September 2019: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Scandinavian Events

Happy last long weekend of summer! If you haven’t already filled up your Labor Day Weekend with plans, it’s not too late to take advantage of some festive events still happening around the area this weekend. And the rest of the month offers many opportunities to explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles as well.

This is also the month for two special Scandinavian festivals, Solvang Danish Days in Santa Barbara County and Vista Viking Festival in San Diego County. Unfortunately, both take place the same weekend (September 21 & 22), but either one would make for an interesting excursion out of town.

How will you explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month? 

* LABOR DAY WEEKEND OF AUGUST 31 & SEPTEMBER 1 & 2 *

Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, on view until September 1. See the iconic images that amplified one of the most influential cultural movements of the 1960s: “Black Is Beautiful.” Featuring over forty photographs of black women and men with natural hair and clothes that reclaimed their African roots, Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, is the first-ever major exhibition dedicated to this key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

Orange International Street Fair, Old Town Orange Plaza, Orange, Friday, 8/30, to Sunday, 9/1. Every Labor Day Weekend, the Orange International Street Fair (OISF) in downtown Orange has been the place where friends, families and neighbors get together to experience a wide variety of food, music and dance from cultures and ethnicities throughout the world. Visit website for event hours and parking information.

E Hula Mau: Hula and Chant Competition, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach, Friday, 8/30, to Monday, 9/2. E Hula Mau welcomes you to attend this year’s competition and festivities. There will be an Island food court (Kalua pig plate, Hulihuli chicken, Spam musubi, Manapua, shave ice, Macadamia nut cookies, poi mochi, kulolo, dried aku and poi, etc.), Polynesian Arts & Craft Fair, cultural workshops, and entertainment (see event schedule).

Long Beach Greek Festival by the Sea, Assumption of Blessed Virgin, Long Beach, Saturday, 8/31, to Monday, 9/2. Eat, drink, and dance all things Greek during this three-day event. Enjoy delicious Greek food (rotisserie chicken, gyros, Greek salads, roasted lamb, homemade Greek sweets, and more!), Greek beer and wine, live Greek music and dancing (lessons, too!), cooking demonstrations, specialty vendors, and carnival rides.

Autumn Moon Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 9/1, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Join a 2,000 year-old celebration held to usher in the fall season! Bowers’ Autumn Moon Festival will feature performances by JC Culture Foundation’s lion dancers, Sino US Arts Performing Organization, and straight from Taiwan, a very special performance by Freedom Beat, presenting a creative fusion of percussion and electronic music. Enjoy free mooncakes and art projects including lantern making and moon watercolor paintings.

Andell Family Sundays — Chinese Art Now, Zev Yaroslavsky Plaza at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 9/1, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the current exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China. Be inspired by the innovative and playful use of unconventional art materials (like Coca-Cola or silk cocoons!) by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing. Make your own art exploring different materials in artist-led workshops.

Broad Fest 2019, The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, Sunday, 9/1, 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Enjoy a relaxing and engaging afternoon in the sun at this annual community festival. This free outdoor event features music performances, a live DJ, dance lessons and other activities for the whole family. Performers include Boogaloo Assassins, a Los Angeles-based 12-piece Latin band; Viver Brasil which honors Brazil’s African legacy through bold contemporary dance theater; She Sings She Swings, a young sing band; and DJ Anthony Valadez. See Broad Fest 2019 Lineup for more information.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 7 & 8 *

The Liberator: Chronicling Black Los Angeles, 1900–1914, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, on view until September 8. The Liberator was an early 20th-century newspaper that documented the emerging African American population in Los Angeles. Founded in 1900 by Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, a former slave who advocated for improved social and economic conditions for black men and women, the publication reported on local, national, and international news and provided a source of racial upliftment for over a decade. The exhibition sheds light on the expansion of the city’s African American community, its challenges in a post-Reconstruction era, and its hopes and accomplishments, as captured in the newspaper’s pages. More than a century since The Liberator’s final issue, this exhibition includes rare ephemera, photographs, and artifacts that offer a unique study of the narrative of black Los Angeles.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Throughout Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/7, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of LA’s Chinatown. RSVP here.

Mexico: Tree of Life – Sculpture (Barnsdall Arts Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Philippines Cultural Day (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 9/8, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the cultures of the Philippines with performances, artmaking activities, a chef conversation, and storytime for kids. This event will present a collaboration of performing artists from Malaya Filipino American Dance Arts, Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble, and Rocksteady Rondalla. Visit website for a schedule of events. Free admission all day.

Andell Family Sundays — Chinese Art Now, Zev Yaroslavsky Plaza at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 9/8, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the current exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China. Be inspired by the innovative and playful use of unconventional art materials (like Coca-Cola or silk cocoons!) by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing. Make your own art exploring different materials in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 14 & 15 *

Mexican Independence Day, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/14 & Sunday, 9/15. Celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain with popular and traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, food, artisan exhibits and more. ¡Viva México!

 Two-Day Jewelry Workshop: The Wonderful World of Washi, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Saturday & Sunday, 9/14 & 9/15, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Washi is a traditional Japanese handmade decorative paper that dates back to the seventh century. In this workshop led by Reiko Nakano, create a washi collage necklace in which the designs of two different washi patterns will be integrated onto one set of differently shaped wooden beads. These beads will then be enhanced with commercial components to form a truly unique neck ornament. The second project will be a coordinated washi wood bracelet. Please visit website for more details and to RSVP.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/14, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival starting at 5 o’clock. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. Visit website to RSVP.

81st Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, Central and Blossom Plazas, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/14, 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival celebrates the full harvest moon and is a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and to celebrate and share the generous bounty with family. Celebrate with your Los Angeles family in Chinatown style! Traditional Chinese cultural demonstrations alongside hot local bands mark a celebration uniquely Angeleno and uniquely Chinatown. Come by for the annual Dessert Eating Competition, or to taste Mooncake samples from Chinatown’s popular bakeries, or to take a peek at the full moon in her glory through scientific telescopes!

Egypt: Clay Tablets with Cartouche (Barnsdall Arts Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/15, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays — Chinese Art Now, Zev Yaroslavsky Plaza at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 9/15, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the current exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China. Be inspired by the innovative and playful use of unconventional art materials (like Coca-Cola or silk cocoons!) by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing. Make your own art exploring different materials in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 21 & 22 *

Solvang Danish Days, Solvang (Santa Barbara County), Friday, 9/20, to Sunday, 9/22. Solvang has been celebrating its Danish heritage at this annual festival since 1936. Events and activities take place all over town and include live music, comedy shows, Hans Christian Andersen storytellings, a parade each day, a Viking encampment with historical reenactments bringing Viking times to life, and a Living History Festival with artisans, craftspeople, storytellers, and interactive activities for all ages. There’s even a special kids area with snacks, beverages, games, and fun (including LEGOS!). Don’t miss the æbleskiver breakfasts and eating contests as well as the Old World Artisans Marketplace with demonstrations and artisanal hand-crafted items including Scandinavian arts & crafts, woodworking, papercutting, rosemaling, fabric art, jewelry, and pottery.

Pasadena Greek Fest, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, Pasadena, Friday, 9/20, to Sunday, 9/22. Enjoy performances of Greek dancing and music; talks on cuisine, history, and travel; and tastes of Greek foods such as gyros, souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava. A special Kid’s Zone entertains kids with bouncy inflatables, games and a climbing wall.

Vista Viking Festival, Vista (North San Diego County), Saturday, 9/21, & Sunday, 9/22. Make your way to Vista to see, share, and sample all things Viking and Scandinavian. Learn about Viking life in the living history encampments of the Viking Village and watch exciting Viking battles on the field. At the Viking Marketplace, peruse and purchase beautiful Nordic merchandise and arts and crafts, both handmade and imported. At the Weapons Range, expert instructors will train you in the skills of axe throwing, spear throwing, and archery. In addition to these events and activities, enjoy a variety of live entertainment all day long on two stages. There are also arts and crafts and games for children, delicious Nordic food throughout the grounds, beer gardens, and unique Viking competitions.

Global Dining: Guatemala in Sherman Oaks, Saturday, 9/21, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. The final global dining experience will conclude with a prix fixe lunch by Puchica Guatemalan Bar and Grill in Sherman Oaks. Enjoy kak`ik, a traditional Maya turkey soup spiced with coriander, achiote, and chili peppers, and served with corn tortillas and tamales. $30 Fowler members, $35 general. This event has a limited capacity and requires advance tickets (no walk-ins). To register, visit website.

China: Autumn Festival Lantern – Zodiac Signs (Barnsdall Arts Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/22, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays — Chinese Art Now, Zev Yaroslavsky Plaza at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 9/22, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the current exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China. Be inspired by the innovative and playful use of unconventional art materials (like Coca-Cola or silk cocoons!) by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing. Make your own art exploring different materials in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 28 & 29 *

Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing, LACMA, Los Angeles, on view until September 29. Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing is the first exhibition held outside of Asia to focus on the history of writing and calligraphy in Korea. Believed to mirror one’s qualities as a human being in ways unmatched by any other art, calligraphy has long been considered one of the highest art forms in Korea. Due to the rarity of several of the international loans, Beyond Line will only be on view at LACMA—making this a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

38th Annual Watts Tower Day of the Drum Festival & 43rd Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival, The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Saturday, 9/28, & Sunday, 9/29. Save the dates. Details coming soon!

Baja Splash Cultural Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/28, & Sunday, 9/29. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Mexican Independence Day, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its eighteenth annual Baja Splash Cultural Festival featuring live entertainment, crafts, educational programs, ethnic cuisine, and much more. Mariachi music, Mexican folkloric and Aztec dance troupes, interactive mural painting, Salvadoran dance, Guatemalan performances, and other special programs are featured.

Israel: Hamsa – Embossed Metal (Barnsdall Arts Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/29, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays — Chinese Art Now, Zev Yaroslavsky Plaza at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 9/29, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, check out the current exhibition of contemporary Chinese art, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China. Be inspired by the innovative and playful use of unconventional art materials (like Coca-Cola or silk cocoons!) by artists such as Ai Weiwei and Xu Bing. Make your own art exploring different materials in artist-led workshops.

* SPECIAL EXHIBITS TO SEE THIS FALL *

Guatemalan Masks: Selections from the Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, on view until October 6. Traditional Guatemalan dance-dramas come to life in a vivid installation of 80 wood masks depicting animals, folk personae, and historical figures that are deeply rooted in Guatemalan religiosity and popular culture. With some examples dating back a century or more, the masks offer insights into how the dances articulate community identities.

India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, on view until October 20. Since the 600 CE, stepwells have served as water-harvesting systems that descend into the earth and enable communities to access the water table or rainwater gathered below. A selection of 48 photographs by journalist Victoria Lautman captures the diversity and sublime beauty of these architectural marvels.

Do you know of other events happening this month that might be of interest to this community? Feel free to add them in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me with details. Thank you!

Reading Lately (July 2019): Reading Challenges Progress & #WITMonth Plans  

July was a good reading month! I checked off new prompts for both my Scandinavian reading and Reading Women challenges. Also, I had my first 5-star read of the year (I’m stingy with my stars!) and got a head start on Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth) which happens in August.

I always look forward to participating in Women in Translation Month, a monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. Since I read many Scandinavian female authors throughout the year, I focus on writers from other countries and continents this month. On my TBR pile for the month are authors from Oman, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Iran, Kurdistan, Italy, and France. We’ll see how many I manage to read. My effort will most likely continue into September and beyond with this particular stack.

My TBR Pile for #WITMonth 2019

What have you been reading lately? Are you participating in #WITMonth?


The Madonna of Notre Dame by Alexis Ragougneau

(Translated from the French by Katherine Gregor)

I always like to read a book set where I’m visiting, and this book popped up on my Instagram feed just as we were planning our summer trip which included Paris. It seemed like the perfect pick with its setting of Notre Dame Cathedral considering we wouldn’t be able to enter due to the fire that ravaged it in the spring. The book didn’t disappoint. It was a murder mystery that not only took me into dark corners of the cathedral, but also to greater Paris. I got to know a whole slew of French characters – some more flattering than others – and be a part of a French community as it tried to make sense of this murder. It’s not your typical police procedural as it’s a priest who takes particular interest in the case and is crucial in solving the crime. It also doesn’t show a glamorous or touristy Paris but instead a city that struggles with good and evil just like other cities.

Reading Challenges: 


The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This book had long been on my radar and we finally read it for book club this summer. I knew it was a myth retelling, but I thought it was going to be a contemporary retelling and not actually take me back to the real people, places, and events of Greek mythology. It was a welcomed surprise once I understood that I didn’t need to remember anything from my school days of learning about it and I could just read and enjoy. It’s a love story – another surprise to me – between the great warrior Achilles and his companion Patroclus and then a war story as the Trojan War occurs. The book was so different from what I expected or from anything I had read recently; it was a fun escape. I enjoyed getting this other perspective on these well-known mythological people and events, and I look forward to reading Circe as well sometime soon.

Reading Challenges:


Hotel Silence by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

(Translated from the Icelandic by Brian FitzGibbon)

I got a head start on Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth) happening in August. Since this book was winner of both the Icelandic Literary Prize (2016) and Nordic Council Literature Prize (2018), I figured Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir was a good Icelandic female author to add to my repertoire of Nordic literature. It was a quiet and enjoyable story about an almost 50-year old man who feels his life has lost meaning after a recent divorce during which he also learned that his daughter is actually not his own. He travels to an unnamed war-torn country by the sea with the intent to end his life, but instead he begins to find new purpose. What was supposed to be only a few days visit with no return turns into a weeks-long stay. It’s a moving and heartwarming story of unlikely friendships as he gets to know people who have suffered much more than him and second chances both for him and the people he helps. (Thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for providing me with a free copy of this book!)

Reading Challenges:


The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo

My first 5-star read of the year! This book captivated me from the beginning. It’s a mystery that takes place in the British colony of Malaya (Malaysia) in the 1930s. The book alternates between the story of a Chinese houseboy on the hunt for his former master’s severed finger (which he needs to find within 49 days of the master’s death so his soul can rest) and a Malaysian girl who comes across a severed finger and sets out to find out where it came from. Slowly but surely the storylines merge. I was equally engrossed in both characters and their quests. I was fascinated by the setting and cultures depicted and especially enjoyed how Malaysian and Chinese folklore and superstition were intertwined throughout. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author herself which was fantastic.

Reading Challenges:


How’s your reading life been lately?

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August 2019: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & #WITMonth

Welcome to August! So many countries and cultures are represented this month in a variety of activities and events. Wish you could have traveled more this summer? Take the opportunity to visit somewhere new while staying close to home with this month’s events.

Also, August is Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth). This is a monthlong initiative to promote women writers from around the world who write in languages other than English. I always look forward to participating. Since I already read many Scandinavian female authors during the year through my Scandinavian Reading Challenge and book club, I try to focus on writers from other countries and continents during the month of August. I encourage you to pick a country of interest and find a book in translation written by a female author to enjoy this month!

How will you explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month? And do you think you might pick up a book in translation by a female author this month?

* SPECIAL EXHIBITS TO SEE THIS MONTH BEFORE THEY’RE GONE *

Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on view until August 18. Celebrating the photographers who have played a critical role in bringing hip-hop’s visual culture to the global stage, CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop is an inside look at the work of hip-hop photographers, as told through their most intimate diaries: their unedited contact sheets. Bringing the family? Download their Family Activity Guide or ask for one at the front desk.

Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World, The Getty Center, Los Angeles, on view until August 18. A kind of encyclopedia of animals, the bestiary was among the most popular illuminated texts in northern Europe during the Middle Ages (about 500–1500). Because medieval Christians understood every element of the world as a manifestation of God, the book largely focused on each animal’s religious meaning. The bestiary brought creatures both real and fantastic to life before the reader’s eyes, offering devotional inspiration as well as entertainment.

Dressed with Distinction: Garments from Ottoman Syria, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, on view until August 25. This exhibit explores the region’s textile production during the late-19th and early 20th centuries, when Syria was an international hub for the trade and production of handwoven cloth. With a focus on the social and seasonal contexts in which garments were worn by men, women, and children, the exhibition’s presentation of these distinguished textiles enables audiences to engage with Syrian culture and weaving techniques from a bygone era.

Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, on view until September 1. See the iconic images that amplified one of the most influential cultural movements of the 1960s: “Black Is Beautiful.” Featuring over forty photographs of black women and men with natural hair and clothes that reclaimed their African roots, Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, is the first-ever major exhibition dedicated to this key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

The Liberator: Chronicling Black Los Angeles, 1900–1914, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, on view until September 8. The Liberator was an early 20th-century newspaper that documented the emerging African American population in Los Angeles. Founded in 1900 by Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, a former slave who advocated for improved social and economic conditions for black men and women, the publication reported on local, national, and international news and provided a source of racial upliftment for over a decade. The exhibition sheds light on the expansion of the city’s African American community, its challenges in a post-Reconstruction era, and its hopes and accomplishments, as captured in the newspaper’s pages. More than a century since The Liberator’s final issue, this exhibition includes rare ephemera, photographs, and artifacts that offer a unique study of the narrative of black Los Angeles.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 3 & 4 *

Big World Fun: The Get Down Boys, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, 8/3, 10:00 a.m. Get ready for some pickin’ and a grinnin’ with the energetic sounds of The Get Down Boys, whose five-string banjo, lonesome harmonies and history of Bluegrass music will leave you and your family with a smile on your face. Perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids are admitted free; adults pay $5. Open seating, advanced reservations recommended. Pre-show craft activities start at 9:00 a.m. Families can also explore Los Angeles’ native wild animals along the Ford’s entryway gardens.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Throughout Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/3, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of LA’s Chinatown.

Heritage Day at CAAM, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Saturday, 8/3, 10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Celebrate your family’s rich history by learning how to capture and preserve great memories during this all-ages Heritage Day, presented in conjunction with The Liberator: Chronicling Black Los Angeles, 1900–1914. Bring the entire family to scan keepsakes, hear powerful stories of legacy, and learn about genealogy and how to preserve family treasures through archiving. Visit website for details on programming.

Barriletes Workshop: Giant Kites of Guatemala (Ages 18+), Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Saturday, 8/3, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Discover the colorful world of barriletes and their significance on Día de los Muertos in Guatemala during this exciting, two-hour, hands-on workshop. After learning about the Day of the Dead celebration in Guatemala, participants will create their own kite to fly on their own. Presented in collaboration with the UCLA Latin American Institute. Advance registration required (no walk-ins). $10 per person.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Zingarella (Free to Be Series), Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/3, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Janice & Melinda—founding members of LA-based bands Mostly Kosher and Sugar Rum Tantrum—return to the Skirball as Zingarella following their raucous performance at the Skirball’s Hanukkah Festival last winter. Their summer amphitheater show will be a troubadour-inspired journey of street fiddle and stompy accordion folk that is fueled by a mix of protest song, klezmer, and high-energy gypsy-blues. Filled with costume and instrument changes and plenty of turns in the road, their show tells the tale of two traveling vagabonds in a cross-country expedition from high art to low art.

Russia: Cat of Kazan Printmaking (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/4, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Ecuador Independence Day Parade and Festival, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Sunday, 8/4, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Celebrate Ecuador’s Independence Day with a parade and festival. The parade starts at Broadway & 7th St. and ends at the festival area (route information). At the festival, enjoy a full menu of Ecuadorian cuisine and other well-known food dishes as well as Ecuadorian crafts, musical groups, folklore customs, free gifts, and carnival games. Admission is free.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Victoria Burnett (Free to Be Series), Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/4, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. The Washington DC–born, SoCal-based storyteller and vocalist Victoria Burnett fuses stories and music to capture the imaginations of each audience member by way of folktales, tall tales, African American tales, multicultural stories from different countries, personal stories, and what she calls “WHOOPERS.” Burnett’s storytelling has taken her from her professional beginnings as a children’s librarian to becoming an internationally renowned artist. She has toured extensively in the US, Europe, Africa, South America, Central America, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia.

Andell Family Sundays — The Art of Korean Writing, LACMA, Sunday, 8/4, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about calligraphy and how it has long been considered one of the highest art forms in Korea. Visit the exhibition Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing to learn about calligraphy’s fascinating history that includes work by kings, queens, painters, and monks, among others. In artist-led workshops, make handmade books for your writings and more!

Fowler Families: Giant Kites of Guatemala (Ages 8+), Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/4, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Explore the practice of making colorful giant kites (barriletes) and their significance during Día de los Muertos in Guatemala during this two-hour hands-on workshop. After learning about the Day of the Dead celebration in Guatemala and other Central American countries, participants will create large kites to fly on their own. This free family program is produced in collaboration with the UCLA Latin American Institute. Advance registration required.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 10 & 11 *

Natsumatsuri Family Festival, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/10, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Join JANM for their annual summer celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities. See website for details about scheduled events and activities.

Family Amphitheater Performances: California Feetwarmers (Free to Be Series), Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/10, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Big Band meets Dixieland in the California Feetwarmers, a boisterous eight-piece ensemble who pay homage to New Orleans music of the ’20s. Known for their lively stage shows, the California Feetwarmers released their first, self-titled album in 2013. With guest appearances by Phil Alvin of the Blasters and Andy Bean of the Two Man Gentlemen Band, the album features a joyous blend of trad jazz, blues, and rags.

Global Dining: Northern India in Artesia with Fowler Museum, Saturday, 8/10, 12:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Rajdhani restaurant in Artesia is famous for vegetarian thali—an Indian-style meal made of a selection of various dishes served on a large round platter. Typical dishes include rice, dal, vegetables, roti, papad, dahi (yogurt), small amounts of chutney or pickle, and a sweet dish to top it off. After the meal, explore the Indian grocery, jewelry, and sari shops along Little India’s Pioneer Blvd. Transportation departs from the Fowler at 12PM and returns at 4:30PM. $55 Fowler members, $60 general (includes roundtrip charter bus from the Fowler Museum). Advance tickets required. Deadline to register is August 5. Visit website for more information on the Global Dining series.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/10, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. Visit website to RSVP.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/10, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs!

Morocco: Henna Lantern (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/11, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Art and Food at USC PAM (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 8/11, 11:00 a.m. Discover how food inspires art and cultural identity. Create your own food-inspired artwork, listen to stories about food in Asian cultures, go on a docent-led tour, and participate in a special virtual reality experience that combines Asian cuisine and poetry. Enjoy free admission all day.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Aaron Nigel Smith (Free to Be Series), Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/11, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Don’t miss this collection of lively, original reggae tunes, along with Jamaican and African folk songs performed by Aaron Nigel Smith. Smith is delighted to return to his former hometown of LA for a performance of some of his best-known children’s songs. His reggae rhythms encourage families to sing, dance, and play together. At the Skirball Smith’s show will also feature student performers from the Center St. School Choir under the direction of Rebecca Wright.

Andell Family Sundays — The Art of Korean Writing, LACMA, Sunday, 8/11, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about calligraphy and how it has long been considered one of the highest art forms in Korea. Visit the exhibition Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing to learn about calligraphy’s fascinating history that includes work by kings, queens, painters, and monks, among others. In artist-led workshops, make handmade books for your writings and more!

Fowler Families: Sculpting Monkeys and Tigers and Deer, Oh, My!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/11, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Animal characters take center stage in many Guatemalan masquerades, with masks representing bulls, deer, dogs, jaguars, monkeys, tigers, and more. Explore these creatures in the exhibition Guatemalan Masks before using clay to sculpt your own animal inspired by the artworks on view. Too young to sculpt? A selection of children’s books related to Guatemala will be available in a special story time corner for families.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 17 & 18 *

Family Amphitheater Performances: Nathalia and Friends (Free to Be Series), Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 8/17, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Nathalia and Friends invite families to move and groove to an eclectic mix of bilingual sing-alongs, ranging in style from rock and cumbia to jazz and reggaeton. A native of Barranquilla, Colombia, Palis studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and then relocated to Los Angeles to begin her career as a music therapist, educator, and performer.

CicLAvia—Meet the Hollywoods, Sunday, 8/18, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Join CicLAvia for Meet the Hollywoods as they transform streets in West Hollywood, Hollywood, and East Hollywood into public recreational space for the day (see map). Walk, bike, roll, and stroll through some of LA’s most iconic streets from the Hollywood Walk of Fame to West Hollywood’s rainbow crosswalk.

Persia: Tiles (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/18, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Family Amphitheater Performances: Syncopated Ladies (Free to Be Series), Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 8/18, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Close out the Free to Be season with the all-female tap dance band Syncopated Ladies. Founded by Emmy Award–nominated tap dancer and choreographer Chloe Arnold, the group has been praised by megastar Beyoncé for their tap dance tribute to her hit song “Formation.” The Syncopated Ladies won the first dance crew battle on FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance. Last year, they collaborated with hip-hop band N*E*R*D* (which includes the internationally renowned artist Pharrell Williams) for a performance on The Ellen Show. Their viral videos have amassed over fifty million views.

Andell Family Sundays — The Art of Korean Writing, LACMA, Sunday, 8/18, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about calligraphy and how it has long been considered one of the highest art forms in Korea. Visit the exhibition Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing to learn about calligraphy’s fascinating history that includes work by kings, queens, painters, and monks, among others. In artist-led workshops, make handmade books for your writings and more!

Fowler Families: Yoga for Little Travelers, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 8/18, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Join families of all skill levels as Alex Reed leads participants in a 45-minute imaginative yoga session featuring mindful play, breathing exercises, and relaxing stretches. Little yogis (ages 4+) are invited to pack their bags and join Alex on a journey to India’s stepwells during this new monthly yoga series. At 2:00 p.m., join Fowler Educators for a family-friendly guided tour highlighting artwork from the special exhibition India’s Subterranean Stepwells. Yoga mats will be provided, but feel free to bring your own! Space is limited. The first ten participants to RSVP will receive a guaranteed spot.

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 24 & 25 *

Los Angeles City Birthday, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/24, 6:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m. Celebrate the 238th anniversary of the founding of Los Angeles with Los Pobladores historic reenactments, a civic ceremony, artisan demonstrations, entertainment and free birthday cake! Begin the day by walking to El Pueblo from Mission San Gabriel following the historic route of the first settlers (more information on Walk to Los Angeles).

India: Madhubani Painting (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 8/25, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays — The Art of Korean Writing, LACMA, Sunday, 8/25, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 pm. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn about calligraphy and how it has long been considered one of the highest art forms in Korea. Visit the exhibition Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing to learn about calligraphy’s fascinating history that includes work by kings, queens, painters, and monks, among others. In artist-led workshops, make handmade books for your writings and more!

* WEEKEND OF AUGUST 31 & SEPTEMBER 1 *

Orange International Street Festival, Old Town Orange Plaza, Orange, Friday, 8/30, to Sunday, 9/1. Every Labor Day Weekend, the Orange International Street Fair (OISF) in downtown Orange has been the place where friends, families and neighbors get together to experience a wide variety of food, music and dance from cultures and ethnicities throughout the world. Visit website for event hours and parking information.

E Hula Mau: Hula and Chant Competition, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach, Friday, 8/30, to Monday, 9/2. E Hula Mau welcomes you to attend this year’s competition and festivities. There will be an Island food court (Kalua pig plate, Hulihuli chicken, Spam musubi, Manapua, shave ice, Macadamia nut cookies, poi mochi, kulolo, dried aku and poi, etc.), Polynesian Arts & Craft Fair, cultural workshops, and entertainment (see event schedule).

Long Beach Greek Festival by the Sea, Assumption of Blessed Virgin, Long Beach, Saturday, 8/31, to Monday, 9/2. Eat, drink, and dance all things Greek during this three-day event. Enjoy delicious Greek food (rotisserie chicken, gyros, Greek salads, roasted lamb, homemade Greek sweets, and more!), Greek beer and wine, live Greek music and dancing (lessons, too!), cooking demonstrations, specialty vendors, and carnival rides.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 8/31, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (Offered every last Saturday of the month). Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Comfortable walking shoes recommended. Weather permitting. Limited to 20 participants.

Autumn Moon Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 9/1, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Join a 2,000 year-old celebration held to usher in the fall season! Bowers’ Autumn Moon Festival will feature performances by JC Culture Foundation’s lion dancers, Sino US Arts Performing Organization, and straight from Taiwan, a very special performance by Freedom Beat, presenting a creative fusion of percussion and electronic music. Enjoy free mooncakes and art projects including lantern making and moon watercolor paintings.

Broad Fest 2019, The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, Sunday, 9/1, 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Enjoy a relaxing and engaging afternoon in the sun at this annual community festival. This free outdoor event features music performances, a live DJ, dance lessons and other activities for the whole family. Performers include Boogaloo Assassins, a Los Angeles-based 12-piece Latin band; Viver Brasil which honors Brazil’s African legacy through bold contemporary dance theater; She Sings She Swings, a young sing band; and DJ Anthony Valadez. See Broad Fest 2019 Lineup for more information.

* SPECIAL EXHIBITS ENDING THIS FALL *

Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing, LACMA, Los Angeles, on view until September 29. Beyond Line: The Art of Korean Writing will be the first exhibition held outside of Asia to focus on the history of writing and calligraphy in Korea. Believed to mirror one’s qualities as a human being in ways unmatched by any other art, calligraphy has long been considered one of the highest art forms in Korea. This exhibition, organized both conceptually and chronologically, explores the role of calligraphy in different strata of Korean society over nearly two millennia, and includes works both in hanja (Chinese ideographic characters) and hangeul (the unique Korean phonetic script). The lives and legacies of writers and calligraphers will be examined through works by kings and queens, officials and scholars, painters and monks, and even slaves. The exhibition also explores Korea’s innovations in woodblock printing during the Goryeo dynasty (918–1392) and in movable metal type during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897). Due to the rarity of several of the international loans, Beyond Line will only be on view at LACMA—making this a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Guatemalan Masks: Selections from the Jim and Jeanne Pieper Collection, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, on view until October 6. Traditional Guatemalan dance-dramas come to life in a vivid installation of 80 wood masks depicting animals, folk personae, and historical figures that are deeply rooted in Guatemalan religiosity and popular culture. With some examples dating back a century or more, the masks offer insights into how the dances articulate community identities.

India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, on view until October 20. Since the 600 CE, stepwells have served as water-harvesting systems that descend into the earth and enable communities to access the water table or rainwater gathered below. A selection of 48 photographs by journalist Victoria Lautman captures the diversity and sublime beauty of these architectural marvels.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me with details. Thank you!

Reading Lately & Reading Challenges Update (June 2019)

I haven’t been good about sharing what books I’ve been reading lately – first due to busy end-of-school-year business and then vacation travel – so this post covers the last three months. It was a slow reading period to begin with, but then with summer upon me, my pace picked up!

Now that we’re midway through the year, I’m also taking stock of where I am with my reading challenges. This year I’m participating in three reading challenges: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge, the Reading Women Challenge, and Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge. Reading challenges force me to research new-to-me genres and authors and read books I wouldn’t otherwise, a process I greatly enjoy.

I have completed half the prompts for each of the challenges so I’m on track. However, I need to stay focused, otherwise I’ll be scrambling at the end. I’ll continue to try to find as much overlap as possible between the challenges and read books I already own. My top priority will be to complete my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge. For a look at what I’ve read for each of the challenges so far, visit the following links:

August is Women in Translation Month so I’m thinking about that as well. I have books by female authors from South Korea, Japan, Oman, and Thailand on my radar and look forward to reading some of those.

How’s your reading life been lately?


The English Wife by Lauren Willig

This was a book club pick that didn’t quite satisfy me. The setting during the Gilded Age in New York City was new to me (in fiction) and I always enjoy getting a glimpse into history through fiction, but I wasn’t particularly interested in this time period. Luckily, the structure of the storytelling intrigued me. There was the storyline with the discovery of the murdered husband and the missing wife and the ensuing quest to solve that mystery. And in alternating chapters, readers followed the husband and wife a few years earlier when they first met in London. Seeing the two timelines approach each other and trying to figure out the mystery of the missing wife and murdered husband kept me reading.

Reading Challenges: 


The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

(Translated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger)

I was drawn to this book the minute I saw the cover picturing the desolate fjord with the lone rowboat and only a pop of red for color, and the title’s reference to birds intrigued me as well. Both aspects – setting and birds – turned out to play major roles in this psychological suspense story. Allis abruptly leaves her life in the city and takes on a job as a housekeeper and gardener at the isolated home of Bagge, a man awaiting the return of his wife. Bagge is a quiet, mysterious man. They develop an uneasy, tense relationship that eventually comes to a boiling point. I was drawn in from start to finish; it didn’t disappoint.

Reading Challenges: 


The Legacy: A Thriller by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

(Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb)

Iceland has always intrigued me, so I’ve been eager to add an Icelandic author to my repertoire. There wasn’t much specifically Icelandic about this novel other than the names of the characters which are very unique (a pronunciation guide is included), but it certainly was a good example of Nordic Noir. The main characters, child psychologist Freyja and police detective Huldar, have to work together to solve the grisly murder of a mother whose 7-year-old daughter is the only witness to the crime. More murders follow, equally grisly, though never bloody. I really liked the child psychologist Freyja and I was impressed with the author’s creativity with the murders, the characters’ stories, and how it all came together at the end. This is the first in the Children’s House series, and #2 is on my TBR list.

Reading Challenges:


Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

I really enjoyed this book. Cuba is a country whose history and culture I knew only minimally and superficially, but this book helped fix that. The story jumps between Marisol’s 2017 trip to Cuba to scatter her grandmother’s ashes and her grandmother’s early life in Havana as a high society “sugar princess” before the family fled the country in early 1959 when Fidel Castro took power. It was a fascinating tale of political unrest, teenage love and rebellion, and family secrets. I did find some overly contrived parallels between Marisol’s and her grandmother’s lives, but the dive into Cuban history and culture through these two strong female characters was worth it.

Reading Challenges:


The Pumpkin War by Cathleen Young

This is a middle grade novel written by a good friend, and I’m thrilled to say it was truly a delight to read. On the surface, it’s about 12-year-old Billie (part Irish, part Native American Ojibwe) who used to be best friends with Sam but now spends her summer days ignoring him and focused on growing the biggest pumpkin possible. She wants nothing more than to beat him in the upcoming giant pumpkin race after he sabotaged her win last fall. Dig a little deeper and it’s about so much more – friendship and family, forgiveness and reconciliation. I love that Billie has a mixed background that is celebrated and interests that include beekeeping, fishing, and tending llamas. The setting of Madeline Island in Wisconsin on Lake Superior is charming. On top of all this, the writing is beautiful. I highly recommend this book to any middle grade readers in your life.

Reading Challenges:


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This was a very good young adult fantasy novel, and it was especially fun to read it along with my 15-year-old son. Fantasy novels are not my thing, but this one takes place in Orïsha, a mythical and magical world based on African geography, mythology, and culture, and I think that’s why I liked it. It gave me some insights into a culture that I’m not too familiar with. It’s about Zélie, a young, poor girl who’s a member of the Magi, a group with magical powers until The Raid when the king eradicated magic from Orïsha and in the process killed all the adult Magi, including Zélie’s mother. Zélie has now discovered a way to bring magic back. The story is from her perspective as well as that of Amari, the princess who ran away from the palace in opposition to her father, and Inan, the prince in charge of finding Amari again and stopping the return of magic. Also playing a big role is Tzain, Zélie’s protective older brother. I was amazed by the worldbuilding. It was so unique and thorough yet relatable. I was also intrigued by the struggles of the society members – discrimination, racism, violence – and the parallels with our own society.

Reading Challenges:


When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

Romance is a genre I’ve tended to avoid, but I was persuaded by Camille Perri to give it a try after I heard her on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this spring. This was a quick and enjoyable story of a straight woman and a gay woman falling in love, a sub-genre of romance that is even more outside my genre comfort zone. Katie is a successful young lawyer who seems to have everything in order until she’s dumped by her fiancé. She meets Cassidy at a work meeting and is instantly intrigued by her appearance and personality. They coincidentally meet again later that evening, and Katie reluctantly agrees to a drink. They develop a friendship which leads to a love relationship. It’s a sweet story of two women each trying to figure out her place and role in their relationship.

Reading Challenges:


To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari

This was another book I read because of a panel I attended at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this spring. I loved how it gave me insight into another time and place I’m not very familiar with, Iran on the eve of the Iranian Revolution. Matriarch Bibi and her husband, a retired judge, own a large orchard in a small town and are the bond that keeps their extended family together during this time of uncertainty. They are a family with conflicting personalities, beliefs, and hopes. An older uncle is a cleric with radical religious views while a young nephew has dreams of a new Iran and marrying his childhood girlfriend. Meanwhile another family member is attracted to a Western lifestyle. I appreciated getting to know the many people in this community – family, friends, servants, and townspeople – and getting a glimpse of their daily lives before it all heartbreakingly came apart.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

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July 2019 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer Fun Continues!

Are you taking advantage of summer to explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles? There are special one-time events and exhibitions, unique programs that happen just during the summer, and ongoing year-round events that continue through the summer. Seize the opportunity to either venture out by yourself or with family and friends. Make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a walking tour in a new area, a concert in a special outdoor setting, or a festival celebrating a different culture, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live.

How will you explore the diverse richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF JULY 6 & 7 *

The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka, LACMA, Los Angeles, closing July 7. The first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organized by an American museum, The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka presents some 240 works addressing nearly two millennia of Sri Lankan history. The exhibit includes precious decorative objects fashioned from gold, silver, and ivory, and 19th-century photographs documenting Sri Lanka’s extraordinary monuments, scenery, and flora. Featuring LACMA’s rarely displayed collection of Sri Lankan art—one of the finest and most extensive in the U.S—the exhibition presents a timely exploration and celebration of a geographically complex, ethnically diverse, and multicultural South Asian hub.

Skirball Family Amphitheater Performances: CONTRA-TIEMPO, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 7/7, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Expand your imagination with this bold, multilingual Los Angeles-based dance company creating physically intense and politically astute performance work. Founded by Artistic Director Ana Maria Alvarez, CONTRA-TIEMPO creates a new physical, visual, and sonic vocabulary that collages salsa, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop, and contemporary dance with theater, compelling text, and original music to bring dynamic multimodal experiences to the concert stage.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 13 & 14 *

Big World Fun: Viver Brasil Dance Company, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday, 7/13, 10:00 a.m. Explore the joyful dance and music of Brazil’s samba, Cuba’s rumba and Puerto Rico’s bomba with Viver Brasil and special guests, Laroye Aña and Jhan L. Aponte. Dressed in vivid costumes, vocalists will become part of the action as musicians take polyrhythms to new heights. Musical direction by Alberto Lopez. This hour-long music and dance performance is perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids are admitted free; adults pay $5. Gates open at 9:00 a.m. for pre-show kid-friendly nature and craft activities.

Skirball Family Amphitheater Performances: Hip Hop Fundamentals, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/13, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Get down with Hip Hop Fundamentals, an award-winning team of diverse professional breakdancers dedicated to hip-hop education and driven to inspire audiences and participants of all ages. They will present their The Principles of Hip Hop show, which explores hip-hop’s rich cultural history and how underserved inner-city youth have changed the world. The performance focuses on the themes of youth empowerment, diversity, creativity, and working together, embodied by hip-hop’s four principles: peace, love, unity, and having fun!

39th Lotus Festival, Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/13, & Sunday, 7/14, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Celebrate the annual blooming of Echo Park Lake’s lotus flowers at the 39th annual Lotus Festival. The host country this year is the Kingdom of Thailand. Enjoy a food court, Thai Pavilion, silent auction, children’s area, handcrafted artwork, gift bazaar, Japanese teahouse ceremonies, origami workshop, and dragon boat races. Visit website for parking information.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/13, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown. Visit website to RSVP.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/13 (also 8/10), 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos this summer. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs!

Australia: Aboriginal Dot Painting (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/14, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Concert: A Maya Q’Anjob’al Fiesta, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 7/14, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Enjoy a special performance in the Art Council Amphitheatre by folkloric dance group Maya Xumak and musical group Eb’ Aj’son. These groups perform the dance traditions of Jolom Konob, the traditional name for the community of Santa Eulalia, Huehuetenango, Guatemala—one of only six towns where the Mayan language Q’anjob’al is spoken. Eb’ Aj’son will accompany the dancers on the marimba and perform their own b’i,t, or musical heartbeat. The program includes dance-dramas such as the celebrated Bailé de la Conquista (Dance of the Conquest) and Bailé del Torito (Dance of the Little Bull) and a participatory dance known as Saca la Tuya. While there, visit the related exhibition Guatemalan Masks: Selections from the Jeanne and Jim Pieper Collection.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 20 & 21 *

Sunset Concerts: Gaby Moreno with a DJ Set by Mamabear, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Thursday, 7/18, 8:00 p.m. (Doors and DJ set at 6:30 p.m.) Playing what she calls “Spanglish folk soul,” Gaby Moreno kicks off this season of Sunset Concerts at the Skirball with Spanish and English songs that blend blues, jazz, soul, R&B, pop, and Latin folk. Moreno, born in Guatemala and currently residing in LA, is the winner of a Latin Grammy Award among numerous other accolades. As hailed by NBC News, she sings about “love, the immigrant experience and the pain of gender violence … with a beautifully emotive voice both sweet and supple across genres.”

Assyria: Clay Bas Relief Lion and Cuneiform Signature (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/21, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Skirball Family Amphitheater Performances: Las Colibrí, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 7/21, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. With their warm vocal harmonies and unique musical arrangements, this all-female string ensemble brings a contemporary twist to traditional mariachi music. After years of performing individually as instrumentalists and vocalists in various professional arenas, the women of Las Colibrí, or “The Hummingbirds,” have come together to celebrate the all-string instrumentation of the early twentieth-century mariachi tradition. Dressed in the colorful, feminine costumes worn by Mexican cinematic divas of the 1940s and 1950s, the ensemble delivers an inspired, modern-day take on traditional sones, huapangos, and rancheras.

Fowler Families: Yoga for Little Travelers, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 7/21, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Join families of all skill levels as Alex Reed leads participants in a 45-minute imaginative yoga session featuring mindful play, breathing exercises, and relaxing stretches. Little yogis (ages 4+) are invited to pack their bags and join Alex on a whimsical journey to Guatemala during this monthly yoga series. At 2pm, join Fowler Educators for a family-friendly guided tour highlighting artwork from the session’s destination in the special exhibition Guatemalan Masks. Yoga mats will be provided, but feel free to bring your own. Space is limited. The first ten participants to RSVP will receive a guaranteed spot.

* WEEKEND OF JULY 27 & 28 *

Sunset Concerts: Río Mira with a DJ Set by REYES, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Thursday, 7/25, 8:00 p.m. (Doors and DJ set at 6:30 p.m.) Travel to the border of Colombia and Ecuador with Río Mira, a marimba supergroup named for the river that separates the two South American countries. Led by marimba masters Esteban Copete and Larry Preciado and Ecuadoran singer Karla Kanora, this ensemble of Afro-Latino musicians draws from the traditions of escaped slaves to create joyous, socially conscious music that celebrates self-realized liberation.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 7/27, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both the popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Comfortable walking shoes recommended. Weather permitting. Limited to 20 participants.

Global Dining: Nigeria in Van Nuys with Fowler Museum, Saturday, 7/27, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Toto’s African Cuisine specializes in Nigerian and African dishes such as jollof rice, fufu (pounded yam), and gari (cassava grain) served alongside soups and stews like egusi, ogbono and peppered goat. A prix fixe lunch menu will be served at Toto’s. No substitutions. Meet at the restaurant by 1:00 p.m. $30 Fowler members, $35 general. Advance tickets required. Visit website for more information on the Global Dining series.

2019 Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival, Marine Stadium, Long Beach, Saturday, 7/27, & Sunday, 7/28. In addition to hosting one of the largest dragon boat competitions in California, there will be Chinese traditional art demonstrations, Chinese acrobats, traditional dance, hip hop, music, and martial arts performances. Come for fun, food, and excitement!

Tonga: Turtle Raft Painting (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 7/28, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided. See website for more details.

Skirball Family Amphitheater Performances: STC Foundation, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 7/28, 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. This performance will feature dancers of all ages—some as young as five!—and will take the audience on a journey through the stunning and beautiful history of Chinese culture, all while encouraging self-confidence and positivity among the viewers. ​STC Foundation was established to promote the appreciation of Asian arts and culture and enrich the community.

Fowler Families: Exploring Australian Bark Painting, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 7/28, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Discover the dynamic colors and lines featured on Australian bark paintings in our permanent exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives before creating your own design using materials reminiscent of these special pieces.

* ONGOING THIS SUMMER *

CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on view until August 18. Celebrating the photographers who have played a critical role in bringing hip-hop’s visual culture to the global stage, CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip-Hop is an inside look at the work of hip-hop photographers, as told through their most intimate diaries: their unedited contact sheets. Bringing the family? Download their Family Activity Guide or ask for one at the front desk.

Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, on view until September 1. See the iconic images that amplified one of the most influential cultural movements of the 1960s: “Black Is Beautiful.” Featuring over forty photographs of black women and men with natural hair and clothes that reclaimed their African roots, Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, organized by Aperture Foundation, New York, is the first-ever major exhibition dedicated to this key figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me with details. Thank you!

June 2019 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer Fun!

Summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. Make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a walking tour in a new area, a concert in a unique outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a foreign culture, a special summer-only event, or a bike ride exploring a new part of Los Angeles, just to mention a few options. The experience will open your eyes to the richness of where we live.

Two favorite events of mine are happening this month, Los Angeles River Ride on Sunday, June 9, and CicLAvia on Sunday, June 30 (though a new route to me). I highly recommend both. You’ll enjoy Los Angeles in a totally different way.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 1 & 2 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Throughout Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/1, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of LA’s Chinatown. RSVP here.

France – Medieval Beasts (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/2 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Palm Trees, Lamp Posts, & a Boulder (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 6/2, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month (6/9, 6/16, 6/23, and 6/30), learn about Primal Palm Garden, and other large outdoor artworks such as Urban Light and Levitated Mass on a family-friendly tour. Then participate in dance and art workshops.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 8 & 9 *

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Saturday, 6/8, & Sunday, 6/9, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA. The annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival returns with three full weekends of exhilarating short-film programs to enchant moviegoers of all ages. The festival showcases work from around the globe—including Chile, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, and United Kingdom—to inspire the whole family. View brochure for schedule and film information.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/8, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. This highlighted walking tour is held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 o’clock.Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of LA’s Chinatown. For those interested, please rsvp online here.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/8, 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos every 2nd Saturday of the month during the summer (June 8, July 13, and August 10). Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs!

19th Annual Los Angeles River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Sunday, 6/9. There’s no better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 riders and supporters at the 19th annual Los Angeles River Ride. From the free 2-mile Kids’ Ride and 15-mile Family Ride to the 36-Mile Ride, 50-Mile Half Century, and Century Ride along the LA River Path, there’s an adventure for everyone. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit organization working to transform LA into a vibrant, healthy, and sustainable city for everyone.

Greece – Amphora (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/9, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Self-Portraits at USC PAM (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 6/9, 11:00 a.m. Explore the art of self-portraiture, inspired by the special exhibition Tsuruya Kōkei: Modern Kabuki Prints Revised and Revisited. Create your own mask, participate in a contemporary artist’s performance, go on a docent led tour of the exhibit, and listen to storytime for kids.

Palm Trees, Lamp Posts, & a Boulder (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 6/9, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month (also 6/16, 6/23, and 6/30), learn about Primal Palm Garden, and other large outdoor artworks such as Urban Light and Levitated Mass on a family-friendly tour. Then participate in dance and art workshops.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 15 & 16 *

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Saturday, 6/15, & Sunday, 6/16, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA. The annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival returns with three full weekends of exhilarating short-film programs to enchant moviegoers of all ages. The festival showcases work from around the globe—including Chile, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, and United Kingdom—to inspire the whole family. View brochure for schedule and film information.

The Irish Fair & Music Festival, Orange County Great Park, Irvine, Saturday, 6/15, & Sunday, 6/16. This family fun festival is a celebration of all things Irish. There will be musicians, dancers, and bagpipes, plus sports, dogs, sheep, performers, and plenty of booths featuring imported Irish goods and displays. For the young folk, there will be the Leprechaun Kingdom with games, rides, Irish storytelling, and contests. And of course, there will be plenty of Irish food and beverages.

Kaiju-Con, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/15, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. In conjunction with the exhibit Kaiju vs Heroes, JANM is hosting a day-long Kaiju-Con that will include a vendor hall, workshops, panel discussions, and demonstrations all related to kaiju and Japanese toys. The day will culminate in a special free outdoor screening of Mothra vs. Godzilla from 1964 at 8:30 p.m. on JANM’s plaza. Early bird pricing available through May 31. Click here for schedule and ticket information.

Juneteenth Celebration 2019, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Los Angeles, Saturday, 6/15, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Join CAAM for a day of family and community celebrating the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger declared that Texas’s enslaved people were free. Bring your picnic blankets and enjoy an afternoon with DJ sets by Francesca Harding and family activities for all to enjoy. Visit website for list of activities and to RSVP.

Family Day – Cyanotypes, Chinese American Museum, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Sunday, 6/16, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Create prints with sunlight in a hands-on activity inspired by the cyanotypes of Wu Chi-Tsung, a featured artist in Lightscapes: Re-Envisioning the Shanshuihua. You’ll be able to make your own cyanotype prints and visit the immersive exhibition. Admission to the museum and this public program is free. All materials will be provided. This family program is free and open to the public; however, RSVPs are kindly requested. To RSVP, visit website.

Palm Trees, Lamp Posts, & a Boulder (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 6/16, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month (also 6/23 and 6/30), learn about Primal Palm Garden, and other large outdoor artworks such as Urban Light and Levitated Mass on a family-friendly tour. Then participate in dance and art workshops.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 23 & 24 *

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Saturday, 6/23, & Sunday, 6/24, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA. The annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival returns with three full weekends of exhilarating short-film programs to enchant moviegoers of all ages. The festival showcases work from around the globe—including Chile, Cuba, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Slovakia, and United Kingdom—to inspire the whole family. View brochure for schedule and film information.

England – Theater Masks: Summer Solstice Mid-Summer Nights Dream (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/23, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Palm Trees, Lamp Posts, & a Boulder (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 6/23, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month learn about Primal Palm Garden, and other large outdoor artworks such as Urban Light and Levitated Mass on a family-friendly tour. Then participate in dance and art workshops.

* WEEKEND OF JUNE 29 & 30 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 6/29, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both the popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Comfortable walking shoes recommended. Weather permitting. Limited to 20 participants.

CicLAvia – Mid City Meets Pico Union, Sunday, 6/30, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Join CicLAvia on June 30 as they transform Venice Blvd, 7th Ave, and Washington Blvd into public parks for the day. They’ll be closing the streets to cars and opening them up for people of all ages and abilities to ride, walk, stroll, roll, run, and smile!

USA – Navajo: Tree of Life Quilt (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 6/30, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Every Sunday art instructors present a free art project featuring a different culture and media. All materials are provided.

Palm Trees, Lamp Posts, & a Boulder (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 6/30, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month learn about Primal Palm Garden, and other large outdoor artworks such as Urban Light and Levitated Mass on a family-friendly tour. Then participate in dance and art workshops.

Fowler Families: Yoga for Little Travelers, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 6/30, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Join families of all skill levels as Alex Reed leads participants in a 45-minute imaginative yoga session featuring mindful play, breathing exercises, and relaxing stretches. Little yogis (ages 4+) are invited to pack their bags and join Alex on a whimsical journey around the world during this new monthly yoga series. After yoga, learn about art around the world by traveling through our permanent exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives with your very own passport in a self-guided gallery adventure! Yoga mats will be provided, but feel free to bring your own. Space is limited. The first ten participants to RSVP will receive a guaranteed spot.

* LOOKING AHEAD TO JULY *

Ford Family Series: Big World Fun, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday mornings, July & August. One-hour music and dance events that represent the region’s diverse communities are presented on Saturday mornings in July and August in the Ford’s shaded outdoor amphitheatre. This summer experience music and dance inspired by the many regions of Latin America (July 6), colorful costumes and exuberant movements from Brazil (July 13), Bluegrass music (August 3), and classical dance from India (August 10). Perfect for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Kids are admitted free; adults pay $5. Gates open at 9:00 a.m. for pre-show kid-friendly nature and craft activities. The LA County Library also provides tailored book lists to accompany each show. See website for schedule of performances and ticket information.

The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka, LACMA, Los Angeles, closing July 7. The first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organized by an American museum, The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka presents some 240 works addressing nearly two millennia of Sri Lankan history. The exhibit includes precious decorative objects fashioned from gold, silver, and ivory, and 19th-century photographs documenting Sri Lanka’s extraordinary monuments, scenery, and flora. Featuring LACMA’s rarely displayed collection of Sri Lankan art—one of the finest and most extensive in the U.S—the exhibition presents a timely exploration and celebration of a geographically complex, ethnically diverse, and multicultural South Asian hub.

39th Lotus Festival, Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles, Saturday, 7/13, & Sunday, 7/14, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Celebrate the people and culture of Asia and the Pacific Islands with free entertainment for the whole family! Enjoy a food court, Thai Pavilion, silent auction, children’s area, handcrafted artwork, gift bazaar, Japanese teahouse ceremonies, origami workshop, and dragon boat races. Visit website for parking information.

2019 Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival, Marine Stadium, Long Beach, Saturday, 7/27, & Sunday, 7/28. In addition to hosting one of the largest dragon boat competitions in California, there will be Chinese traditional art demonstrations, Chinese acrobats, traditional dance, hip hop, music, and martial arts performances. Come for fun, food, and excitement!

Feel free to add events for this month in the comments below. I also welcome feedback on any events you have attended. If you have tips on future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me with details. Thank you!

May 2019 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Norwegian 17th of May Celebrations & More

May is a big month for Norwegians worldwide. We celebrate our national day, Constitution Day, on May 17. Here in Los Angeles, Norwegians can commemorate the day with a traditional celebration on the actual date of May 17 at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro. Or, if making it to San Pedro on a Friday is tough, there’s the annual Sunday celebration at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates on Sunday, May 19.

But there’s more to May than Norway’s national day. Angelenos can take advantage of many special events and activities featuring a variety of countries and cultures.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF MAY 4 & 5 *

Photoville LA, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, Thursday, 5/2 – Sunday, 5/5. Photoville LA features exhibitions of local and international photographers, bringing together LA-based organizations and institutions and LA’s cultural and photographic community for two consecutive long weekends (this being the last of the two weekends) of nighttime projections, talks, workshops, and family-friendly activities all under the creative and magical environment created through exhibitions using repurposed shipping containers, photo cubes, and special installations making it a unique and festival atmosphere with multiple galleries for Angelenos to explore all for free.

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Select Cinemas in the Los Angeles Area, Thursday, 5/2 – Friday, 5/10. Celebrating its 35th edition in 2019, the festival will bring the best and brightest of new Asian Pacific American cinema to Los Angeles audiences. Check festival website for information and program schedule.

Venice Cinco de Mayo Parade & Festival, Oakwood Park, Venice, Saturday, 5/4, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Celebrate Mexican American heritage and history in Venice at the biggest Cinco de Mayo parade festival on the Westside. The Venice Cinco de Mayo Parade & Festival is a historical event in Venice that has existed for 59 years. The event originated in the 1960’s during the Chicano Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. The parade will be a culturally rich and festive event featuring Mexican American innovations and Venice’s finest classic cars. The parade will be followed by a festival with live music, food vendors, informational booths, Aztec dancers, Folklorico dancers, Mariachi, face painting, raffles, piñatas, games, and much more.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Throughout Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/4, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. RSVP here.

Cinco de Mayo Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/4, & Sunday, 5/5, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Join the weekend celebration of Mexico’s surprise victory over French forces in Puebla, Mexico in 1862. The festive weekend festival features popular and traditional music, exhibitor booths, cultural dancing and plenty of delicious Mexican food.

“Taste of Chinatown” Walking Tour, Far East Plaza/Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/4, 12:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. This China Week exclusive “Taste of Chinatown” Walking Tour will feature a sampling of Chinatown’s most delicious bites, from classic favorites as well as trendy hot spots, calligraphy lesson, and conclude with a condensed walking tour of historical and cultural highlights of Chinatown. This ticketed event will include food and beverage (cannot accommodate substitutions for dietary restrictions), calligraphy lesson, and a 90-minute walking tour. Buy tickets here.

Mexico – Aztec Gods (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/5, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Cinco de Mayo Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 5/5, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Celebrate cultures from around the world with dance, music, art, and a special salute to Cinco de Mayo. Enjoy face painting, art projects such as amate bark painting and sand painting, and a free delicious treat!

The Art of Charles White (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/5, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month (also 5/12, 5/19, and 5/26), learn how love, hope, dignity, and education were important values in artist Charles White’s work. See how he combined his superb drawing skills with the social and political concerns of the 60s and 70s Black Arts movement. Inspired by White’s powerful work in the exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective, make your own art in workshops.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 11 & 12 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Throughout Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/11, 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. This additional tour is held in conjunction with China Week May 1-14. Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A’s Chinatown. You must RSVP as group size is limited.

Hungary – Floral Motif Wood Box (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/12, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Celebrate Mothers at USC PAM (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 5/12, 11:00 a.m. Join USC PAM this Mother’s Day as you explore the Japanese art of flower arranging known as Ikebana. The tradition dates back to the 7th century when floral offerings were made at altars. What can be more meaningful to mom than an artful arrangement made by you? Enjoy free admission, an art activity, storytime, and a docent-led tour of the galleries and garden.

The Art of Charles White (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/12, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month (also 5/19 and 5/26), learn how love, hope, dignity, and education were important values in artist Charles White’s work. See how he combined his superb drawing skills with the social and political concerns of the 60s and 70s Black Arts movement. Inspired by White’s powerful work in the exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective, make your own art in workshops.

Fowler Families: Yoga for Little Travelers, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 5/12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Join families of all skill levels as Alex Reed leads participants in a 45-minute imaginative yoga session featuring mindful play, breathing exercises, and relaxing stretches. Little yogis (ages 4+) are invited to pack their bags and join Alex on a whimsical journey around the world during this new monthly yoga series. At 2:00 p.m., join Fowler Educators for a family-friendly guided tour highlighting artwork from the session’s destinations in our permanent exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives. Yoga mats will be provided, but feel free to bring your own! Space is limited to 15 participants, and this program is first-come, first-served.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 18 & 19 *

LA Opera: “Viva La Zarzuela”, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/18, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Zarzuela is a popular type of Spanish-language musical theater. It’s fun, fiery, melodic, silly, energetic… It’s a guaranteed dose of drama and excitement for both performers and audiences. LA Opera’s Zarzuela Project partners with the Mariachi Conservatory offering an afternoon of free public performances highlighting the beautiful and melodic musical theater tradition popular throughout Spain and Latin America.

Norwegian Constitution Day at Nansen Field, Rolling Hills Estates, Sunday, 5/19, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. This is a true Norwegian celebration. It’s a relaxing, laid-back event on a huge open field. The official program kicks off at 11:00 a.m. with a Norwegian 17th of May church service followed by the raising of the American and Norwegian flags, 17th of May speech, parade, and then food, cakes, and games. Solo, waffles, and ice cream will be for sale! You’ll also find vendor stalls with Norwegian goods and there will be plenty of games and prizes for the kids.

USA – Gee’s Bend African-American Paper Quilts (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/19, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Fowler Families: Let’s Experiment! Wearable and Sustainable Art, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 5/19, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Is it possible for an artwork to be both wearable and sustainable? Explore this question with Fowler Educators by examining objects from around the world before designing a small item of adornment, such as a crown, bracelet, or necklace using upcycled and repurposed materials. It’s time to experiment with unconventional art supplies while creating something beautiful! Find inspiration on a 15-minute guided tour in our permanent exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives at 12:15 p.m., 12:45 p.m., and 1:15 p.m. (For ages 5+)

Celebrate Israel, Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, West Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/19, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Join thousands of Angelenos from all corners of the community as they come together to mark Israel’s 71st Independence Day. The day’s activities and events include musical performances throughout the day, a marketplace with artists from Israel and local vendors, a kids space, amusement rides, camel rides & petting zoo, food vendors serving traditional food and “street fare” (all 100% Kosher), and more! For more information and to buy tickets, visit festival website.

The Art of Charles White (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/19, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month (also 5/26), learn how love, hope, dignity, and education were important values in artist Charles White’s work. See how he combined his superb drawing skills with the social and political concerns of the 60s and 70s Black Arts movement. Inspired by White’s powerful work in the exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective, make your own art in workshops.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 25 & 26 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/25, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both the popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Comfortable walking shoes recommended. Weather permitting. Limited to 20 participants.

Scottish Fest, Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Saturday, 5/25, & Sunday, 5/26, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Enjoy a festival of Celtic entertainment and food. There will be competitions in Piping & Drumming, Highland Dancing, and Scottish Athletics as well as a full schedule of entertainment. The Massed Bands will perform at the opening ceremony on Saturday starting at 12:00 p.m. and at the closing ceremonies on Sunday starting at 5:00 p.m.

Valley Greek Festival, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Northridge, Saturday, 5/25, Sunday, 5/26, & Monday, 5/27, 12:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Enjoy a cultural experience for all ages with live music, dancing, gourmet food, homemade pastries, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, a Greek market, and a variety of shopping boutiques. The festival evokes the sights, sounds and tastes that define the traditional Greek way of life. Enjoy the hospitality of the Valley’s Greek community and experience the simple pleasures of life in a Greek village.

India – Madubani Fish Print-Making (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/26, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

The Art of Charles White (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/26, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, learn how love, hope, dignity, and education were important values in artist Charles White’s work. See how he combined his superb drawing skills with the social and political concerns of the 60s and 70s Black Arts movement. Inspired by White’s powerful work in the exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective, make your own art in workshops.

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email the details. Thank you!

Reading Lately (March 2019): A Common Thread of Nature

March was a much more normal reading month for me (3 books versus the 6 books last month): a book for each of my book clubs and an audiobook for when I needed a something in my ear. Coincidentally, they all had a common thread, nature, which was perfect since spring is making its appearance in full force these days. Two books involved scientists studying the natural world, and in the third, the protagonist escaped the everyday world by hiding out in nature (literally, in a rye field as a child and in the cemetery as an adult).

Have you read any of these?


Unsheltered: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver

In this dual narrative novel, the story alternates between two families who live in the same dilapidated house in Vineland, New Jersey, in two different time periods, the 1870s and 2016. Modern-day Willa begins to investigate the house with hopes of finding historical significance in an effort to secure funds to make much-needed repairs. Through her research and the other storyline, we get to know science teacher Thatcher and his neighbor, biologist Mary Treat (actually a real 19th century biologist). It was interesting to learn a bit about the life and times of folk during the years when Charles Darwin’s theories were first being spread as well as seeing the Trump era as a backdrop to a narrative. I enjoyed the book, especially once I got into the second half. It wasn’t a super compelling read, but a thoughtful one with interesting parallels between the two storylines and commentary on society.

Reading Challenges:


Mirror, Shoulder, Signal: A Novel by Dorthe Nors

(Translated from the Danish by Misha Hoekstra)

Sonja, an awkward 40-something translator of violent crime fiction, is still trying to acclimate herself to life in Copenhagen after a childhood in a small, rural town. She struggles with positional vertigo, an estranged relationship with her sister, and late-in-life driving lessons. The book has received many mentions, among them 2017 Man Booker International Shortlist, 2019 Dublin Literature Award Longlist, and 2018 New York Times Notable Book, but unfortunately, I was not a total fan of this one. For those looking for an off-beat character study, this would be a great pick. I was too distracted by the writing style (unrelated clauses in the same sentence) and language (unnecessary vulgarity at times) to fully appreciate the story. It did provide good fodder for our Scandinavian Book Club discussion, though, which is always a plus!

Reading Challenges:


Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

(Audiobook Narrated by the Author)

I got so much more than I bargained for with this book. I thought I was just going to read a memoir about a female scientist with Norwegian roots who at one point spent some time working in Norway. What I got instead was a book about a scientist with Norwegian roots she actually related to as well as a deep book about nature and friendship. It was a personal, and at times emotional, look at the trials and tribulations of the scientific research and life of a female scientist. It touched upon professional struggles as well as the mental illness she endured and her uncertainty about motherhood. I chose to listen to the audio version narrated by the author herself. I was a bit turned off at first due to slow narration and there being more science than I expected, but then I turned up the speed to 1.5x and settled in. It became much better very quickly. It was especially satisfying to listen to the book as I walked and ran in my neighborhood when spring was coming in full force. It certainly made me look at my surroundings in a new and deeper way.

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

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April 2019 Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Scandinavian Festival & Festival of Books!

While others may be exploring foreign cultures and new places while traveling abroad during spring breaks, Angelenos can do much of the same while staying right here in Los Angeles. Visit Scandinavia and its Nordic neighbors at the 44th annual Scandinavian Festival the first weekend in April, Japan at a variety of festivals during the month (see below), and Ukraine at the Pysanka Festival also this month. Attend art workshops, concerts, and exhibits to explore even more cultures, and join walking tours in Chinatown and Little Tokyo to get to know our own city better.

How will you explore the richness of Los Angeles this month?

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 6 & 7 *

Borderless: Scandinavia, Gabba Gallery, Los Angeles, on view through Saturday, 4/6. This is the second exhibition in Gabba Gallery’s international series, Borderless, which showcases outstanding artists from different parts of the globe. The exhibit features work by three Scandinavian artists: Ari Behn (Norway/Denmark), Espen Eiborg (Norway), and Mikael Persbrandt (Sweden). Normal gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. or by appointment.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/6, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more! The 2 1/2 hour walking tour will take visitors to a number of off-the-beaten-track points of interest and will guide those interested in shopping to some of Chinatown’s best bargains and its trendiest shops. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

Guatemalan Masks Opening Program, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Saturday, 4/6, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m., exhibition curator Patrick A. Polk will introduce the masks on view in the context of Guatemalan masquerade traditions, offering insights into how these performances communicate regional identities, religious heritage, and popular history. At 7:00 p.m., preview the exhibition and enjoy cocktails in the Davis Courtyard and a musical performance by Marimba Chapincita and a traditional Guatemalan dance by Brinco del Chinelo Amigos por Siempre on the Fowler Terrace. RSVP here.

Scandinavian Festival, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Saturday, 4/6, & Sunday, 4/7, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The Scandinavian Festival returns for the 44th year. Both days of the festival are filled with music, dancing, food, lectures, demonstrations, vendors, and activities for young and old alike. The Viking Encampment and Sami Village will once again be present. Family activities include making head wreaths with real flowers, raising the Maypole and dancing around it, learning the ancient Viking game Kubb, playing croquet, and a variety of arts and crafts representative of the Nordic countries.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays only, April 6 to May 19. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. The faire provides “a cornucopia of diversity where we are unified in inviting our guests to enjoy an environment we have created to escape from the stresses and demands of the modern day.” There will be artisans of all media, entertainment galore, food trucks and booths, games and rides (including pony and camel rides), a Kids Kingdom (with games, crafts, storytelling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Mali: Chiwara Sculpture (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/7, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 4/7, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Spring is in bloom and the Bowers is celebrating with traditional Japanese dance, music, and art. Enjoy face painting, fish printmaking, sumi-e (Japanese brush painting), and a special Japanese treat.

Ukrainian Pysanka Festival, Ukrainian Culture Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/7, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Enjoy Ukrainian food, music, dance performances, and crafts. Learn how to make traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs. The Ukrainian Art Center will offer workshops to learn the traditions of Pysanka.

Wearable Pattern & Color (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/7, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, be mesmerized by the vivid colors and patterns in the exhibition Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection. Learn about this textile tradition on a family-friendly tour, then make your own wearable creation, or a handmade book of colorful patterns in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 13 & 14 *

Folkroots Festival, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, West Los Angeles, Saturday, 4/13, 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Festival features drumming, singing and jamming; dancing from African and Appalachia; folk film; workshops; concerts; food trucks; and more. Visit website for details.

Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival, Ken Miller Recreation Center, Torrance, Saturday, 4/13, & Sunday, 4/14, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Come enjoy Japanese culture at the 46th annual Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival sponsored by the Torrance Sister City Association. Enjoy children’s games and activities, tasty plate lunches, baked goods, craft items, and cultural performances. Visit website for performance schedule.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC Campus, Exposition Park, Saturday, 4/13, & Sunday, 4/14. Enjoy two days of not only books and authors, but also music, food, art, culture, and fun. The Festival of Books is Los Angeles Times’ annual celebration of ideas, creativity, and the written word. The Festival brings book lovers and fun seekers of all ages together with their favorite authors, artists, chefs, musicians, and entertainers.

21st Annual Chumash Day Powwow and Inter-Tribal Celebration, Malibu Bluffs Park, Malibu, Saturday, 4/13, & Sunday, 4/14, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. This year’s 21st annual Chumash Day Powwow will celebrate Native Americans from all over the country. Hundreds of tribes will gather at Malibu Bluffs Park. Native American food, craft vendors, tribal ceremonies, and dances will be a part of the event on both days. Rain or shine.

Japan Family Day 2019, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Sunday, 4/14, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Japan Family Day at Santa Anita Park was started as a way to introduce Japanese traditional culture and to interact with the people of Southern California. Through the years, it has become one of the most popular spring festivals in southern California. Featuring cultural events and demonstrations, Japan Family Day has something for everyone. Visit website for schedule of events and coupon for free general admission.

Southeast Asian New Year (Free Second Sunday), USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 4/14, 11:00 a.m. Come celebrate Southeast Asian New Year with fun activities for the whole family! Create your own ceremonial banner, build a sand stuppa, paint with water balloons, and more. Enjoy free admission all day, gallery tours, and storytime for kids.

Wearable Pattern & Color (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/14, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, be mesmerized by the vivid colors and patterns in the exhibition Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection. Learn about this textile tradition on a family-friendly tour, then make your own wearable creation, or a handmade book of colorful patterns in artist-led workshops.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 20 & 21 *

Edible Adventures: Graze Little Tokyo, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/20, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. On this culinary walking tour, explore the hidden corners of Little Tokyo and hear stories of the neighborhood’s past while sampling tasty dishes from its restaurants. Food stops will include renowned mochi makers Fugetsu-Do, mochi ice cream inventors Mikawaya, and popular imagawayaki (red bean cake) seller Mitsuru Café, while neighborhood stops will include Union Church of Los Angeles/East West Players, Koyasan Beikoku Betsuin of Los Angeles, JACCC Plaza and James Irvine Japanese Garden, and Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, among others. $28 members; $35 non-members. Museum admission and five food samplings included. Limited to 15 participants.

Blessing of the Animals, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/20, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. This centuries-old tradition of blessing the animals, for all the benefits they provide mankind, is celebrated with a colorful procession on Olvera Street led by the Archbishop of Los Angeles. All pets are welcome to join!

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 27 & 28 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/27, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Learn about past and present-day Little Tokyo on a walking tour led by an in-the-know JANM docent. From murals to monuments, explore both the popular and lesser-known gems of this bustling neighborhood. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Comfortable walking shoes recommended. Weather permitting. Limited to 20 participants.

Family Day – Storytime, Chinese American Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/27, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Listening and sharing our stories is a great way to learn about each other. Come for scheduled book readings at the museum. Hands-on activities will accompany the storytime readings throughout the day including a Spring tea meditation and art-making. This family program is free and open to the public; however, RSVPs are kindly requested.

Bali: Shadow Puppets (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/28, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.

Wearable Pattern & Color (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/28, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays! Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. This month, be mesmerized by the vivid colors and patterns in the exhibition Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection. Learn about this textile tradition on a family-friendly tour, then make your own wearable creation, or a handmade book of colorful patterns in artist-led workshops.

Concert: UCLA Near East Ensemble, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 4/28, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. The Near East Ensemble presents music and instruments from the Arab world, including a performance by master percussionist Souhail Kaspar. Its repertoire includes old court music genres from the Ottoman era, mystical works related to the Sufi Islamic sect, modal and drum improvisations, nightclub pieces, and songs from rural folk celebrations. Related Exhibition: Dressed with Distinction: Garments from Ottoman Syria

Feel free to add events for the current month in the comments below. If you have suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email the details. Thank you!

Reading Lately (February 2019): Lots of Variety!

Once again I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy‘s mid-month Quick Lit, where we share short and sweet book reviews of what we’ve been reading lately.

It’s been an unusual reading month for me with very varied reading for a wide variety of reasons which resulted in more books completed than usual! One book was for my Scandinavian Book Club, a couple were read-alongs with my 6th grade son, one was for an author talk, and a couple just because I felt like it. Some books fulfilled prompts for reading challenges, others didn’t. It was a fun month of reading! What have you been reading lately?


The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This was the second of three books for a schoolwide reading program that I read along with my 6th grade son. It’s a historical fiction book set in England during World War II. Ten-year-old Ada and her younger brother Jamie have a miserable homelife in London until they escape by joining other kids headed to the countryside as the threat of German bombings begin. Ada and Jamie are assigned to curmudgeonly Susan, and so begins a heartwarming relationship between Susan and the kids, but not without some bumps along the way. I’d been meaning to read this for a long time, and now I’m eager to read the sequel, The War I Finally Won.

Reading Challenges:


Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Here’s another book that’s been on my TBR list for a while (since reading Salvage the Bones). I was planning to read it sometime this year thanks to the Reading Women Challenge, but when I saw that Jesmyn Ward was coming to town to speak, it jumped to the top of the list. This book drops you in on 13-year-old Jojo, son of a White father and Black mother, who lives in rural coastal Mississippi with his Black grandparents along with his toddler sister and mostly absent mother. He and his sister are joining their mother and her friend on a roadtrip to get their dad who is being released from prison. The story takes place over about 4 days. During this time, the complicated and heartbreaking history of the family is revealed through memories shared and visits by ghosts from the past. It is beautifully written. And hearing Jesmyn Ward speak about her writing experience was icing on the cake.

Reading Challenges:


One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I didn’t intend for this book to be for me, but rather for my 9th grade son. However, I’m the one who ended up reading it. It’s a young adult novel described as Pretty Little Liars meets The Breakfast Club. I don’t know Pretty Little Liars, but I was a fan of The Breakfast Club and was intrigued. It’s about five high schoolers who end up in detention together. One dies while they’re all there, and the other four are then suspects and a murder investigation ensues. These teens are your typical stereotypes of high school kids – the jock, the princess, the brain, the outcast, and the bad boy – but with some modern-day diversity. And all your stereotypical high school behaviors are there. Despite that, it was an addictive, fun, and fast read.


Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

This was the final of three books I read along with my 6th grade son for a schoolwide reading program. It’s the story of three boys who plan and execute a very special goodbye for a favorite teacher who can’t complete the school year due to a cancer diagnosis. We see the day unfold through their eyes; each chapter is from a different boy’s perspective. I really enjoyed the slow reveal of finding out why Ms. Bixby was so special to each of them. Being a former teacher, I always love finding a “teacher-making-a-difference-and-being-appreciated-for-it” story and this was a sweet one. A great big thank you to my sister who gave it to me for a birthday – and an apology for waiting so long to read it!


Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

(Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles)

The author takes us into the mind of 18-year-old Maja who’s on trial for her involvement in a school shooting in a wealthy suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, that left her boyfriend and best friend dead, along with others. We alternate between her time in the jail cell and in the courtroom along with flashbacks to her life leading up to the shooting. The book started a little slow, but as I got further into it, it was a page-turner that had me very eager to find out how it all could have come to this. Many timely issues to consider: school shootings, mental health, immigration, gun violence, wealth, class, parenting… We had a great discussion at my Scandi Book Club meeting. I highly recommend it! (This book has been adapted into a TV series coming to Netflix April 5.)

Reading Challenges:


Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

I’m fascinated by lesser known World War II stories, and this is a young adult book that delves into such a topic, the Soviet annexation of Lithuania in 1940 and the subsequent deportation of thousands of Lithuanians to Siberia. In particular it’s about Lena, a 15-year-old Lithuanian girl, who is rounded up along with her mother, younger brother, and many others and transported via cattle car to a labor camp in Siberia. It is a brutal and harsh time. The occasional kindness and sympathy from others make it more bearable. Lena is an artist and a strong and bold girl determined to record atrocities and survive and be reunited with her father who was arrested and imprisoned elsewhere. The mother is an admirable woman as well. It was an eye-opening book which I’m glad to have read and highly recommend. (A movie based on the book, titled Ashes in the Snow, came out January 2019 and can be found at hoopla.)

Reading Challenges:


What have you been reading lately?

Disclaimer: AVikingInLA is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.