May is a month eagerly awaited and anticipated by Norwegians worldwide. We celebrate our constitution signed on May 17, 1814. Norwegians in LA can celebrate on the day itself at the Norwegian Church in San Pedro, or they can join festivities on the Sunday closest to the 17th at Nansen Field in Rolling Hills Estates (details below).
For those interested in cultures beyond Norway, there are plenty of opportunities this month. And my favorite LA event, CicLAvia, returns to Los Angeles this month, this time to Southeast Cities. Unfortunately, it overlaps with the Norwegian festivities that weekend. It will be a hard choice for me.
* CURRENT & NEW EXHIBITS & EVENTS *
Celebrate/Demonstrate: Photographs of Global LA by Cindy Bendat, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, ongoing until 5/8. Featuring compelling images of festivals and political rallies, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary cultural diversity of the greater Los Angeles area. California-based photographer Bendat has documented community events in Southern California and throughout the world for several decades. Her photographs offer visitors an intimate view of three kinds of annual celebrations held in and around Los Angeles: a late-October fiesta for the Guatemalan folk saint San Simón, mid-January Orthodox Ethiopian Timket (Epiphany) festivities, and the mid-April Cambodian New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey. These images illustrate the ways in which immigrants maintain homeland traditions in the United States and express their ethnic and cultural identity.
Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, Irwindale, Saturdays & Sundays, ongoing until 5/22. Travel back to the 16th century and experience the glory of life during the Renaissance era. The faire provides “a cornucopia of diversity where we are unified in inviting our guests to enjoy an environment we have created to escape from the stresses and demands of the modern day.” There will be artisans of all media, entertainment galore, food trucks and booths, games and rides (including pony and camel rides), a Kids Kingdom (with games, crafts, story-telling, song, shows, and characters), and a gnome quest!
REFUGEE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until 8/21. Through images created by five internationally acclaimed artists, REFUGEE explores the lives of refugees from a host of diverse populations dispersed and displaced throughout the world. The exhibit features photographs taken in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Mexico, Myanmar, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States.
New Americans, Skylight Studios at The Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, ongoing until 8/21. In conjunction with the REFUGEE exhibit, the New Americans installation at Skylight Studios features a collection of stories on refugees who were resettled in the United States to start a new life through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. The installation features “The Refugee Project,” an interactive visual narrative created from 40 years of UNHCR refugee data; New Roots, a long-form multimedia experience by visual journalist Sarah Ann Jump featuring a Congolese refugee family resettling in Rochester, New York; several short films of refugee families sharing their experiences as they resettle in California and adapt to their new lives; and a photo series by blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York which features the personal stories of refugees recently cleared for resettlement in America.
Art of the Austronesians: The Legacy of Indo-Pacific Voyaging, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, ongoing until 8/28. Art of the Austronesians explores the history and development of the arts and cultures of the Austronesian-speaking peoples—from their prehistoric origins in what is now Taiwan to their successive seafaring migrations over millennia throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, the Pacific, and beyond. The first major exhibition in the United States to examine the visual arts of the entire Austronesian world comparatively in a single project, it features a number of important pieces from the Fowler’s. Additional works borrowed from private California-based collections, many on view to the public for the first time, contribute to the remarkable breadth of the installation.
* WEEKEND OF APRIL 30 & MAY 1 *
Cinco de Mayo Celebration, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Downtown LA, Saturday 4/30 & Sunday 5/1, 11am-9pm. Celebrate Mexico’s victory over French forces in Puebla, Mexico, in 1862 with popular and traditional music, exhibitor booths, dancing, and food.
REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Saturday 4/30 & Sunday 5/1. This is the second of three weekends for the 11th annual REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival featuring short-film programs that mesmerize moviegoers of all ages. Magical, adventurous works made by acclaimed filmmakers and up-and-coming auteurs showcase work from around the globe — including Norway (Herman’s Heart by Anne Kristin Berge included in Explore Galore program), Colombia, France, Russia, Taiwan, Argentina, Korea, Iran, and Mexico — to inspire the whole family. Programs are segmented by age and topic and include the latest in both live action and animated shorts. Please see festival website for schedule, movie details, and ticket information.
Barnsdall Art Sundays—Mexico: Cinco de Mayo Foil Art, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/1, 10am-12pm. Join instructor Jose Sanchez for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.
Kids in the Courtyard: Meet the Animals, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday 5/1, 2pm-4pm. Celebrate the closing of the Spirits in the Loom exhibition with this special kids’ event. This collection of textiles was collected in northeastern Laos and reflect religious and spiritual beliefs, incorporating Buddhist and Hindu mythology and shamanistic practices. They are embellished with supernatural serpents, elephants, and birds. From 2pm to 3pm, enjoy a “Reptacular Animals” presentation where kids can meet an 11-foot python, 100-pound tortoise, exotic birds, reptiles, lizards, and more. At 3pm, kids can use this experience as inspiration to make a scarf featuring their own inventive creature.
* WEEKEND OF MAY 7 & 8 *
The Undiscovered Chinatown Tour, Chinatown, Downtown LA, Saturday 5/7, 10:30am-1pm (offered every first Saturday of the month) & 3pm-5:30pm (added in conjunction with CHINAWEEK). Visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores, and more when guided to the unique treasures–not to mention great bargains–to be found in Chinatown. Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to wind your way through a myriad of alleyways, plaza stalls, and classical courtyards to discover the charm of L.A.’s Chinatown.
REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival & Wrap Party, Walt Disney Concert Hall Complex, Saturday 5/7. This is the last day of the three-weekend REDCAT International Children’s Film Festival featuring short-film programs from around the world. Catch one of the programs today (Norway’s Herman’s Heart is on the program again today) and celebrate the end of the festival with the wrap party (1pm-3pm). Many special activities are planned. There will arts and crafts projects, a photo booth, and parent and kid-friendly snacks and beverages. Please see festival website for program schedule and details, ticket information, and to RSVP to Wrap Party.
Barnsdall Art Sundays—Holland: Traditional Motifs Table Runner for Mother’s Day, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/8,10am-12pm. Join instructor Quan Trang for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.
* WEEKEND OF MAY 14 & 15 *
Norwegian Constitution Day Festivities, Nansen Field, Rolling Hills Estates, Sunday 5/15, 11am. This is a true Norwegian celebration organized by Sons of Norway. It is a relaxing, laid-back event on a huge open field. The field opens at 9:30am and the festivities kick off at 10:50am with the hoisting of the American and Norwegian flags. Program highlights include a performance by Norwegian recording artist Anine Stang, a Norwegian 17th of May church service, and a 17th of May speech. Then there’s a parade led by a marching band followed by the sale of traditional Norwegian 17th of May foods such as hot dogs, hamburgers, Solo, waffles, and ice cream. There are also vendor stalls with Norwegian goods and plenty of games and prizes for the kids. Read about one of our earlier celebrations at Nansen Field here.
CicLAvia – Southeast Cities, Sunday 5/15, 9am-4pm. Leave your car behind and explore a new area of LA by bike, foot, skateboard, or stroller. For the first time, CicLAvia will connect six communities in Southeast Los Angeles with an open streets event. The communities of Huntington Park, Walnut Park, South Gate, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, and Watts will host the country’s largest open streets event. You will enjoy the sights, music, food, and culture that make LA such a vibrant city.
Celebrate Israel, Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, West Los Angeles, Sunday 5/15, 11am-6pm. Come celebrate Israel’s 68th Independence Day. This year’s theme is Israel: A Mosaic of Jewish Cultures. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore various Jewish and Israeli ethnicities around the world and within Israel. Stop by the Eastern European, American, African, and Middle Eastern pavilions and learn through art, food, and music and participate in various hands-on projects while exploring and experiencing the different cultures. The day’s activities and events include musical performances, an artist marketplace, a kids zone and a teen area, an amusement park with rides, and food vendors serving traditional food and “street fare” (all 100% Kosher) that will inspire your next trip to Israel.
Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/15,10am-12pm. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.
Family Jam: Dance the Hula, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Westwood, Sunday 5/15, 2pm-4pm. Celebrate the diversity of Austronesian culture as you admire works in the exhibition Art of the Austronesians. Then, participate in a spectacular hula dance performance. Learn steps and movements from this dance form developed by Polynesian peoples who settled in the Hawaiian Islands.
* WEEKEND OF MAY 21 & 22 *
Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/22,10am-12pm. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.
* MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND OF MAY 28 & 29 & 30 *
Scottish Fest, Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, Saturday 5/28 & Sunday 5/29, 9am-6pm. Enjoy a festival of Celtic entertainment and food. There will be competitions in Piping & Drumming, Highland Dancing, and Scottish Athletics as well as a full schedule of entertainment.
43nd Annual Valley Greek Festival, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Northridge, Saturday 5/28, Sunday 5/29, & Monday 5/30, 1pm-9pm. Enjoy a cultural experience for all ages with live music, dancing, gourmet food, homemade pastries, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, a Greek market, and a variety of shopping boutiques.
Barnsdall Art Sundays, Junior Arts Center at Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood/Los Feliz, Sunday 5/29,10am-12pm. Come for a free family art workshop in a real art studio. All materials are provided. Each Sunday a different culture and media are featured.