Los Angeles Culture Challenge for March 2018: Norwegian Shrimp Fest!

A new month means new opportunities to explore the rich diversity of Los Angeles. If you haven’t already seen Cuba Is at Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, see it this weekend before it closes. Other special events this month include Los Angeles Lantern Festival, Celebrating Nowruz: Iranian New Year, and a Norwegian Shrimp Fest! Read on for more details.

Before moving on, though, I’d like to give readers a heads-up about a special Scandinavian event happening next month. During the weekend of April 21 and 22, the Scandinavian Festival at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks will take place. Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss it!

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

* Weekend of March 3 & 4 *

Cuba Is, Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, on display until Sunday, 3/4. 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.

Chinese Calligraphy & Brushpainting Classes, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Saturday mornings starting 3/3. Longtime instructor Guang-Li (David) Zhang, a graduate of the Shanghai Art Academy, teaches beginner and advanced students Chinese Calligraphy and Brushpainting in mixed lecture and workshop classes. Six-week class sessions begin March 3. Visit website for details.

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday, 3/3, 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. (Offered every first Saturday of the month)

Los Angeles Lantern Festival, El Pueblo Historical Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday, 3/3, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Join the Chinese American Museum for the 17th Annual Los Angeles Lantern Festival. The free signature event culminates the Lunar New Year festivities with engaging community booths, museum tours, live entertainment, music, arts & crafts, and food trucks.

Australia: Dream Painting Rain Stick (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 3/4, 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.

Caribbean Mardi Gras Festival, Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Sunday, 3/4, 11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Enjoy an upbeat musical performance by Upstream, SoCal’s premier live Reggae, Soca, Caribbean band, and an exciting dance performance by Caribbean Gems. There will be art projects and face painting for the whole family.

Andell Family Sundays—Waterlilies, Cherries, and French Landscapes, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 3/4, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Who doesn’t love Impressionism? Impressionist artists were pioneers in capturing lovely moments that often involved flowers, food, and beautiful places. Make discoveries in the galleries. Paint, draw, and see the light in artist-led workshops. (Offered every Sunday in March except 3/18)

* Weekend of March 10 & 11 *

Family Festival Celebrating the Getty Center’s 20th Anniversary, Getty Center, Los Angeles, Saturday, 3/10, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. As the Getty Center turns 20, they’re celebrating with an unforgettable birthday bash. Enjoy an engaging, immersive and fun day with some of the city’s best performers. Have your picture taken at the photo booth, make a wearable accessory inspired by the museum’s iconic tram, do some hip up with Versa-Style or hula with Keali’i O’Nalani, and then try your hand at their birthday games.

India: Rangoli Art (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 3/11, 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. Check website for updated schedule.

Free Second Sunday, USC Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, Sunday, 3/11, 11:00 a.m. Explore the garden and architecture of the museum. Design and create a model of a garden with artist Gustavo Garcia, sketch al fresco from the Chinese style courtyard and building, go on a tour of nature in the collection, and listen to storytime in the galleries. At 1:00 p.m., join the launch of the new children’s book Natsumi! with a special reading by author Susan Lendroth and illustrator Priscilla Burris. A book signing will follow. Museum admission is free all day.

Celebrating Nowruz: Iranian New Year, UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 3/11, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Join Farhang Foundation for the 10th annual celebration of Nowruz at UCLA’s Royce Hall and Dickson Courts. The event includes musical performances, children’s activities, dancers, a Haft Sîn display, and the annual Persian Costume “Spring Walk” open to children and adults of all ages. The Nowruz event is free. Sima Bina performance at 6:00 p.m. is ticketed. Please see website for program information.

Andell Family Sundays—Waterlilies, Cherries, and French Landscapes, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 3/11, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Who doesn’t love Impressionism? Impressionist artists were pioneers in capturing lovely moments that often involved flowers, food, and beautiful places. Make discoveries in the galleries. Paint, draw, and see the light in artist-led workshops. (Offered every Sunday in March except 3/18)

Family Jam: Storytelling with Dena Atlantic, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday, 3/11, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Families and children of all ages are invited to discover Brazil’s cultural heritage as acclaimed storyteller Dena Atlantic performs interactive narratives inspired by the exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis. Be sure to explore related artworks after the show.

* Weekend of March 17 & 18 *

International Children’s Festival, Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, Saturday, 3/17, & Sunday, 3/18. The annual International Children’s Festival celebrates the talents of children of many cultures. West African, Mexican, Pacific Islander, Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Persian, Irish, Slovak, and Czech dance are among the children’s performances, along with martial arts demonstrations and an international children’s choir. Kids of all ages can partake in a percussion circle, Japanese origami, Native American crafts, and Pacific Islander traditional children’s games.

Annual Norwegian Shrimp Fest, Norwegian Church, San Pedro, Saturday, 3/17, 5:00 p.m. The Norwegian Church is hosting its annual shrimp fest. Enjoy genuine Arctic shrimp, Norwegian “loff” (freshly baked white bread), mayonnaise, and everything else that belongs! For those who do not eat shrimp, lasagna will be served. Cost: adults $25, children $5, and families $50. Please RSVP by March 12 to losangeles@sjomannskirken.no.

* Weekend of March 24 & 25 *

USA: Cesar Chavez Inspired Still Life (Family Art Workshop), Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday, 3/25, 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. Check website for updated schedule.

Ukrainian Pysanka Festival, Ukrainian Culture Center, Los Angeles, Sunday, 3/25, 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.

Andell Family Sundays—Waterlilies, Cherries, and French Landscapes, LACMA, Miracle Mile, Sunday, 3/25, 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Who doesn’t love Impressionism? Impressionist artists were pioneers in capturing lovely moments that often involved flowers, food, and beautiful places. Make discoveries in the galleries. Paint, draw, and see the light in artist-led workshops. (Offered every Sunday in March except 3/18)

* Weekend of March 31 & April 1 *

Little Tokyo Walking Tour, Japanese American National Museum, Downtown LA, Saturday, 3/31, 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.

Blessing of the Animals, Father Serra Park, Downtown LA, Saturday, 3/31. The Blessing of the Animals has been a part of Olvera Street since its founding in 1930, but its practice 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. 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.

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!

Reflections on Scandinavian Film Festival LA 2018

My experience at Scandinavian Film Festival LA 2018 didn’t disappoint! Not only did I see many great movies, but this year I added another component to my festival experience. I was a volunteer. On Opening Day, festival newsletter subscribers received an email reminding them of the event and it also happened to mention “Beloved volunteers– we DO NEED YOU!!!” I am not one to let that plea go by without action if I’m available.

My offer to help was quickly accepted. Over the two weekends of the festival, I welcomed festival guests and sold tickets. I spent time with wonderful festival organizers and other enthusiastic and friendly volunteers. Being a volunteer made it all so much more meaningful. Getting to know festival organizers James Koenig and Flo Niermann and hearing about their experience with the festival over the years added to a much greater understanding and appreciation of the event.

Me along with James and Flo and fellow volunteers Lumme, Jacob, and Carmelo. Image courtesy of Lara McCarthy at SwedesintheStates.com

Compared to other film festivals, this is a small one. But it’s very welcoming and friendly. Many festival goers come for multiple screenings. They hang out in the lobby between films. They chat and enjoy food from the Nordic Café. James Koenig, the festival founder/director, is a constant presence. He greets guests very warmly and often with a hug if it’s a familiar face, and he introduces every film.

For me the festival provides an opportunity to go back to Norway through language and setting or to be an armchair traveler to another region in the area. An unexpected perk of being a volunteer was receiving a festival pass and being able to see whichever movies I was interested in while I was there. Since I was there for many hours over the two weekends, I saw more movies this year than any other year.

I saw four films the first weekend, the very first one being Sweden’s Oscar submission The Square by Ruben Östlund. I was very grateful to see it with my volunteer partner. The movie started out fine and enjoyable, but then it took a turn that left us with many unanswered questions. We both appreciated having someone to discuss the movie with afterwards.

One of my favorite films of the festival was shown in the first weekend, Denmark’s short film The Dolphin by Laurits Munch-Petersen. It was about a mother who wanted her son to be able to finish a swimming course. In 29 minutes, it managed to evoke a whole range of emotions, and the ending, an unexpected one, tied all the pieces together perfectly.

I also saw Iceland’s Under the Tree by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigur∂sson. This movie seemed to cause very varied opinions among festival goers. It’s about two neighbors’ disagreement over a tree’s shadow. This is a relatable issue; access to sunlight is highly prized in the Nordic countries. What starts as a common neighborly issue quickly spirals out of control, at times comically, other times darkly. I was one of those who enjoyed the film.

I wrapped up the first weekend with Norway’s supernatural thriller Thelma by Joachim Trier. It took place mostly in Oslo but also along Norway’s western coast. I wasn’t sure it would be my type of movie with its supernatural elements, but it worked for me and I enjoyed it.

The second weekend was a little slower for me due to family obligations. Saturday evening I saw another favorite movie of the festival, Sweden’s feature film Strawberry Days by Wiktor Ericsson. It’s about the son of a Polish guest worker and the daughter of a Swedish farmer. They slowly but surely fall in love, but their relationship is not acceptable to either side. It wasn’t clear to me exactly what happened in the end, but the dramatic ending was definitely understandable considering all the issues that were at stake in this situation.

Strawberry Days (trailer) from ArtOfficial Agency CPH on Vimeo.

The last film of the festival for me was Lithuania’s Frost by Šarūnas Bartas. This was an odd experience because it was nothing like descriptions I had read beforehand. I was expecting a movie about a young Lithuanian man’s alliance with two reporters as they deal with the turmoil of war in Ukraine and he is “forced to overcome psychological limits and build strong relationships.” He does meet reporters along the way, but they don’t continue together. Instead, the movie is about this young man’s fascination with war and his desire to understand it. His sullen girlfriend comes along on the road trip from Vilnius to Ukraine. I did not understand the characters’ motivations. And the ending did little to make up for the slow and dull journey. The only interesting part of the movie is towards the end when viewers get a little insight into the Ukrainian war and what life is like for Ukrainian forces holding off separatists. I wonder if the film underwent some major editing after film descriptions were published.

Films that I was unable to see but heard were worthwhile or ones that were highly anticipated included Denmark’s You Disappear and Across the Waters, Iceland’s Summer Children, and Norway’s Late Summer. I’ll have to keep an eye out on Netflix for those movies. If you attended the festival or have seen any of the movies elsewhere, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Next year marks SFFLA’s 20th anniversary. I can’t wait to celebrate and see the next crop of “top films from the top of Europe.” (Sign up here to receive e-mail updates on the festival so you don’t miss news about next year’s festival dates!)

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

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

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

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

* New and Ongoing Exhibits *

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

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

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

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

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 3 & 4 *

Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour, Chinatown, Saturday, 2/3, 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Offered every first Saturday of the month). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures—not to mention great bargains—to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.

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

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

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

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

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 10 & 11 *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 17 & 18 *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* WEEKEND OF FEBRUARY 24 & 25 *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: January 2018

This year I’ll be working on completing three reading challenges: my own Scandinavian Reading Challenge (#ScandiReadingChallenge), Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge (#IdRatherBeReading), and The Reading Women’s Reading Women Challenge (#ReadingWomenChallenge). In order to have a greater chance of success, I’ve decided books can overlap challenges. I’m off to a good start with two categories for each challenge completed.

If you haven’t already checked out my 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge, I invite you to do so now.

And once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.


The Indian Bride by Karin Fossum (translated from Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund)

For our first meeting of the new year, my Scandinavian Book Club chose Karin Fossum’s Eva’s Eye (the first in the Inspector Sejer mystery series). I had already read that so I decided to read The Indian Bride, another of Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer mysteries, instead. I enjoyed The Indian Bride much more than Eva’s Eye. I felt for Gunder, the main character, whose life was turned upside down when, on the same day, his sister was suddenly in a coma after a car accident and his wife was killed upon arrival in town. I was wrapped up in the characters and the situation – how could this horrendous murder have happened and who could have done it? The book explores the characters and the community more than the crime itself. There were some unanswered questions and ambiguity at the end which bothered me a little, but overall it was still a good read. (The Indian Bride won the Los Angeles Times’ Mystery Prize in 2007.) Karin Fossum would be a good candidate for the Scandinavian Reading Challenge’s “a crime novel by a female author” category.


The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi

This author has been on my radar for a while. She’s from India and married to a Danish man. They lived in Denmark for several years before moving to southern California. The Sound of Language intrigued me because it was about an Afghan refugee who immigrated to Denmark after her husband was captured by the Taliban. It was also about beekeeping and an unlikely relationship between an older, stubborn, recently widowed man and this young Afghan woman learning Danish. I admired both the man and the woman for persevering with the apprenticeship despite pressure from family and community to do otherwise. It was an interesting look at the immigrant debate in Denmark. I highly recommend this for the “immigrant story” category of the Scandinavian Reading Challenge. We read it for my local book club, and it made for a good discussion.


Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I was looking for a light and easy read, and this book certainly fit the bill. It was a fun ride. It was a fascinating and unbelievable look at life of the super rich in Singapore. How close to reality it really is, I’ll never know. But I believe there’s some truth to it since it’s written by an author who was born and raised in Singapore. There were a lot of characters to keep track of. The family tree at the beginning of the book was helpful at first, but then I decided it really didn’t matter if I couldn’t keep track of which family line everyone belonged to. I’m eager to read the next books in the series and to see the movie when it comes out in August 2018.


Currently reading and next on my list…

My local book club picked The Leavers by Lisa Ko for our next read. My Scandinavian Book Club meets later in the month. I’m curious to see what we’ll pick. I’m hoping I can steer the choice in the direction of one of the categories for the Scandinavian Reading Challenge. A friend suggested I read The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee with David John with her so I’ll be giving that a go, too (and it checks off a category for both Modern Mrs. Darcy’s and The Reading Women’s challenges!).

What have you been reading lately?

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Join the 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge!

I invite you to join the 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge. This reading challenge focuses on the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. There are 14 categories with the intention of providing lots of choice for the new reading year. I realize not everyone is as much of a Scandinavian enthusiast as me, so choose to participate at whatever level suits you: a book a month, one book every other month, or even just a couple of books in the upcoming months. I welcome all levels of participation.

Visit the page 2018 Scandinavian Reading Challenge to see the 14 categories and to download a printable PDF to keep track of your reading.

I will make suggestions for books in each category as the year progresses. I would love to hear what books you choose to read, and I always welcome suggestions from fellow readers. Share your progress and suggestions here or on social media with the hashtag #ScandiReadingChallenge.

I hope you’ll join me for some Scandinavian reading this year. Share your intention to participate in the comments below or in an email.

Click here to see the 14 categories in the reading challenge.

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? Continue reading

Scandinavian Film Festival LA 2018: A Preview

The first weekend of 2018 welcomes “top films from the top of Europe” at the annual Scandinavian Film Festival Los Angeles (SFFLA). Despite its name, the scope of the festival actually extends beyond Scandinavia. Besides films from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, festival goers can view films from Iceland and Finland as well as Baltic neighbors Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. The festival will take place over two weekends, January 6 & 7 and 20 & 21, at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills. Continue reading

What I’ve Been Reading Lately: December 2017

I’ve had a tough reading time this past month with disappointments for unexpected reasons. I need to turn that around. Once again, I’m joining Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit link-up where readers share short and sweet reviews of what they’ve been reading lately.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

This one came highly recommended from Modern Mrs Darcy and I suggested it for my local book club. Unfortunately, I was not blown away by it. I believe it was *reading* the book that made the difference for me. I’ve since learned that *listening* to the book is a totally different experience. I enjoyed the main characters and the unlikely relationship between the Captain and the young orphan girl he was charged to bring back to relatives after having been taken captive by Kiowa Native Americans. I liked the setting of Texas post Civil War. The story introduced me to a chapter in American history that I was unfamiliar with, which I really enjoyed. However, the writing style was not for me and affected the whole reading experience. There were no quotation marks in the dialogue which made reading it more frustrating and harder than it should have been. I suggest listening to this one.


The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö (Finnish novel written in Swedish translated to English by Neil Smith)

This was the latest book pick for my Scandinavian Book Club. And it was another tough read but for a totally different reason. I did not have the necessary background knowledge to absorb everything easily. It takes place in Helsinki, Finland, in 1938. At one point, I had to research Finnish history, in particular the civil war that happened in 1918 and left deep scars in the people. Also, I was not knowledgeable enough about the intricacies of the political atmosphere throughout Europe between World War I and II. However, I was intrigued by the main character: Matilda, Miss Milja, or Mrs. Wiik, depending on the situation. I was curious about her past, clues about which were meted out slowly, and culminated in an ending that I was not expecting. (A sidenote, Kjell Westö won the Nordic Council Literature Award in 2014 for this book. It’s one of the most prestigious awards that Nordic authors can win.)


I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick, narrated by Neela Vaswani

I was recently very moved by a Norwegian movie about a Pakistani immigrant family living in Oslo whose daughter was sent back to Pakistan as punishment for her Western behavior (What Will People Say by Iram Haq). I Am Malala has been a memoir I’ve been interested in reading for a long time, and I seized the moment now to learn more about Pakistan and its people. Unfortunately, in my rush to get started, I unintentionally selected the young readers’ adaptation of the audiobook and realized it once I was too invested. Malala is an inspiring girl and the book provided a fascinating window into the culture and history of the region. I definitely enjoyed the book and Malala’s story, but I do wish I had selected the adult version.


Sourdough by Robin Sloan

After my recent hard and serious reads, I needed something light-hearted and fun. I really enjoyed Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore so I thought I’d try his latest book. Sourdough was definitely an easy and fun read – to begin with at least. I enjoyed the main character and her new life with the sourdough starter left to her unexpectedly. The casual style of writing also helped the story move along quickly. Then about 75% into it, I found the book harder to return to as the story took a fantastical turn. Sadly, I had to force myself to finish it. The fantasy elements in this book were not for me. But I seem to be in the minority. The Goodreads community thinks much more highly of the book than I did.


Currently reading and next on my list…

Since Christmas is around the corner, I’m reading Jostein Gaarder’s The Christmas Mystery, a book I’ve long been curious about. Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian intellectual and author of several novels, short stories, and children’s books. The Christmas Mystery is written in 24 chapters and is about a boy who discovers a magic Advent calendar. My local book club’s next read is The Sound of Language by Amulya Malladi about an Afghani woman who immigrated to Denmark after her husband was captured by the Taliban. My Scandinavian Book Club chose Karin Fossum’s Eva’s Eye (first book in the Inspector Sejer mystery series) which I’ve already read so I may read The Indian Bride, another of Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer mysteries, instead. It received the Los Angeles Times’ Mystery Prize in 2007. But before I read either of those books, I need something light and fun. I may try Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.

What have you been reading lately?

Do you have any books to recommend? I need to get some more enjoyment into my reading life right now.

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

What Will People Say by Iram Haq: An #OwnVoices Immigrant Story from Norway

I seized the opportunity to see What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si) at AFI FEST 2017 in Hollywood this past November. I’ve read a lot of immigrant stories that take place here in the United States, but immigrant stories by own voices in Norway are unfamiliar to me. What Will People Say was a very powerful film about a first generation Norwegian teenager born of Pakistani immigrants in Oslo. Continue reading

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? Continue reading