5 Cool Things to Do in L.A. This Week — For Free
Public fruit jam.
Courtesy of Fallen Fruit.
This week is all about food and culture: on Sunday, head over to Pasadena for a free, BYO-fruit, jam-making workshop. And on Monday — or any day, really — get in on the combination literary event and drinkfest that is #90for90. Make it through humpday with live music and grilling over at Urban Radish, and don't forget to check out Nisei Week, the festival that celebrates Japanese-American heritage. Feeling arty? A show pairing the works of two estranged twins, each famous in his own right, promises to intrigue.
5. Find Your Twin
The most talked-about L.A. gallery show this year, “Twin Visions: Jerome Witkin & Joel-Peter Witkin,” pairs two formerly estranged identical twins, each of whom is arguably the most accomplished living artist in his genre, and neither of whom had been particularly interested in exhibiting together before now. It’s an unprecedented, years-in-the-making, art-nerd wish-list show of epic proportions, and a testimony to Jack Rutberg’s tenacity when art history is at stake. Despite their decades of separation, it turns out, Jerome’s portrait, landscape and history paintings and Joel-Peter’s hand-crafted photographic portraiture share much more than anyone (except maybe Rutberg) ever expected. Jerome Witkin produces paintings that are evocative and emotional, realistic and fantastical, eccentric and classical — and he’s not afraid to take on unsettling themes, most famously his Holocaust cycle. Joel-Peter Witkin is an icon of the Juxtapoz set, whose richly detailed, large-format portraits of individuals with, let’s say, unique anatomical and sexual curiosities, can be as hard to look at as Jerome’s most visceral scenes. But also like his twin’s, they are romantic, surreal and unforgettable. So, yeah, they have a lot in common. A new book on this landmark occasion (with the same title as the show) is the first publication examining them as a pair; it will be signed by both brothers at the gallery tonight. Aside from the profound revelations in this stylistically comprehensive survey, the interaction between these brothers’ followings is itself something to behold, as Joel-Peter’s alt-culture, goth and punk fan base mixes with Jerome’s crowd of art historians and studio painters. Book or no book, the show is up for another month; grab your evil twin and go. Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, 357 N. La Brea Ave., Fairfax; Sat., Aug. 9, 6-9 p.m.; free, book is $40. Exhibition continues Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; through Aug. 30. (323) 938-5222, jack?rutberg?finearts.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
4. Make Jam
In nearly every society around the world, fruit holds cultural significance, whether as a token of hospitality, sympathy or simple goodwill. The communal implications of pomiculture are what inspired the artist collective Fallen Fruit to begin mapping L.A.’s public fruit trees a decade ago. The group is behind a new installation at the Skirball Cultural Center, even as it plans a public Urban Fruit Trail with 150 trees near MacArthur Park. One of Fallen Fruit’s most beloved events is the Public Fruit Jam, and after a two-year hiatus, the community-building activity is back, inviting families, friends, couples and singles to Old Town Pasadena for a hands-on experience. If you have a surplus of home-grown, organic and/or store-bought edibles with seeds, bring your own fruit and take part in this community-building activity to learn how to make some tasty jam. Drop-in sessions last about 45 minutes, with groups of three to five people finishing with jam they can either keep, trade or hand over to a tasting table, where others can sample their freshly made foodstuffs as well. One Colorado, 41 Hugus Aly., Pasadena.; Sun., Aug. 10, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; free. (626) 564-1066, onecolorado.com, fallenfruit.org. —Tanja M. Laden
3. Turn Japanese for a Day
“Nisei” are the first generation of a Japanese family to be born outside of Japan. It’s a unique title that helps to instill cultural pride in a generation that typically wants to assimilate and distance itself from the homeland as soon as possible. The first Nisei Week in Los Angeles happened 80 years ago, and it has carried on intermittently ever since. The events typically show a flair for entertainment, and in that tradition, this year’s celebration will goof around in funny ways (a Rubik’s cube competition, a gyoza eating contest). But the highlight might be Sunday’s afternoon parade through Little Tokyo. The parade promises some poor Angeleno sweating it out in a Hello Kitty costume and measured waving from the newly crowned queen of Nisei Week. Banzai! Parade starts at Second Street and Central Avenue, Little Tokyo; Sun., Aug. 10, 4 p.m.; free. (213)687-7193, niseiweek.org. —Sean J. O’Connell
Keep reading for two more great (and free!) events, including midweek jazz.
Urban Radish's outdoor patio on a recent Jazz Wednesday.
Courtesy of Urban Radish.
2. Read in a Bar
If you haven’t been to Traxx Bar in Union Station lately, you’ve missed a little more than a third of the impressive 90-events-in-90-days drinking game that is the DTLAB literary pop-up juggernaut — but this is the perfect time to catch up. The corner bar in the stunning, historic lobby hosts free readings and book-related shenanigans, activating the public space and attracting curious passersby with its ever-growing audience. Tonight, Chiwan Choi, partner in Writ Large Press and co-founder of the #90for90 series, is coming out of semi-retirement to read his own poems and stories. Ah, Choi. If they named a drink after him, which someone really should, it would be called the Lightning Rod. It’d be whiskey-based. And knocking back two or three would make you write poetry. No way to know how many it took to make a nonstop season of nightly events seem like a good idea, but it has officially become a phenomenon. Choi’s own work is as legendary as his crew’s tireless support of local authors, characterized by a blazing wit, unflinching social satire and unexpected tenderness. He believes ardently that, despite the vagaries of venue politics and the general malaise of the poetic life, the word-show must go on. Come be a part of the new history of L.A. letters — and see what happens when you order a round of Lightning Rods. Traxx Bar at Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., dwntwn.; Mon., Aug. 11, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 625-1999, writlargepress.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
See also: 30 Free Things to Do in L.A. Any Time
1. Jazz Up Your Wednesday
Outdoor barbecue nights with live music are pretty much the definition of summer. But don’t wait ’til the weekend to get the party started — head over to hip Arts District gourmet marketplace Urban Radish for Jazz Wednesdays, a summerlong event featuring Kyle Crane (a young musician whose credits already include The Tonight Show and The Late Show) and his band, paired with a tasty themed menu. A $15 plate includes your choice of a protein and two sides, and the menu changes weekly to highlight seasonal produce or to riff on a theme (Taste of Italy, Coq au Vin Night). Although the menu varies, wine tastings (and beer flights!) are always in season, along with cheese and charcuterie selections from the market’s extensive deli case. Urban Radish co-owner and chief forager Keri Ann Aivazis says, “It has become a vibrant and fun evening.” Urban Radish, 661 Imperial St., Arts District; Wed., Aug. 13, 6-9 p.m. (dinner until 9:30 p.m.); free, dinner $15. (213) 892-1570, www.urban-radish.com/jazz-wednesdays. —Sascha Bos
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