Los Angeles Culture Challenge for February 2018: Nordic Spirit Symposium, Lunar New Year, African American History Month

February offers many opportunities to discover and explore the richness of Los Angeles. Especially plentiful are Lunar New Year celebrations and events celebrating and honoring African American history.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, this month features the annual Nordic Spirit Symposium, a unique lecture and performance program presented by the Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation and California Lutheran University. This year’s topic is the Vikings’ arrival in America. The symposium takes place Friday, February 9, and Saturday, February 10, in Thousand Oaks. See more details below.

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

* New and Ongoing Exhibits *

For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, Getty Gallery at Central Library, Downtown LA, Thursday, February 1 – Friday, May 25, 2018. In celebration of African American Heritage Month, Central Library is hosting the traveling exhibit For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights, which examines the major role imagery played in the fight for racial and social equality from the 1940s through the 1970s. The exhibit shows how popular images—sometimes disturbing, sometimes entertaining, and sometimes overtly militant—played a crucial part in promoting important ideas about fairness and social equality and advancing civil rights during a key period in America’s history. The exhibit also focuses on the role of entertainment media, especially television, as an influential force in highlighting key civil rights events.

Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, on display until February 25, 2018. See a new body of photographic work by interdisciplinary artist Ken Gonzales-Day examining the mural landscape of LA—from East LA to Venice Beach, from Pacoima to South LA. Featuring over 140 photographs, Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA considers what the city’s walls reveal about its diverse communities.

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on display until March 4, 2018. Revealing complexities both on and off the island, Cuba Is explores aspects of Cuba not easily accessed by foreigners, and sometimes not even by Cubans themselves. Born from indigenous, African and European roots, divergent politics and limitations in communication and commerce, the Cuba seen in this exhibition goes beyond the folklore and offers new insight into its current reality. Over 120 photos feature subjects ranging from defiant youth known as “Frikis” to the hard-partying children of the 1%, the underground system of sharing digital content—“El paquete”—to Miami’s Chonga girls.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, extended until August 31, 2018. The exhibition celebrates the rich social fabric of Los Angeles through the lens of the city’s vibrant Oaxacan community — specifically, the Zapotec communities which make up one of the largest Indigenous groups in Mexico and Los Angeles. The Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos has created a series of new murals for the Central Library’s historic rotunda that explore language and culture as a key lifeline sustaining the shared experience between Mexico, Los Angeles, and beyond, with a look at how migration and the socio-political environment shape identity and cultural traditions.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 3 & 4 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Saturday, 2/3, 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 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.

Kids & Families Program: Placemaking Portraits, California African American Museum (CAAM), Exposition Park, Saturday, 2/3, 1:00 p.m – 3:00 p.m. Inspired by ideas and techniques from works in his exhibition Conditions and Forms for blck Longevity, artist Adler Guerrier will guide participants in an art-making workshop to draw, shape, and collage images of place.

Peking Acrobats, Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State LA, Saturday, 2/3, 8:00 p.m. The talented ensemble is world-renowned for their daring maneuvers, trick-cycling, precision tumbling, somersaulting, and gymnastics. They defy gravity with amazing displays of flexibility, contortion, and control. They push the envelope of human possibility with astonishing juggling dexterity and incredible balancing feats. Records of these acrobatic acts can be found as early as the Ch’in Dynasty (221 B.C. – 207 B.C.) and Chinese acrobats through the ages have continued to perfect what has become an evolving folk art form. Visit website for ticket information.

Asian Lunar New Year Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 2/4, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Celebrate the Year of the Dog with exciting music, dance, and art of Asia. Fun activities for the entire family. Lion and dragon dances and Changing Faces master are featured.

Andell Family Sundays—Painted in México, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 2/4 (offered every Sunday in February), 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Check out the spectacular paintings in the exhibition Painted in Mexico, 1700–1790: Pinxit Mexici. Look for La Virgen de Guadalupe, angels, other religious figures, and spiritual iconography painted in a uniquely Mexican style. Make your own art inspired by the exhibition. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 10 & 11 *

Pan African Film + Arts Festival, Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, Thursday, 2/8, through Monday, 2/19. This is the first weekend of the Pan African Film + Arts Festival (PAFF) where people from around the globe gather to attend the largest Black film festival in the United States. From a $100 million blockbuster premiere to newly emerging Hollywood talent, the festival showcases a broad spectrum of Black creative works from all over the globe, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes.

2018 Nordic Spirit Symposium: Vikings Reach America: First Contact, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Friday, 2/9, & Saturday, 2/10. The Icelandic Sagas tell of Norse voyages to Vinland around 1000 A.D. In the 1960s, a site at the northern tip of Newfoundland was confirmed as a Norse site occupied around 1000 A.D. by archaeological work conducted by Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad. After working with the Ingstads, Birgitta Wallace continued their research. This symposium will discuss this site in Newfoundland as well as discuss the location of Vinland and other sites named in the sagas. Included in the discussions will be the Norse who occupied Greenland for 500 years — the launching point for the voyages to Vinland, and of the natives the Norse likely encountered. The program will also include a discussion of the occupation of sub-Arctic eastern Canada from about 8000 years before and up to the Vikings arrival. The Vikings’ arrival is recognized as the first contact between peoples of European descent and natives of the American continent.

Film Matinee: Kon-Tiki, Norwegian Seamen’s Church, San Pedro, Saturday, 2/10, 12:00 p.m. Come enjoy waffles and drinks while watching Kon-Tiki, a Norwegian biographical drama film from 2012 about Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition. The Kon-Tiki expedition was an epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific Ocean on a balsawood raft in an effort to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. It was directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg and was nominated for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film in 2013.

29th Annual Mardi Gras Celebration, The Original Farmers Market, 3rd & Fairfax, Saturday, 2/10, & Sunday, 2/11, 12:00 p.m. L.A.’s favorite Mardi Gras celebration returns for its 29th year straight. It features the finest New Orleans and Zydeco music, strolling parade bands, activities for kids, bead throwing, and much more.

China: Lunar New Year Dragon or Dog Puppet (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/11, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Andell Family Sundays—Painted in México, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 2/11 (offered every Sunday in February), 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Check out the spectacular paintings in the exhibition Painted in Mexico, 1700–1790: Pinxit Mexici. Look for La Virgen de Guadalupe, angels, other religious figures, and spiritual iconography painted in a uniquely Mexican style. Make your own art inspired by the exhibition. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Family Jam: Celebrating Carnaval, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 2/11, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Join Fowler Museum for a celebration of Bahia’s Carnaval: a Brazilian springtime celebration famous for gorgeous parades, music, and costumes! Celebration features face painting, jewelry making, and mask decorating, as well as an Afro-Brazilian samba-reggae performance by Batalá Los Angeles and a guided story time in the Axé Bahia exhibition, where you will take a magical journey to Brazil.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 17 & 18 *

Chinese New Year Festival @ Central Plaza, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/17, 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. There will be artisan booths featuring brush painting, calligraphy, candy sculpture, clay sculpture, and face painting; arts and craft workshops; a craft and vintage market; a culinary stage; entertainment on Central Plaza Main Stage; live music; roaming performances; food trucks and food booths; a craft beer garden; and more.

119th Annual Golden Dragon Parade, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/17, 1:00 p.m. In celebrating over one hundred years of tradition, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles presents the 119th Annual Golden Dragon Parade. With over thousands of individuals lining the parade route and thousands viewing the telecast each year, this colorful celebration along North Broadway in Chinatown has become the premiere cultural event in the Southern California Asian-American Community. The parade includes almost two dozen floats, multiple marching bands, government officials, various dignitaries, entertainers, local business leaders, and cultural groups.

Chinese New Year Festival, The Huntington, Pasadena, Saturday, 2/17, & Sunday, 2/18. Celebrate the Lunar New Year at The Huntington as the Year of the Dog begins. Families can enjoy crowd-pleasing lion dancers, amazing performances from a mask-changing artist, plus choreographed martial arts demonstrations, Chinese music, food, and much more. The festivities will take place in and around the Chinese Garden and other performance spaces. See website for full schedule of events.

Pan African Film + Arts Festival, Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, Thursday, 2/8, through Monday, 2/19. This is the last weekend of PAFF where people from around the globe gather to attend the largest Black film festival in the United States. From a $100 million blockbuster premiere to newly emerging Hollywood talent, the festival showcases a broad spectrum of Black creative works from all over the globe, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help to destroy negative stereotypes.

Tibet: Losar New Year Festival Puppet (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/18, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Andell Family Sundays—Painted in México, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 2/18 (offered every Sunday in February), 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Check out the spectacular paintings in the exhibition Painted in Mexico, 1700–1790: Pinxit Mexici. Look for La Virgen de Guadalupe, angels, other religious figures, and spiritual iconography painted in a uniquely Mexican style. Make your own art inspired by the exhibition. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Kids in the Courtyard: Setting the Table, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 2/18, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. What kind of meal would you eat if you were to dine with kings in Cameroon? Find inspiration in our exhibition Dining with Kings: Hospitality and Ceremony in the Cameroon Grassfields and learn how certain patterns signify a person’s power before designing a placemat to use during your next meal.

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 24 & 25 *

African-American Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 2/24, & Sunday, 2/25. Join the Aquarium of the Pacific as it hosts its sixteenth annual African-American Festival, celebrating the rich diversity of African-American and African cultures. The weekend will feature live entertainment and arts and crafts. Festival performers include Mardi Gras second line dancers, hip hop and break dancers, jazz musicians, interactive drum circles, West African dancers, and storytellers.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/24, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

African-American Art Festival, STAR Eco Station, Culver City, Saturday, 2/24, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Enjoy African drumming and dancing, art exhibits, interactive art projects, BBQ, games, and local vendors at this outdoor festival at STAR Eco Station, an environmental science museum and exotic wildlife rescue center.

Origami with Ruthie Kitagawa: Hinamatsuri Cards, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 2/24, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Make a Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day) greeting card for your friends and family. $12 members, $15 non-members. Supplies and museum admission is included. Limited to 10 participants.

USA: African American Story Quilt (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 2/25, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Join instructors for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured. All materials are provided.

Turbante-se/Turban Yourself: A Head Wrap Workshop, KOAS Network, Leimert Park, Sunday, 2/25, 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Join Brazilian-born artist Thaís Muniz for a workshop exploring the history of head wraps and turbans in Brazil and the broader Afro-Atlantic diaspora. At 12:00 p.m. enjoy a 30-minute talk on the history of head wraps at KAOS Network. From 12:30-3:00 p.m. drop by Fowler Museum’s table outside KAOS and watch Muniz demonstrate a range of styles with participants. The artist will wrap volunteers on a first come, first served basis, ages 13 and up. This event is part of the Leimert Park Art Walk, 1:00-8:00 p.m.

Andell Family Sundays—Painted in México, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 2/25 (offered every Sunday in February), 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Check out the spectacular paintings in the exhibition Painted in Mexico, 1700–1790: Pinxit Mexici. Look for La Virgen de Guadalupe, angels, other religious figures, and spiritual iconography painted in a uniquely Mexican style. Make your own art inspired by the exhibition. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Kids & Families Program: Symbols in Copper, California African American Museum (CAAM), Exposition Park, Sunday, 2/25, 1:00 p.m – 3:00 p.m. On the final day of Circles and Circuits I: History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora, participate in a family workshop inspired by the images in the copper matting of Albert Chong’s Throne for the Gorilla Spirits, 1993. Chong’s work uses symbolism to celebrate the diversity of mankind. Meet the artist and make impressions of meaningful symbols in soft copper to create a frame for a small photograph. Suitable for third grade and up.

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

One thought on “Los Angeles Culture Challenge for February 2018: Nordic Spirit Symposium, Lunar New Year, African American History Month

Leave a Comment