edited by MAYER RUS
Just when you thought it was at last safe to put the King of Pop to rest, along comes Henry Leutwyler’s Neverland Lost: A Portrait of Michael Jackson. The Swiss-born photographer’s documentary images of artifacts taken from Jackson’s Los Olivos hideaway are at once poignant, sad and wondrous, much like the legend himself. The objects—makeup-smeared costumes, toys, overwrought sculptures, thrones, crowns and, of course, bejeweled gloves—may not add anything new to the mythology of the man, but Leutwyler’s presentation certainly has all the trappings of a tragic opera. What compelled the visual archeologist to train his lens on one of the most celebrated entertainers of all time? “I have an urge to investigate people I have never met,” he says. $45. M+B Gallery is exhibiting selected images June 10–Aug. 14, with Leutwyler set to sign copies on opening night. 612 N. Almont Dr., West Hollywood, 310-550-0050 mbart.com.
Culture vultures, start your engines. John Baldessari: Pure Beauty, the blockbuster retrospective dedicated to the L.A.-based artist, is poised to be the must-see exhibition of the summer. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in association with London’s Tate Modern, the show surveys Baldessari’s brilliant ongoing explorations of language and image making, beginning with rarely seen paintings from the early 1960s, extending to his classic film-still compositions of the 1980s and culminating in Brain/Cloud (2009), a multimedia installation of photography, sculpture and video created specifically for this exhibit. June 27–Sept. 12. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 323-857-6000, lacma.org.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
This summer, H20 swings high and low at two divergent aquatic attractions. On June 11, Disney’s California Adventure is unveiling World of Color, an after-dark extravaganza of fountains, flames, music, lasers and cartoons projected on a wall of water 380 feet wide by 50 feet high. Five years in the making, the dizzying spectacle uses 1,200 fountains and all the lovable, marketable Disney and Pixar characters you’d expect. Meanwhile, through Sept. 26, the Hammer Museum’s courtyard is housing Greg Lynn’s Fountain of Toys, a decidedly more conceptual water feature made from 75 whale and shark teeter-totter pieces. disneyland.com; hammer.ucla.edu.
5 QUESTIONS: BETTY WHITE
Following her recent triumph as host of SNL, Betty White returns to her true love—animals. On June 19, White will be feted by the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association at its annual Beastly Ball for her 40-plus-year service as trustee, zoo commissioner and avid supporter.
1. When did your love of animals begin?
In the womb. My parents were the same—maybe more so. I was an only child, and I think they were a bit disappointed I only had two legs.
2. Did you have pets as a child?
We had a kitty named Toby who would sit on the corner of my crib—he was my watchcat. My mom said if Toby hadn’t approved of me, she would have sent me right back to the hospital.
3. If you were an animal...
I’d be a moose. They live up in that gorgeous high country, near those beautiful mountain lakes. And they’re so strong and majestic.
4. Tell me about your 1970s show Pet Set?
That was my favorite show. I created it, researched it and wrote it. Each show started with a celebrity, like Burt Reynolds or Jimmy Stewart, bringing their pets. Then we’d bring out everything from a water buffalo to lions. Once, Amanda Blake from Gunsmoke came with a cheetah. It was a license to go crazy.
5. After the online campaign that got you to SNL, are you now on Facebook or Twitter?
No. At my age, I can’t afford to waste all that time. —Raha Lewis