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Getting Back on Track : While most venues were operating within days of quake, Cal State Northridge remains closed and events at CalArts in Valencia have been canceled.

January 28, 1994|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford writes regularly for The Times

The arts and entertainment community of the San Fernando Valley worked to rebuild this week from damage suffered in the 6.6-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 17 and continued flurry of aftershocks.

While most stages and galleries for art, music and drama were back in operation within days of the quake, some major venues remained closed in grim anticipation of pending damage reports and repair estimates.

Located near the quake's epicenter, Cal State Northridge was a major venue to remain sealed this week, leaving the music and fine arts departments unsure about the extent of losses. Aftershocks only added to the frustration.

"After every one of these things we have to go back and check our buildings," said Louise Lewis, director of the CSUN campus galleries and president of the Faculty Senate. "At this point the fine arts building is deemed by structural engineers to be unsound. There is further investigation that has to go on, but we are not allowed to go into the gallery."

Just one block away from both that campus and the collapsed Northridge Meadows apartments, the Common Grounds coffeehouse found itself a lonely entertainment venue in a neighborhood devastated by the quake. The venue suffered about $2,000 in damage, but the regular Wednesday open-mike night continued as usual. "It's kind of unusual that entertainment is going on in an area that looks like it was hit by a bomb," said owner Paul Solomon. "We had a pretty good crowd, about half full. People wanted to get away from the devastation and shock of it all."

The following is a survey of local arts and entertainment venues hit by the earthquake:

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Cal State Northridge: Like the rest of campus, the CSUN Music Department awaits the final report of damage to its building from seismic inspectors. "The only thing we know is that we know nothing," said Gertrude Kohler, the department's program director.

Concerts that had been scheduled for next week have been canceled, including the annual honors festival for high school musicians. Several other music events will be rescheduled.

At the CSUN Art Department galleries, many artworks remain trapped inside a building that inspectors have declared unsound, said Lewis. A structural seam-crack was discovered in the fine arts building, and one section sunk six inches into the ground. The Bauhaus-style building, designed by Los Angeles architect Richard Neutra, is a "architectural landmark on campus," Lewis said.

Among the works inside is a children's art show called "Dream Makers," sponsored by Crayola, and a large wooden sculpture by Dave Elder commissioned by the city of Thousand Oaks. An exhibition of works by Sudanese artist Mohamed Omer Bushari, originally scheduled to open Feb. 14 for a five-week run, has been canceled.

If necessary, the department will teach classes in rented office space near the campus, said Lewis, who also promised to find another space to present her planned art shows. "We've got them lined up for two or three years," she said. "So obviously I do not plan on canceling my hopes and dreams, I'll tell you that."

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CalArts: The Valencia campus was also hit hard, causing the evacuation of all buildings just one week after the beginning of the new semester. Estimated damage is approximately $10 million, said spokeswoman Anita Bonnell, adding that a much higher figure reported earlier was erroneous.

"There's damage in the buildings like everywhere else, but we're not destroyed," she said.

The administrative wing of the school was reopened Monday, and classes resumed soon after in nearby office space and tents erected on campus. Other CalArts buildings await detailed inspection. All performance events on campus, which normally total about 40 a week, have been canceled until further notice.

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Orlando Gallery: The Valley's first art gallery survived, although estimated losses at the Sherman Oaks location were at least $40,000, said owner Robert Gino. Most of the Orlando's collection of African art and contemporary sculpture was destroyed, but the exhibition of paintings by Rachelle Mark were left untouched.

Gino was surprised to find people still interested in coming to look at art within days of the earthquake. On Saturday, he was urged to go ahead with a planned lecture in the gallery to 60 schoolteachers. That same day he even sold two pieces.

"That's surprising," he said. "Isn't that wonderful?"

An exhibition of photographs by Gene Barnes will open as scheduled Feb. 4.

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Country Club: The Reseda venue was declared safe enough this week to host a Tuesday community business meeting attended by Mayor Richard Riordan and Councilwoman Laura Chick. But owner Tony Longval said he is moving all of his February events, including a concert by Reverend Horton Heat and a kick-boxing contest, to March.

"I just want to make sure everybody is safe here," Longval said. "We are the epicenter. I want to make sure this place is going to stand up."

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