Category: Arts & Events

Feminist Retelling

Local author publishes debut queer fantasy novel By Srianthi Perera Alexandra Overy’s queer fantasy debut, “These Feathered Flames,” draws from “The Firebird”, an enchanting Russian folktale. The Firebird represents a treasure that is rare and difficult to possess. Overy, who watched the ballet version when she was 14, builds on the special powers of this mythical creature to enhance her novel. “I remember really clearly how the Firebird was depicted as a very much feminine figure, and how all the men in the story wanted to either kill it or control it,” she said. “I wanted to write a version where the Firebird got her own agency and power.” The young adult book, characterized by vibrant, imagery-rich writing, also draws on Overy’s sistership. “I’m very close with my own sister and sibling relationships often come up in my writing, and for this book I really wanted to make it the central relationship,” Overy added. “These Feathered Flames” follows twin heirs who are born in imagined Tóurin with fates decided at birth. While Izaveta remains at court to learn the skills she would need as the future queen, Asya is taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensures magic remained balanced in the realm and takes payment, often in blood. Before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one...

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Young Prodigy

Piano is the key to Jaq Adelman’s success By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski Jaq Adelman’s dream is to write orchestral music, but he’s unsure he’ll have the opportunity to do it professionally. Jaq is jump starting his career. The Santa Monica teen was chosen for the 17th annual Grammy Camp, along with 80 other students from around the United States. The program includes mentoring by All Time Low, Echosmith and The War and Treaty, who will discuss their career paths and help students prepare for the music industry. The signature music industry camp for U.S. high school students will be held virtually from Tuesday, July 20 to Saturday, July 24. “Grammy Camp is a prime example of the Grammy Museum’s mission and education initiatives,” said Michael Sticka, Grammy Museum president. “While the program will be a virtual experience again this year, it remains one of the most immersive summer camps for high school students interested in a career in music and continues to give young people the opportunity to study with music industry professionals, resulting in a genuine learning experience about life in the music industry.” The program features seven music career tracks: audio engineering, electronic music production, music business, music journalism, songwriting, vocal performance and instrumental performance. All tracks culminate in virtual media projects, recordings and/or performances. Jaq will focus on the keyboard. The 14-year-old recent Lincoln Middle School graduate...

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Cardboard City

Santa Monica project invites crowds to pop-up art center By Bridgette M. Redman Parents have long known that kids are often more fascinated by the cardboard box a gift comes in than the gift itself. So why not take the kids to a 10,000-square-foot city made entirely of cardboard? Cardboard City is an innovative pop-up community art center that will be open on the Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica through August 29. It will feature large-scale cardboard sculptures, architectural models and free family art activities using cardboard crafting techniques. “I am excited by what we’ve created here — amazing exhibits of art,” said Johnathan Bijur, executive director of reDiscover Center, which has built Cardboard City in partnership with the City of Santa Monica’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment and Starpoint Properties. “There is this huge zone of cardboard activities where families can make things.” In addition to the free exhibits and art activities, visitors can sign up for fee-based classes or buy tools and materials for making cardboard art at home. There is even a camp that runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The camp costs $200 for ages 7 to 12 with scholarships available. “Cardboard City is a free community pop-up art center where everything is made out of cardboard,” Bijur said. “The art is made out of cardboard, the furniture is...

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Mucking It Up

Venice artist celebrates her unique style By Bridgette M. Redman Jules Muck has learned to celebrate who she is as an artist and who she is as a person. A first-generation immigrant, Muck was on the streets of New York at a young age after her parents returned to their home country. She had no thoughts of being an artist then and making money for what she did was far from her mind. Her goal at the time was to avoid being arrested for creating her art. As a street artist, Muck’s graffiti was made anonymously in the middle of the night. She started out just doing stylized words, often just the last name she had adopted: Muck. Now, years later, she has a studio in Venice and her work is in high demand. She just bought her third house using money made from her art. A self-made artist, she encourages young people to pursue art if it is their dream, no matter how much others might discourage them or try to minimize what they do as a hobby. “You don’t have to give up,” Muck said. “You just have to work hard and do it every day. If you do what you love and you open up, it works out. The community takes care of me 100% — that has been true wherever I go.” In addition to...

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Prison Project

Anniversary celebration marks success of nationally recognized rehabilitation program By Bridgette M. Redman Gangs are a way of life in most prisons. There is one gang spreading through 13 different California prisons that was born here in Culver City: The Actors’ Gang. Founded by actor Tim Robbins, the theater company’s Prison Project recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. This gang does what no others do for the prison population. Statistics tell part of the tale: • The statewide recidivism rate (the rate at which former inmates offend again and return to prison) is 62%. For Prison Project alumni, the rate is 10%. • The employment rate for those who complete the Re-entry Project is 77%. • In-prison infractions drop 87% for inmates participating in the program. But the numbers aren’t the only story. The program transforms lives, empowering people to rebuild a life outside of prison. Several formerly incarcerated participants go back to prison not as inmates, but as alumni teaching artists whose lived experiences make the project even more authentic and powerful. On June 7, The Actors’ Gang held an anniversary celebration over Zoom which included commedia del art performances by Prison Project alumni and ended with a virtual dance party. Scattered into the celebration were interviews with program artists and participants, and a panel discussion with criminal justice advocates and Robbins himself. Included in the panel was anti-death...

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