2014 saw revivals of Shakespeare and burlesque, Hollywood come to LMU and plenty of notable openings and closings
By Michael Aushenker
With the fate of the mothballed Santa Monica Civic Auditorium still in the balance, The Forum became the Westside’s dominant concert venue on Jan. 14, when the historic structure reopened with a concert by the Eagles after a $100-million remodel by the Madison Square Garden Co.
REAL Creative Space, a Westchester workspace for artists and creative entrepreneurs, opened in May. Malibu real estate player Howie Spunt opened P32 Gallery in Santa Monica in October, and in December QART.com celebrated the opening of a new gallery in Marina del Rey.
The Playa del Rey dining scene saw the opening of two new restaurants on the higher end of the culinary spectrum: Brooke Williamson’s Playa Provisions and Italian small-plate bistro Bacari PdR. In Santa Monica, East Coast transplants were treated in September to the first of a new wave of West Coast Dunkin’ Donuts, and Midwesterners found a taste of home with Steak ‘n Shake opening on Third Street Promenade. Southerners weren’t left out, either: a Chik-fil-A opened on Jefferson Boulevard just east of Playa Vista, with hundreds of diners camping overnight for a year’s supply of sandwiches. In February, Dave & Buster’s took over 42,000 square feet of the Howard Hughes Center in Westchester. Venice got even more organic in April with the opening of Locali Conscious Convenience on Lincoln Boulevard. Ruth’s Chris Steak House moved into Marina Marketplace in November.
Maria Taesil Hudson Carpenter arrived from Massachusetts to become Santa Monica’s new city librarian in June.
The Westside’s live music scene lost two notable small venues this year. The Good Hurt quietly shut down this fall after 12 years in Mar Vista, and The Talking Stick coffeehouse on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice (where it had moved from Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica) ended its storied, decades-long legacy as a live folk music and fine arts venue a few weeks ago.
The Broad Stage founder Dale Franzen stepped down from her post as the Santa Monica cultural venue’s director in September. In May, after 55 exhibitions in a decade, Meg Linton left her post as director of Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery in Westchester. James Gray Gallery, a mainstay at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station complex, folded this year.
Despite community protest, Mar Vista lost Pepy’s Galley to eviction from the AMF Mar Vista Lanes in June, and the long-running Rock ‘N Rye delicatessen in Culver City shuttered in October. George Petrelli, founder of George Petrelli Famous Steakhouse in Culver City, died on May 30. Original L.A. gastropub Ford’s Filling Station closed in July after eight years in Culver City.
Venice celebrated the 50th anniversary of the surf documentary “The Endless Summer” in August with an art exhibition at 800 Main Street featuring the movie’s poster artist, John Van Hamersveld, and local artist Laddie John Dill.
Marina del Rey’s The Warehouse Restaurant celebrated 45 years in November, and also that month Hama Sushi in Venice threw a party for its 35th birthday and Time Warp Music in Mar Vista celebrated 10 years on Venice Boulevard.
On Jan. 17, Santa Monica’s most famous native son, Popeye the Sailor, turned 85. Agagagagag!
Year of The Bard and Burlesque
Newbie Santa Monica theater group CityShakes presented contemporary versions of “Romeo and Juliet,” “Macbeth” and “Twelfth Night,” while Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice sold out the house for months with an unorthodox and stripped down version of “Henry V.” London’s Globe Theatre brought its staging of “King Lear,” starring Joseph Marcell of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” fame, to The Broad Stage. The Odyssey Theatre used contemporary military uniforms to update its staging of “Othello.”
A number of burlesque troupes had recurring Westside gigs this year, nights that in some cases bested concert attendance. The Toledo Show and The Lalas stripped down at Harvelle’s in downtown Santa Monica while the Dollface Dames got down ‘n’ dirty nearby at Britannia, Magicopolis and TRiP, and the Bootleg Bombshells took it off at Venice’s Del Monte Speakeasy.
New movement in digital effects
In an industry still reeling from the Rhythm & Hues lay-offs of 2013, one of the special effects house’s founders, Keith Goldfarb, started Santa Monica-based Blackthorn Media, a content and visual effects company involving several ex-R&H people. Last month, Del Rey-based House of Moves — a seasoned motion capture and animation studio with credits including FPS video game classics “Call of Duty” and “HALO”— split from its parent company in order to renew its core creative mission.
Westchester goes Hollywood
The Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television landed at No. 8 in the Hollywood Reporter’s list of the nation’s Top 25 film schools this year and partnered with the magazine to host its Hollywood Masters series, a student-exclusive series of in-person conversations with industry notables that has included David O. Russell, Alfonso Cuaron, Michael Mann, Judd Apatow, William Friedkin, Sherry Lansing, Hans Zimmer, Billy Bob Thornton and Hilary Swank.