Kathy Leonardo

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LA Art Party Newsletter

LAArtParty is an arts and entertainment website. Established in 2010, it is an online go-to guide for what's happening in and beyond the LA area - this includes dining, travel and more.

Founded by journalist, and "Blues Mama" Kathy Leonardo (a longtime performer), the campy site has an unusual slant which will keep you entertained. Leonardo has been writing for the past 15 years about various subjects for the Huffington Post, THRIVE GLOBAL, LA Weekly, etc.

Each month the LAArtParty staff, led by Kathy Leonardo decides which events will be featured. Posted at noon on the Thursday prior to the last week of the month, LAArtParty.com features the Top Ten Art Parties, plus other fun events each month. VIP subscribers find out ONE week prior to the public and receive discounts and invites to VIP parties throughout the year.

See Contact Page to find out how to become a VIP subscriber so you don't miss any more great ART Parties!! See Contact/Rates Page to find out how submit and promote your own events!

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Event Review: 2017 Malibu Guitar Festival, Opening Night!

The 3rd Annual Malibu Guitar Festival kicked off last night, Thursday May 18th with its opening night benefit at Casa Escobar in Malibu. The festival brings together some of the world's greatest players for four days of guitar worship featuring unique jam sessions, guitar demos, and even a one-of-kind guitar themed art show.
Festival Founder and Chairman Doug Deluca, along with his wife Alejandra Armas DeLuca and Founder/Co-Chairman John Watkin

Festival Founder and Chairman Doug Deluca, along with his wife Alejandra Armas DeLuca and Founder/Co-Chairman John Watkin have set up an event that carries a message of unity, peace, and celebration through music, art and social commitment to the community, schools, charitable organizations and our land. At Thursday night's benefit, the trio extended their hospitality to the crowd and the feeling was like being invited into their home. And, it was all for three great causes:

• TheraSurf – who take handicapped kids out into the Malibu waves.
• Emily Shane Foundation – provides individualized intensive mentoring to struggling/ failing middle school students in the mainstream classroom.
• The Karl LaDue Wodakota Foundation – committed to the education of native American youth with knowledge and skills that enable them to embrace their traditional heritage and culture
Honoring Chief Arvol Looking Horse

Before kicking off the music, the festival honored Chief Arvol Looking Horse who led the fight against the North Dakota pipeline and is the Chief of All Stars Nations and Keeper of the Sacred Bundle for the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations.

After the Chief spoke briefly and eloquently about the importance of standing up to your beliefs in these troubling times, it was time for some music and it was the night's third act – Laurence Juber who established that this evening was all about guitar. Juber, a former lead guitarist with Paul McCartney's Wings has a unique fingerstyle that provided the crowd its first jaw dropping moment with an amazing rendition of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again."

After Juber's dazzling performance, two-time Oscar nominated composer Marco Beltrami took the show for an experimental turn with a 15 piece band that played a piece specifically composed for the evening. The evocative piece emphasized the masterful musicians in the ensemble allowing them all to shine and to demonstrate Mr. Beltrami's genius.
Laurence Juber; photo by Richard Bilow

The Kenneth Brian Band featuring Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' drummer Steve Ferrone took over the reins with a performance featuring blistering guitar work, spot-on harmonies, and a stellar rhythm section, all tied together by Brian's honest voice. The music continued to heat up when veteran rockers Waddy Wachtel and Bernard Fowler joined the stage for some classic takes on Warren Zevon, David Bowie and the Stones.

Waddy and Bernard left the stage and their spot was taken over by master lyricist and satirical storyteller John Hiatt, who the Los Angeles Times calls "...one of rock's most astute singer-songwriters of the last 40 years." Hiatt played a brief set that accentuated his soulful, gritty voice, reflective lyrics and masterful songwriting.
The Kenneth Brian Band featuring Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' drummer Steve Ferrone with Waddy Wachtel and Bernard Fowler

After several hours of music, it was time to step back, reflect and pay tribute to another one of the night's honorees – Robby Krieger. Mr. Krieger was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from his longtime collaborator – the extraordinary, engineer/producer and L.A. native Bruce Botnick.

Mr. Krieger then strapped on his guitar and showed the crowd why is a rock 'n roll hall of famer – playing several Doors classics backed by an extremely talented band that featured Malibu young hot-shot Daniel Paige on vocals. Mr. Krieger then drew the band into jazz fusion territory playing tunes by Jeff Beck and Weather Report. These tunes proved that Mr. Krieger's adept technical abilities make him shine in any style of music.
Robby Krieger

After Krieger left the stage, it was well past midnight, but there was still some gas left in the tank and the crowd got a little taste of Hunter Hayes and The Band Steele. Twenty-five-year-old, five-time Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes hit the stage with tons of energy and guitar fury. Hayes may be a country music favorite, but, his performance was unadulterated rock 'n roll that really revealed his impeccable guitar ability. The Band Steele made up of a couple of high school friends, performed a couple of acoustic originals that highlighted their gifts particularly that of singer Bo Steele. These remarkable musicians along with many others will be playing full sets over the weekend.

Overall, it was an unforgettable night and it was just the beginning! So, if you are a guitar lover and who isn't – then head down to Malibu this weekend for an extraordinary event you will leave you speechless and may make you pick up that old guitar you have in the closet or under the bed.

Friday night will continue at Casa Escobar with Hot Licks night featuring legendary Steve Vai. Then the festival's Main Event takes place on Saturday and Sunday at Malibu Village. Mick Fleetwood's Blues Band with Rick Vito highlights Saturday's schedule while Sunday features a Rolling Stones Brunch. Find out more information on the Malibu Guitar Festival here: http://malibuguitarfestival.com/

Review: Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts!

What a delight to be thoroughly entertained by the whimsical and romantic theatrical choreography of Matthew Bourne performed by his New Adventure Company! Each of the three pieces were from Bourne's early work for which the company now celebrates its 30th anniversary. The revival features more recently set and costume design by Lez Brotherston, lighting design by Andrew Murrell, sound design by Paul Groothuis and staged by Associate Artistic Director Etta Murfitt. All together, the production enthralled the audience into a reverie of smiles, laughs, awe and ovations.
Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures’ ‘Town and Country’ performed at The Wallis in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, May 17 (through Sunday, May 21). Photo credit: Casey Kringlen for The Wallis.

During a Q&A at the end of the performance, Bourne spoke of his early inspiration and love for theater and film before exploring ballet and dance, choreographing by expressing what he hears and feels in the music in a detailed way, developing individual characters, and his desire to entertain and make people laugh. He also responded to the question as to how the overtly gay interactions in the pieces were received by saying that though daring and shocking at one time, they had been ignored when they originally happened and have been universally accepted for the romanticism displayed.

The evening evoked a nostalgia for simpler, playful, and more innocent times portrayed in a distinctive, fashionable and charming manner.
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Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures’ ‘Town and Country’ performed at The Wallis in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, May 17 (through Sunday, May 21). Photo credit: Casey Kringlen for The Wallis.

The "Triple Bill," as described in the program, included: Watch with Mother - Seen but not heard? (1991): Conkers, Hopscotch, Doctors & Nurses; Children's games can be all-consuming, competitive and sometimes cruel. Based on Joyce Grenfell's famous "Nursery School" sketches ("George... Don't do that") and set to Percy Grainger's own piano compositions and arrangements of Bach and Faure, this 1991 piece has not been seen for nearly 25 years.

Town and Country - Lie back and think of England (1991): Moving and hilarious, this heartfelt pastiche explores notions of national character from a bygone era through the evocative music of Edward Elgar, Noël Coward and Percy Grainger, amongst others.

The Infernal Galop - A French dance with English subtitles (1989): This is France as seen by the uptight English imagination, with all the traditional clichés joyously paraded for our entertainment and climaxing in Offenbach's inevitable Can-Can!
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Matthew Bourne’s Early Adventures’ ‘The Infernal Galop’ at The Wallis in Beverly Hills on Wednesday, May 17 (through Sunday, May 21). Photo credit: Casey Kringlen for The Wallis.

The talented and engaging cast: Joao Carolino, Reece Causton, Tom Clark, Daniel Collins, Paris Fitzpatrick, Sophia Hurdley, Mari Karmata, Jamie Emma McDonald, and Edwin Ray.

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes comes to the Ahmanson Theater in September. http://new-adventures.net/ For upcoming performances at the Wallis and for their 2017-2018 season, go to http://www.thewallis.org/

Event Review: 2nd Annual Masters of Taste!

Our day began on the field of the Historic Pasadena Rose Bowl on May 7th for the 2nd Annual Masters of Taste, a luxury food and beverage festival. 
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Photo by Richard Bilow 

It was a sunny day at first, but then the clouds rolled in, the sky grew dark, and suddenly heavy rain, thunderstorms and lightening ensued! Luckily I had my umbrella so it barely put a damper on our afternoon. Then just as quickly as the rains came, the sky cleared and the sun was out once again. On this interesting afternoon, to say the least, from 3 PM to 7 PM, we sampled and enjoyed some of LA's finest fare from 40+ restaurants, and 25+ craft beer, cocktail bars, wineries, and breweries as unlimited tastings were served to all guests. Proceeds to benefit Union Station Homeless Services, an organization committed to helping homeless men, women and children rebuild their lives.

Here are some highlights from our favorite culinary offerings. Our first taste of the day was a flavorful and tender steak served with fresh basil and delicate dressing from the Bacchus Kitchen of Pasadena.
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Cuisine provided by Bacchus Kitchen; Photo by Kathy Leonardo 

We also enjoyed a glass of the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Gold Medal Winner from Vine Mark Cellars which was delicious and well balanced with flavors of rich blackberry and currant. The crab roll with dill from the Venice Whaler was delicious. We paired it with the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from Robert Hall of Paso Robles. It was refreshingly dry and medium-bodied with a rich crisp acidity. Also went well with the spicy Ahi tuna mixed with scallions, sesame seeds and spicy sauce from Hoke Poke of downtown Los Angeles, another favorite. Next the tomato soup topped with creme fraiche from Celestino of Pasadena was light, yet had intense tomato flavor. The cold summer squash soup from Mexikosher of Los Angeles, was sweet, yet spicy with jalapeños; a crowd favorite. Mexican? Kosher? it works!
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Cusiine provided by Hyperion Public; Photo by Richard Bilow;

The Asian steak lettuce cups with caramel glaze, bacon coleslaw, pickled carrots, cilantro and a little gem lettuce cup were very delicious from Hyperion Public of Silverlake and Studio City. The Korean inspired fried chicken wings topped with sesame seeds from Belly Bombs of Artesia were sweet and spicy and full of flavor! The beef carpaccio with tonnato fennel tops and blossoms were yummy from Louise's which has three locations: Santa Monica, West LA and Larchmont Village. Another stand out was the Soupe de petit pois called Spring - English pea soup with mint and pea tendrils - tasted exactly like its name! From Church and Sate of downtown Los Angeles.

And now for some amazing desserts: Sprinkles cupcakes of Beverly Hills were delicious - I couldn't choose between the red velvet or the dark chocolate so I ate them both! The bacon doughnuts from Cafe Dulce of Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles and also Alameda Street - yum!
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Bacon Dougnuts by Cae Dulce; photo by Kathy Leonardo

And Helados Pops Icecream of San Fernando came in unusual and exotic flavors like Horchata and Tamarindo - cool and refreshing! A great way to end an awesome afternoon...and not a cloud in the sky. Be sure to check the website so you don't miss next year's event. https://mastersoftastela.com/

Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

The Paul Taylor Dance Company presented three classic high energy works from their extensive repertoire that captivated and uplifted the audience's spirits.
Paul Taylor, who retired as a performer in 1974 to then turn exclusively to choreography, has and continues to represent the lineage of modern dance from his performances with Martha Graham's company in the 1950's and bridging the foundational work of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and Doris Humphrey through the 21st century through his initiative at New York's Lincoln Center.

The evening began with the 1987 work, Syzygy with a commissioned score by Donald York, costumes by Santo Loquasto. and lighting by Jennifer Tipton. In this high velocity performance, dancers dash limberly across the stage like celestial bodies orbiting and eclipsing each other, that at times I began to visualize the movement patterns as if viewed from above the stage.

The Word, first performed in 1998 with a commissioned score by David Israel, lighting by Jennifer Tipton, and costumes by Santo Loquasto, Setup in the program with the biblical phrase, "For our God is a consuming fire," we see the performers dressed as prep school students, showing their lack of individuality, seemingly blindly confirming in a series of rigid movements and soon joined by the presence of a mysterious nude female who intervenes to disturb their environment to a finale with the pious youths marching off in lockstep followed the nymph.
Esplande, performed to two Johann Sebastian Bach violin concertos, costumes by Santo Loquasto, and lighting by Jennifer Tipton, was Taylor's first choreographed work in 1975, is a masterwork based on pedestrian movements of standing, walking, running, sliding and falling. The piece begins with eight dancers bursting with youthful energy, followed by them becoming disconnected and more somber, then couples engaging in romantic interplay and concluding with dancers chaotically rushing across and finally off the stage with one lone female remaining front and center with a beaming smile.

Check out more about the Paul Taylor Dance Company at http://www.ptamd.org
Dance at the Wallis continues with Here and Now (May 8 and 9), Matthew Bourne's Early Adventures (May 17-21), Ezralow Dance: Primo Passo (July 13-14). For full schedule and tickets, go to http://www.thewallis.org

Review: Jose Limón’s Dance Company at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts!

New Artistic Director Colin Conner, brought to the stage the vitality, passion and energy of the Jose Limón Dance Company that celebrates its 70th anniversary and the enduring memory of its founder and namesake who passed away in 1972. In discussion with the audience after the performance, Conner spoke of the challenge and joy of maintaining the company's legacy and being the only of the five Artistic Directors over the years who did not personally know Limón.
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Jose Limón Dance Company, photo by Melanie Futorian

He also described his intent to make repertory choices that are committed to producing and presenting programs that balance classic works of American modern dance with commissions and acquisitions from contemporary choreographers.

At core to this focus is honoring Limón's own interests and creative themes that include -- going beyond the personal to how he felt about the world, delving into the varied "texture" of society, grappling with the "outsider" experience, and exploring the boundary between being public and private. These themes show up as dancers move to "fight through" obstacles and difficulties as they also seek to express joy -- experiences of the timeless quality of the human condition.

 The works that were featured spanned time from Limón's 's own choreography in the elegant and warm Concerto Grosso (1945), the powerful solo Chaconne (1942), and Limón's acknowledged masterpiece work, The Moor's Pavane (1949) that portrays interpersonal interaction variations on the theme of Shakespeare's Othello, to the very contemporary and intensity of Corvidae (2016), choreographed by Conner, and the dramatic Night Light (2014), choreographed by Kate Weare, that exposes the vulnerability and strength of each dancer.
Still from video - courtesy of Jose Limón Dance Company

A thread that seemed to create a continuity through each piece was the sound of the violin, from Vivaldi, Bach and Purcell to Phillip Glass, and, with that, the costumes that set us into the specific mood and style of each work -- from the fanciful to the elegantly Renaissance to the bare.

Go to www.limon.org to learn more about the company, the Limón Foundation, and view video of their performances.

Dance Performances coming to the Wallis include Paul Taylor Dance Company (May 5-7), Mathew Bourne's Early Adventures (May 17-21), Ezralow Dance: Primo Passo (July 13-14) and Dance Sundays with Debbie Allen and Friends 12-2pm on the Promenade Terrace -- FREE (April 9 - August 27).

Theater Review: Elevator at the Coast Playhouse!

What happens when seven strangers get stuck in an elevator together?

Elevator, written and directed by award-winning filmmaker and playwright Michael Leoni returned to Los Angeles for a special limited engagement at the Coast Playhouse in West Hollywood. The play originally premiered at the Hudson theaters during the first annual Hollywood Fringe Festival. After a wildly successful run, the smash hit expanded to the Hudson Mainstage Theatre and then the Macha Theater, receiving 11 nominations including "Best New Work" from Broadway World as well as "Critic's Choice" and "Best Bet" from the Los Angeles Times.
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Elevator at the Coast Playhouse. Pictured (l-r): Deborah Vancelette (CEO Woman), Devon Werkheiser (Musician), Karsen Rigby (Hot Girl), David Abed (Business Man), William Stanford Davis (The Maintenance Man), Kristina St. Peter (Goth Girl) and Erica Katzin (The Temp). Photo credit: Michele Young.

Elevator is the story of seven strangers who are almost cliché archetypes: a CEO woman, a businessman, an office temp, a hot girl, a musician, a maintenance man and a goth girl find themselves stuck in an elevator together. It's a small, cramped and intimate space that they all must share and endure, like it or not. All their preconceived notions and judgments are challenged as the play unfolds and we learn the truth about each character. As audience members, we are also challenged to understand and learn about each of them without judgment. Elevator is at times hilarious, moving, tragic and surprisingly poignant. It is a story of transformation, acceptance, hope, connection and growth. The stellar cast features Devon Werkheiser (Nickelodeon's "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide"), William Stanford Davis (Showtime's "Ray Donovan"), Deborah Vancelette (FX's "Terriers"), David Abed (Blue Man Group), Karsen Rigby, Erica Katzin, Kristina St. Peter and Tyler Tanner.
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Elevator at the Coast Playhouse. Pictured (l-r): William Stanford Davis (The Maintenance Man) and Kristina St. Peter (Goth Girl). Photo credit: Michele Young.

With a sparse set consisting only of an elevator interior, I found it extraordinary, entertaining and touching. Musical sequences, dramatic lighting and sound kept me completely engaged. Kudos to scenic and lighting designer David Goldstein and original music and sound designer Mario Marchetti. Elevator has been extended through June – don't miss it! For more info about the play, Click Here!  http://www.coastplayhouse.org/

Review: Venice Arts Annual Speakeasy Event!

This past Saturday (March 18, 2017), Venice Arts held its annual speakeasy fundraiser at the Townhouse in Venice. The event brought out many locals and supporters filled with community spirit.
See image: (from left to right) Mike Newhouse, 
Lynn Warshafsky, and George Francisco, photo by Kathy Leonardo

The evening was officially hosted by Ruthie Seroussi & Mike Newhouse, Brandell Davis, Venice Arts, The Del Monte Speakeasy. If you've never been to the Del Monte Speakeasy, located just below the Townhouse, be sure to check it out. It has a rich history dating back to the prohibition days. 

Venice Arts is entering its 25th year, which is an amazing feat for any nonprofit. It offers a variety of transformative programs for low-income youth. Classes provided include photography, filmmaking, and multimedia, which ultimately end with a gallery exhibition or screening of a completed documentary created by the students. Art mentoring has been key to the success of this organization. Venice Arts serves 60% of local children and teens, and draws about 40% of new students from surrounding areas as far as Norwalk.
See image: 
Lynn Warshafskyf, photo by Richard Bilow

Founder Lynn Warshafsky stressed the importance of the community's continued commitment to the organization during this political climate. Setting a great example, she revealed that she will be doubling her own donation to the nonprofit this year.

The food, as always, was bountiful...featuring tasty cuisine from Larry's, Simmzy's, Venice Whaler, and Whole Foods Markets. Whiskey tasting was also a big part of the event. The silent auction and raffle featuring photos by Venice Arts' students, as well as goods and services from local businesses including Fork in the Road, Pitfire Pizza, ProSup Shop, Spa Sophia, Superba, Turning Point Pilates, and Wallflower. 

Venice Arts recently moved to a new location. Elysa Voshell, Associate Director, Gallery & Public Programs Director filled me in on all the details. "Earlier this year, Venice Arts moved to a beautiful, new two-building campus that doubles our size, which will allow us to expand our award-winning Art Mentoring & Education programs—including reaching the more than 150 low-income youth we currently turn away. We are grateful for the support of our community in helping us reach this point, and ask for their continued support as we expand to make a deep and lasting impact on even more of Los Angeles' low-income young people through the arts."
See image: Attendees bidding on artwork created by Venice Arts students

If you did not make the fundraiser, there is still time to make a chritable donation. Venice Arts is a wonderufl nonprofit that is truly making a difference in many young lives. For additional info about this fantastic organization, visit 

Review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The acclaimed and beloved Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returned to The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for a five day engagement (March 8-12, 2017). The performances included the West Coast premieres of r-Evolution, Dream., Untitled America, and Deep. I attended Friday night that showcased the more classic pieces, The Winter in Lisbon (1992), Masekela Langage (1996), In/Side (2008), and Revelations (1960).
Image: The Winter in Lisbon, photo by Christopher Duggan

The audience reveled in the uplifting and transformational beauty, grace, sensuality and passion of these works that connect with the human spirit and the historic struggles of the African American community. Says Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center, "With the vision of Artistic Director Robert Battle and courageous storytelling of choreographers like Hope Boykin, Kyle Abraham and Mauro Bigonzetti, the company's performances present audiences with important perspectives on issues that our communities continue to grapple with, providing us a platform for dialogue and offering a message of hope."

Beginning the program was The Winter in Lisbon a sensuous and smoky hot high energy ballet that celebrates the birth centennial of jazz legend with choreography by Billy Wilson, music by Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Fishman, lighting design by Chenault Spence and costume design by Barbara Forbes.

Following an intermission was a new production of Alvin Ailey's rarely-seen choreographic masterwork Masekela Langage, which is theatrically set in a South African beer house and dramatically danced to the driving score of South African jazz composer and trumpeter Hugh Masekela with lighting design by Chenault Spence and costume design by A. Christina Giannini.

After another intermission, Robert Battle's bold, unrestrained In/Side created and solo performed by Samuel Lee Roberts to Nina Simon's haunting rendition of the Oscar-nominated song 'Wild is the Wind,' Robert's describes the piece as "one of the most exhilarating, exhausting, and frightening things I have ever done. I had never had to be so completely vulnerable in such a public space."
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Image: Masekela Langage, photo by Paul Kolnik

A pause, and the evening concluding with Ailey's iconic three part masterpiece Revelations (Pilgrim of Sorrow; Take Me to the Water; and Move, Members, Move) with lighting design by Nicola Cernovitch, costume design by Ves Harper and various traditional music including songs, Fix Me, Jesus, Wade in the Water, and Rocka My Soul in the Bosom of Abraham.

The audience consistently showed their appreciation for individual dancer's prowess by clapping and giving ovations during the company's bows and encore moves after each piece and clearly demonstrating that people were transcending just watching by also being fully engaged and participating in a collective experience.

Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center continues it's season with Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire (May 19-21, Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg: Tchaikovsky (June 23-25), and BalletNow (July 28-30). For additional info, click here. http://www.alvinailey.org