LA storms cancel arts events: Wallis, Huntington, Clockshop

The entrance to the Goldsmith Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts is usually packed with patrons snagging shows on the way to their seats. But on Tuesday, after nearly a week of torrential rain in Southern California, the front lobby was soaked and filled with members of the restoration crew. The orchestra section was soaked and towels were tucked under door frames while staff carefully navigated the venue to avoid slipping and falling. Meanwhile, production of Wuthering Heights continued with a technical rehearsal on stage.

Two days later, Wallis announced that Emma Rice’s adaptation of the Emily Brontë classic had been cancelled. The show was originally scheduled to open on Wednesday and run through January 22nd. It was initially postponed by one day and then stopped altogether.

“As a precaution, we think it’s really what’s best for the safety of our guests,” said Michelle Wiesel, managing director of the Wallis.

Valais isn’t the only arts center in the area to be hit by what the National Weather Service called the “most impressive” storm since 2005. Clockshop and the Huntington have had to alter their programs to prioritize visitor safety. While unfortunate, those behind the facilities see the unexpected changes as a sign of resilience as they move forward.

Wiesel said Wallis was fortunate to have a damage mitigation and cleanup company on site within hours of learning of the flooding in the building.

The almost two-week production brought talent from the UK to Los Angeles. Wiesel said the team understands and supports the cancellation for safety reasons. As for a possible postponement of the show, “things are in discussion,” she said.

Los Angeles State Historical Park

Los Angeles State Historic Park, site of Sarah Rosalena’s “For Submersion” art installation, on Friday.

(watch shop)

Though the rain canceled Wuthering Heights for other beings, it merely postponed plans. Clockshop, a multidisciplinary arts organization in Los Angeles, planned to present the installation of Sarah Rosalena’s public artwork, For Submersion. Ironically, the play aims to reinvent the soil beneath the LA State Historic Park and the history of the Los Angeles River floodplain. The kicker: It needed rain.

“We wished for the rain, but it came too soon too much,” said Sue Bell Yank, Clockshop Executive Director.

Clockshop scheduled the opening reception for Sunday, but the amount of rain on the site made it impossible for them to install the public piece.

“The piece itself was supposed to interact with the rainwater, that’s the artist’s vision,” Yank said. “But of course we needed dry weather for the initial installation.”

Now Clockshop is postponing the opening reception to February 12 to allow time for the cymbal to drain. Meanwhile, Clockshop staff can see humor in the rain shifting an installation about flooding.

Yank said unexpected events like this tend to happen while working in public art.

“Most arts organizations are pretty small and patchy and plan these things really well in advance,” she said. “It can be incredibly disruptive and difficult when those plans have to change.”

The LA Más organization had planned a camping trip that would end with a visit to Rosalena’s installation. Now the camping trip and the opening have been interrupted.

Outdoor events and institutions in particular had to take precautions because of the storm. The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Garden closed their gardens Wednesday due to excessive rain.

“While we love having rain for our many acres of gardens, it’s more of a challenge when it comes in short bursts,” said Randy Shulman, Huntington’s vice president of promotion and external relations.

While the Gardens are closed, Huntington’s exhibits remain open to the public.

“The Huntington is always concerned about the safety of visitors walking the grounds and its own staff,” he said. “The first priority is to make sure we evaluate as much as possible.”

After evaluating the effects of the storm, the Huntington determined that she had lost five to seven trees. According to Shulman, the number is relatively small compared to the loss of hundreds of trees in 2011 after a major storm.

A new painting for the "caravan" Exhibition at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

Hugo Crosthwaite is working on Manifest Destiny (Guadalupana), a new painting for the Caravan exhibit at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

(Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles)

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, which had planned an opening reception for Mimi Smith and Hugo Crosthwaite’s solo shows, also decided to postpone Saturday’s event for the safety of employees and customers.

Luis De Jesus, partner and director of the gallery, said he reached out to people who were expected to attend the opening before making the decision to postpone it and all agreed it would be best to postpone January 21st.

“We’re expecting quite a lot of people from outside to come to us for the opening, so because of the imminent storm that’s supposed to move in later [on Friday] and during the weekend we felt it made sense to postpone it,” he said.

De Jesus noticed some leaks in the room but no major damage. Even though there will be no opening, the gallery will still be showing the new exhibitions as planned for those brave enough to weather the weather.

“I feel really good about this decision that we’ve made to delay the opening and I have a feeling that hopefully we’ll have an even better turnout,” he said.

While the cancellations and postponements of arts events across Los Angeles weren’t part of the plan for organizations and institutions, many are finding that the pandemic has made those decisions a little smoother because the well-being of the community was already paramount.

“We have all learned from the pandemic the incredible resilience of the public,” Shulman said. “We’re finding that people are far more patient and understanding of certain situations than ever before.” LA storms cancel arts events: Wallis, Huntington, Clockshop

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