This week, we are celebrating Union Station’s 80th birthday and Cinco de Mayo, viewing paintings of lost times in the city, getting birdy in Northeast LA and checking out Hollywood dream machines at the Petersen.
On May 3-4, one of my favorite LA landmarks, Union Station, will celebrate its 80th anniversary.
This free birthday bash will feature live music, DJs, childrens’ games and music, food trucks and art and architecture tours.
From 1 to 7 p.m. May 3, the station’s waiting room will feature live entertainment, including a performance at 1:30 p.m. by the California Feetwarmers, a band described as equal parts New Orleans jazz and ragtime. There will also be an electronic photo retrospective of the station’s storied past and a model train exhibition from the Del Oro Pacific Modular Railroad on display throughout the day.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 4 the station’s north patio will host a Family Fun Zone featuring a Griffith Park Travel Town activity corner, a Giggle Factory play zone and a childrens’ concert series featuring a workshop from Rhythm Child and performances from Angel Bird and Jazzy Ash.
From 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. the station’s south patio will host a lively marketplace showcasing local artists and artisans with L.A.-inspired art, crafts and gifts including Angel City Press, Lit Soul Candles and Self Help Graphics. There will also be live music from DJs and performances from Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles and Latin soul band Jungle Fire.
From 3:30 to 9 p.m., the Historic Ticket Concourse will become a hub of live entertainment featuring some of L.A.’s favorite bands including ’30s and ’40s jazz classics from Hothouse, big band funk from Phil Ranelin, ska from Western Standard and the pan-Latin sound of Buyepongo.
There will be tours offered of this architectural gem, which features Art Deco, Moorish and Southwest design elements.
Cinco de Mayo
Directly across the street from Union Station is El Pueblo Historical Monument, the birthplace of LA and the home of Olvera Street. From noon to 8 p.m., May 4 and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., May 5, the site will host its annual Cinco de Mayo celebration.
Highlights include dance performances by Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo, Santa Monica College Global Motion World and Conjunto Tenocelomeh. There will be mariachis and children’s activities.
While looking up the Cinco de Mayo event, I stumbled across an art exhibition that vaulted to the top of my must-see list. Through May 19, the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles is hosting “Leo Politi’s Los Angeles: Works of Love and Protest.”
Politi made a living by sketching tourists visiting Olvera Street (his mural “The Blessing of the Animals” adorns one of the street’s walls) and writing and illustrating children’s books. But he also did a book aimed at adults called “Bunker Hill, Los Angeles,” featuring paintings he did of the Victorian homes of his neighborhood, before they were demolished for redevelopment. The exhibition features some of that work as well as scenes of San Pedro during the apex of the fishing industry, World War II-era DTLA and Watts in the late ’60s.
There is a quote from Politi featured in the exhibition:
“Can we really call it progress when it means the extinction of our leading landmarks of known historical, aesthetic and sentimental values? By destroying all our islands of heritage, we are not only erasing the continuity of our city’s history, but above all, we are denying our children the precious knowledge of the past that would greatly enrich their lives. In ending, I would like to say what little value may have, it has been a work of love and also of protest.”
The museum is located at 644 N. Main St. It is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free, but donations are strongly encouraged.
For the birds
Celebrate Bird LA Day on May 4 at the Audubon Center at Debs Park, 4700 N. Griffin Ave.
Event organizers say LA is one of the “birdiest” cities in the country, home to 400 resident and migratory bird species. Debs Park is described as one of LA’s largest habitats for native birds.
The event kicks off at 8 a.m. with bird watching. Activities include bird hat making with the Arroyo Arts Collective, a birds of prey show, a puppet show, nature-themed arts and crafts and a special musical performance by Ten Thousand Birds with Synchromy, set for 3 p.m.
Synchromy will stage the Los Angeles Premiere of Ten Thousand Birds by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams throughout Debs Park. The audience will be invited to follow “flocks” of instruments who will migrate and converge, creating a unique merging of the arts and nature.
There are excerpts of Ten Thousand Birds on YouTube if you want to sample it and see if it’s your cup of tea.
The event will also serve as the opening for a site-specific art installation — “Shelter” by the Arroyo Art Collective.
“Shelter” is a set of temporary installations located throughout the 17 acres of the park. The overall theme of this project is habitat, with an emphasis on local flora and fauna found in Debs Park. Artists address such issues in their installations as ecological concerns which can impact the ongoing health and safety of our natural landscape, biology and the migratory patterns in Northeast LA neighborhoods.
“Shelter” will be on display through June 8.
The Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., will open a new exhibition to the public on May 5 titled, “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy.”
The exhibition will feature over 40 vehicles from TV shows and movies. Among the vehicles to be included in the exhibition are the DeLorean time machine from “Back to the Future,” the Light Cycle from “Tron: Legacy,” the Batmobile from the 1989 “Batman,” KITT from the TV show “Knight Rider” and the Black Beauty from the 1960s TV show “The Green Hornet.”
There’s an opening reception at 7 p.m., May 4, for $75 a ticket. The show will open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 5. General admission tickets are $16 for adults and $11 for children.