Rap Music, Empire is the capitalistic result.”
I was hooked. When “Books” Ezekiel Figuero read a poem with his emotionally-charged voice, it was poetry, rap and suddenly, I started to understand something about a culture that had evaded me. With the final episode now aired, we can speak to the merits and trials of this great experiment in television.
It was flawed, to be sure: A lot of storylines, a very weak gay tangent that was never realized, too much production, cartooning and cliches all spun on the head of a needle that could never decide where it wanted to go, but the ride was energetic, thrilling and if you were there, essentially the truth.
The last episode “Only From Exile Can We Come Home” was all the series wrapped into one big conclusion. but with such a delightful silliness ( imagine MX Justin Vivian Bond meets Jobriath tryout meets pop impresario, Robert Stigwood, at the Chelsea Hotel, of course!) that the show should conclude with one over-the-top last community rap, potential demise of our beloved little gay character, the bad guys turning good, it was all simply as Bette Davis once said: too much.
And it will be missed.
There are odd parallels to the other TV series, Empire, which in its third season has managed to stay afloat despite its deflated and contrived storylines — and a cast that feels exhausted. In some ways, Empire is where The Get Down leads to— a corporate culture of rap music. Where The Get Down was about the rise of Rap Music, Empire is the capitalistic result.
Empire lives while the Get Down, the most expensive Netflix series, $120 million to produce, goes to the place where great TV shows fade away.
ART IN LOS ANGELES:
PAST PERFECT OF LAZLO MOHOLY-NAGY
By Jeffrey Head
Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is the first comprehensive exhibition in Los Angeles for artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. The exhibition travelled from the Guggenheim Museum in New York and The Art Institute of Chicago, before making its most recent and last stop at LACMA. Described as the first major retrospective of Moholy’s career in almost 50 years; it also serves as a dynamic survey of key developments in 20th century modern art by one person whose work represented the era in which he created. He also generated an aesthetic which remains essential, influential and contemporary.
During the brief and prodigious span of his career from the 1920s to the 1940s, Moholy created a sense of depth, movement and tension in every medium. From painting, sculpture, photography and film, to typography, publishing and advertising.
G. Smirg, 1923. Watercolor and collage on sandpaper. © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy.
Moholy worked with a variety of materials in new ways applying innovative techniques. He was among the first artists to use Plexiglas, then a relatively new commercial material. Several of his specially formed and painted Plexiglas mobiles hang in the exhibition. He also combined materials in uncommon ways, including oil painting on burlap or watercolor on sandpaper.
Moholy’s photograms, which he created throughout his career, are also exhibited and may represent the best known aspects of his photographic work. These pieces remain intriguing images of light and shadow.
The exhibition also features the largest collection of his photomontage work. Mostly completed in the 1920s, Moholy assembled and edited otherwise unrelated images to create a narrative, taking into account scale and proportion. Moholy’s photograms, which he created throughout his career, are also exhibited and may represent the best known aspects of his photographic work. These pieces remain intriguing images of light and shadow.
Space Modulator CH for R1, 1942. Oil and incised lines on Formica. © 2017 Hattula Moholy-Nagy.
Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Moholy’s daughter, recently visited the Los Angeles version of the exhibition at LACMA. In addition to his art, she anticipates her father’s film work and stage designs may find a larger audience here. Several of Moholy’s short films from Hattula’s own collection play within the exhibition: “Berlin Still Life” (1936), “Metropolitan Gypsies” (1932), “Impressions of the Old Marseille Harbor” (1929/31), and “London Zoo” (1936). The latter led filmmaker and fellow Hungarian, Alexander Korda to hire Moholy for special effects in his film “The Shape of Things to Come” based on the H.G. Wells story. Moholy’s work, however, was cut from the final version. There are also photographs of Moholy’s stage designs for Jacques Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman (1929), and Madam Butterfly (1931). Even from photographs, it is possible to get a sense of Moholy’s kinetic props and lighting. These could be viewed as a pragmatic and creative extension of his Plexiglas sculptures, also in the exhibition. It is easy to speculate how Moholy might have further influenced film and the performing arts had he not died of Leukemia at the age of 51
His professional career was based in Chicago where he served as the director of the New Bauhaus, and founded the School of Design (now The Institute of Design). For Hattula, “the work from the Chicago period are among my favorites mainly because I remember them hanging in our apartment and my father created some of them at home.” Space Modulator CH for R1, 1942 is one such piece, among several from her personal collection in the exhibition.
Although a much earlier work, Photogram Mondgesicht (Moonface) or Self-Portrait in Profile, 1926, is also from Hattula’s collection she explains, “I have come to a better understanding of the social values my father was expressing in his art. Children are very literal-minded, so I had to grow into an appreciation of what my father was doing. Growing up my father’s art has also inclined me towards bright, cheerful, and tidy art of all periods, figurative as well as abstract.”
Of the nearly 300 works in the exhibition, the most distinct is perhaps Moholy’s 1946 design of the Parker 51 pen with a chrome desk set. Six buttress-like forms provide rhythm and balance with a single fountain pen positioned at the end. As with Moholy’s three-dimensional artworks, the desk set is dramatic looking for its play of light and shadow. This object is special, because it is the only functional, applied art piece and everyday object in the exhibition. It also represents Bauhaus ideals of integrating art and industry along with the machine aesthetic. Developed while he served as artistic advisor to Parker during the 1940s, Moholy received a patent for the design which incorporated a magnet ball and socket enabling the pen to pivot in all directions. Although the desk set did not go into production, Parker incorporated Moholy’s magnetic component in hundreds of desk sets for more than 25 years.
The desk set was not known to exist after its initial appearance. Then, in 2013 it was found. Hattula commented on how she believes there is still academic research and discoveries to be made about the lesser known aspects of her father’s career.
This exhibition is an opportunity to enjoy Moholy’s significant and wide-ranging contributions to modernism.
“Moholy-Nagy: Future Present” is on view at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, through June 18, 2017
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By Zuke Oshiro
The Mexican Rivera, which lies to the far west and dips into the majestic blue seas of the Caribbean is a famous tourist destination for Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and many smaller islands that dot the landscape. We can soon add the quieter destination of Holbox (pronounced Hol-bosh) to that list as the dusty little seaside town starts to get noticed.
A mere three-hour bus drive from the hustle of touristy Cancun, this is a ride through the countryside of Mexico replete with small food stands, school children and people commuting from town to town. If you are not on the express bus, it can seem like a long journey, but once deposited in Chiquila, the short boat ride to Holbox is worth the wait.
This is the northern tip of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, far removed from the large tourist ships and a journey back to a time when tourism hadn’t consumed the population with Starbucks and McDonald’s. They are not here, yet. And hopefully, it will take a long while for the tourist trade to discover this gem. What you will find is an island with few cars, the main transportation is a golf cart, rusted by years of sea salt exposure, and a driver, with some English experience—it is of no consequence, the island is so small there is little hope of getting lost.
The main attraction to Hotbox is its lagoon—which seems to go miles into the sunset and is walkable and is rich with flamingoes, pelicans, and other birdlife.
Once in town, which is a series of dirt roads that all meet in the center. This is a 26 square mile island (same size as New York City!) so the ocean is never far off. For the adventurous traveler, there are so many walkable treks that lead to sudden lagoons, singular piers that stretch to the sunset and of course, there is always the seashore. But let’s get back to the bars. There is the Bar Arena Isla Hotbox which is a rooftop bar complete with a hot tub. The new kid on the block Básico is an open shell bar with a mixologist who conjures up spices and liquors, and if so inclined the occasional grasshopper delicacy is to be found here.
Side streets offer some great eating experiences, in particular, Milpa. Which a family run vanguard restaurant with Mexico-City-born-and-trained chef, Adrian Barajas. Reservations are converted into name tags as you come to the restaurant and the entire affair is treated as an experience, which it is. The menu offers such interesting dishes as Drunk Octopus Roaming Valladolid, which translates to roasted Octopus with bacon bits, bell p[pepper caviar, cacahuazintle corn and courgette filled with beer salsa with Valladolid chorizo.
By day, the beach, tourist cruises to see fish, whales, and lounge in the many hotels with their beachside bars and restaurants. Casa Las Tortugas, situated on the shoreline is stunning at night. Amber lights and reveal walkways and bridges. The hotel offers twenty-four romantic rooms and suites with a variety of views.
As we all know, the world is becoming fabulous—every distant corner is suddenly recognized as social media, the camera-phone and other recording devices take note of the splendor and beauty of places we have rarely visited. Holbox is such a destination: not quite touched by commercial hotels, restaurants or tourist attractions and yet accesible, compelling and a perfect place to experience Mexico in a new and different way.