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Energy flow: Revealing views of the L.A. River

April 03, 2006|Lynne Heffley

There's more to the Los Angeles River than concrete. Yet even its blight is inspiration in "L.A. River Reborn," an exhibition of photographs and video pieces opening Thursday and running through Sept. 3 at the Skirball Cultural Center.

In exploring the river's varied ecology and its relationship with communities, noted contemporary visual artists Lane Barden, Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, Anthony Hernandez, John Humble and filmmakers Dana Plays and Gary Schwartz turn their artistic lenses on the architecture, natural geography, urban landscapes and social activism that define the city's historic waterway.

The exhibition, put together by local freelance curator and art historian Sarah Vure, reveals what has built up around the river as well as the potential for the river's transformation, said Lori Starr, the Skirball's senior vice president and museum director.

"It's about the relationship between the river and the city's infrastructure. It's romantic visions of the river as a kind of industrial sublime, and it's images where one finds beauty in the things that we throw away that end up in the river."

Among many public programs offered in conjunction with the exhibition are a newly commissioned dance piece for the Skirball's "Siteworks" series, which will be performed in the Skirball's arroyo gardens on Sunday afternoon, and a daylong bus tour of the L.A. River on June 24 that will travel to sites "that people probably never knew existed," Starr said.

"It'll surprise you," she said. "Just about every community in L.A. in some way intersects with the river."

Complete program information is at

-- Lynne Heffley

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