The absence of visual arts in the Los Angeles Festival has elicited three reactions:
--Outrage over exclusion of a major component of the arts community.
--Indifference to what is essentially somebody else's party.
--Approval, by purists, of separating the relatively inaccessible visual arts from more entertaining performing arts.
I vote with the outraged, but not without ambivalence. Creating a scaled-down sequel to the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival by excising one discipline is like trying to lose weight by cutting off your leg, but it's difficult to feel visually deprived after seeing "The Mahabharata" or the Lyons Opera Ballet's "Cendrillon."
Simultaneously spare and opulent, "The Mahabharata" brought us a knock-out Minimalist battle without a single body (just volleys of sticks) and chariots as single wheels driven by joggers. Yet every few minutes, it seemed, the red clay stage was covered with another gorgeous carpet, quilt or length of fabric like a canvas to be filled with colorfully patterned action.