Author: rahnepistor

Double duty: Marine photographer’s exhibit is window into wartime Iraq

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Christopher Reese says he’s a soldier first and an artist second, but now his photographs of the war in Iraq get to take a front seat in his new exhibit, Operation Iraqi Freedom — The Images You Didn’t See on TV. Reese’s photographs were taken from March to September 2003, during the initial invasion of Iraq, when reservist Reese was called up for active duty. An opening reception is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, November 11th, at the Art Institute of California’s Los Angeles Gallery, 2900 31st St., Santa Monica. The exhibit remains on display through Friday, December 10th. Admission is free. Reese says his photos show a more up-close and personal view of the day-to-day activities of Marines and also shows reactions of everyday Iraqis and children to the oncoming troops. As a member of the Fourth Civil Affairs Group under Colonel Mike Shamp, Reese participated in tactical analysis (sizing up situations and assessing possible reconstruction endeavors) after areas had been secured by U.S. troops. From this experience, Reese’s lens was able to capture bombed out buildings, street life scenes and activities of everyday Iraqis after the invasion. “Iraqi people are not so different than us,” says Reese. “They are hard-working people and proud of their heritage.” “I got to take part in meetings with sheiks and village elders and to hear the...

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Film review: Fate of a ‘paradise’ that only a bum could love

Bum’s Paradise is a sob story documentary about a group of homeless persons who drift to an abandoned landfill in Albany, California and build a settlement that the bums hope they can keep as their own modest “paradise.” Over a span of at least eight years, the homeless begin to build up the garbage dump, adding character, an aesthetic and a sense of outsider community amidst a stretch of land as unwanted as they are. But all good things must come to an end, residents of the would-be bum utopia find out, as one day the Albany Police Department shows up with orders to abate and vacate. The city plans to make a park out of the former landfill. Director Thomas McCabe gives one of the more outspoken bums, nicknamed “Rabbit,” a video camera to document life at the landfill, making the documentary uniquely personal and intimate, as the bum, “Rabbit,” also narrates much of the documentary using notes from a journal he keeps. The film puts a human face on the poverty and seeks to expose creative, artistic and intelligent sides to the underclass of people often viewed by outsiders as a verminous subhuman nuisance to upscale society. It also reinforces the dinginess that is a part of being homeless, showing the leathery, sun-parched skin, brown patches of dirt, sores and missing teeth of some of the worst...

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Elect This! Emotions run high among artists in SPARC exhibit in Venice

Emotions are flaring up among artist participants in Elect This!, an exhibit of no-holds-barred politically-charged art on display through Tuesday, November 2nd, at SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center), 685 Venice Blvd., Venice. The concept of the group exhibit was to invite artists of any political persuasion to submit works in response to the upcoming presidential election and the current political climate in the United States. Tapping the arts community in Venice and surrounding areas of Los Angeles, it should come as no shock that the anti-Bush, anti-Iraq occupation sentiment was overwhelmingly high among works contributed. Guerrilla artist Robbie Conal, who lives in a nearby Venice neighborhood, was quick to lend his anti-Bush work, “Read My Apocalips” to the exhibit. Conal, a pioneer of the guerrilla art and street art movements, has become nationally-recognized for his fiendish, grimacing depictions of mostly right wing politicians and pundits. “Read My Apocalips” is part of a national postering campaign, with fellow guerrilla artist notables Shepard Fairey of “Obey Giant” fame and Mear One, to criticize the war policy of the Bush administration. “‘Read My Apocalips’ addresses Bush destroying the world through militarism, taking away our freedoms to keep us free, issues like that,” says Conal. “The title of the work, ‘Read My Apocalips’ implies that Bush was lying about the reasons for invading Iraq and that lying runs in the family....

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Annual Surf-a-Thon denied permit: Venice Beach off-limits, says County

Venice may have garnered a national reputation for its style of surfing, but surf contests will no longer be permitted at the beach, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors. The annual Surf-a-Thon, a grass-roots surfing competition started 11 years ago by Ger-I Lewis with the help of local surf scenesters, was denied a permit this year by the county. Lewis has applied for and been granted a Commercial Beach Use Permit for the event for at least the past five years, but that was a mistake, says Lynne Atkinson of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors “It’s simply an event that slipped through the cracks the last few years,” says Atkinson. Atkinson says that Beaches and Harbors adopted a policy about three years ago of not granting permits for special events to take place on the sandy beach or in the parking lots at Venice Beach, the area of Venice that the county is responsible for. The reason for the policy is that Beaches and Harbors feels that Venice Beach is impacted enough by the day-to-day activities of the area and the events organized by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, says Atkinson. Events organized on the boardwalk and at the Venice Beach Recreation Center are granted permits through the City of Los Angeles. The county policy...

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Caribbean Heritage Week brings carnival and parade to Westchester

Calypso music and Caribbean rhythms will dominate the events that bring Caribbean Heritage Week to a close. Two Caribbean-themed celebrations will be held in Westchester Park, 7000 Manchester Ave., Westchester. The Caribbean-Latin American Family Folk and Heritage Festival is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, October 16th. The next day, performers and festival-goers plan to reassemble for the L.A. Carnival Parade, featuring a pageant of dancers decked out in peacock-like attire and flashy, colorful costumes, who will dance to the rhythms of Latin-Caribbean percussionists in the procession. Parade assembly begins at 8 a.m. and the parade starts at 11 a.m. at 88th Street and Liberator Avenue (behind Emerson Adult School) in Westchester. Marchers end up in Westchester Park, where a day of Caribbean food and festivities begins. Admission is free to both events, but participation in the parade is $10 per costumed reveler. A spokesman for festival organizer Caricabela says they model the events after the large carnivals of Brazil, New Orleans and Trinidad and Tobago. In the Caribbean, a festival of this type is called a “mas,” short for masquerade, according to Caricabela. Organizers expect thousands of revelers to attend the annual event, dressed in colorful, elaborate and extravagant costumes and dancing vibrantly to the hypnotic rhythms of calypso, soca and punta music played by live bands and DJs. Even the sound system itself will be...

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