The Cheat Sheet
Fall Arts Preview 2013
What are the most promising cultural moments coming to Southern California during fall?
For starters, Disney Hall is getting ready to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch will reunite for “The Sunshine Boys” at the Ahmanson Theatre. Drake and Depeche Mode have stops at Staples Center planned. And LACMA will present the works of Alexander Calder.
Let our critics and writers guide you through the season in art, books, dance, theater, jazz, classical and pop music below. For more in-depth coverage, explore our complete fall arts preview.
Art | Christopher Knight, Art Critic
'Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible'
SEPT. 29-JAN. 5
Practically a hermit, the eccentric Texan Forrest Bess (1911-77) described himself as a visionary painter; in his work, he claimed to merely copy the shapes, lines, colors and forms he saw when he closed his eyes tight. Fifty of those eyes-wide-shut abstractions will be in this traveling exhibition, organized by sculptor Robert Gober.
UCLA Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; $5-$10
'Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting'
SEPT. 28-JAN. 13
Art from northern Europe helped make the Italian Renaissance happen, as this show intends to underscore. Among the 29 paintings will be the "Portrait of Philippe de Croy" by the incomparable Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden, displayed for the first time in the L.A. area alongside "Virgin and Child," its companion diptych panel from the Huntington's own collection.
Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; $8-$23
'Soul Stirring: African American Self-Taught Artists From the South'
OCT. 3-APR. 6
Making art from vernacular materials at hand, often to tell stories, has a long tradition, not least in the American South. This show will assemble work dating since the 1950s by a number of well-known self-taught artists, including New Orleans preacher and painter Sister Gertrude Morgan; Georgia housemaid Nellie Mae Rowe; rehabilitated ex-con Herbert Singleton; and South Carolina store clerk and porter Sam Doyle.
California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; free
'Calder and Abstraction'
NOV. 24-JULY 27
Alexander Calder didn't invent kinetic sculpture, but he did move it in directions both playful and profound. In the process, he gave avant-garde abstraction a vernacular American twist, which will be examined in an exhibition whose installation is being designed by architect Frank O. Gehry.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., $10-$15
Classical Music | Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Walt Disney Concert Hall 10th Anniversary Celebration
Sept. 30-Oct. 23
Los Angeles Philharmonic's celebration will include its gala Sept. 30 and on the actual anniversary, Oct. 23, a serving of something more akin to lumpy gravy (as Frank Zappa titled a Mothers of Invention album). Gustavo Dudamel opens with John Cage's "4'33," before Yo-Yo Ma plays Tchaikovsky. Esa-Pekka Salonen's choice is Zappa's "200 Motels."
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave.,$110-$165 (gala), $39-$89 ("200 Motels")
'Einstein on the Beach' and 'Lecture on Nothing'
Oct. 11-13 and Oct. 15
The most important opera company in America never to have produced an opera by America's leading opera composer, Los Angeles Opera will present the first of Philip Glass' 27 operas, "Einstein on the Beach," his groundbreaking 1976 collaboration with Robert Wilson. But L.A. Opera will also be the last to present it. The gorgeous Glass/Wilson revival finishes its two-year tour here, and its creators say they will not themselves mount it again.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., $24-$357
Royce Hall, UCLA, $20-$60
Oct. 19-Nov. 18
Last year, the Industry, L.A.'s seriously alternative opera company, premiered Anne LeBaron's "Crescent City" in an Atwater alternative space. For its second season, the company takes the hyperoperatic urban theme a dimension further with an "invisible opera for headphones." Based on Italo Calvino's fantastical tale of Marco Polo bewitching Kublai Khan with visions of impossible cities, Christopher Cerrone's "Invisible Cities" will have its premiere in Union Station.
Union Station, $25-$150
Nov. 24 and 25
The Britten 100 festival in L.A. this year celebrating the British composer's centenary has but one big event this fall. The "War Requiem," Britten's grandest pacifist statement, juxtaposes liturgical texts with "doomed youth" war poetry by Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action a week before the end of World War I. Los Angeles Opera music director and Britten 100-catalyst James Conlon leads the performances.
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, $20 - $150;
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.
Dance | Laura Bleiberg
Co-directed by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Berkett, this L.A.-based repertory dance company is coming off key engagements at Jacob's Pillow in Massachusetts and City Center's Fall for Dance Festival in New York. This concert also is significant for its "firsts," among them: the first performance of "Kollide," made for BodyTraffic by New York-based Kyle Abraham, and the first time a local theater has presented the group for two nights.
The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica, $32-$55; (310) 434-3200
Nederlands Dans Theater 1
LA's Rite festival at the Music Center — a yearlong series of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky's pivotal score "Le Sacre du Printemps" — concludes with the Dutch company's performance of "Chamber." Choreographed by NDT 1 dancer Medhi Walerski, "Chamber" is not an homage; it has its own, original score by Los Angeles-based musician Joby Talbot. Rather, Walerski chose to examine and suggest the place of ritual in society today.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., $34-$125, (213) 972-0711
'Diana Vishneva: On the Edge'
Nov. 6-7, 9-10
The Russian superstar has moved far afield from classical parts, such as her exquisite, lovelorn peasant girl Giselle, and from neoclassical ones too, as with her indelibly energetic, high-kicking solo turn in "Rubies." That will be quite evident in this unusual project, the second one for Vishneva, co-produced by Ardani Artists and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, where it will have its world premiere.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, $30-$125, (714) 556-2787,
Dance Theatre of Harlem
There was a long period when it looked as if this predominantly African American, neoclassical ballet company might never recover from its 8-year hiatus sparked by financial troubles. But it has slowly returned to solvency, and with Virginia Johnson, its former star ballerina, back as artistic director, Dance Theatre of Harlem began performing again last year. The group makes its first California visit in nine years.
Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, 12700 Center Court Drive, Cerritos, $50-$80; 800-300-4345,
Pop Music | Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
Drake, "Nothing Was the Same" (Young Money / Universal)
Drake can credit his success to an ability to converse with the ladies he desires and the gentlemen he's competing against. He can opine and admonish, but he can also touch. His third album, "Nothing Was the Same," stakes out a rougher sound. That Drake closes the record with a Jay Z collaboration called "Pound Cake" bodes well. Drake will perform at the Honda Center on Nov. 21 and Staples Center on Nov. 25.
Station to Station tour featuring Beck, No Age, Kenneth Anger, others
In early September, artist Doug Aitken began a journey by train across America. Riding the rails or providing aesthetic support for the nine-city Station to Station tour are, among others, artists Chris Ware, Dara Birnbaum and Raymond Pettibon, with musicians Ariel Pink, Thurston Moore, Twin Shadow and the Handsome Family. Stops in San Francisco, Barstow and L.A. will include Beck, No Age, Dan Deacon and Sun Araw & the Congos and visual artists Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore and underground L.A. film mystic Kenneth Anger.
Vampire Weekend, Beirut
Few are the overly hyped blog bands of the late '00s that have endured critical or commercial backlash unscathed. New York band Vampire Weekend, though, has not only survived but also prevailed. Its recent album, "Modern Vampires of the City," is an urgent, rhythmic dance rock record, quite obviously the product of a band eager to both thrill and experiment. The band performs with Balkan-esque folk group Beirut.
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Blvd. $18-$85
SEPT. 28, 29, OCT. 2
For reasons known only to the synth pop gods and/or Robert Moog, Los Angeles has held a particularly strong affection for the English dance music innovators. But then, over the decades, the band has provided the city with many reasons for all that love. The group that helped ferry in the age of computer pop returns to its second home for a three-date stint at Staples Center. Just can't get enough, indeed.
Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa, $49-$129.50
Theater | Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
'The Normal Heart'
SEPT. 18-NOV. 3
The 2011 Broadway production of Larry Kramer's searing 1985 AIDS drama made clear that the play hasn't lost its political or emotional punch. The story of a fiery activist's crusade against the denial and indifference that made the epidemic all the more difficult to combat offers more than just a history lesson — it is a heart-rending profile in the productive uses of outrage. Simon Levy directs.
The Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles; $20-$34; (323) 663-1525
'The Sunshine Boys'
SEPT. 24-NOV. 3
"Taxi" stars Danny DeVito and Judd Hirsch reunite in this Neil Simon play about vaudevillian comics forced to put aside their grudge for a TV gig too lucrative to pass up. DeVito scored rave reviews when he performed the role of Willie Clark in London opposite Richard Griffiths, who died last spring. Hirsch, no slouch as a stage actor, will bring his own charisma to the part of Al Lewis.
Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles; $20-$110; (213) 628-2772;
'The Black Suits'
OCT. 27-NOV. 24
The American musical needs an injection of talent. Joe Iconis, a Jonathan Larson Award-winning composer, is someone to watch. His new musical, a coming-of-age story about misfits from a Long Island high school garage band, has its unveiling at the Douglas. Robert Maddock collaborated with Iconis on the book, but the music and lyrics belong entirely to the man who enlivened the second season of the backstage soap opera "Smash" with his song "Broadway Here I Come."
Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; $20-$55; (213) 628-2772
OCT. 18-NOV. 17
Amy Herzog's critically acclaimed play revolves around a lefty Greenwich Village grandmother and her wayward, neo-radical grandson, who has cycled across the country in a state of confusion about his future. The personal is resonantly political in this beautifully observed chamber drama. David Emmes directs this enticing SoCal introduction to an American playwright you will no doubt be hearing more from.
South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, from $22; (714) 708-5555
Jazz | Chris Barton
Christian McBride Trio
The bassist and former creative chair for jazz with the L.A. Philharmonic took home a Grammy last year for "The Good Feeling," which marked his first recording as a big band leader. This year, he's back to exploring the small ensemble with two hard-swinging albums, "People Music" with his group Inside Straight and the nimble trio recording "Out Here," which cooks through straight-ahead standards and originals with equal verve.
Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd. $22-$35
Even if you haven't made the drive to the West Coast's newest jazz temple in the SFJAZZ Center, you can hear its spirit in this exuberant ensemble. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the octet testifies on behalf of the music with a songbook honoring the likes of Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder and John Coltrane with talent that include alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Avishai Cohen.
Zipper Concert Hall, the Colburn School, 200 S. Grand Ave. $35
Lucian Ban and Mat Maneri
European pianist-composer Ban teams with Maneri to celebrate their new, season-appropriate live album, "Transylvanian Concert." Neither the record nor the show seems overtly intended to evoke Dracula's fabled home, but the acoustic pairing of Ban's restless piano and the churning hum of Maneri's viola remains haunting as the duo ventures through darkened tributaries of jazz, blues and Baltic folk.
The Blue Whale, 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St., Suite 301. $15
Charles Lloyd and Friends featuring Bill Frisell
Recently celebrating his 75th birthday, saxophonist Lloyd has shown no signs of slowing down. "Hagar's Song," a duet with pianist Jason Moran, is one of the best jazz albums released in 2013, and this performance finds him in an adventurous ensemble that features bassist Ruben Rogers, drummer Eric Harland and ever-expressive guitarist Frisell, whose string-adorned album "Big Sur" marked another career highlight.
Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, Royce Hall, 340 Royce Drive. $30-$60
Books | David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
'The Lowland' by Jhumpa Lahiri
(Alfred A. Knopf: 340 pp., $27.95)
Lahiri, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her first book, "Interpreter of Maladies," is among our most nuanced fiction writers, an observer of the American Bengali community and the vagaries of immigrant life. In this, her second novel, she extends that vision to explore the lives of two brothers in India and the United States. Lahiri is a deft observer of both family and culture, of the rhythms we cannot escape.
"At Night We Walk in Circles" by Daniel Alarcón
(Riverhead: 384 pp., $27.95)
Alarcón's previous book, "Lost City Radio," was a revelation — a novel, set in an unnamed South American country, that was equally mythic and political. His follow-up, "At Night We Walk in Circles," is in some ways related, the story of an actor named Nelson, cut adrift in his own city, until he ends up on tour with a political theater troupe. As in "Lost City Radio," Alarcón's purpose here is to disorient us, stripping away markers of place and identity, until we have to see the world on different terms.
"Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary" by Harryette Mullen
(Graywolf: 128 pp., $15 paper)
How much do I love the idea for this book? Mullen — a professor at UCLA and the author of seven previous books of poetry, including the National Book Award finalist "Sleeping With the Dictionary" — has appropriated the traditional Japanese verse form of the tanka and used it to create a journal of her daily life. Mullen is a walker, and in many ways, this is a walker's diary, a record of her interactions with the city at the level of its streets. But even more, it is a portrait of her mind in the act of reflection, sharply observed and deeply felt.
"The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation" by Louise Steinman
(Beacon: 224 pp., $26.95)
Steinman, who curates the Aloud series at the Central Library, seeks to make a literary reconciliation: exploring the subject of Polish Jewry through the filter of her family's roots. It's an elegant endeavor, deft and revealing. As in her previous effort, "The Souvenir," Steinman is adept at questioning assumptions, encouraging us to see the world, and history, in broad and complex terms.