April showers mean May flowers…LA Blooms, to be exact. This spring, don’t miss the first-ever LA Bloom Festival, a nine-day celebration of transformation and Japanese arts and culture, hosted by the Japanese American Cultural Community Center in Little Tokyo. Co-curators – acclaimed international artist and modern zen master Hirokazu Kosaka and landscape architect and artist Calvin Abe – have transformed the iconic Noguchi plaza in Little Tokyo into a temporary ecoartspace, replete with one of the world’s largest zen gardens, a colorful metaphorical rainbow (more on that later!), and exhibitions on contemporary and traditional ikebana. Add to that performances, workshops, and a three-time world champion of sumo wrestling and you have a veritable LA Bloom bouquet of activities. With so much programming packed into nine days, we thought we’d give you the how to’s and what’s whats.
Opening Night Performance: Mare Nubium – Friday, April 27th – 8pm
Mare Nubium is the abbreviated performance of the much-lauded kalpa, which was performed at the kick-off of Pacific Standard Time at the Getty. In Sanskrit, kalpa means eons, or a long period of time. It’s said that once every hundred years, an angel comes down from heavens and swipes the surface of a stone with her silk sleeves until the rock disappears. Hiro Kosaka creates a symbolic parallel between the kalpa and the inevitable passage of time that slowly transforms our lives and the memories that we hold onto. Performers include Butoh (Japanese dancer) master Oguri, who leads a small company of dancers. It’s deep, and beautiful, seriously. Buy tickets here now. Listen for an upcoming interview with Hiro by Lisa Napoli on All Things Considered.
de LaB Tour with Hiro and Little Tokyo Happy Hour – Wednesday, May 2nd – 6pm to 10 pm
If you miss the opening night performance, catch de LaB‘s special tour with Hiro next week to get an explanation of LA Bloom from the modern day zen master himself. End the evening with a much-deserved cocktail at Little Tokyo Happy Hour in the zen garden. RSVP here. Admission is free otherwise and the ecoartspace and exhibitions will be open to all.
Jazz Night with Mia Doi Todd and Motoko Honda – Thursday, May 3rd – 8pm
Jazz and Japanese culture collide harmoniously when gorgeous songstress Mia Doi Todd and experimental avant-garde jazz pianist Motoko Honda take the stage on the plaza. Buy tickets here now.
Sumo Workshop with Three-Time World Champion Byamba – Saturday, May 5th – 2pm
Even if you don’t have kids, this is something you won’t want to miss. World champ Byamba brings an often misunderstood Japanese cultural tradition to life for all as he demonstrates the basic sumo stretches and teaches a workshop for little ones. Basically, a heavyweight workshop for lightweights. Admission is free.
Since I was born I’ve have suffered from an unfortunate affliction: the dreaded black thumb. For this reason, I’m always in deep awe of people who can not only keep plants alive, but use them as a natural medium for artistic expression. In particular, I love the work of LA- and Paris-based landscape art and design studio Cao|Perrot Studio.
Vietnamese-born, adopted son of Los Angeles Andy Cao is a recipient of the Rome Prize Fellowship in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome and the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Native Briton Xavier Perrot was awarded the Lauréats des Nouveaux Albums des Jeunes Architectes et Paysagistes” (Emerging Young Architects and Landscape Designer Award) by the French Ministry of Culture. Together they seem to make nothing less than magic.
From ethereal gardens for the modern abode to compelling public art installations, this studio pushes the boundaries of landscape architecture as a discipline and bravely explores landscape design as a form of art, expression, and experimentation. Their work is whimsical and fantastic, ranging from magical floral arrangements to conceptual spaces shaded by hovering, shimmering cumulus clouds. They play with materials to create experiential and unforgettable landscapes.
I’m thrilled to think that we’ll soon get the opportunity to work with Andy on an upcoming project. More details to come soon. All we can say for now is that spring in LA is about to bloom, big time.