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

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

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

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.


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DJs and dinosaurs: Sketches of Natural History Museum's First Friday

Mike Sheehan

Off-Ramp is the only radio show we know of with a resident sketch artist. In a world where everyone takes photos of everything they see, and we soon forget what we saw and what we photographed, Mike Sheehan explores the world with his sketchbook, leaving us with delightful, indelible images of life in Southern California. Here's his latest sketchbook and letter.

Hi John,

I finally got to one of the Natural History Museum's First Fridays. Been wanting to go forever. I've always loved this museum, it's one of my favorite places to sketch. Where else can you get a dinosaur to pose for you? 

Don't take our word for it! Go to the next First Friday at the Natural History Museum

So I thought it would be cool to draw at this event and see the museum at night. I had it in my mind these things were sedate quiet affairs. I was wrong. I got there early and people started slowly arriving. They have little loungey seating areas in the diorama halls. I love seeing the museum dark and lit with colored lights. 


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Remembering Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s acting career — and his violin sonata

Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr., seen here at his California home in 1982, died Friday at 95.
Wally Fong/AP

Off-Ramp commentator Marc Haefele remembers a brief but memorable encounter with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who died Friday at the age of 95.

There is still no reasonable accounting for how I ended up interviewing Efrem Zimbalist Jr. back in 1987. Of course, there was a reason: As a fabulously underpaid L.A. City Hall reporter, I moonlighted for a national AM radio network to keep up my car payments.

The bright and patient woman who employed me didn’t want my political reporting. She needed entertainment coverage. “That’s all that matters nationally about Los Angeles,” she explained.

Unfortunately, it didn’t matter much to me. I did not own a TV. I was not paid enough to go to movies, let alone rock concerts, plays, theatrical musicals and so on. So I didn’t even know what most '80s celebrities looked like, let alone what their latest projects and personal problems were.


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New hope for the supposedly shuttered San Diego Opera

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

UPDATE 9:43pm 4/24/2014:  There's another potential legal obstacle to the shutdown of the San Diego Opera.  Hope Singer, an attorney for the American Guild of Musical Artists, says the guild is seeking a temporary restraining order against the opera company in San Diego Federal District Court. The  union represents solo singers whom the opera already contracted for performances in the upcoming season, and the TRO would require the opera to put up $1.75 million in assets to pay the contracted singers, even if the company shuts down as proposed. ''The singers have to get paid anyway, whether they get to sing or not," Singer said. 


On what was supposed to be the final Friday night performance of the San Diego Opera - its longtime director had just announced there would be no next season - senior docent Kathleen Kay O’Neil was having none of it. As ticket holders milled in the forecourt of the Civic Theater, she stood out among the large handful of protesters in her black jump suit and a home-made skull mask. And she carried a big sign: “Please Don’t Let Our Opera Die.”


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7 Byzantium books to read after seeing new double Getty exhibits

Icon with the Archangel Michael, about A.D. 1300–1350, Constantinople; tempera and gold on wood. Gift of a Greek of Istanbul, 1958
Courtesy Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens.

A short list of books on Byzantium from Off-Ramp contributor Marc Haefele to accompany his review of the Getty Center and Villa's first simultaneous show: Heaven and Earth.

Original history by Byzantine writers:

  • The Alexiad” by Anna Komnena (sometimes Comnena): Princess Anna’s own story of the reign of her emperor father in the 11th Century during the arrival of the crusaders. She’s such a colorful figure that she appears in some of the novels listed below.
  • The Secret History" by Procopius: The original tell-all dish on Constantinople’s famous couple, the Imperial Justinian and Theodora. Her naked stage performances with her trained geese still titillate.

  • 14 Byzantine Rulers” by Michael Psellus: Anecdotal, engrossing, informative, wide-ranging.

Four great novels about the Byzantine Empire:


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