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!