Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Tree climbing champs return to Griffith Park to defend their titles


International Society of Arboriculture

Jamilee Kempton (first on the left) and Chad Brey (third to the right) pose with fellow winners of the 2014 North American Tree Climbing Championship.

Yes, competitive tree climbing is a real-life thing. If you'd like to know more, take a listen here

Griffith Park once again hosts the Western Chapter ISA Tree Climbing Championship for 2014. The West's top professional tree climbers will gather for the chance to compete in the International Tree Climbing Championship in Milwaukee. 

2013 champions Jacob Claassen and Jamilee Kempton will climb to protect their champion titles. Kempton and Santa Barbara native Claassen both competed in the 2014 North American Tree Climbing Championship held in Pasadena. Kempton placed third in the Women's Master Challenge.

California climber Chad Brey will also compete for the Western Chapter title. He edged out fellow climbers to win the 2014 NATCC. Come August, he'll head to Milwaukee for the 2014 ITCC.  


Assemblyman Mike Gatto's vintage license plates are stamped out

DMV legacy license plate program

Mashup of images from California Department of Motor Vehicles

The California DMV is taking preorders for three different classic designs under the state's new legacy license plate program. Any plate that receives at least 7,500 preorders by Jan. 1, 2015, will be made available to motorists for $50 — it's the same cost for sequential and vanity plates.

We get letters:

I read an article of yours online about the new California vintage license plates in which you said that the letters and numbers on the new plates will be raised, not flat. I’ve seen contradictory information about this and am wondering if you know any more about it now that the yellow on black plates are being issued. If the letters and numbers are raised, does this include the “California” at the top or only the actual license number? Thanks so much for your help. — Jane R., Berkeley

And we get action ... from the license plate bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Mike Gatto:

-----Original Message-----
From: Gatto, Mike
To: Rabe, John

Stamped metal, using the original molds!

RELATED: Vintage black license plates first to go into production


San Diego Opera gets new life from old hand

Missy West

San Diego Opera senior docent Kathleen Kay O’Neil, protesting the decision to close the opera company.

There’s been a lot of good news at the beleaguered San Diego Opera and it finally looks as though it will be alive for its 50th anniversary next year. The latest was the appointment of a new, if temporary, general manager, William Mason.

Mason is the former impresario of the Chicago Lyric Opera, which has long been thought of as America’s No. 2 company after New York’s Met. Mason, who had over 50 years with that organization, presided over the Lyric through its own tough times recently.

RELATED: Haefele recommends LA Opera's CD of "The Stigmatized"

“They need somebody new,” Mason explained to station KPBS. “I’m 72-years-old. I have no new ideas, and I’m not trying to formulate any.” In fact he’s four years older than his immediate predecessor, Ian Campbell, who employed his ex-wife as his assistant and was forced out after he tried to close the 49-year-old opera company in March.


PST LA/LA: From Latino to Latin American ... What does it mean?

May 6, 2013: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti clowns at Pacific Standard Time LA/LA event in downtown LA, at which the Getty Foundation announced $5m in PST LA/LA research grants.

John Rabe

May 6, 2013: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti clowns at Pacific Standard Time LA/LA event in downtown LA, at which the Getty Foundation announced $5m in PST LA/LA research grants. L-R: Mark Siegel, Chair, Getty Board of Trustees; Deborah Marrow, Director, Getty Foundation; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles; Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director, San Diego Museum of Art; Michael Govan, Chief Executive Officer and Wallis Annenberg Director, LACMA; Jim Cuno, President & CEO, J. Paul Getty Trust.

"…In reality, our north is the South. There must not be north, for us, except in opposition to our South. Therefore we now turn the map upside down, and then we have a true idea of our position, and not as the rest of the world wishes. The point of America, from now on, forever, insistently points to the South, our north." —Joaquín Torres García

As nesting swallows circled over a hip downtown restaurant’s courtyard recently, the Getty Foundation announced new torrents of funding for a brand new Pacific Standard Time set to bloom in late 2017.  This $5 million investment is explicitly intended to swerve the focus of much of Southern California’s arts establishment Southwards: from Los Angeles Latino to Latin America. They’re calling it, so help me, LA/LA.

As the Getty’s press release put it, “Through a series of thematically linked exhibitions, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA aims to take a fresh look at vital and vibrant traditions in Latino and Latin American art.”


Opposite day artists: 'The Snowy Day's' Ezra Jack Keats at Skirball, June Wayne at PMCA

June Wayne

June Wayne's "The Cavern," Kafka Series, 1948

Ezra Jack Keats' illustration for "Apt. 3," 1971. Ezra Jack Keats Papers, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi.

Off-Ramp contributor Marc Haefele reviews "The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats," at the Skirball Center through September 7; and "June Wayne: Paintings, Prints, and Tapestries," at the Pasadena Museum of California Art through August 31.

Two different Los Angeles area shows. Two artists with parallel backgrounds who evolved very differently. Both very worth seeing. Ezra Jack Keats and June Wayne were both born in the 1910s, both were child prodigies from humble parents and were largely self taught, both were involved in 1930s WPA mural projects and did defense-related design work during WW II.

But otherwise, how the different their visions and careers turned out.

RELATED: Low-performing Inglewood & Compton schools try arts-based revamp

Just over 50 years ago, little children’s book was published about a boy exploring the fresh snow of a winter day. It was illustrated in assemblages of bright primary colors and the pages were filled with pale glowing snowflakes much like the spatters in a Jackson Pollack painting. It was called “The Snowy Day” and its hero was a little child in a bright red snowsuit.