Patrick Smyth: Big or small, shooting everything in sight

Passion projects Conversing with photographer Patrick Smyth by Bondo Wyszpolski Intrigued by the grimacing heads sculpted by Franz Xavier Messerschmidt in the late 18th century (and by the Getty’s “Vexed Man” in particular), Reidar Schopp invited several photographers to his San Pedro studio in order to shoot one another in facial poses — frowns, scowls,…

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Where the camera is king: three photography exhibits

Fine art photography, three exhibitions “Arthur Tress: Rambles, Dreams, and Shadows,” plus “Sheila Metzner: From Life,” and Peter Fetterman’s “The Power of Photography” by Bondo Wyszpolski In the earlier part of his career, New York-based Arthur Tress felt that the reason contemporary photography often failed to move us personally was because it didn’t “touch upon…

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Frida and Diego: coming to life on the Day of the Dead

Folkloric and surreal, an operatic tale of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera “El último sueño de Frida y Diego” by Bondo Wyszpolski The glowing heat of an intense orange-and-blue set pervades “El último sueño de Frida y Diego” (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego), a two-act opera, in Spanish, by composer Gabriela Lena Frank…

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Soldiers and composers: “Time’s Echo,” a review

First the battle, then the music “Time’s Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance,” by Jeremy Eichler (Alfred A. Knopf, 386 pp, $30) by Bondo Wyszpolski Let’s start with the premise and purpose of “Time’s Echo,” which is impeccably researched and astonishingly well thought out. Alluding to words written by…

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Fanfare for the common man

Salt of the earth “Reckoning with Millet’s ‘Man with a Hoe’ 1863-1900,” edited by Scott Allan (Getty Publications, 123 pp, $26.95) by Bondo Wyszpolski Scott Allan doesn’t waste any time rolling up his sleeves: “For a time around the turn of the twentieth century, ‘Man with a Hoe’ would be the most renowned European painting…

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Local church overrun by gangsters! Don’t miss the action!

“The Package” and “Constellations” A double treat onstage in Manhattan Beach by Bondo Wyszpolski This past weekend two very different plays opened at the Manhattan Beach Community Church Theater, one written by South Bay resident Bob Manning (“The Package”) and one written by the English playwright Nick Payne (“Constellations”). I’ll start with the home team.…

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Alyssa Barron hits all the notes

Ballads to blues, rock and cabaret Tuning in to local singer-songwriter Alyssa Barron by Bondo Wyszpolski Alyssa Barron has been rolling out new songs in advance of an album that may, the singer-songwriter says, be released in the spring. But who is Alyssa Barron, and why should we care about her and her music? Well,…

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Who’s in? This haunted movie palace awaits your presence

Seraphic serenade “Angel of Light” with a demonic twist by Bondo Wyszpolski One of the keys to a successful Halloween haunt is the location, and therefore atmosphere, in which it is set. The Queen Mary (1934) is one such place, and the Los Angeles Theatre (built in 1931) is another. “Angel of Light” takes place…

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Black soul and Greek legends

Oedipus sings the blues “The Gospel at Colonus” at the Getty Villa by Bondo Wyszpolski Whatever else one may think about “The Gospel at Colonus,” the reinterpretation of “Oedipus at Colonus,” it’s hard to deny that this is an innovative production. Furthermore — and it’s being performed through Sept. 30 at the outdoor amphitheater in…

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The man who spent his life promoting Venezuelan art

From Caracas with love “Alfredo Boulton: Looking at Venezuela, 1928-1978,” ed. by Idurre Alonso (Getty Publications, $275 pp, $60), in connection with the exhibition of the same name on view through Jan. 24 at the Getty Research Institute by Bondo Wyszpolski Not very well known outside of his own country, Alfredo Boulton (1908-1995) was a…

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Insight and discovery, and our place in the universe

Reality check by Bondo Wyszpolski “The Rigor of Angels: Borges, Heisenberg, Kant, and the Ultimate Nature of Reality,” by William Egginton (Pantheon, 338 pp, $32) The subtitle should immediately clear the house, but those who remain are in for a ride. William Egginton has corralled three pilgrims from different disciplines, and shows how each of…

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Uncanny events in middle-class suburbia

“Disruptions,” by Steven Millhauser (Alfred A. Knopf, 270 pp, $28) by Bondo Wyszpolski Back in 2002, Jennifer Howard of the Washington Post Book Club wrote that “In another age, [Steven] Millhauser would probably have been an Andrew Lang or one of the Brothers Grimm.” Lang’s Fairy Books, published between 1889 and 1913, are still in…

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Little robots of centuries past

Were these the first robots? “Miracles and Machines: A Sixteenth-Century Automaton and Its Legend,” by Elizabeth King and W. David Todd (Getty Publications, 245 pp., $45) by Bondo Wyszpolski The automaton of the subtitle is a walking and gesticulating figure of a friar, referred to, however, as “the monk,” and it dates back to mid-sixteenth-century…

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Bells & whistles, and Charles Bukowski

“Pinball Wizard,” by Michael D. Meloan (IF SF Publishing, 132 pp, $15) by Bondo Wyszpolski Michael Meloan’s short novel doesn’t have anything to do with either Elton John or The Who’s “Tommy,” but early on the protagonist, Ralph Hargraves, is asked this question: Are you the Pinball Wizard or the pinball? The book sort of…

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Where the ends never quite meet

Destitution row “Giacomo Ceruti: A Compassionate Eye” at the Getty by Bondo Wyszpolski I’ve never seen so much tattered clothing in one place. Giacomo Ceruti (1698-1767), who was active in Northern Italy, seems to have been a fairly prolific and highly-regarded painter, but like most people, artists or otherwise, he slipped through the trapdoor of…

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