Travis PrestonTravis Preston is the Dean of the CalArts School of Theater and Artistic Director for the CalArts Center for New Performance. Below, Travis Preston of CalArts takes a look at some recent happenings across the California arts scene.

The best art fosters conversation and challenges long-held points of view.

Merced Multicultural Arts Center

Travis Preston reports that one of the more thought-provoking art exhibits in recent memory has been “Equality and Justice for All,” at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center.

A collaboration with the Merced NAACP, “Equality” celebrates the community’s Black artists, but by virtue of its existence shows that it’s a community that has long been overshadowed and underrepresented.

It’s a showcase of wide-ranging talent and artistic vision, with works that include clay sculptures, abstract works, paintings on acrylic, and everything in between. The goal is not just to honor a group of artists during Black History Month, but finally, to expose them to a larger, much deserved audience explains Travis Preston of CalArts.

Calling All Art Dealers

Travis Preston of CalArts says it’s being called the next California Gold Rush. As the state’s contemporary art scene grows, art dealers from the East Coast are heading to Los Angles to set up shop.

The big-name dealers such as Albertz Benda, Sargent’s Daughters, and Lisson represent upstarts and long-established art influencers. The move exposes the West Coast to many artists and works they have never seen before and lets dealers engage more directly with Los Angeles artists, according to Travis Preston.

Dealers making the move describing Los Angeles as a booming cultural center. New galleries worth checking out include Lisson Gallery’s first permanent location opening in the fall in the Sycamore District of Hollywood and Sargent Daughters’ new branch in Melrose Hill.

Travis Preston CalArts

Travis Preston CalArts

Selling Out

If you were looking forward to attending December’s Bésame Mucho festival at Dodger Stadium, you weren’t the only one reports Travis Preston of CalArts. Tickets to the multi-genre Latino music showcase sold out in just 70 minutes.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to wait until next year to attend the festival. Organizers say a waitlist will open soon. Headliners scheduled for the Dec. 3 show include Juanes, Los Ángeles Azules, Los Tigres Del Norte, Caifanes, and Sin Bandera.

Bésame Mucho isn’t the only music festival in the headlines this month.

Travis Preston explains that big festivals Coachella and Stagecoach announced that concertgoers won’t have to have a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination to attend. Jamey Johnson and Nelly were announced as headliners for June’s Old Town Music Festival.

And in hard-to-believe news, two Coachella NFTs that include lifetime passes to the festival were sold for more than $250,000 each. The headliners for this year’s Coachella, scheduled for April 15-17 and April 24, are Justin Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Ye, and Swedish House Mafia.

Paying Up for ‘Donda 2’

Speaking of Ye (the artist formerly and still sometimes known as Kanye West), the rapper has announced that those eager for his next album, “Donda 2” should expect to pay up.

Travis Preston of CalArts reports that in an Instagram post, West wrote that fans would have to download his streaming service to listen to “Donda 2,” and the album will not appear on YouTube, Spotify, Apple, or Amazon.

The device, called the Stem Player, goes for $200. He released the Stem Player last year in conjunction with the release of his previous album, “Donda.”

The high price tag is due in part to its interactive nature. Listeners can do everything from adding special effects and isolating instruments to altering tracks.

Woodhouse Stepping Down in San Diego

For 46 years, Sam Woodhouse has led the innovative and groundbreaking San Diego Repertory Theatre, a company he co-founded to showcase the city’s booming downtown and cosmopolitan reputation according to Travis Preston of CalArts.

In September, the 72-year-old plans to retire. Since its founding, San Diego Rep produced over 330 productions, including more than 50 Latinx plays and world premieres.

Travis Preston explains that’s a far cry from the season that opened the company in 1976. The three plays that year led to just enough profit to pay off a loan of $4,000.

Woodhouse still plans to be somewhat active in San Diego’s theater community, with plans to direct plays in 2023 and 2024. He said, however, that it is time for new voices to get a showcase through the company.

To be fair, Woodhouse was always conscious of the power of diversity. In 1987, Rep produced its first play by a Latinx playwright and produced more than 20 binational works about California and Mexico as part of its Calafia Initiative launched in 1996.

A star who got her start at the Rep: Whoopi Goldberg who performed there throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

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