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Culture Through The Ages
Space-age Architecture and a Prehistoric Skeleton Take Downtown Exhibits Into 2008
by Julie Riggott
In January, Downtown Los Angeles will host two disparate events: an architectural exhibit at SCI-Arc created with the help of astrophysicists, and a year-long celebration of award-winning children's book author and illustrator Leo Politi (1908-1996). After that, the artistic pace doesn't slow: MOCA looks at Allan Kaprow's (1927-2006) influence on Pop and performance art, and JANM holds a mirror up to contemporary Asian-American culture. Meanwhile at Exposition Park, pre-history mixes with bands, DJs and intellectual discourse, as the Natural History Museum reprises a favorite series.
Leo Politi captured the colors and magic of Olvera Street in his 1967 book The Poinsettia. The award-winning children's book author and illustrator will be honored in a centennial festival starting Jan. 26 and running throughout 2008. Photo courtesy of Leo Politi family.
Far-Out Architecture: The Southern California Institute of Architecture, a self-described "educational laboratory" for future-gazing architects, presents free exhibits and lectures all year round. Get acquainted with SCI-Arc on Jan. 25 from 7-9 p.m. at a combined open house/reception for the latest exhibit, quasar. The evening will celebrate the release of two titles from SCI-Arc Press, including Onramp, the first publication to focus exclusively on SCI-Arc student work. For quasar., an installation by the L.A. and New York-based design/media firm slap!, architect Jean Michel Crettaz collaborated with the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Stanford's Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology. Sensors in the installation collect data from the exhibit and the people in it; the data are then synchronized with data from SLAC and NASA and sent back to the installation to transform the space. Who knew architecture could be such a trip?

Illustrating Olvera Street: Jan. 26 marks the beginning of the Leo Politi Centennial, a celebration of the Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator who found inspiration on Olvera Street. Though he wrote about children in Chinatown as well as other L.A. and California locales, his books and his mural, "The Blessing of the Animals," forever make him a fixture of Olvera Street. The kick-off will be held at the Pico House at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, with an exhibit of paintings, sculptures and illustrations presented by Politi's family. Among the entertainment celebrating Politi's life and work on Jan. 26 will be music from the Leo Politi Elementary School Student Choir and Charles Wright as well as performances from dance troupes. Theatre of the Puppets will also bring one of Politi's most popular books, Pedro, the Angel of Olvera Street, to life. For a complete list of events, which will continue throughout the year in locations across the country, visit leopoliti2008centennial.org.

Contact Julie Riggott at julie@downtownnews.com.

page 14, 1/7/2008
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