Don’t Worry Baby, an indie film written and directed by Julian Branciforte, adds lightness to the dark and tumultuous side of love and parenthood.Read More
The sweet, fluttering feeling of falling in love and the irrational madness that comes with heartbreak are two polar opposites that many experience throughout their lives. Few artists are capable of capturing such emotional intensity as simply and genuinely as poet and artist Lang Leav does in her newest book. Leav’s third book, Memories, is a collection of handpicked poems from her previous books — Love & Misadventure and Lullabies — along with 35 new poems. In every line, Leav skillfully weaves words together to create simple, beautifully stitched poetry and prose filled with heartbreak, longing and hope.
Throughout Memories, Leav’s writing describes the initial rush of falling in love and the feeling of being consumed in it. “When love finds you, it doesn’t come with crashing waves or thunderbolts,” she writes. “It appears as a song on the radio or a particular blue in the sky. It dawns on you slowly, like a warm winter sunrise — where the promise of summer shines out from within.” Her use of metaphor sets a dreamy, tender tone allowing the reader to feel the sentiments expressed through her words. The pages are filled with color illustrations that reflect themes in the book, drawn by Leav herself, featuring drawings such as a girl sitting cross-legged with a book and carnations in different colors.
In addition, her prose on the downfall of lost love is devastating, providing a stark contrast to her musings on the joy of it. “There are things I miss that I shouldn’t, and things I don’t that I should. Sometimes we want what we couldn’t. Sometimes we love what we could,” she writes. Leav’s use of simple words in this theoretical arrangement gives the reader time to slowly think about and reflect on the sentence. She explains in that sentence that the timing of love and longing are not right, that sometimes we love things that we can’t have and have no control over it. In “The Loneliest Place,” Leav dismally describes unrequited love as one of the most depressing feelings. “There is poverty in giving too much of your heart. When your desire for another is not returned in equal measure — nothing in the world can compensate for the shortfall. Sometimes the loneliest place is to be in love.”
In “Dark Room,” the romantic poet discusses the significance of words in a relationship. “Tell someone about me,” she writes. “I don’t want our story to end here, and your words may be the only thing that saves us.” Though she is no longer in the relationship, she does not want it to be forgotten. She believes that words can be a catalyst in preserving memories. The poem’s tone starts off pleading, but later transitions to optimistic. “Don’t let me fade away like a Polaroid. Time can be cruel in that way,” she writes. “But you and I are still breathing in this imperfect world. What could be an even greater miracle than that?” Despite the fact that she can never relive the love she once had or preserve her relationship, Leav concludes that the gift of life is an even bigger marvel in the broader scope of things.
Leav’s writing style may not be for everyone. Some might think that it’s too short, whiny or repetitive. However, Leav’s writing style is focused on simplicity with a deeper meaning. The poems are not long but are to be read slowly and intentionally. Anybody could finish Memories in the span of an hour, but it takes careful reading to feel the sentiment behind every word. Leav does not need complex and verbose prose to perfectly convey the feeling of love and loss; she possesses a talent for portraying heartbreak in brief, whimsical sentences.
Memories is a book that will comfort readers with its words, as Leav understands the exact feelings in times of heartbreak. She is an incredible wordsmith who turns her pain, passion and sorrow into a stunning work of art. As Leav writes, “It was words that I fell for. In the end, it was words that broke my heart.”
Originally published in Daily Trojan.
Like any editor with their section, my co-editor and I devote large chunks of time to the Lifestyle section of the Daily Trojan. We provide arts coverage throughout the campus and Los Angeles, including film, book, restaurant and album reviews, profiles of student and artists, as well as coverage of screening events, plays, exhibits and concerts. We research and send pitches, communicate with writers and designers, edit articles, design layout and write stories when time permits.
Throughout this semester, the Lifestyle section has accomplished many things that I am proud of. While it is true that the arts and culture section of newspapers is mostly considered a light-hearted beat that provides entertainment, serving as respite from the urgency and seriousness of hard news, it is so much more than that to me. Though I do acknowledge the fact that we do do more fun things –– experiment with relationship issues, go to cool art shows, read books before they come out and attend sold out concerts –– we also get to use our creative and emotional forms of storytelling to spotlight pieces that bring awareness to issues on diversity in media, feminism and cultural inclusivity. Arts writing is so significant to me. Being part of this section has allowed me, especially when I was as a writer, to learn and discover so much about my own creative drive and hone my own voice as both an analytical and imaginative storyteller. Now, I serve as a catalyst to do the same for our writers.
Though I do enjoy the work that I do, it has been very difficult for me in a lot of ways. I recall one of the nights during one of my first few weeks as an editor. I was late to print but my proofs were still covered with questions and corrections smothered in highlighter and multi-colored pen, indicating that wasn’t anywhere near close to printing or finishing.
“What does this mean?” “Un-hyphenate.” “Doesn’t make sense. Change.” “The picture looks blurry.” “Missing a red bar.” “No.”
After looking through every miniscule detail, correcting all the mistakes made in articles and bracing myself prior to telling a writer that the story she worked so hard on can’t make it to production, I felt the weight of all the people I was disappointing, the fear of being disliked by my writers for making decisions out of my control and the burden of being criticized fall on my shoulders and crush me emotionally.
That night as I walked home, I felt like a squawking clarinet messing up the tune in a massive orchestra — it would be way better if I were not here.
I don’t know why I made the connection –– maybe it was because we recently pitched or edited an article related to classical music, but the idea that our paper was like a symphony orchestra suddenly made sense.
When I make mistakes, my cracked notes suddenly become very obvious and disrupt the tune of the whole ensemble. But when I do feel like I’m on top of things, I still feel that my articulation and musicality is drowned out by the grandeur of trumpets and trombones or the virtuosity of soloists. On top of that, the long hours didn’t really help either.
So why I am here and what is my significance?
For the same reason that actors must rehearse the same lines of their monologues over and over; the same reason that ballerina dancers have to repeat the same movements to make it look as if they are effortlessly flying on air on their satin pointe shoes and the same reason that musicians have to practice and listen to the same song a million times in order to execute it once perfectly — everything that I have felt and am feeling is a part of the process. The process is an essential part to the creation of art — as well as anybody who contributes to it.
The journey of creating something amazing and beautiful is well worth the tedious, mundane and sometimes overwhelming procedure that comes along with it. We are stenographers of Los Angeles and our art is having the honor to showcase artists, musicians, actors and students and make their art and theirefforts come alive five times a week, in the middle of the newspaper.
In the metaphorical orchestra that is our student-run newspaper, it is normal for the bass line to feel that they don’t get to contribute as often, the melody to feel drowned out and the one that messes up to feel like they don’t belong or have no significance in the ensemble. But like with music, each section in the paper has its own distinct style and characteristic. The conductor cues us, but we get to add our own dynamics and interpretation. Some sections have more people than others, but we all contribute our own unique and equally important tunes to create one beautiful melody, in harmony with one another. Though it might seem like only first violins get all of the glory, the squawking clarinet and the softest voice of a flute has the ability to add to the compelling and beautiful musical lines. At the end of the day, every single voice and sound deserves be heard and valued.
Whenever I walk past a new restaurant in Downtown, see someone post LACMA’s newest exhibit on Instagram, glance at a movie ad on the street or hear my music major friend tell me that Thornton School of Music is playing a concert next week, I catch myself finding that the first thing that comes to mind is not “I should go!” but rather, “Lifestyle definitely needs to cover this,” and I smile.
I smile because, in the same way art is important to the heart of Los Angeles, the Daily Trojan has become important to mine.
Originally published in Daily Trojan.
On Saturday, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art hosted its annual late-night event, “Muse ’til Midnight.” Located at the renowned and frequently Instagrammed lamp posts also known as Chris Burden’s exhibit Urban Light, the event featured a live concert that highlighted artists including Adrian Younge and his band Venice Dawn, The Drumetrics Collective and Anthony Valadez. In addition to live performances curated by ArtDontSleep, the event included never-before-seen exhibits, arts and crafts stations and a tasty variety of food and drinks. LACMA’s spectacular and eclectic event brought together hundreds of art lovers for an exciting and trendy after-hours museum experience.
This year’s event was centered around LACMA’s 50th anniversary, giving attendees an exclusive opportunity to view the “50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of LACMA’s Anniversary” exhibit. The exhibit includes a selection of 50 masterpieces gifted by 25 donors. These works originate from many different time periods, though most are from the 19th and 20th centuries. A standout is Claude Monet’s Two Women in a Garden, in which Monet incorporates light and color to enhance the subject of two women reading in a grass field. Another unique work is David Hockney’s The Jugglers, a single artwork comprised of 18 digital videos synchronized and presented on 18 different 55-inch screens with the song “The Stars and Stripes Forever” playing in the background. Other genres of art represented are American Pop Art, neoclassical paintings, Spanish Colonial Casta paintings and works from the 1960s, when LACMA was founded. These 50 diverse works of art represent the vast assortment of works that LACMA showcases, as well as the amount of significance the time periods had on the many art movements.
Positioned in the middle of the venue, several arts and crafts stations gave visitors the opportunity to create one-of-a-kind versions of recycled art, modeled after the Noah Purifoy’s exhibit Junk Dada. Guests used bits and pieces of lace, buttons and fabric to create their own unique masterpieces. Noah Purifoy, an artist and sculptor, contributed to the junk art movement that specializes in art with a message.
After the 1965 Watts Riots in Los Angeles, Purifoy began to create sculptures from the wreckage, inspiring artists everywhere to “make something out of nothing.” Fascinated by nature and its artistic process, Purifoy decided to move to Joshua Tree and create the first outdoor museum of environmental art. He took 10 acres of desert and created more than 120 junk sculptures. Some of his most eccentric pieces from the outdoor museum were featured in the Junk Dada exhibit, including collages and sculptures made from old cans, shoes and bicycles. Inspired by Purifoy’s art from neglected objects, DJ Mark de Clive-Lowe played music that “mashed disregarded and discarded sounds,” giving guests the full audio and visual experience.
Beyond the opening of new exhibits, “Muse ’til Midnight” offered an interesting selection of food for event-goers to try, including seafood and vegetarian gumbo, fried catfish with tartar sauce, andouille sausage, corn, old Bay Red potatoes and biscuits with gravy. Stylish guests held glasses of red wine, casually mingling and dancing to the live performances throughout the night.
The Drumetrics, a band from San Diego, opened the concert, welcoming artists and visitors with its assorted beats. The band’s songs, which rely heavily on percussion, resembled the type of music that one would hear at an electrified nightclub or as an opener at Coachella. Anthony Valadez, a turntablist from KCRW, engaged with the audience through his funky beats, jazzy vibes and smooth voice. The highlight of the main stage, though, was Adrian Younge and his band Venice Dawn, whose soulful performance grabbed the attention of everybody there. With a melodious and expressive sound, their performance was like time traveling to a concert from the 1960s. Performing their hit “Shot Me in the Heart,” the band had the whole floor swaying and cheering along to the spellbinding vocals and impressive guitar riffs.
On the third-floor gallery, DJ Rashida and J. Period performed next to Chris Burden’s Metropolis II. The sculpture, which was inspired by the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced city, is one of Burden’s most famous pieces. With the DJ’s contemporary beats that mirrored the modern art, guests were seen dancing happily to the electronic music while others admired the art of Robert Irwin’s Miracle Mile and other works of modern artists.
An enjoyable gallery party filled with art, dancing and food, LACMA’s annual “Muse ‘til Midnight” event reflects the essence of the museum — classy and eclectic. With a little something for everybody, one does not have to be a self-proclaimed art connoisseur to enjoy this event. LACMA’s collection of diverse and intriguing art represents the equally assorted and fascinating population of Los Angeles. With exhibits rich in history, food with variety and musicians with soul, this event continually sells out and attracts art lovers from all over the city.
Originally published in the Daily Trojan