Los Angeles Culture Challenge for January 2018: Scandinavian Film Festival LA & PST:LA/LA

Is one of your new year’s resolutions to explore more of the many diverse cultural opportunities that Los Angeles has to offer? There’s lots to choose from this month, especially with the art initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA that’s going on right now. It’s a collaborative effort from arts institutions across Southern California that explores Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. Some exhibitions end at the end of the month. You can sort exhibitions by theme, neighborhood, venue, and media which makes the whole process of deciding what to see where less overwhelming. I have visited three exhibitions (listed below) and found them all interesting and worth the visit.

One of my favorite Scandinavian events returns this month. The Scandinavian Film Festival LA opens this weekend in Beverly Hills. I always look forward to seeing what’s being offered and hope there’s a movie that will transport me back to Norway through language and setting or bring alive a part of Norwegian history for me. I also don’t mind being an armchair traveler to other countries in the region. For a look at what’s being offered this year, check out Scandinavian Film Festival 2018: A Preview.

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

* RECOMMENDED PST:LA/LA EXHIBITIONS *

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, on display until January 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.

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 LAconsiders 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.

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 6 & 7 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Saturday, 1/6, 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 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.

Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles (SFFLA), Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, Saturday, 1/6, & Sunday, 1/7 (also weekend of 1/20 & 1/21). This is a yearly showcase of films from northern Europe and its Baltic neighbors. During the course of two weekends, the festival screens not only films submitted by Nordic countries to the Academy for consideration in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, but also other Nordic feature films, short movies, and documentaries.

Epiphany of the Three Kings, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Saturday, 1/6, 6:30 p.m. Learn about and experience the celebration of the Epiphany of the Magi (Visit of the Three Kings). In Mexico and other Latin countries, many children receive their Christmas gift on this day. Olvera Street celebrates this tradition with prizes, free champurrado (Mexican traditional chocolate drink), and pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) as well as a piñata filled with candies for the children to break and enjoy. There will be music and a procession on Olvera Street followed by a colorful theatrical production in the Plaza.

Oshogatsu Family Festival – Year of the Dog, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Sunday, 1/7, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Ring in the New Year and the Year of the Dog with fun arts ‘n crafts, delicious food, and exciting cultural activities and performances. Highlights of the day will include a Japanese-style lion dance; two mochitsuki (rice pounding) demonstrations, with mochi samples for tasting; a drawing demonstration and book signing by comic book creator Stan Sakai, famous for his Usagi Yojimbo series; and sample bowls of lucky zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles) to bring good health in the New Year. There will also be a variety of craft activities, book readings, souvenir photos, a koto performance, and more. Visit website for schedule of events and activities.

Festival of India, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 1/7, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Enjoy the beautiful music and dance of India with internationally recognized choreographer Ramya Harishankar’s Arpana Dance Co. along with other invited artists as they perform the beautiful dances of the diverse regions of India. The festival also features a special performance by SADUBAS, aka The Sadhus of Bass, who converges classical Indian rhythms with 70s Bollywood vibes to create psychedelic soundscapes that are one part Trip hop and two parts cinematic south Asia. DJ/producer Ameet Mehta and tabla artist Robin Sukhadia present visuals and sound inspired by Bollywood funk and Indian Classical music. Festival includes art projects, face painting and special Indian sweets.

¡Hoy en Día! (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 1/7, 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in January except 1/28). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. During the month of January, sixteen contemporary Latino artists from Latin America and the U.S., plus two-month residencies, equal surprising, playful, and unexpected art. Explore the special exhibition A Universal History of Infamy, then participate in artist-led workshops in bookmaking, mixed media, and performance/dance.

Radical Flags (Kids and Families Program), California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Sunday, 1/7, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Faith Ringgold’s People’s Flag Show Poster and The Judson 3, both on display in We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85, express solidarity with the tumultuous times of the 1970s. Create your own radical flag using a collage of words and images that reflect something you feel passionate about in this decade. Suitable for third grade and up.

Kids in the Courtyard: Painting with Music, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 1/7, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the closing day of the exhibition How to Make the Universe Right by learning about instruments from Vietnam and southern China. After finding inspiration in the galleries, create a watercolor painting while listening to music from around the world—including the very same songs introduced in the exhibition.

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 13, 14, & 15 *

Family Art Workshop, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/14, 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.

¡Hoy en Día! (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 1/14, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in January except 1/28). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. During the month of January, sixteen contemporary Latino artists from Latin America and the U.S., plus two-month residencies, equal surprising, playful, and unexpected art. Explore the special exhibition A Universal History of Infamy, then participate in artist-led workshops in bookmaking, mixed media, and performance/dance.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Monday, 1/15, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by surrounding yourself with art, culture, and community. Enjoy an array of vibrant programs and activities for all ages. Bring the kids for art-making activities and food, visit our exhibitions, hear a marathon reading of King’s lesser-known speeches and sermons, and much more—free for everyone! Visit website for schedule of events and activities.

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 20 & 21 *

Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles (SFFLA), Writers Guild Theater, Beverly Hills, Saturday, 1/20, & Sunday, 1/21. This is the second weekend of this yearly showcase of films from northern Europe and its Baltic neighbors. The festival screens not only films submitted by Nordic countries to the Academy for consideration in the “Best Foreign Language Film” category, but also other Nordic feature films, short movies, and documentaries.

Family Art Workshop, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/21, 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.

¡Hoy en Día! (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 1/21, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in January except 1/28). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. During the month of January, sixteen contemporary Latino artists from Latin America and the U.S., plus two-month residencies, equal surprising, playful, and unexpected art. Explore the special exhibition A Universal History of Infamy, then participate in artist-led workshops in bookmaking, mixed media, and performance/dance.

Kids in the Courtyard: Frame Your World, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 1/21, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Explore the black-and-white photographs of Pierre Verger on closing day of the exhibition Africa/Americas. French-born Verger traveled around the world, capturing people, places, and traditional customs through his camera lens. Create and decorate a monochrome frame for your own photographs using Verger’s images as inspiration.

* WEEKEND OF JANUARY 27 & 28 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 1/27, 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.

Family Art Workshop, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 1/28, 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.

Collage Faces: Express Yourself (Kids and Families Program), California African American Museum, Exposition Park, Sunday, 1/28, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Using collage and painting, artist Lezley Saar leads a family workshop to reflect on identities seen and expressed. Fabrics, curious still life objects, and a variety of materials will be provided to fully explore and express your creative self.

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!

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for December 2017: Swedish Christmas Fair, CicLAvia, and PST:LA/LA

December offers many special events and activities. I challenge you to explore the richness of where we live. Here are some special events happening in the upcoming month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

A favorite Scandinavian event is here this month, SWEA’s 38th annual Swedish Christmas Fair, on Sunday, December 3. It’s a busy, festive one-day affair which always leaves me with a cozy Christmas feeling. If you go, make sure to time your visit so that you are there for the Lucia pageant at 12pm or 3pm.

A favorite LA event takes place this month as well. CicLAvia returns to Wilshire Boulevard for its Iconic Wilshire Boulevard route on Sunday, December 10. There’s no better way to explore the city than on bike when the streets are closed to cars.

And finally, don’t forget to take advantage of the special months-long art initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles, which ends in January (some exhibitions continue later). You can sort exhibitions by theme, neighborhood, venue, and media which makes the whole process of deciding what to see where less overwhelming. Some of the ones I have found most intriguing are listed below.

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

* THROUGHOUT DECEMBER *

DTLA Holiday Lights Walking Tour, Meeting Point: Union Station, Downtown LA, nightly at 6:30 p.m. until December 30. Explore the richness of Downtown LA with the annual DTLA Holiday Lights Tour offered by DTLA Walking Tours. It is a two-hour nightly tour of the festive holiday decorations and traditions in Downtown LA from the weekend after Thanksgiving through the weekend after Christmas. The tour begins at Union Station and highlights include Las Posadas at Olvera Street, Grand Park with its illuminated fountain, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Broad Museum, Candle Cove at California Plaza, icicle sheets in the Old Bank District, and Pershing Square festivities. Adults $17, children 12 and under free. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, on display until January 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. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

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. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

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. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 2 & 3 *

Edible Adventures: Little Tokyo Sushi Graze, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/2, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Listen to stories of the neighborhood while grazing on sushi made by Little Tokyo’s talented chefs. $64 members; $80 non-members. Food and museum admission included. Limited to 10 participants. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Transpacific Borderlands Art Workshop—Paper Flowers from the Camp Archives, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/2, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Transpacific Borderlands exhibiting artist Shizu Saldamando will teach participants how to make paper roses using a flower pattern from the Manzanar concentration camp archives. For ages 11 and up. Limited to 20 participants. Included with museum admission. RSVPs are recommended.

38th Annual Swedish Christmas Fair, Torrance Cultural Arts Center, Torrance, Sunday, 12/3, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The fair features artisans and stands presenting the best of Swedish fine art, handicrafts, books, jewelry, toys, decorations, and much more. Enjoy a traditional Swedish lunch or “fika” (coffee break) with delicious home baked sweets. You can even enjoy an invigorating glass of hot glögg (mulled wine). The radiant Lucia Pageant is performed twice during the day, at noon and at 3pm. There’s also a children’s corner with crafts, games, and a possible visit with Santa.

Ancient Greece: Medusa Clay Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/3, 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.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Sunday, 12/3, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 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. Cost $20. Buy tickets at their website.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 9 & 10 *

Origami with Ruthie Kitagawa: Holiday Wreath and Cards, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Get ready for the holidays and make cards and a wreath using origami techniques. $12 members, $15 non-members. Supplies and admission included. Limited to 10 participants. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

CicLAvia: Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/10, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. CicLAvia heads back to Iconic Wilshire Boulevard as Koreatown, Westlake, and Downtown Los Angeles host the country’s largest open streets event. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

Panama: Molas Winter Lights (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/10, 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.

Hanukkah Festival: LA/LA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/10, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Inspired by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, this year’s festival explores the themes of Hanukkah through the traditions of Los Angeles’s rich and diverse Latin American communities. Program includes music and dance, hands-on workshops, storytelling, exhibitions, dining, and shopping. For more information and to purchase advance tickets (recommended), visit website.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 16 & 17 *

Jewelry Workshop—The World of Washi: Introductory Class, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/16, 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Washi is a traditional Japanese handmade decorative paper that dates back to the seventh century. Unlike machine-made paper from wood pulp, washi is made from the inner bark of plants such as mulberry, bamboo, wisteria, and hemp. The intertwining of fibers results in paper that is strong, durable, washable, and acid-free. Its thin, smooth, soft surface can be printed with vivid colors and complex designs. In this workshop led by Reiko Nakano, learn about the history of washi and how to apply it onto a variety of plumbing hardware like washers to create jewelry. Bring a shoebox or plastic case to hold materials, a pair of sharp scissors, and a lunch or snack. $32 members, $40 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 12 participants. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit website.

Las Posadas at Olvera Street, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/16 – Saturday, 12/24, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Las Posadas has been a part of Olvera Street since its founding in 1930. Every evening beginning December 16 and continuing through Christmas Eve, the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem is reenacted with traditional songs, colorful costumes, and vibrant music. Festivities begin with a children’s piñata breaking. Free sweet bread and champurrado are given to all in attendance afterwards. While the event is rooted in Christian and Catholic traditions, it is attended by people from all religious backgrounds, and all are welcome to participate.

Mexico: Printmaking Otoni Patterns (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 12/17, 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.

13th Annual Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival, Bing Theater and Brown Auditorium at LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 12/17, 10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Presenting nearly 100 films from around the world—full-length and short animation, live action, and documentary films—the festival is organized for different age groups, from toddlers through teenagers. Select filmmakers and actors are present for Q&A sessions after each screening. Free and open to the public. Program schedule will be available at the NexGen table, located in the Los Angeles Times Central Court.

Kids in the Courtyard: Let’s Go Fly a Kite, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 12/17, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Paper plays a key role in Daoist ceremonies, as families often send petitions to the heavens using written documents that are carefully burned. Learn how to make a paper kite to share your own dreams and wishes for the New Year. Be sure to explore the power of paper in the How to Make the Universe Right: The Art of Priests and Shamans from Vietnam and Southern China exhibition.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 23 & 24 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/23, 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. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 20 participants. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

58th Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center, Downtown LA, Sunday, 12/24, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Community and professional choirs, music ensembles, and dance companies representing the diverse cultures and holiday traditions of the region celebrate the season during this free three-hour holiday show. Doors open at 2:30 p.m. First come, first seated. People begin lining up early. The show is also broadcast live in Southern California on PBS SoCal (KOCE) and live streamed on pbssocal.org.

* WEEKEND OF DECEMBER 30 & 31 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 12/30, 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. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission included. Limited to 20 participants. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

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!

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for November 2017: PST:LA/LA and Norwegian Christmas Fair

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. I challenge you to explore the richness of where we live. Here are some special events happening in the upcoming month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

Of special significance to me this month is the Norwegian Christmas Fair. It takes place, as it always does, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Interestingly, this is a common tradition all over the world at Norwegian Seamen’s Churches. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as you wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. And of course, there’s the café serving traditional Norwegian foods. All are invited to attend. You do not need to be Norwegian or a member of the church.

The special months-long art initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is in full swing. It started in September and goes until the end of January. Many venues around Los Angeles and beyond are participating with a variety of exhibitions. As explained on its website, “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.” You can sort exhibitions by theme, neighborhood, venue, and media which makes the whole process of deciding what to see where less overwhelming. I have made a personal challenge to see as many of the exhibitions at venues close to home as possible. High on my list are Cuba Is at Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A. at Central Library in Downtown LA, and Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

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

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 4 & 5 *

20th Annual Arpa International Film Festival, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, Friday, 11/3 – Sunday, 11/5. The annual Arpa International Film Festival is a dynamic forum for international cinema. It aims to bridge cultural divides by fostering dialogue among people of diverse backgrounds. It showcases local and international films that explore critical issues such as war, genocide, diaspora, dual identities, exile, and multiculturalism. 34 films from 16 countries will be screened. Visit website to see schedule.

Transpacific Borderlands Exhibition Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 11/4, 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Join exhibition curator and JANM Vice President of Operations/Art Director Clement Hanami for an in-depth gallery tour of the exhibition Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo which examines the experiences of artists of Japanese ancestry born, raised, or living in either Latin America or predominantly Latin American neighborhoods of Southern California. The exhibition is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative.

Germany: Grimm Fairy Tale Puppets (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/5, 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.

Mexican Day of the Dead Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 11/5, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the Bowers Museum. Honor departed ones with music, dance, and art.

Family Jam: Salvador and Samba with Viver Brasil, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 11/5, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate Brazil’s cultural and artistic heritage with a jolt of joyful color, thrilling rhythms, and communal celebration. Find inspiration in the Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis exhibition, create your own musical instruments, and learn to Samba alongside performers from LA-based dance company Viver Brasil.

Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival, Hollywood & Westwood, Sunday, 11/5 – Wednesday, 11/8. The Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival is recognized as the most prestigious Brazilian film festival outside Brazil. It showcases the best in new Brazilian cinema. Opening Night Gala is in Hollywood, but festival screenings will take place in Westwood. See website for details and schedule.

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 11 & 12 *

Red Nation Film Festival, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica (plus other venues), Wednesday, 11/8 – Sunday, 11/19. Red Nation Film Festival is a showcase for new work by American Indian and Indigenous international independent filmmakers, It brings together decision makers and content creators with the goal of ensuring media representation of American Indian and Indigenous content to the world at large.

AFI Fest, Various Venues, Hollywood, Thursday, 11/9 – Thursday, 11/16. This is American Film Institute’s annual celebration of international cinema from modern masters and emerging filmmakers. It features nightly red-carpet galas, special screenings, conversations, and tributes.

American Indian Arts Marketplace, The Autry Museum in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, Saturday, 11/11, & Sunday, 11/12, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The largest Native American arts fair in Southern California, the Autry’s American Indian Arts Marketplace features 200 Native American artists representing more than 40 tribes. Top Native artists from across the country offer sculpture, pottery, beadwork, basketry, photography, paintings, jewelry, textiles, wooden carvings, mixed-media works, and more. Plus, enjoy a full weekend of food, filmperformancespoetry, informative demonstrations, family activities, and the annual Short Play Festival from Native Voices, the Autry’s award-winning resident theatre company.

JANM Free Family Days: We Love LA, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, 11/11, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. In conjunction with Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo, JANM presents a family-friendly day celebrating the diverse mix of cultures that make up Los Angeles. For more information on activities and schedule, please visit their website.

Kenya: Maasai Animal Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/12, 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.

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 18 & 19 *

Forced From Home, Parking Lot of Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, Monday, 11/13, – Sunday, 11/19. Doctors Without Borders presents Forced From Home, a free interactive tour that takes you behind the headlines about the global refugee crisis. Guided by experienced Doctors Without Borders aid workers, you’ll travel through a 10,000-square-foot space designed to convey the challenges facing a person forced to flee. You’ll also learn about the humanitarian aid Doctors Without Borders provides along the way. Visitors experience virtual reality and 360˚ video and interact with materials gathered from refugee camps, sea rescue missions, and emergency medical projects around the world. Forced From Home tours are free, fully accessible, and take roughly one hour to complete. Families are welcome, however the content is best suited to children ages 12+.

Norwegian Christmas Fair/Julebasar, Sjømannskirken/Norwegian Seamen’s Church, San Pedro, Friday, 11/17 – Sunday, 11/19. The third weekend in November is the annual Norwegian Christmas Fair at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. Christmas decorations, music, candles, and the smell of freshly baked goods set the mood as you wander the booths filled with Scandinavian goods of all kinds. There are raffle drawings with wonderful prizes, traditional foods served in the church’s cafe, baked goods for sale in the church’s bakery, and Norwegian Christmas food available in the church’s store. There will also be a children’s Christmas Workshop from 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. All are welcome!

The Great Los Angeles Walk, Beverly Boulevard starting in Little Tokyo, Saturday, 11/18, 9:00 a.m. Get to know our city by walking across it. Every year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, hundreds of walkers start the free urban hike on one side of the city and, 9 hours and 17 miles later, end up at the other. It is a low-key event, and you can hop on or off the walk whenever you’d like.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 11/18, 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. Museum admission is included. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

27th Annual Mariachi Festival and Community Fair, Mariachi Plaza, Boyle Heights, Sunday, 11/19, 9:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. The 27th Annual Mariachi Festival will be held at the 40-year-old landmark, Mariachi Plaza, in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Local mariachi groups will perform during the day-long program. There will also be arts activities, photo opportunities, art exhibitions, food, and information booths.

USA: Navajo Rug Designs (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/19, 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.

* WEEKEND OF NOVEMBER 25 & 26 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 11/25, 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. To purchase tickets, please visit website.

Morocco: Mirror Reflections on Gratitude (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 11/26, 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.

* ONGOING EXHIBITIONS *

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA. 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. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until January 31, 2018.

Surface Tension by Ken Gonzales-Day: Murals, Signs, and Mark‐Making in LA, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles. 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. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until February 25, 2018.

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City. 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. It is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. It is on display until March 4, 2018.

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!

Los Angeles Culture Challenge for October 2017: Norwegian Movies, CicLAvia, & Scandinavian AutumnFest

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. Here are some special events happening in LA this month. Mark your calendars, but please check suitability for family members and confirm dates and times before heading out.

For Scandinavian enthusiasts, there are a few events this month!

Opening October 6 at Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles and Town Center 5 in Encino is the Norwegian movie The King’s Choice directed by Erik Poppe. The movie is based on the true story about three dramatic days in April 1940 when the King of Norway was presented with an “unimaginable ultimatum” from the German armed forces: surrender or die. It is only playing for one week until October 12. See it while you can! I recommend it. I even took my kids to see it when it was screened at the Scandinavian Film Festival earlier this year so they could learn about the country of their heritage. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote a strong review of the movie: ‘The King’s Choice’ takes a gripping look at Norway’s little known conflict during WWII.

On Sunday, October 8, the Scadinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation will honor Leif Erikson, the first European to discover America, and John Ericsson, the designer of the revolutionary ironclad ship USS Monitor (1862), at their Leif Erikson Day Celebration at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

On Thursday, October 12, Norwegian film Vidar the Vampire will be screened at ScreamFest LA in Hollywood. The director will attend and do a Q&A following the film. For details on the screening, click here.

And finally, later in the month, on Sunday, October 22, Vasa Park Association will host their annual Scandinavian AutumnFest & Höstmarknad Celebration in Agoura which includes a Swedish meatball contest. More details are available in the description below.

One of my favorite LA events returns this month – CicLAvia. It has become a yearly tradition that they plan an event in Downtown LA in October, where it all started seven years ago. Echo Park is new to the route this year, which I’d love to check out. The big question is, who in my family will join me this year?

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

September 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Vista Viking Festival & Solvang Danish Days

If you weren’t able to travel as far and wide as you would have liked to this summer, then September is your chance to make up for it. Throughout the month, there are special festivals, exhibits, walking tours, and workshops that offer you the chance to explore cultures from all over the world right here in Los Angeles as well as visit new-to-you areas to broaden your horizons. And this Labor Day Weekend in particular there is an exceptional number of events to consider.

And for Scandinavian enthusiasts, there are two special Scandinavian festivals going on this month. Unfortunately, neither are in the local Los Angeles area, but both could make for interesting excursions out of town. During the weekend of September 15 to 17, Solvang in Santa Barbara County celebrates its Danish heritage with the 81st annual Solvang Danish Days festival. The following weekend, September 23 and 24, you can experience all things Viking and Scandinavian at the Vista Viking Festival in San Diego County.

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

* LABOR DAY WEEKEND, SEPTEMBER 2 & 3 & 4 *

Orange International Street Fair, Orange, Orange County, Friday, 9/1, – Sunday, 9/3. Every Labor Day Weekend since 1973, the Orange International Street Fair 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. Besides the streets lined with international food booths, there are also arts and crafts booths and a children’s street geared towards the younger crowd.

E Hula Man, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, Long Beach, Friday, 9/1, – Sunday, 9/3. Come experience Southern California’s 23rd annual hula and chant competition. This three-day event blends honored traditions with innovative ideas, creating a wonderful Hawaiian experience and feeling of ’ohana (family) for event participants and patrons alike. Hawaiian cultural workshops taught by creative artisans and cultural specialists are also offered. Visit website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Long Beach Greek Festival by the Sea, Assumption of Blessed Virgin, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/2, – Monday, 9/4. Eat, dance, and drink 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.

27th Annual Exhibition of Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A, Korean Cultural Center Art Gallery, Los Angeles, ongoing until September 15. The Korean Cultural Center LA hosts an exhibition with the Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A in which over 42 local artists show various calligraphy characters and Korean traditional paintings.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 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. Cost is $20. Please click here to RSVP.

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturday, 9/2, & Sunday, 9/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company. Free but Advance Villa entry ticket is required.

Undiscovered Chinatown Highlighted Walking Tour, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Held in conjunction with the Chinatown Summer Nights event starting at 5 p.m., this is a 1 1/2 hour walking tour. See listing above for description of tour. Cost is $15. Please click here to RSVP.

Chinatown Summer Nights, Central Plaza, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/2, 5:00 p.m. This is the last of three Summer Nights this summer. Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos during the 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 presented by local organizations and museums, sip on craft brews, and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs!

Mexico: Huichol Beaded Clay Masks (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/3, 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.

International Mask Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 9/3, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Enjoy a day of cultural and educational engagement with family-fun activities including papier-mâché mask-making, face painting, and music. Paso de Oro Dance Troupe, Taiko Center of Los Angeles, and Dafra Drum will present Mask Dances from Mexico, Japan, and Africa.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/3, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

Broad Fest, The Broad Stage, Santa Monica, Sunday, 9/3, 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Broad Fest returns for an afternoon of music, food and interactive entertainment. DJ duo Sadubas sets the festive tone with an eclectic mix of world sounds between live performances of Blues music, pop symphony of song, Bolera music, and reggae. In the Edye Second Space, enjoy a Heal the Bay educational talk, cool rhythms from SMC Jazz Ensemble and dances from around the world with SMC’s Global Motion. Join in tango lessons, hula hooping, and art-making experiences for all ages. Delicious food and drink from local favorites will be available for purchase. Admission is free. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 9 & 10 *

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, opens Saturday, 9/9, and is on display until 3/4/18. 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. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Peru: Inca Sun Disc (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/10, 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. This Sunday, create Inca sun discs with metal foil.

Palm Trees and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/10, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

27th Annual Exhibition of Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A, Korean Cultural Center Art Gallery, Los Angeles, ongoing until September 15. The Korean Cultural Center LA hosts an exhibition with the Korean American Calligraphy Association U.S.A in which over 42 local artists show various calligraphy characters and Korean traditional paintings.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 16 & 17 *

Solvang Danish Days, Solvang (Santa Barbara County), Friday, 9/15, – Sunday, 9/17. 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.

Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A., Central Library, Downtown LA, opens Saturday, 9/16, and is on display until 1/31/18. 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. It is presented by The Library Foundation of LA and the LA Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a collaborative effort by arts institutions across Southern California to explore Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles.

Mexican Independence Day, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/16, & Sunday, 9/17. Celebrate Mexican independence from Spain with popular and traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, food, artisan exhibits, and more.

 

Aztec: Sun Stone: Tonatiuh Sun God (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/17, 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 and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/17, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in September). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. This month, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art.

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 23 & 24 *

Pasadena Greek Fest, Saint Anthony Greek Orthodox Church, Pasadena, Friday, 9/22 (evening) – Sunday, 9/24. 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, 9/23, & Sunday, 9/24. 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 Weapons Range, expert instructors will train you in the skills of axe throwing, spear throwing, and archery. At Heritage Hall, learn about Scandinavian history, genealogy, and culture, and watch cooking and craft demonstrations. In addition to these events and activities, enjoy a variety of live entertainment all day long on two stages. You can also be part of the show and make Viking Festival history by participating in one of their signature competitions — Fish Fling, Log Toss, Horn Blowing, and Battle Cry. There are also arts and crafts and games for children, delicious Nordic food throughout the grounds, and beer gardens.

Baja Splash Cultural Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 9/23, & Sunday, 9/24. In celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month and Mexican Independence Day, the Aquarium of the Pacific will host its sixteenth 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.

Chile: Arpilleras Art and Protest (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 9/24, 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 and Dreams: Carlos Almaraz (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 9/24, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. 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 Sunday, discover how Chicano artist Carlos Almaraz painted Los Angeles through color and movement. Get to know him and his art in the exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Be inspired and include iconic L.A. imagery like palm trees and SoCal freeways in your art. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Kids in the Courtyard: Axé Bahia, Fowler Museum Courtyard, UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 9/24, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Celebrate the opening of the new exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis by creating a collaged landscape honoring Los Angeles’ sister city, Salvador de Bahia. Combine your own drawing with images from magazines, books, and more to illustrate a hybrid skyline of LA and Salvador!

* WEEKEND OF SEPTEMBER 30 & OCTOBER 1 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 9/30, 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (Offered every last Saturday of the month). Relive history and learn about present-day Little Tokyo with JANM docents. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Weather permitting. Buy tickets in advance. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

36th Annual Watts Tower Day of the Drum Festival & 41st Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival, The Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, Los Angeles, Saturday, 9/30, & Sunday, 10/1. Start the day with a Yoruba ground blessing uniting all cultures based on common themes and principles. Then continue the celebration with drum, dance, and rhythm. Guided tours of “Nuestro Pueblo”, the Watts Towers of Simon Rodia, and supervised children’s activities will also be offered, along with food, arts, and craft vendors. Festivities and activities continue the following day with the 41st Annual Simon Rodia Watts Tower Jazz Festival.

China: Autumn Festival Lantern and Sweet Treats (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 10/1, 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.

Design/Diseño (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 10/1, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Offered every Sunday in October). Make, look, and talk about art at Andell Family Sundays. This weekly family event features artist-led workshops and friendly gallery tours and activities thematically based on special exhibitions and LACMA’s permanent collection. During the month of October, explore how designers in California and Mexico shared ideas to create fabuloso design in the special exhibition Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985. Orale! Be inspired to make your own diseños. Drop in anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Feel free to add events for the summer months 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!

Los Angeles Culture Challenge: Summer 2017 Events

Summer is the perfect time to explore and take advantage of all that Los Angeles has to offer. This edition of the Culture Challenge shares events happening throughout the summer. You’ll find special one-time events, ongoing year-round events that continue through the summer, and unique programs just happening during the summer.

Make a pact to visit a new area of Los Angeles or participate in a new activity—a cultural art project, a concert in a special outdoor setting, a festival celebrating a unique culture, 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. You’ll be amazed at what’s available to us.

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

* SPECIAL EVENTS THIS SUMMER *

Family Festival, Getty Center, Saturday, June 3. Enjoy a day of celebration and discovery for the whole family inspired by magnificent historical scenes on view in the exhibition Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth-Century Europe, featuring performances, storytelling, and art-making workshops.

17th Annual LA River Ride, Autry Center in Griffith Park, Sunday, June 4. What better way to explore the city we live in than by bike. Join over 2,000 other riders and enjoy a great day of bicycling fun, exploration, a post-ride expo, a raffle, live music, and more. 7 great rides: 100-mile, 70-mile, 50-mile, 36-mile, 25-mile, 15-mile Family Ride, plus a 2-mile Kids’ Ride + Festival. All participants receive a t-shirt, goodie bag, and finisher’s medal. Kids 12 and under ride for free for all rides. All proceeds benefit the work of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, the only non-profit organization working to make all communities in L.A. County healthy, safe, and fun places to ride bikes.

Kids in the Courtyard: Decoding Stories!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, June 4, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The Moche peoples of ancient Peru (100-800 C.E) portrayed complex scenes on painted vessels, depicting everything from daily life to rituals and legends. The scenes were created with such detail that archaeologists today can decode these images to learn about how Moche people lived. Come out and be an archaeologist for a day! Create your own coded picture language and see if others can decode your secret messages.

Irish Fair & Music Fest, El Dorado Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 10, & Sunday, June 11. This is the largest such festival west of the Mississippi, and it has been around Southern California for more than 40 years. There will be many Irish bands, including the well-known Fenians. For the young folk, there will be a Leprechaun Village with rides, storytelling, and a Freckle Face competition. You are invited to join or just watch the daily St. Paddy parades. Also included in the entertainment line-up is a sheep herding exhibition. And of course, there will be plenty of Irish food and beverages.

CicLAvia – Glendale Meets Atwater Village, Sunday, June 11. Los Angeles welcomes a brand new CicLAvia route in June. Glendale and Atwater Village will host the country’s largest open streets event. Streets will be closed to cars and open for cyclists, pedestrians, runners and skaters to use as a recreational space. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.

LA Film Festival, ArcLight Cinemas, Culver City, June 14-22. The LA Film Festival is a premier platform for new works from emerging and established independent storytellers with unique voices and innovative visions. Index of films by interest include the following: African Diaspora, Directors of Color, LA Stories, Latino/Latin America, LGBTQ+, Native American/Islander, Politics/Social Awareness, plus more. Most screenings and events take place at ArcLight Culver City, with additional screenings and events at venues around Los Angeles.

Kids in the Courtyard: Miniature Painting, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, June 18, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Miniature paintings illustrating books and manuscripts are an integral part of western Indian art traditions. Create your own painting on shrink plastic and watch it miniaturize before your eyes! Be sure to catch the miniature paintings and sparking silver jewelry in the Enduring Splendor: Jewelry of India’s Thar Desert exhibition.

31th Annual Long Beach Bayou Festival, Rainbow Lagoon Park, Long Beach, Saturday, June 24, & Sunday, June 25. Experience the Bayou with this two-day family festival featuring authentic Cajun and Creole food, cultural music, dance lessons, crawfish eating contests, a children’s corner with arts and crafts and other activities, and a Mardi Gras parade. There will also be live performances at the Zydeco Stage, Blues Stage, and Children’s Stage.

Natsumatsuri Family Festival, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, August 13. Join JANM for their annual summer celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities.

* ONGOING THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER *

The Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Downtown LA, first Saturday of each month, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 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.

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, last Saturday of each month, 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. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, every Sunday, 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. This summer explore Ancient Greece (June 4), China (June 11), Ancient Maya (June 18), India (June 25), USA (July 2), Tibet (July 9), India (July 16), and Kenya (July 23) through a variety of projects. See website for more details.

Andell Family Sundays, LACMA, Los Angeles, every Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 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. Each month features a different theme: June—Follow the Rainbow, July—Travel to Egypt, and August—Flower Tour.

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until September 3. You won’t need a passport to travel back in time at the Roman Holidays celebration this summer. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company.

* SPECIAL SUMMER PROGRAMS *

Chinatown Summer Nights, Downtown LA, 1st Saturdays during summer months (7/1, 8/5, and 9/2), 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 presented by local organizations and museums; sip on craft brews and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs!

Family Amphitheater Performances: All Around the World, Skirball Cultural Center, Saturdays & Sundays, July 1 – August 13. This year’s eclectic lineup of bands celebrates an array of musical styles—from the beats of Africa and Latin America to the American traditions of rockabilly and folk. Sing and dance along to music that inspired Paul Simon or was influenced by the legend himself. See website for full schedule.

Grand Performances, California Plaza, Downtown LA, June – August. Grand Performances bring artists and audiences together by thoughtfully curating an array of music, dance, film, and spoken word featuring great artists from around the globe and our very own streets of L.A. The summer series of free outdoor concerts celebrates our city’s rich diversity through performing arts at a stunning outdoor venue in Downtown LA. Some performances are more appropriate for families than others. See website for schedule of performances.

Ford Family Series: Big World Fun, Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood, Saturday mornings, July & August. Music and dance events that represent the diverse cultural landscape of Southern California are presented on Saturday mornings in July and August in the outdoor amphitheatre. Performances are appropriate for children ages 4 to 12 and their families. Children are admitted free and adults pay $5. Come early to explore wild animals, get busy with craft activities, and grab a bite before the show. See website for schedule of performances and ticket information.

Feel free to add events for the summer months 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!

May 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Norwegian May 17th Celebrations

May is a big month for Norwegians worldwide. We celebrate our national day, Constitution Day, on May 17. On that day in 1814, Norway signed its constitution while it was still in a union with Sweden. The union with Sweden wasn’t dissolved until 1905. 17th of May celebrations worldwide are characterized by parades, traditional costumes, flags, and ice cream.

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 (details here). Or, if making it to San Pedro midweek is tough, there’s the annual Sunday celebration at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates on May 21 (see details below).

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 6 & 7 *

Cinco de Mayo Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Olvera Street, Downtown LA, Friday, 5/5, through Sunday, 5/7. Celebrate Mexico’s victory over French forces in Puebla, Mexico, in 1862, with popular and traditional music, exhibitor booths, dancing, and food. The party has been going on at this site every Cinco de Mayo for 140 years.

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/6, & Sunday, 5/7. Don’t miss the last weekend of the annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival. It’s a weekend full of adventurous short-film programs that will appeal to moviegoers of all ages. Magical, exhilarating works made by acclaimed filmmakers and up-and-coming auteurs showcase work from around the globe — including Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Russia, Taiwan, Belarus, Korea, The Netherlands, and Ukraine — to inspire the whole family. Festival highlights include the latest in both live action and animated shorts. See website for the schedule.

Cinco de Mayo Maracas, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Saturday, 5/6, & Sunday, 5/7, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 pm. Maracas came from the indigenous tribes in Latin American. This fun instrument is now used in other parts of the world, including Mexico. They were originally made out of gourds, seeds, and pebbles. Modern maracas can be made out of wood, metal, and plastic. Come visit Bowers Museum’s Art Studio where children can designs their own maracas made out of recycled materials. Activity is included with Kidseum admission, $8 for everyone over the age of 2 years old.

The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/6, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 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. This tour is offered every first Saturday of the month.

Peru: Inca Feathered Textiles (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/7, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. A different culture and media are featured each Sunday.

Celebrate Israel Festival, Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, West Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/7, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. This year’s theme is Jerusalem: 50 Years of Reunification. The festival will give attendees the opportunity to visit various sites of Jerusalem, learn about the Old City, and travel back in time to learn about the history of Jerusalem. Attendees are encouraged to stop in the different pavilions throughout the park and meet the many organizations that will be offering hands–on projects and activities for the entire family. The day’s activities and events include musical performances, an artist marketplace, a kids zone and a teen area, an amusement park with rides, and food vendors serving traditional food and “street fare” (all 100% Kosher).

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/7, 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, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until May 21. 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, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Roman Holidays, The Getty Villa, Malibu, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until September 3. You won’t need a passport to travel back in time at the Roman Holidays celebration this spring and summer. Discover the sights (and smells!) of ancient Rome, offer your prayers to Venus, read your future in a sheep’s liver, and enjoy live musical and comedy performances by the historically hysterical Troubadour Theater Company.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 13 & 14 *

The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/13, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. This is an additional tour held in conjunction with China Week. 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. 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. Wear comfortable walking shoes. You must RSVP as group size is limited.

Origami with Ruthie Kitagawa: Floral Cards, Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/13, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Learn to make a floral card just in time for Mother’s Day. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Supplies and admission to museum are included. Limited to 10 participants. RSVP here.

Austria: Gustav Klimt Tree of Life Printmaking for Mother’s Day (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/14, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. A different culture and media are featured each Sunday.

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/14, 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, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Family Jam: Storytelling with Dena Atlantic, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 5/14, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Storyteller Dena Atlantic will delight with interactive tales from around the world, including stories of the Trickster Spider Anansi from West Africa.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 20 & 21 *

Ancient Egypt: Cartouche and Painted Deities (Barnsdall Art Sundays), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 5/21, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. A different culture and media are featured each Sunday.

Norwegian Constitution Day FestivitiesParade time at Nansen Field, Nansen Field, Rolling Hills Estates, Sunday, 5/21, 11:00 a.m. This is a true Norwegian celebration. It is a relaxing, laid-back event on a huge open field. The field opens at 9:30am and the program kicks off at 10:50am with the hoisting of the American and Norwegian flags. Program highlights include a Norwegian 17th of May church service and a 17th of May speech. Then there’s a parade led by a marching band followed by the sale of traditional Norwegian 17th of May foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, Solo, waffles, and ice cream. There are also vendor stalls with Norwegian goods and plenty of games and prizes for the kids. Read about our celebrations at Nansen Field last year here.

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/21, 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, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

Kids in the Courtyard: African-Print Fashion Tomorrow!, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Sunday, 5/21, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Come for a day of activities celebrating the colorful and rich designs in African-Print Fashion Now! Families can create accessories from patches of African-print and enjoy family-focused guided tours of the exhibition. Finally, enjoy a showcase of artwork by fashion students in the high school arts program artworxLA, inspired by the exhibition.

* WEEKEND OF MAY 27 & 28 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 5/27, 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. RSVP here. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

Scottish Fest, Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Saturday, 5/27, & Sunday, 5/28. 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.

 

Valley Greek Festival, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Northridge, Saturday, 5/27, Sunday, 5/28, & Monday, 5/29. 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.

Eye on African Art (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 5/28, 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, see outstanding masks, sculptures, and textiles, and learn about the symbolism and importance of vision and in African art in the exhibition The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts. In workshops, make your own art inspired by the exhibition.

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 suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me the details. Thank you!

April 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge – Scandinavian Festival & Festival of Books!

April offers an abundance of special events and activities about a great variety of countries and cultures to occupy your weekends. Browse through the list below to see if anything catches your eye.

Two of my favorite events return this month, Scandinavian Festival at California Lutheran University and LA Times Festival of Books at USC, and I’m relieved they don’t fall on the same weekend which has happened in the past. The Scandinavian Festival took a hiatus last year but returns the first weekend in April. You can read more about what to expect at the festival here. The Festival of Books is not just about books and authors, which is fun in and of itself, but it’s also music, food, art, and culture.

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

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 1 & 2 *

African-Print Fashion Now!: A Story of Taste, Globalization, and Style, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, March 26 – July 30. This exhibition introduces visitors to a dynamic and diverse African dress tradition and the increasingly interconnected fashion worlds that it inhabits: “popular” African-print styles created by local seamstresses and tailors across the continent; international runway fashions designed by Africa’s newest generation of couturiers; and boundary-breaking, transnational, and youth styles favored in Africa’s urban centers. All feature the colorful, boldly designed, manufactured cotton textiles that have come to be known as “African-print cloth.” The exhibition tells the global stories of these textiles—the early history of the print cloth trade in West and Central Africa, the expansion of production following independence movements, and the increasing popularity of Asian-made print cloth today. Popular African styles from Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Senegal are featured, as well as groundbreaking runway fashions by some of Africa’s most talented couturiers

Scandinavian Festival, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, Saturday, 4/1, & Sunday, 4/2. The Scandinavian Festival returns for the 42nd 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.

International Children’s Day Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 4/1, & Sunday, 4/2. Celebrating the amazing talents of children of all cultures, this festival features West African, Mexican, Pacific Islander, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Persian dance performances. Enjoy performances by a children’s choir and martial arts demonstrations. Kids of all ages can partake in an international percussion circle, face painting, and Native American and Pacific Islander traditional children’s crafts and games.

The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/1, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 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. This tour is offered every first Saturday of the month.

Reykjavík Festival: Maximus Musicus (Toyota Symphonies for Youth), Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/1, & Saturday, 4/8, 11:00 a.m. Join Maximus Musicus, a lively Icelandic mouse, on a journey from the sunny shores of Southern California to Reykjavík, where you will explore the music and the great outdoors of Iceland. The concert is preceded by a choice of workshops designed for children ages 5 to 11. These include art-making, a music workshop, an instrument petting zoo, and a dance or theater/storytelling workshop. All activities are free to ticket holders. The Reykjavík Festival is ongoing until June 4 and includes a variety of events. See website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Russia: Lacquerware Mobiles (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/2, 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, 4/2, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Join Bowers Museum in celebrating the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival. All family festivals include art-making activities and cultural traditions along with live music and dancing.

Ukrainian Pysanka Festival, Ukrainian Culture Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/2, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Learn to make traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs. Experience Ukrainian culture by viewing the work of many esteemed artists. Enjoy dance performances, music, and food.

Bright Design: Awazu Kiyoshi (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/2, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Japanese graphic designer Awazu Kiyoshi had a signature style that wove together folklore and city life, all in bright colors. Check out posters and prints he designed to promote theater and film in the exhibition Awazu Kiyoshi, Graphic Design: Summoning the Outdated. Make your own posters and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops. This event repeats every Sunday in April, except Easter Sunday.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 8 & 9 *

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, April 8 – May 21. 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, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

19th Annual Chumash Day Powwow and Inter-Tribal Celebration, Malibu Bluffs Park, Malibu, Saturday, 4/8, & Sunday, 4/9. This year’s 19th 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. Grand Entry will take place 1pm at Saturday and 12pm on Sunday.

Celebrate Japanese American History (JANM Free Family Day), Japanese American National Museum, Little Tokyo, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/8, 11:00 a.m. –  4:00 p.m. Learn about Japanese American history and actor/activist George Takei with crafts and activities inspired by the exhibitions Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066 and New Frontiers: The Many Worlds of George Takei. At crafts stations, learn how to make koinobori (carp streamers), origami samurai hats, and origami bird pins (much like the ones that were made by incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II). Learn about famous Japanese Americans by making comic books and paper puppets. Throughout the day, hear stories that share the Japanese American experience. There will also be a Spam Musubi Workshop where you can learn how to create this delicious and uniquely Japanese American treat. See website for complete schedule of activities.

Reykjavík Festival: Maximus Musicus (Toyota Symphonies for Youth), Walt Disney Concert Hall, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/8, 11:00 a.m. Join Maximus Musicus, a lively Icelandic mouse, on a journey from the sunny shores of Southern California to Reykjavík, where you will explore the music and the great outdoors of Iceland. The concert is preceded by a choice of workshops designed for children ages 5 to 11. These include art-making, a music workshop, an instrument petting zoo, and a dance or theater/storytelling workshop. All activities are free to ticket holders. The Reykjavík Festival is ongoing until June 4 and includes a variety of events. See website for more information and to purchase tickets.

India: Mughal Painting of the Deities (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/9, 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.

Bright Design: Awazu Kiyoshi (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/9, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Japanese graphic designer Awazu Kiyoshi had a signature style that wove together folklore and city life, all in bright colors. Check out posters and prints he designed to promote theater and film in the exhibition Awazu Kiyoshi, Graphic Design: Summoning the Outdated. Make your own posters and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops. This event repeats every Sunday in April, except Easter Sunday.

Family Jam: Choose Your Words, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 4/9, 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Drop-in on #FamilyJam, an interactive performance featuring musicians, artists and other performers from all over the world. Families learn dance moves, songs, and stories from a variety of cultures. No reservation required, and it is free of charge. In this session, explore how a picture can inspire a thousand words. In collaboration with Westwind, UCLA’s student-run journal of the arts, learn about types of poetry and create your own using the stories, shapes, and patterns seen in the exhibit African-Print Fashion Now! as inspiration.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 15 & 16 *

Blessing of the Animals, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/15, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. This tradition of blessing the animals for the benefits they provide mankind dates back to the 4th century, when San Antonio De Abad was named the patron saint of the animal kingdom and began to bless animals to promote good health. It has been celebrated in the Plaza since 1930. Bring your pets to be blessed. Blessing begins at 2pm and lasts for an hour. Line-up for the blessing begins at 1pm. There will be entertainment from 12pm to 5pm.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until May 21. 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, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 22 & 23 *

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC Campus, Exposition Park, Saturday, 4/22, and Sunday, 4/23. 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. Go Metro and avoid the expense and hassle of finding parking. You’ll also save 10% on your total purchase of official 2017 Festival of Books merchandise, including mugs, T-shirts, and more. The Expo Line will drop you directly at the south end of the festival. The Program Guide with articles, a map, schedule, exhibitor list, and more will be available April 16.

45th Annual Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival, Ken Miller Recreation Center, Torrance, Saturday, 4/22, & Sunday, 4/23. Come enjoy Japanese culture at the Bunka-Sai Festival sponsored by the Torrance Sister City Association. There will be an anime contest; Kamishibai storytelling; Aikido, Judo, Kendo, Naginata, and Karate; Koto, Taiko, Minyo, Shamisen, and Odori; Ikebana and Bonsai; Shodo calligraphy and tea ceremony; Origami, Roketsu, and Kimekomi Ningyo Dolls; arts and crafts boutiques, games for children, hourly drawings; and food.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until May 21. 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, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Guatemala: Recycled Animals of the Rainforest (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/23, 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.

Bright Design: Awazu Kiyoshi (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/23, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Japanese graphic designer Awazu Kiyoshi had a signature style that wove together folklore and city life, all in bright colors. Check out posters and prints he designed to promote theater and film in the exhibition Awazu Kiyoshi, Graphic Design: Summoning the Outdated. Make your own posters and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops. This event repeats every Sunday in April.

Kids in the Courtyard: Flippin’ 4 LYF, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 4/23, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Learn how to create a flipbook, or a non-digital “GIF”, that brings a scene or character to life by connecting one movement to the next through drawings. Don’t forget to check out the fantastic dance movements photographed in the exhibition Pantsula 4 LYF: Popular Dance and Fashion in Johannesburg, as well as a series of animated and non-animated family films in Lenart Auditorium presented by the Dance Camera West Film Festival.

* WEEKEND OF APRIL 29 & 30 *

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, select cinemas in the Los Angeles area, April 27 – May 4. Celebrating its 33rd edition in 2017, the festival will bring the best and brightest of new Asian Pacific American cinema to Los Angeles audiences. Check website for news and updates on the festival.

REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Downtown LA, Saturday, April 29, to Sunday, May 7. The annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival returns with two full weekends of adventurous short-film programs to appeal to moviegoers of all ages. Magical, exhilarating works made by acclaimed filmmakers and up-and-coming auteurs showcase work from around the globe — including Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, Russia, Taiwan, Belarus, Korea, The Netherlands, and Ukraine — to inspire the whole family. Festival highlights include the latest in both live action and animated shorts. See website for the schedule for the two weekends.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until May 21. 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, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 4/29, 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. Cost is $12 members, $15 non-members. Museum admission is included. Limited to 20 participants.

Mexico & Dia de los Ninos: Votive Painting Using Tin and Cardboard (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 4/30, 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.

Bright Design: Awazu Kiyoshi (Andell Family Sundays), LACMA, Los Angeles, Sunday, 4/30, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Japanese graphic designer Awazu Kiyoshi had a signature style that wove together folklore and city life, all in bright colors. Check out posters and prints he designed to promote theater and film in the exhibition Awazu Kiyoshi, Graphic Design: Summoning the Outdated. Make your own posters and learn simple printmaking techniques in artist-led workshops.

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 suggestions about future events and celebrations to include in upcoming months, please email me here with details. Thank you!

March 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & CicLAvia

A new month means new opportunities to explore the rich diversity of Los Angeles. Highlights this month include Brazilian Carnival and Chinese Lantern festivals, a celebration of Iranian New Year, and CicLAvia.

CicLAvia is one of my favorite LA events that happens 3 to 4 times a year around the greater LA area. On Sunday, March 26, it returns to a fan-favorite route, Culver City Meets Venice. Six miles of streets between Culver City and Venice will be closed to cars, and participants will be free to explore as cyclists, pedestrians, runners, or skaters. We did this route a year and a half ago as a family, and I hope to repeat it this month. There is no better way to get to know a part of town than to ride slowly through it stopping as you please along the way. There are hubs at both ends and one in the middle with special activities and food trucks.

I want to give readers a head’s up about a Scandinavian event happening the very first days of next month, April 1 and 2, the Scandinavian Festival at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss it!

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

February 2017: Los Angeles Culture Challenge & Nordic Spirit Symposium

February brings another month of many opportunities to explore the rich diversity of Los Angeles. Highlights this month include a multitude of events to celebrate Chinese New Year and to honor African-American history and contributions.

For those interested in delving deep into Scandinavian history, there’s the Nordic Spirit Symposium hosted by Scandinavian American Cultural and Historical Foundation happening at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks this month. It’s a unique lecture/performance program that “blends music, dining and the free exchange of ideas to enhance the pleasure of learning.” For more details, see Weekend of February 11 & 12 below.

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