When a door closes, a window opens — isn’t that what they say? Well, for every door that closed for good in 2017, a new (or resurrected) destination has appeared on the horizon. These are the cultural newcomers we’re looking forward to exploring in 2018.
The late designer Joe Musil spent years crafting elaborate models of the theaters he remembered from his childhood in Long Beach. In 1987, he was awarded the contract to transform a run-down movie house into a hyper-stylized Art Deco movie palace, but in later years, the Westwood theater was repeatedly opened and closed according to the whims of various operators, until a group called the Actors Hall of Fame announced plans to reopen the landmark in 2018. Members will be able to attend Q&As, see new films on the big screen, and enjoy “world premiere re-enactments” of classics like Spartacus and Psycho. (Wait, what? Sign us up!)
Ernest Batchelder was a Pasadena tile maker who was a leader in the Arts and Crafts movement. (Architects Greene and Greene used his handmade tiles in their homes, and today originals can fetch thousands of dollars.) In 1914, the designer was commissioned to create this elaborate restaurant near Sixth and Broadway, with the walls, arches, and vaulted ceilings covered with tile depicting scenes of life in Holland. Over the years, this magnificent space known as the Dutch Chocolate Shop building was home to a cafeteria, and for a time was divided up into swap-meet stalls. Now, says downtown design firm Omgivning, “the former Chocolate Shop space will be reimagined as an engaging restaurant/lounge that preserves the century-old handcrafted tiles and showcases them for the enjoyment of the community.”
Magic Castle co-founder Milt Larsen has another trick up his sleeve. Larsen and his wife, Arlene, are set to debut their new Magic Castle Cabaret in Montecito early next year. The new club includes a lake and nature preserve and will be filled with the same type of architectural antiques as his famous showroom in Hollywood. “I’m gonna make it look like a castle with a lot of stained glass and woodwork,” Larsen says. “It will strictly be devoted to close-up magic and variety arts. We might have an evening with [Disney legend] Richard Sherman or a comedian. It’s a gorgeous little place with a lakefront view.” Larsen opened a Variety Arts Center downtown in 1977, and this magazine described the bill as “vaudeville and standup comedy, mime, juggling, fire eating, tap-dancing, acrobatics, tightrope walking, ventriloquism, trained-animal acts — all that nutty stuff that went out of style with The Ed Sullivan Show.” The members-only club is planning to open in mid-February.
When the Los Angeles Police Department moved into its new headquarters in 2009, it left behind the Parker Center, its iconic 1955 tower on Los Angeles Street, as well as two significant artworks: a mid-century bronze by Tony Rosenthal called Family Group, and Joseph Young’s magnificent Architectural History of Los Angeles, a 6- by 36-foot tile sculpture that American Artist described as “six tons of steel, copper, aluminum, and glass, fused into a monolithic mosaic panel of beauty and permanence that seems to float on air.” Conservators will relocate the public art to a new home inside the current LAPD HQ at First and Main. The Los Angeles Conservancy worked for years to preserve the original Parker Center building by Welton Becket & Associates (who also gave us the Cinerama Dome, Capitol Records building, and the Music Center) but ultimately lost, citing the “challenges of preserving places with difficult histories.”
Santa Monica’s powerhouse public radio station KCRW will finally move into an impressive new compound about a mile west — and a million miles above — its current basement home at Santa Monica City College. The station is part of a $115 million high-tech extension to the campus that will offer training in film and TV, journalism, design, and digital media. The site will also have several auditoriums and stages for the public to attend concerts and special events.
The magnificent Fort Moore Memorial was built in 1958 on Hill Street, just north of the Hollywood Freeway, and depicts early American soldiers in Los Angeles. Despite a prominent location, enormous sculptures, and a 47-foot waterfall, many residents have no idea it exists. The waterworks went dry during the 1973 energy crisis and the artwork fell into disrepair. The city and county recently allocated funds for artists to restore the mosaic tile, terra cotta, and pumps that power the water.
Hidden inside a century-old movie house near USC, the Velaslavasay Panorama exhibits 360-degree paintings, a pre-cinematic art form popular in the 19th century. A decade-long exhibition dedicated to the Arctic called Effulgence of the North will soon be retired, and this summer the space will debut the first-ever China-USA collaborative panorama, Shengjing Panorama. The work depicts a town in Northeast China, with similarities to Los Angeles, as it looked from 1910-1930.
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