Kaiju vs. Hero

This week, it’s all about museums, from Little Tokyo to DTLA to the Miracle Mile.

Soul of a Nation:

Art in the Age

of Black Power

The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave., is putting the spotlight on contemporary African-American art with a special exhibition, “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.”

The exhibition looks at the contribution of Black artists over two decades, beginning in 1963.

It explores how social justice movements, as well as stylistic evolutions in visual art such as Minimalism and abstraction, were expressed in the work of artists like Romare Bearden, Barkley Hendricks, Noah Purifoy, Martin Puryear and Faith Ringgold.

“Featuring the work of more than 60 influential artists and including vibrant paintings, powerful sculptures, street photography, murals and more, this landmark exhibition is a rare opportunity to see era-defining artwork that changed the face of art in America,” thebroad.org says.

The exhibition also highlights Los Angeles-based artists, showing L.A.’s role in the art and history of the civil rights movement.

The exhibition opens March 23 and runs until Sept. 1. Tickets are $18 for adults and $12 for students. Youth 17 and under get in free. Tickets are available through thebroad.org

‘Take Me Out

to the Ballgame’

The Grammy Museum, 800 W. Olympic Blvd., is taking a look at the link between baseball and music with a new exhibition “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

“Whether it’s the national anthem played before every game, the music ballplayers select to accent their walk up to home plate, or the seventh inning stretch when fans sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game,’ music is an integral part of the baseball experience,” grammymuseum.org says. “The exhibit takes you on a journey starting before the 20th century when interest in baseball-themed music was fostered through the sales of sheet music, then explains the rise of baseball songs becoming a part of a new era of American music in the early 1900s, to current day popular music being a central part of players preparing to take the field and excite the fans.”

Edward Meeker and The Edison Orchestra’s original 1908 recording of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame this year.

Exhibit highlights include the sheet music from the game’s early years, including “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” handwritten lyrics to baseball-themed songs, including James Taylor’s “Angels of Fenway,” sportscaster Harry Caray’s microphone, limited edition posters and special edition guitars, including the Jackie Robinson Telecaster.

This exhibition will run through the fall. An exact closing date has not been posted.

The Grammy Museum is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday. The museum is closed on Tuesday.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for those 65 and older and those ages 6 to 17. Children 5 and under get in free.

Japanese toys

I think one of LA’s most under-appreciated cultural venues is the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave., in Little Tokyo.

JANM has two exhibitions running now that show its ability to showcase playful pop culture influences as well as documenting prejudice and hardship.

The more playful exhibition is “Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys,” a display of hundreds of vintage vinyl toys.

When he was 9, Nagata, a California boy, received a box of toys from an aunt and uncle living on a U.S. military base in Japan. The box contained action figures and artwork of heroes in battle with Kaiju, a Japanese word that has come to mean “monster” or “giant monster,” referring to  characters like Godzilla, Mothra and Rodan.

Those toys and artwork inspired Nagata to collect toys and become an artist, working with such clients as Scholastic Books, Lucasfilm, DC Comics, Hasbro Toys and IBM. He also provided the cover art for several of the books in the R.L. Stine Goosebumps series.

In 2005, Nagata founded Max Toy Company and began production of his own editions of kaiju toys and artwork.

The exhibition runs through July 7.

Also on display is “Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit,” featuring modern and historical photographs documenting the stories of Japanese Americans who were forcibly incarcerated during World War II.

Contemporary photos taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Paul Kitagaki Jr. are displayed next to images shot 75 years ago by such noted photographers as Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, with each pair featuring the same individuals or their direct descendants as the subject matter.

Inspired by the Japanese concept of gambatte — to triumph over adversity — the exhibition chronicles the strength and legacy of a generation of Japanese Americans who persevered over unimaginable hardship.

Gambatte is on display through April 28.

JANM is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and from noon to 8 p.m., Thursday.

Admission is $12 for adults, $6 for seniors over 62 and for youth 6 to 17. Those 5 and under are admitted free.

A stroll down Museum Row

There’s a stretch of Wilshire Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea avenues known as the Miracle Mile. Along this stretch are four pretty outstanding museums. Here are some highlights of what’s happening on Museum Row.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

There’s always something of interest to see here, but the thing that caught my eye recently was an admission program aimed at getting children exposed to art. It’s called NexGen and it provides a free youth membership for children 17 and under. NexGen members may visit the museum for free and bring one adult, who also gets in free. You can find out more by visiting http://www.lacma.org/faq#nexgen

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, 5801 Wilshire Blvd.

A recent addition to the museum is “Mammoths and Mastodons,” featuring new life-sized replicas that show what these animals looked like in life. There are interactive displays that will give you a hands-on understanding of the science behind excavating and analyzing these fascinating creatures.

Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd.

I’m in no way, shape or form a gear head, but this place is amazing. One of the exhibitions now on display through November, is “Legends of Los Angeles: Southern California Race Cars and Their Builders.” The exhibition features a display of 11 race cars constructed in and around Los Angeles by renowned designers and engineers such as Fred Offenhauser, Harry Miller, Frank Kurtis and Max Balchowsky, along with artifacts and a dramatic 180-degree panoramic video.

“Visitors will learn that, while they may associate other places more directly with car racing, Southern California’s broad role in the sport is perhaps the most consequential of any locale in the world,” Petersen.org says.

The Petersen is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for those 62 and older, $11 for youth 4 to 17 and free for children 3 and under.

Craft and Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd.

Of note here, is an exhibition called “Beatriz Cortez: Trinidad/Joy Station,” the first major solo exhibition by the acclaimed El Salvador-born, Los Angeles-based artist. In this exhibition, Cortez imagines a “space of communal living that is dedicated to multicultural coexistence, the survival of indigenous peoples, and experiences of joy. Imagined as a space station consisting of multiple geodesic structures that can be viewed from outside or experienced as interiors, a living indigenous food garden and other communal spaces, Cortez envisions a world outside the confines of Western civilization,” cafam.org says.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $9 for adults and $7 for students, teachers, and seniors. Admission on Sundays is free.

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