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Strolling through a Sea of Picassos; “States of Mind”- A Must See Exhibit at the Norton Simon

Review: “States of Mind” at the Norton Simon

October 14, 2016- February 13, 2017

 By Leticia Marie Sanchez

picasso-into-2The act of artistic creation is often a mystifying process, in which a mysterious alchemy of genius, inspiration, and hours of labor combine to form the masterpieces that we see hanging on museum walls today.

Although we may be connoisseurs and consumers of output, it is rare to have an opportunity to view the artistic process firsthand. Strolling through a sea of Picassos at the Norton Simon one is struck by the ability to have a window into an artist’s thoughts and vision. Unlike oil paint, which covers the artist’s work, the flexible medium of lithography allows one, as explained by Picasso himself, to “show the picture underneath the picture.” The insightfully curated exhibit of 86 prints juxtaposes various states of a composition so that we can view nuanced adjustments as well as significant changes. For instance, the iconic bull becomes more abstract and geometric with each iteration, with the final image evoking a cave drawing.

bull-1bull-3 bull-5

Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) The Bull, 1945. (Lithograph, various states, including 11th and final state). Norton Simon Art Foundation

The exhibit transports us through visions of Picasso’s loves, mistresses, friendly rival (Matisse), and even his own childlike self-conception. At more than 60 years old, Picasso’s self-portrait was that of a young boy. It is only fitting that he saw himself through a youthful lens, as the exhibit vividly illustrates the artist’s technique of deskilling, moving from the professional to the whimsically childlike in his style. Picasso once remarked of his children, “When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but it has taken a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”

Finally, in addition to getting a window into the mind of Picasso, the exhibit also affords a glance into the intense collecting style of maverick industrialist Norton Simon. In contrast with many of his tycoon peers, Simon lived well below his means, allowing him to invest his fortune in a formidable art collection.  The fervent and often obsessive collector acquired more than 880 works by Picasso, one of the deepest collections of its kind. Simon’s foresight and passion resulted in the sea of Picassos through which we can now immerse ourselves, delving into the mind of a revolutionary artist.

First Image. Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) Head of a Young Girl, November 5, 1945. Lithograph. 1st State; 1 of 18 artist reserved proofs. The Norton Simon Foundation, F. 1983.20.05.G

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December TOP PICK: LA Dance Project December 9th and 10th


A splash of  art+ 2 shots of music+ a pas de bourrée of ballet= a TOP PICK!

The choreography of Benjamin Millepied+ piano etudes of Philip Glass, + a live performance by Rufus Wainwright+ the art of Mark Bradford

=the recipe for a scintillating CULTURAL COCKTAIL!

 L.A. Dance Project at The Theatre at Ace Hotel Downtown LA

December 9 and 10th 8 p.m.

Choreography by: Benjamin Millepied, Christopher Wheeldon, and Roy Assaf;  Special Musical Performance by: Rufus Wainwright; Art by  Mark BradfordFeatured Dancers- Janie Taylor with Benjamin Millepied, Carla Korbes with Batkhurel Bold L.A. Dance Project Company Artists

Ticket Information:

For a past Cultural Cocktail Hour review on the innovative LA Dance Project, please read:

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Behind every cloud is a silver lining…Nimbus at Walt Disney Concert Hall

All photography ©2016 Leticia Marie Sanchez

CCH designates NIMBUS as a must-see, must-hear! Art Installation + Accompanying Music= Purely Celestial

From LA Phil website:

Fallen Rising
Text from the Tenth Elegy of Rilke’s Duino Elegies
Translated by Yuval Sharon
And we
And we who always
Always think of happiness rising
and we who always think of happiness rising
We will be
Will be over whelmed
by the emotion
Emotion of a happy thing falling


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Autumn in Los Angeles

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”– George Eliot, 1841

All photography ©2016 Leticia Marie Sanchez



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Another blissful day imbibing art and nature in LA

All photography ©2016 Leticia Marie Sanchez

The pale pink flower bed is “Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Pink Cloud’”

Sun-drenched stroll at the Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens

pink-flower-and-clouds lions pink-profusion


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Badabing Badaboom: Stolen Van Gogh paintings found in Mafia den

Badabing Badaboom

 Two Stolen Van Gogh paintings found in home of Naples Mafia boss

by Leticia Marie Sanchez


Two Vincent Van Gogh paintings that were stolen from a museum in Amsterdam fourteen years ago have been recovered in the house of a mafia lord at Castellammare di Stabia, near Naples.

The two paintings, Seafront at Scheveningen and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen, were stolen from the Van Gogh museum in 2002 by thieves who climbed to the roof of the museum using a ladder and then absconded by means of a rope. One of the agile art thieves earned the alias “The Monkey,” and the FBI Art Crime Team listed the brazen heist as one of the Top 10 Art Crimes.

What is murky is how the stolen Van Gogh paintings made their way from the hands of the original Dutch art thieves to the luxurious den of the Italian mobster where authorities found the paintings in decent condition.  According to an Italian prosecutor, the mobster runs “one of the most dangerous and active crime groups” in the region. The mafia boss, Rafaelle Imperiale, flew the coop and is believed to be currently running a construction business in Dubai. Italian authorities have requested his extradition from the United Arab Emirates. Investigators have also seized other loot belonging to Signor Imperiale, including apartments, villas and a plane worth an estimated total of $22.3 million. Quite a stash there, goodfella.

Painting Above: ”Seascape at Scheveningen” (The Van Gogh Museum)

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Music for the Soul..

Spectacular performance tonight at the Ambassador Auditorium by the Colburn Orchestrathe jazzy notes of Ravel, the stirring strings of Wagner & the passion of Shostakovich 

A very soulful Cultural Cocktail indeed!




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This week’s Top Pick: A peek into the Orchestra Pit

This week’s Cultural Cocktail recipe double includes: a double shot of Mozart, a chaser of Chausson, and a dose of Dohnanyi



First concert of their 2016/17 inaugural season

Sunday, October 9th  3 p.m.

Featuring: Members of the L.A. Opera Orchestra: Roberto Cani, Violin;  Jessica Guideri, Violin Ana Landauer, Violin;  Yi Zhou, Viola; John Walz, Cello; Rowena Hammill, Cello; Stuart Clark, Clarinet;  Steven Becknell, French Horn; Domingo Colburn Stein Young Artist Summer Hassan, Soprano; Paul Floyd, Piano

MOZART: Clarinet Quintet; MOZART: aria “L’amero saro costante;” CHAUSSON: Chanson Perpetuellel DOHNANYI: Sextet Op. 37

Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
135 North Grand Avenue, LA, CA 90012

For more information on tickets, please visit:

Photo Credit: Brenden-John Photography

From the Pittance Chamber Music Website:

“A Pittance/ Denizens of underworld/A cavern for a stage/Invisible to all but those Who peer into the cage/ And point and stare and wonder how/We fell into the trap/Of playing in an opera pit/Until they start to clap.

For then they rise for diva’s bow/ To see us there below. And now the truth is obvious/ Without us there’s no show/ Compared to grossest salaries/ A pittance is our fee/ But pit is where we make great art/ Where inspiration’s free.

–Rowena Hammill”

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Howard’s End or Venice Beach?

No doubt, the re-release of Howard’s End has inspired readers to pick up E.M. Forster’s brilliant novel only to discover amusing gems that never made the film.
In one such scene, protagonist Margaret Schlegel tells her soon-to-be fiancé Henry Wilcox about a place she recently visited where “it’s all proteins and body-building, and people come up to you and beg your pardon, but you have such a beautiful aura.”
Margaret then adds teasingly: “Never heard of an aura? I scrub at mine for hours!”
This dialogue seems more befitting to the juice fanatics and Kombucha-swillers of modern-day Santa Monica or Venice Beach rather than the tea-sipping denizens of Edwardian England.
Ah…Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!
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Review: Bacchanalia at the Getty Villa: A Haunted House Party

Bacchanalia at the Getty Villa

by Leticia Marie Sanchez

Roman party god Bacchus would look down fondly at the revelry taking place this fall at the Getty Villa Theater. Wine, women, and song abound. Director Matt Walker and his engaging Troubador Theater Company have adapted the work of Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus, refreshing lines from 200 B.C. with contemporary, hilarious zingers. The age-old story involves a prodigal son, Philolaches, partying like a rock star while his unsuspecting father, Theopropiedes, travels abroad. Aptly entitled “The Haunted House Party,” the ambiance of the adaptation feels like a ninety-minute zany house party with characters rapping, breaking into dance routines, and even calling out late audience members. As Matt Walker declared to the audience, “there is no fourth wall.” The strength of this production lies in the talented cast, spontaneous ad libs, audience engagement, and the sassy verbal juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern.

 One of the play’s highlights occurred at the beginning during the witty riffing between the indefatigable Matt Walker (Tranio) and the uber-talented Beth Kennedy (Grumio) as she fell (ever so gently) on the marble floor of the Getty Villa Theater. With her sense of comedic timing and powerful charisma, Kennedy also stole the show as Mr. Moneygrub, a Roman banker who would have fit right in with the Goodfellas. As an ensemble, the Troubadors mastered various dimensions of entertaining including singing (especially Karole Foreman as Scapha and Misty Cotton as Delphium) and impressions (Rick Batalla’s spot on interpretation of a modern political figure had the audience roaring). Michael Faulkner (Theopropides), in his dulcet ballad at the play’s end, elicited sympathy as the duped father of a party animal.

Another strength of the production involved the juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern, particularly in the dance routines. The Police’s “Roxanne” is transformed to “Philomatia, You Don’t Have to Put on the Red Dress Tonight.” Later, Gloria Gaynor’s “I will Survive” contains references to the Colosseum and the Acropolis. “We are Topical,” sang the Troubies and indeed, with fast-paced allusions to Uber, Lyft, the 2016 Presidential Election, the pop culture references made the play a delight.

One aspect of the play that felt unnecessary was the excessive bawdiness. No, we did not really need to get (several) glimpses of the Slave Boy’s nether regions. The play also hit us over the head with the sexual proclivities and positions of Phoenicium and Erotium (the talented Leah Sprecher and Suzanne Narbonne). PSA: This play is not for children. In that aspect, the house party felt a bit Greek, and by Greek, I mean like a Fraternity party. The production was strong and hilarious enough on its own merit and did not need to attempt to elicit extra laughs with ribald gags.

Plautus, whose work influenced Shakespeare and Molière wrote in verse. At the Haunted House Party, the Troubadors creatively use verse- weaving classical allusions into rap, 70’s songs, and contemporary songs- to keep their audience on their toes. Or at least, chuckling on their seat cushions.

Photo Below:

Beth Kennedy as Grumio and Matt Walker as Tranio in The Troubies’ Haunted House Party at the Getty Villa. Photo by Craig Schwartz


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