Sunday 3/9 @ L.A. Weekly’s Essentials Food and Wine Event: noon – 5pm
Sunday 3/23 @ Downtown Flea in Chinatown: 10am – 4pm
Saturday 3/29 @ Grand Park Bookfest: noon – 5pm
And next month we’ll be at Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! Stay tuned!
On Monday evening the “king of kitsch” and the “pope of trash” held court at downtown’s Orpheum Theatre. Co-presented by the Library Foundation and The Broad museum as part of the “The Un-Private Collection” series, artist Jeff Koons and filmmaker/author/photographer John Waters took the stage from opposite curtains like two opposing presidential candidates ready to debate—both in formal dark suits and politely shaking hands. The pair swiftly sat down and warmed up for the packed house of nearly 2,000 attendees to discuss Koons’ iconic body of work.
Holding tight to his clipboard of questions, Waters drilled Koons on his early days fishing for some sign of unhinged behavior of the artist as a young man. Undeterred by Waters’ playful prodding, Koons remained calm and upbeat as he spoke about his traditional upbringing in Baltimore—the one scathing story he remembered involved a “sexy” ceramic ashtray that he gravitated towards every time he visited his grandparents. Meanwhile, Waters, more easily inhabiting his outsider-artist status from an early age, confessed that as a child he constantly pretended to be the “nude descending the staircase.”
Waters also grew up in Baltimore and the two flashbacked to local haunts like a gaudy furniture store that either directly (Waters) or indirectly (Koons) inspired their art. They told a touching story about how Koons’ aunt and Waters’ mother, who both recently passed away, had lived in the same retirement home and used to exchange anecdotes about their provocateur nephew and son. Koons credited his aunt for taking him to art classes on the weekends, which helped to foster his early knack for drawing and gave him a sense of self. But he seemed to learn more about expressing feelings from music than art, “I started to become ambitious when I heard Led Zeppelin,” recalled Koons of driving around, cranking up Zeppelin and wanting to take his life in a different direction.
He enrolled in art school and on his first visit to the Baltimore Museum of Art he was humbled by all the great artists he had never heard of. Surviving this moment of realizing he didn’t know anything pushed him to become a disciplined student, and eventually a great artist. He explained how his paintings soon became bigger than the walls, so he naturally moved on to other mediums, producing the body of work that fans are familiar with today.
Waters curated slides of some of his favorite Koon pieces, including The Rabbit and Balloon Dog (Blue). When Waters asked how Koons felt about viewers who became confused or angry over his work, Koons seemed nonplussed. “The art happens inside the viewer,” said Koons. From his famous titillating rendering of Michael Jackson and his monkey Bubbles to a recent Lady Gaga album cover, Koons has been influenced by popular culture as much as he has been influenced by Plato and Kierkegaard. He emphasized how ultimately his art is about acceptance—accepting ideas and the self—and that is why he often incorporates familiar images and objects like garden gazing balls into his work. This accessibility has afforded him a huge following and success, which Waters astutely defined his own barometer of success by two things: “You can buy any book you want without looking at the price tag, and you don’t have to be around assholes.”
If you missed this memorable evening full of witticisms and insights on art, life, and the occasional divergence into sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, then you can watch the video below.
–Posted by Bridgette Bates and photos by Gary Leonard
Last fall, the Library Foundation launched Lost & Found at the Movies, a new series to celebrate the art of cinema and the vitality of film culture. John Nein, a senior programmer of the Sundance Film Festival and curator of this new series, is focusing on lesser-explored areas of filmmaking to cultivate a conversation around film beyond the buzz of new releases. From unearthing historic photographs and film books from the Los Angeles Public Library’s archives to talking to some of Los Angeles’ biggest film nerds, Nein is combing the whole city for film treasures and bringing them to the stage. Free and open to the public at the downtown Central Library, the next event will take place this Friday, February 28th at 7:30 pm. All the events are built around a theme, so on the heels of Valentine’s Day this upcoming episode, Love is a Many Splendored Things, will explore love at the movies. We talked to Nein about some of his own movie loves and what movie-lovers can look forward to this Friday.
John Nein with Kenneth Turan.
Where did the idea for Lost & Found at the Movies come from?
Nein: Ken Brecher [President of the Library Foundation] first suggested doing a film culture series. There’s no shortage of great film-related events on upcoming releases, award seasons, and so on, but what excited me was the idea of bringing in anyone who has a passion for film—directors, writers, journalists, cinematographers, costume designers—to talk about personal cinema passions, perhaps even arcane interests that they don’t often have an opportunity or platform to talk about in any real depth. For instance, a filmmaker may get the chance to talk about their current work, but they don’t get the chance to talk about how much they love the Czech New Wave. We’ve imagined the series to be very eclectic in nature. You should feel like you’re flipping through a film magazine, but there’s a thematic connection within each event like an episode of “This American Life.”
You kicked off the first event by talking to film critic Kenneth Turan—a beloved and longtime voice in the film community. What “new” things did he have to say about film?
Nein: Kenneth Turan makes his living talking about films that are coming out, but what we talked about was Miyazaki, Max Ophüls, and how he loves this old 1920s French serialized film called “Fantomas.” We even got a chance to talk about Casablanca. We both appreciated that we could use clips and that’s what makes it engaging and fun for the audience.
Speaking of Casablanca, the upcoming event will take on the love story. What do you plan to explore?
Nein: The idea is to look at different kinds of love in movies and love for movies. Each segment of the night will have a different way of interpreting that. For example, we’ll be showing a couple of home movies of famous Hollywood couples like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. In another segment, I just spent a day driving all over Los Angeles to as many theatrical exhibition venues as I could manage in search of people whose passion is to show movies—places like the UCLA Film and Television Archive, Cinefamily, and the American Cinematheque.
Also, the special guest of the night is Stacie Passon who is the writer/director of Concussion, which I thought was one of the strongest films of last year that was overlooked by many. It’s a film that deals with love in a really sophisticated and difficult way. This is not movie warm and fuzzy, but Passon shows a way of depicting how profound cinema can be about human nature and relationships, and marriage in particular and we’re going to look through film history for the really rigorous takes on mature relationships (Rossellini, Cassavetes, Bergman).
Besides Concussion, what are some of the other movies you loved from last year that maybe we haven’t heard of?
Nein: We’ll talk about some of these on Friday, but Fill the Void is a completely unique love story that takes place in an ultra orthodox community in Israel—by virtue of being set there, I’ve never seen this type of film before and it’s a wrenching love story. The Spectacular Now is one of the most honest portrayals of teenage romance with all the edges. Cutie and the Boxer is one of the best documentaries from last year, and even though it’s nominated for an Oscar, it was overlooked by many. It’s so observant of mature love about a tumultuous marriage between two artists.
You spend the year travelling to film festivals around the world in search of new work to screen at Sundance. What are some great films we should be on the lookout for this upcoming year?
Nein: We’ll also talk about some of these films I’m most excited about this year on Friday, which won’t all be love stories like Calvary, which stars Brendan Gleeson as a good priest tormented by his townspeople. Lunchbox, set in Mumbai, is a love story between an accountant and a housewife that starts when the lunchbox she sends her husband inadvertently goes to the accountant. And Mike Leigh’s new film, which we assume will premiere at Cannes and is about J.M.W. Turner, the British artist.
Where do you see the rest of the series going this year?
Nein: We’re hoping to do an episode called “All About Evil,” which occurred to me when I was thinking about characters in the Coen brothers’ movies, but this will stretch way beyond that. I’m talking to Buck Henry about Shakespeare on film, and I think later this year we’ll do something about documentary portraits.
Last, but not least, the Oscars are this weekend. In your professional opinion, what’s going to win Best Picture?
Nein: Gravity. But I’m always wrong.
Learn more about the upcoming Lost & Found at the Movies. Admission is free and space is limited, so please make your reservations online early.
Preliminary results are in!
Dorothy Parker is going to be a busy lady on Friday, February 28, 2014. So far, the majority of Stay Home and Read a Book Ball celebrants have selected this witty wisecracker as their desired guest for this most highly anticipated “non-event”. Runner ups are Edgar Allan Poe, Langston Hughes, Homer, and Phillis Wheatley.
We have also received a number of write-in Ball guests including: Jason Aaron, MK Asante, Jane Austen, Maeve Binchy, Jesus Christ, Charles De Lint, Roddy Doyle, Jane Gardam, Natsuo Kirino, Doris Lessing, Penelope Lively, China Mieville, Margaret Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, Kenneth Roberts, Grace Schulman, Donna Tartt, and Mark Twain.
Even Anjelica Huston let us know she’s got a sizzling escort for the Ball: “I am very excited because I have a hot date tonight with an extremely handsome companion. We are going to share a bubble bath. Although we have known about each other for a while, this will be a chance to get to know him better; after all, you can’t tell a book by his cover…”
Let us know who you’re staying home with! #LFLAStayHome
I’m excited to officially invite you to celebrate the 2014 Stay Home and Read a Book Ball with me. Here’s an opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and simultaneously keep alive the mission of the Los Angeles Public Library to “Provide free access to ideas and information.” By deciding not to get dressed up, not to drive across town, and not to valet park at some glittery ballroom, you’re playing a vital role in making available free cultural and educational programs for Angelenos throughout the city. Presto-digito!
Just think, when you contribute to the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, you encourage public discourse through programs like ALOUD, which presents more than 70 free author talks and conversations every year with internationally acclaimed novelists like Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood; human rights legends like Judge Albie Sachs and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee; master short story writers like George Saunders and Lorrie Moore; and, great chefs like L.A.’s own Roy Choi.
For my own evening as Official Stay-At-Home Philanthropist, I’ve plotted a few scenarios. Take one: Brocade dressing gown. Apricot silk mules. Seated at dressing table. Dostoevsky. Or maybe Patricia Highsmith. Cigarette holder. Bushmills with one rock. Take two (more likely): Old sweatpants. Curled up on couch under red wool blanket. Fat grey cat staring into my eyes. Rereading Charlotte’s Web. Mug of hot masala chai.
Remember, you are the key to making possible cultural and educational programs like ALOUD for the people of Los Angeles. So, just before you take the first sip or turn the first page, whip out your checkbook (or credit card) and please… give generously. Then, turn out the porch lights. Put your feet up. You’re not expecting anyone – just a rendezvous with those clever, persnickety, angst-ridden characters in your favorite book. Have a ball!
Louise Steinman, Chair
Members of the Library Foundation are a dedicated group of people who share a deep commitment to helping the Library provide all Angelenos with access to ideas, information, and lifelong learning. We are so grateful for their support, and in return, have spent 2013 hosting a range of events to celebrate their love for the Los Angeles Public Library. Before we look ahead to 2014 and invite Members to join us for a new slate of special events, here’s a look back at some highlights from this truly remarkable year. If you are not a Member already, please consider becoming a Library Foundation Member today to take part in these special events.
2013 marked the debut of “The Writer’s Cut.” This new program brings today’s most well known television writers and showrunners to the Central Library to discuss storytelling for the small screen. Members heard behind-the-scenes tales from Dan O’Shannon (“Modern Family”), Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead”), and, pictured above, Vince Gilligan (“Breaking Bad”).
After the coziest of all fundraisers, the Stay Home and Read a Book Ball, took place last year, writer Mark Salzman, chair of the event, invited Members to participate in a private writing workshop.
Members were also invited to many other exclusive events with celebrated authors including these Leadership Circle receptions and private events:
Sharon Rising, Marlene Billington and Patt Morrison gather for a reception with Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California.
As part of What Ever Happened to Moby Dick?, D. Graham Burnett with Douglas Murray, Bernadette Glenn, and Ken Brecher.
Songs in the Key of LA performance with Van Dyke Parks and special guests.
Membership also comes with some special savings benefits. This year, Members received early access to the Summer Sale at the award-winning Library Store and discounts at other Los Angeles organizations as part of May and November’s Member Appreciation Days.
As always, Members received priority notice of the ALOUD lineups throughout the year, and this past September Members also received priority notice to the launch of “Lost & Found at the Movies,” a new series celebrating the art of cinema and the vitality of film culture. Curated by John Nein, senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, the program kicked off with Los Angeles Times and NPR Film Critic Kenneth Turan talking about how and where we watch films in L.A. (pictured above.)
The Young Literati’s annual Annenberg Beach House party was the perfect kick off to “Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?”. Members were treated to readings by Moby, Mark Z. Danielewski, Colin Hanks, and Attica Locke; a DJ set by Shepard Fairey; and a special acoustic performance by thenewno2.
Young Literati also enjoyed cocktails with Roy Choi after a particularly mouthwatering edition of ALOUD. During the evening, Roy Choi discussed his fascinating journey, which has culminated in his critically-acclaimed Kogi BBQ Trucks and several much-loved restaurants. He then joined Young Literati Members in the courtyard for a private reception featuring tacos and beer!
And the Young Literati’s Private Party at Subliminal Projects was an evening of literary inspiration at Amanda and Shepard Fairey’s Echo Park gallery space. Kai and Sunny’s literature-inspired artwork provided a beautiful backdrop for Young Literati to mingle and enjoy special cocktails from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
Thank you to all of our Members for spending the year with us! If you are looking for some last minute holiday gifts, Membership is the gift that keeps on giving. For a limited time this December and January, a generous Member of our Board of Directors will match your gift dollar for dollar when you join the Library Foundation.
The Library Foundation has spent the last year envisioning the role of the 21st century library by launching a range of special projects that celebrate the rich history and culture of Los Angeles in today’s world. Before we head into 2014, we wanted to share some highlights from these projects that we hope have offered Angelenos a chance to experience our city in new and unique ways.
Songs in the Key of L.A.
Photo by Gary Leonard.
Over the summer, this special project brought to life the Los Angeles Public Library’s sheet music collection, including the publication of Angel City Press’ beautiful anthology curated by USC Professor Josh Kun. The First Floor Galleries of the Central Library also opened an exhibit of 46 pieces of the cover art from the sheet music, and ALOUD hosted Kun and GRAMMY-winning L.A. band Quetzal for a look at L.A.’s musical history. Listen to the podcast here.
The project closed with what Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic Randall Roberts called “a truly memorable moment, one that many in attendance won’t forget.” East L.A. band Ozmatli and fellow artists took the stage at Grand Performances to resurrect the historic songs from the collection. The evening featured special guests Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, and Cheech Marin filling the California Plaza with a new take on its SoCal roots.
Whatever Happened to Moby Dick?
Throughout the fall, the Library Foundation teamed up with the Los Angeles Public Library to invite readers to take a look at Herman Melville’s masterpiece through a Southern California lens. Over 90 librarian-created events across the city offered Angelenos of all ages to chance to interact with the great white whale, including a special reading of Moby Dick by actor, comedian, and Melvillian enthusiast Patton Oswalt.
Photo by Gary Leonard.
Over 200 folks took part in the Summarizing Moby Dick Twitter Contest winners, which offered hilarious and thoughtful micro takes on the epic story, including this favorite:
The project culminated with “My Moby Dick,” a grand finale of theatrical performance, sea shanties, and cutting-edge science at the Broad Stage, including a special film by the directors of Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Watch parts of this video here, including food critic Jonathan Gold’s retelling of eating whale balls.
Lost & Found at the Movies
This fall, we debuted a new series celebrating the art of cinema and the vitality of film culture. Curated by John Nein, senior programmer for the Sundance Film Festival, the program is eclectic in theme and varies in form, exploring how we lose ourselves and find ourselves at the movies. The first installment unearthed some historic photos of theaters from the Library’s archive and featured Los Angeles Times and NPR Film Critic Kenneth Turan talking about how and where we watch films in L.A.
Check back with us in the new year for upcoming special projects, including the next installment of Lost & Found at the Movies.
The Library Store On Wheels is headed your direction in December!
Saturday 12/7 @ Edendale Library: 11:30am – 5pm
Sunday 12/8 @ German Christmas Market: 10am – 6pm
Saturday & Sunday 12/14 & 12/15 @ Renegade Craft Fair: 10am – 5pm
Sunday 12/22 @ Downtown Flea: 10am – 4pm