Essential Arts & Culture: The ICA L.A. debuts, Latin America’s ‘Radical Women,’ culture and Hurricane Harvey

The ICA L.A. prepares to open its doors. How a group of Latin American women artists are rewriting art history. And how Texas cultural institutions have been affected by . I’m Carolina A. Miranda, staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, with the week’s essential culture news:

ICA L.A. prepares to debut

The institution formerly known as the Santa Monica Museum of Art is about to be reborn downtown as the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, or ICA L.A.. Housed in a light industrial warehouse in the Arts District that was refurbished by architect Kulapat Yantrasast, the ICA L.A. will kick off with a show devoted to the work of Mexican artist Martín Ramirez. “We want this to be an active space, crackling with energy,” director Elsa Longhauser tells Deborah Vankin.

And because journalism is a lot of things, but never boring: Vankin interviews L.A.’s top theatrical scene stealer: Zeus, the rat, from “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

Mexico’s ‘Radical Women’

Of all the new Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles / Latin America exhibitions, none will rewrite history quite like “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-85” at the Hammer Museum. The show will explore boundary-breaking art by women all over the continent. On a recent trip to Mexico City, I spent time with the Mexican artists in the show, who told me about psychedelic installations and a quinceañera dress made out of beef. “These were women dealing with power,” says exhibition co-curator Cecilia Fajardo-Hill. “They are women fighting power.”

Plus, some excerpts from a roundtable that The Times held in Mexico with some of the key artists in the show, including Lourdes Grobet, Mónica Mayer, Maris Bustamante, Carla Rippey and Magali Lara. It contains fireworks. Literally.

Paintings of peace and ferocity

Late Los Angeles painter Carlos Almaraz, known for his luminescent depictions of fires and freeway crashes, is getting his first large-scale museum survey with the opening of the exhibition “Playing With Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz,” at the part of PST: LA/LA. “I knew he would get there at some point,” his widow Elsa Flores tells Times contributor Steve Appleford. “He had a very strong vision. He just didn’t live long enough to see it.”

Plus, a look at how Almaraz’s art contended with his bisexuality and his Chicano identity.

Architecture in the museum

This week, Times architecture critic files a couple of dispatches on important architectural shows.

The first takes us to New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which has an exhibition drawn from the mammoth archive of Frank Lloyd Wright. The exhibition, notes Hawthorne, is “wide-ranging and often surprising.” Exhibition curator Barry Bergdoll got 11 co-curators to put together mini-exhibitions that explore a single facet of the archive. The approach pays dividends, but Hawthorne says he notes some ambivalence in MoMA’s attitude towards the singular Wright.

Hawthorne also has a look at the architecture of John Yeon at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. Yeon’s work, he writes, “made a powerful argument that architecture was flourishing in Oregon and places like it” and “that it could grow richer, rather than less authentic, by taking cues from its setting.”

Harvey and the arts

Hurricane Harvey has devastated large swathes of Texas — and among the affected are numerous cultural institutions.

Many Houston museums, thankfully, seem to already be on the rebound. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Menil Collection and the Rothko Chapel closed, but emerged from the storm largely unscathed — with some already beginning to reopen. ,

The Rockport Center for the Arts in Rockport, however, hasn’t been so lucky. The museum has suffered severe damage.

The same goes for Houston’s theater district, which was hit by significant floods. The Alley Theatre, which recently completed a major renovation, was especially hard hit — with water flooding basement dressing rooms and damaging electrical systems. Even so, the theater will proceed with its fall season. ,

The Houston Ballet, however, has canceled its season opener.

In the meantime, jazz critic Nate Chinen reports on how the storm has affected the jazz scene. "You can’t point to a jazz club, really, in Houston," pianist Robert Glasper told Chinen. "But Houston probably has more jazz musicians that are relevant on the scene now than any other city."

Plus, it’s a good time to revisit this report from last year on how a lack of urban planning made the Houston area more vulnerable to disaster.

A pair of pairings at the Bowl

In the waning day of August, Times classical music critic has been hitting the Hollywood Bowl hard.

Last week, he caught a performance of John Adams’ “Harmonium,” one of the composer’s pioneering, operatic works, as well as a requiem mass by Mozart. Swed says that LA Phil musical director Gustavo Dudamel made great use of the Bowl’s amplified acoustic space for the Adams piece.

He also notes that things got a little more traditional this past week, with a show that featured Lalo’s “Symphonie Espagnole” and Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” performed by violinist Joshua Bell.

Painting the face of the city

Times staff writer Jeffrey Fleishman shadowed muralist Robert Vargas as he worked on a massive mural on a 12-story apartment across from Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. He writes: “The canvas, 60,000 square feet of wall and windows, will tell the tale of the city with images of the L.A. River, Gustavo Dudamel, indigenous Tongva Indians, an ancient sycamore and three bright-winged angels.”

The 99-seat beat

The Times is debuting a new listing that will focus exclusively on work at the city’s smaller, experimental theaters of 99 seats or less. These will post every Friday at . This week’s list is up and running! There’s a lot going on in El Lay. Do not miss!

In the galleries

The director of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona put out a call for artists to reflect on our nation’s current state of dysfunction, and the results, reports Times contributing reviewer Leah Ollman, are “rousing.”

Plus, Sharon Mizota pays a visit to Zarouhie Abdalian’s “beautifully spare” exhibition at LAXART, which features sculptures that explore the point at which natural materials turn into the man-made.

In other news…

— In case you needed some “Hunger Games” style excitement in your life, tickets for the Yayoi Kusama extravaganza at the Broad went on sale. May the odds be ever in your favor.

— The Massachusetts attorney general’s office is reviewing the Berkshire Museum’s plans to sell off some art.

— A house by Modernist architect Richard Neutra is for sale as a teardown, because Los Angeles.

— A controversial restoration at the Chartres Cathedral in France has resulted in a black Madonna being painted white, among other significant changes.

— Architecture critic Oliver Wainwright doesn’t think much of the new White House redesign, which he says looks like “it has been lifted straight from a mid-range chain hotel." Go figure.

— The Los Angeles artist who wants to be your Alexa.

— Since L.A. feels like it’s burning up: on the origins of the “This is Fine” meme.

— And since we’re on the subject: an interview with Antonio Guillem, the photographer behind the “distracted boyfriend” meme. (I think on it is pretty sublime, especially if you’re into pit bulls.)

— Welcome to a new musical art form: the podcast score.

— The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has received a historic gift of $1.5 million.

Jane Kaczmarek will star in a Pasadena Playhouse-Deaf West Theatre production of “Our Town,” opening Sept. 26.

— Graphic novelist Mimi Pond’s 10 favorite graphic memoirs.

And last but not least…

The kinds of rich I’d like to be.

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