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  • Silke Otto-Knapp is a painter and associate professor of painting and drawing at UCLA. 
     
    She has had recent one-person exhibitions at Overduin and Kite, Los Angeles; Galerie Buchholz, Berlin; the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive; Greengrassi, London; Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London; Kunstverein Munich, Germany; Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York; the Banff Centre, Canada; Modern Art Oxford, UK; and Tate Britain, London.
     
  • Sergej Jensen

    Mar 31| Lectures
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    Sergej Jensen’s work draws on a wide range of materials and formal references. Primarily known for his textile works, his lyrical compositions incorporate a variety of fabrics, from burlap and linen to silk and wool.
     
    He recently exhibited his work in the show "Classic" at Regen Projects, and his work is also included in LACMA's show "Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting.”
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  • Otis College of Art and Design Fine Arts Department presents the film collaborative from Berlin OJOBOCA.

     

    Thursday April 2nd, 2015
    7pm in Ahmanson Hall, lower-level screening room.
    9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

     

  • Chen Tamir is a distinguished Israeli curator and art writer based in Tel Aviv, where she works at the Center for Contemporary Art. She was listed by Artslant as one of 15 curators to watch in 2015. Until recently she was based in New York working as an independent curator and also as Executive Director of Flux Factory, a non-profit arts center in Queens, NY, where she founded an acclaimed residency program and set up a thriving institution. Chen holds an M.A. from Bard College's Center for Curatorial Studies, a B.A. in Anthropology, and a B.F.A. in Visual Art from York University.

  • Rea Tajiri

    Apr 07| Lectures
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    Rea Tajiri is a New York based filmmaker and educator who has written and directed an eclectic body of dramatic, experimental, and documentary films currently in commercial and educational distribution. She is also an Associate Professor at Temple University in the Film Media Arts Department.
     
    Learn more about the artist here.
     
  • Dusk to Dusk

    Apr 11| Exhibition
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    James Aldridge, The Gathering, 2010, Acrylic on canvas


    Dusk to Dusk: Unsettled, Unraveled, Unreal

    April 11 - July 26, 2015  |  Gallery Hours: Tue-Fri 10-5 / Thu 10-7 / Sat-Sun 12-4

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LEWIS MACADAMS

May 13, 2014
Spotlight Category: Faculty

From Confrontation to Cooperation

Lewis Macadams, Senior Lecturer, Graduate Writing

 

In the late 1930s, in response to a pair of deadly floods, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors called in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to control the unruly L.A. River. The mission was to get the water to the ocean as fast as possible. The idea that it might make sense, in a city that gets less than 15 inches of rain a year on average, to conserve some of those hundreds of millions of gallons of freshwater seems to have never occurred to the Army Corps.

It took many years, thousands of workers, and some 3 million barrels of concrete to bring the river to heel. By some measures, the project was a triumph: floodwaters have not topped the river levees since. But it was also an ecological holocaust.

Within a very few years, important native species were largely gone. Yellow-billed cuckoos and least bell's vireo no longer sang in the watershed. Red-legged frogs, which hibernated by burrowing into the river bottom’s mud, couldn‘t penetrate the concrete.

For half a century after the work was finished, the river was little more than a concrete scar, separated from the city by chain-link fences topped with razor wire and signs warning visitors to keep out or face fines and/or jail.

In 1986, Roger Wong, Pat Patterson and I borrowed some wire cutters, snipped the fence that separated the river from the city, and declared the river open. We asked the river if we could speak for it in the human realm. We didn't hear it say no, and Friends of the L.A. River was born. FoLAR began life as a performance piece in a basement theater on Skid Row as a "40-year artwork to bring the river back to life." I donned a white suit and painted myself green as if i were the ghost of William Mulholland.

In the mid-1980s, a lawsuit by Heal the Bay forced L.A. to build a water reclamation plant that would ultimately send millions of gallons a year of reclaimed water through the Glendale Narrows. For the first time since the last Ice Age, the river was year-round. Willows and sycamore trees began to reappear.
In preparation for a predicted El Niño, the County and the Army Corps decided to bulldoze everything growing in the river's natural bottom. Standing in front of the machines, I nearly got myself killed. But the action got FoLAR its first meeting with the head of the L.A. County Department of Public Works. Every time he said the words "flood control channel," I interrupted him and said "river." I had planted the linguistic seeds. Today nearly everybody calls it a river.

In recent years, more and more Angelenos have discovered the river. FoLAR's annual Gran Limpieza, the Great Los Angeles River Cleanup, has grown from 10 people to several thousand. Two former railroad yards are now state parks, half a dozen riverfront pocket parks were created, and a bike path continues to grow.

Every one of these victories was the result of patience, willpower, and perseverance. Yet none of them opened up the channel itself. In 2010 it was still a crime to stick your toe in the river. Then, this fall, after seven years of work and almost $10 million, the Army Corps released a study with a range of alternatives for the river's future.

It was a stunning development. FoLAR could now work hand in hand with the Army Corps to restore miles of habitat, eliminate miles of concrete, restore wetlands, and reconnect the main stem of the river to the mountains.

As I look back on a lifetime of poetry and politics, on 27 years of working on the river, I see a journey from confrontation to cooperation. It has created a wider and deeper community not just of humans but of flying, swimming, and four-legged creatures as well.

 

 

Editor’s Note:
A longer version of this Op Ed piece appeared in the Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2013.

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