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Beautiful Day at the Norton Simon Fall Family Festival

All Photography  © 2018 Leticia Marie Sanchez

Norton Simon Family DayNorton Simon33

Norton Simon Family Day 11

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Art world crime: In the news: Joshua Bell impersonator robs hotel room of celebrity violinist

Throwback Tuesday to an Art Crime from 2012

Art World Crime:

Joshua Bell Impersonator robs hotel room of world-famous Violinist


Leticia Marie Sanchez




So while Joshua Bell is performing the Brahms Concerto with the London Philharmonic in Zaragoza, Spain, a man goes to the front desk of his hotel claiming to be the world-famous violinist.

The Hotel clerk does not bother checking the guy’s ID. (Ever try Google Image, buddy?)

The hotel hands over the key to Joshua Bell’s room to a man off the street while poor Bell fiddles his heart out on stage.

The thief no doubt could not wait to get his sticky fingers on Bell’s 1713 Stradivarius, worth about 4 million dollars. But, unlike the thief, Bell was actually working that night and had his trusty Stradivarius with him.

Instead of leaving the room, the thief decides to indulge in a hot, steamy shower in Bell’s room. I suppose that once he saw that the hotel bathroom was stocked with lavender-scented mini soaps, he may as well try to get some aromatherapy out of it. 

You would think that sudsing up in the shower of the Musical Director of St. Martin’s in the Fields would be enough. But instead, the thief wrapped a towel around his waist, called the front desk, and asked them to help him open the safe. Who needs a Rat Pack of code-breaking accomplices when you can outsource all your safe-cracking needs to the dimwits in hotel security?

The whiz kids in the hotel security team proceeded to assist the half-naked thief in his quest to crack the safe of the high-profile celebrity whose safe they were hired to protect. They never once checked his ID. 

Okay, so to board a plane from Duquesne to Hibbert’s Gore you need to show a driver’s license, lose the overpriced sunblock, and your Red Velvet Cupcake, but to access the private safe of one of the world’s most famous violinists, all you need to do is ask. Duly noted.

 After his refreshing shower, the thief made off with Joshua Bell’s laptop, cash, and a $38,000 watch.

No word yet if the thief stole any Sangría or Croquetes de Jamon from the mini-fridge.                                                                                                 For the news story, please see:

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The Banksy Self-Destructing Art Mystery

The Banksy Self-Destructing Art Mystery


Leticia Marie Sanchez


Last week in London, after being sold for 1.4 million dollars at auction, a Banksy painting self-destructed. Banksy’s “Girl with a Balloon” had just sold at Sotheby’s when a hidden shredder inside the painting began to slice and dice the work, to gasps from the auction crowd.

Photo Credit: Sotheby’s

After the stunt, Banksy posted a quote from Picasso on his Instagram account. “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” Sotheby’s Senior Director of Contemporary Art stated in a news released, “”It appears we just got Banksy-ed,”

But many questions remain.

Was Sotheby’s in on the stunt? Was the shredder operated remotely? How was Banksy able to get the perfect video of the stunt which he later posted on his Instagram? Some speculate that a curly-haired man at the auction videotaping the painting as it self-destructed was Banksy himself.

Perhaps the whole episode was a wry commentary on the nature of the contemporary art market.

After all, let’s not forget that in 2007, after his work sold at Sotheby’s for millions, Banksy posted a picture of the auction patrons with the words:  ”I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This” followed by an expletive. His inelegantly phrased but candid observation has merit; many now believe that the shredded painting will go up in value after this stunt.

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Making the Fig and Other Artistic Insults

An Eye for an Eye, a Fig for a Fig


Leticia Marie Sanchez

Even noble literary figures need to blow off steam. Shakespeare’s Capulets and Montagues deliver the shocking, duel-provoking insult of thumb-biting.  Only a duel could avenge such a slur on one’s honor.

Sampson: I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.

Abram: Do you bite your thumb at us, Sir?’

Romeo and Juliet. Act I. Scene I.

Melee ensues.

 Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy contains another impish affront,“Making the Fig.”  This slur involves thrusting out the thumb between the first and second fingers to express anger or disdain.

 In Dante’s Inferno, Vanni Fucci, a thief convicted of stealing from the Church of San Zeno, “raises his hands, points in mockery, and cries, ‘Take them, God.’” (Canto XXV)

The next time you are in Rome look very carefully on the Sistine Ceiling, at the putto behind the Cumaean Sybil, the one with his arm around his friend.

Is he making the fig?

 To whom could Michelangelo’s gesture be addressed? Could it be a protest against the censorship of the Counter Reformation? Against those who “for decency’s sake” insisted on covering Michelangelo’s exquisite marble statutes with drapery and fig-leaves…

 An eye for an eye, a fig for a fig?

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San Francisco art heist: “The Preppy Sockless Picasso Thief”


Flashback to 2011 when a Picasso sketch was stolen by a man who preferred to go sockless..

Who: Preppy Sockless Picasso Thief

What: Steals Picasso 1962 sketch ““Tête de femme,” valued at $275,000 before heading to party in Napa

Where: San Francisco’s Weinstein Gallery at Geary and Powell Streets

When: Tuesday the 5th of July, 2011

The man calmly removed the sketch from the wall of the gallery, wrapped it newspaper, and then walked out into the crowds at Union Square.

The brazen Picasso pilferer then hopped into a taxi, carefree as a lark, to join friends at a party in Napa, before being caught by police, who had caught his image from a security camera at a restaurant near the gallery.

For more on the story, please read:

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Life of an artist…Philip Glass..

Philip Glass, the creative and celebrated modern composer, courageously blazed a trail despite all the absurdities facing artists.

According to Elizabeth Lundy, in Secret Lives of Great Composers, Mr. Glass took on sundry jobs to pay the bills during the 60′s and 70′s, even while his operas were being performed at the Met in Lincoln Center:

Shortly after the New York premiere of Einstein on the Beach, Glass was driving a taxi. A well-dressed woman got into the cab, looked at his name [tag], and said in surprise, ‘”Young man, do you realize you have the same name as a very famous composer?’”

[Secret Lives of Composers, 278]

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Wise Woman: Sarah Bernhardt

  “Life begets life.

  Energy creates energy.

  It is by spending oneself

 That one becomes rich.”

         Sarah Bernhardt 

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The real reason Jane Austen’s ladies looked forward to courtly dances


The vertical expression


a horizontal desire

legalized by music.”

~George Bernard Shaw

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Theater Review: Under Bacchae’s spell- a MUST SEE production at the Getty Villa

Under Bacchae’s Spell


Leticia Marie Sanchez

The first few moments of Euripides’ Bacchae at the Getty Villa set the tone for the entire evening. Screaming Jay Hawkins’ raw, electrifying 1956 blues hit “I Put a Spell on You” plays in the outdoor theater, jolting the audience as the spartanly dressed Bacchanalian chorus emerges from classical columns. Their fearless leader Dionysus, the god of theater, wine, and divine ecstasy, is played with hypnotic magnetism by Ellen Lauren, who struts onto the stage in red leather pants like Mick Jagger on fire.

Through the direction of Anne Bogart from the New York-based SITI Company, one cannot help but be gripped. Euripides’ Bacchae is heavy material, but Bogart skillfully unearths comedic gems, Bacchanalian beats, and horrific depths so that within 90 minutes, the audience is at turns highly entertained and terrified.

Bogart’s direction uses a theatrical chiaroscuro, juxtaposing shades of light and dark, offering moments of hilarity to contrast with moments when the narrative plummets into the abyss. Bogart’s direction is successful because it allows the audience to understand how a character like Dionysus can so easily seduce legions of followers with playful tones, before revealing his sinister, vengeful side.


Ellen Lauren as Dionysus is a revelation, reeling us in with her massive charisma and verbal and physical prowess. Lauren’s voice and body dance through the prose of fourth century B.C, making it come alive for an audience in 2018. The pulsing beats of Darron West’s sound design enhance the atmosphere, the music complementing the text so that audience feels as though we are sitting at a Bacchanalian rave.

Bacchae” at the Getty Villa. Photo by Craig Schwartz. Left to Right: Eric Berryman (Pentheus) and Ellen Lauren (Dionysus)

Other elements of the production also bring the themes to the forefront. The set is sparse as are the costumes, save for a few colorful flourishes like Cadmus’ Hawaiian shirt and Tiresias’ and floral fishing hat. The simplicity of the design provides a sharp relief to the intensity of the emotional impact of Bacchae. This ensures that the audience will not be distracted from the onslaught of emotions onstage.  The cornerstone of this production is the stellar cast, including Ellen Lauren and Eric Berryman, who despite being a villain, cannot help but be likeable even when he is indignant as Thebes’ hubris-filled ruler Pentheus. Leon Ingulsrud also draws us in when he, as the First Messenger, conveys the eerie Bacchanalian rites.

After one of the most horrifying events, Agave, mother of brutally butchered Pentheus has not grasped what has happened. In this scene, she speaks entirely in Japanese. The Director’s Addendum notes that theater “transcends language.” But, I would posit a second benefit to this unusual directing choice. Agave (played by Akiko Aizawa) at this moment, stands in her own world. This scene showcases dramatic irony at its finest. The audience knows exactly what has happened and longs to reach out to Agave, but she simply doesn’t get it. Her use of another language conveys that she stands apart in her own dimension, her own reality.

Another unusual and effective choice is the casting of Dionysus as a woman. One theme of the play is the dangerous irrationality that men fear in women. In fact, Pentheus’ downward spiral begins when he hears that his own mother has taken part in Bacchanalian rites. The Madonna/Whore dichotomy rears its ubiquitous head; unable to envision his mother this way, Pentheus, in front of the audience, begins to have a mental breakdown. Therefore, having Ellen Lauren personify the dangerous potential attributed to women makes perfect sense in the context of the play.

In the last scene, Dionysus emerges donning a Janitor costume as he sops up the bloody murderous mess. Why the Janitor gear? Dionysus warns the audience that the supernatural comes in many shapes. Perhaps a suggestion to be careful whom you insult. Do not disparage someone whom you consider to be low-status (as happened to Dionysus before he meted out the supreme revenge).

bacche2_webDespite this potentially good message, the play could have more effectively ended with the prior scene.The comedic last scene of Dionysus dressed like a sitcom janitor and Cadmus flopping on his belly like a serpent undercuts the emotional impact. It does not allow us to fully process the sickening horror we have just witnessed. We need time to wallow in this chilling tragedy. The penultimate scene is like a horror film. Cutting the last scene entirely and ending on that dark note would allow the audience to walk out of the theater with maximum emotional impact.


Bacchae” at the Getty Villa. Photo by Craig Schwartz. Left to right: Akiko Aizawa (Agave) and Stephen Duff Webber (Cadmus).

However, Anne Bogart’s production of Bacchae at the Getty Villa is a must-see production to the charismatic cast, creative direction, and mesmerizing design elements.

Bacchae by Euripides

September 6-29, 2018

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:00 p.m.

The Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater at the Getty Villa

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Henri Matisse- Don’t touch the fruit!


Leticia Marie Sanchez

According to Kathleen Krull, in her book “Lives of the Artists,” Henri Matisse subsisted on a strict diet of rice-only when he first started out as a painter.

Not Rice-A-Roni.

Just plain boiled rice.

Matisse refused to even allow himself to indulge in the luscious fruit that he bought for his still life paintings.

Instead, he saved that fruit for his art.

And for us. 


Henri Matisse, Still Life with Oranges. 1899 

Editor’s Note: Matisse eventually became one of the highest-paid artists of his time, imbing champagne and moving to the French Riviera– a real Rice to Riches story!

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