It's an Endless Summer in L.A.

Keep the Summer of 2022 going!

The Music Center presents Dance DTLA
Dance DTLA | Photo: The Music Center

Heading into late August, it might seem like summer is passing us by. Yet here in Los Angeles the sunshine and blue skies just keep on coming, as do the countless things to do in this city’s seemingly endless summer. Here are cultural, musical, and food events to enjoy in LA before fall arrives.

"Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971" at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
"Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971" | Photo: Academy Museum

"Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971" - Academy Museum (opens Aug. 21)

Opening at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on August 21, Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971 is a first-of-its-kind exhibition that explores and celebrates the achievements and challenges of Black filmmakers in the U.S. from cinema’s beginnings through the height of the civil rights movement. Featuring rarely seen excerpts of films restored by the Academy Film Archive, Regeneration offers a unique opportunity to learn more about how Black performers and filmmakers have helped define cinema in this country.

Running through April 9, 2023, the Academy Museum’s second major temporary exhibition also includes narrative films and documentaries, newsreels and home movies, photographs, scripts, drawings, costumes, studio equipment, posters, and throwback artifacts such as entrance tickets, notecards, and telegrams. A highlight will be unique, state-of-the-art augmented reality experiences designed specifically for Regeneration.

"Andy Warhol: Cars" at the Petersen Automotive Museum
"Andy Warhol: Cars" | Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum

"Andy Warhol: Cars" - Petersen Automotive Museum (through Jan. 22, 2023)

Andy Warhol began his career in advertising and always embraced the intersection of art and commercialism as both mutually beneficial and crucial to most artists’ survival. His final commission was for Mercedes-Benz in 1986, to mark the iconic German automaker’s 100th anniversary with 80 pictures featuring 20 different Mercedes models spanning that century. However, only 49 of these – 36 silk-screen paintings and 13 drawings representing eight models – were completed when Warhol suddenly passed at age 58.

Now on view in the Petersen Automotive Museum’s first-floor Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery, Andy Warhol: Cars – Works from the Mercedes-Benz Art Collection is the first time these pictures have been displayed together in the U.S. They’re paired with five of the actual cars depicted, including the Hot Wheels-esque 1970 C 111 experimental vehicle, plus Warhol’s own 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in the museum's lobby.

"Macbeth" at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
"Macbeth" at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival | Photo: Independent Shakespeare Co.

Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival: "Macbeth" (Aug. 6 - Sept. 4)

Presented by the Independent Shakespeare Co, the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival is back this year for an entire summer of free theater under the stars of our balmy L.A. evenings. The second half of the 2022 program is a surprise-filled take on The Bard’s most seductive tragedy, Macbeth, soaked in an eerie aura replete with characters emerging from behind trees and magic afoot in the surrounding woods. The setting only enhances the supernatural air of the famously cursed “Scottish Play” (allegedly hexed by witches who objected to Shakespeare including their real spells).

Due to construction at the event’s usual site, this year’s Free Shakespeare Festival is being held in the smaller yet equally bucolic Dell above Griffith Park’s Old Zoo. Capacity is limited to 450, registration is required. Free seating is first-come, first-served, but a donation of $60 reserves a cushioned chair on a special elevated section.

Rich Brian on stage at Head in the Clouds Festival
Rich Brian | Photo: Head in the Clouds Festival 

Head in the Clouds - Rose Bowl Stadium (Aug. 20-21)

Since its debut in 2018, Head in the Clouds Music & Arts Festival has become firmly established as an annual highlight for anyone with an interest in contemporary music from Asia and the Asian diaspora. The event is organized by music company 88rising, which is widely regarded as the preeminent platform for Asian American and Asian artists in the U.S.

Taking place at Brookside at the Rose Bowl on August 20-21, the fest’s 2022 edition features prominent 88rising artists Rich Brian, NIKI, and Jackson Wang alongside a broad selection of Asian acts including South Korea’s freewheeling Bibi, L.A. former battle-rapper Dumbfoundead, charismatic Seattle rhymer Jay Park, and Japanese hip-hop foursome Teriyaki Boyz. The event will also host the live debut of Deb Never and Audrey Nuna’s collaborative project, plus a Joji DJ set as Yebi Labs.

The Music Center presents Dance DTLA
Dance DTLA | Photo: The Music Center

Dance DTLA - The Music Center (Aug. 26 & Sept. 2)

Taking place on Jerry Moss Plaza at The Music Center, Dance DTLA makes the most of L.A.’s mild summer nights to create a giant outdoor dance party that's all the more welcome after a couple of years of lockdowns and social distancing (though masks are highly recommended).

The Friday night fun begins with a dance lesson in a given genre from a professional instructor, followed by a chance to practice your new moves as you gyrate the night away to top local DJs and bands. There’s a bar and eateries, or you can bring your own picnic.

The festive, positive, and communal atmosphere is an apt antidote to pandemic-induced isolation and a timely reminder that we’re all in this together. While many come to learn (the August 26 lesson is bachata; on September 2 it’s samba), you don’t need any dancing skills to attend this free, all-ages event that’s essentially about joy and community.

InFocus: International Animation presented by NewFilmmakers LA
InFocus: International Animation | Photo: NewFilmmakers Los Angeles

InFocus: International Animation - South Park Center (Aug. 27)

Los Angeles is synonymous with the film industry, which goes well beyond Hollywood blockbusters and the city’s lengthy list of A-list actors. NewFilmmakers Los Angeles is a non-profit organization that showcases and supports innovative works by emerging filmmakers from around the world through regular screenings. Its Monthly Film Festival at South Park Center in Downtown LA is an opportunity to experience this less well-known - but equally important - aspect of the movie business.

NFMLA's August 27 program, InFocus: International Animation features screenings of shorts, documentaries, and movies that have been submitted from all over the world, followed by a Q&A with each filmmaker. A must for anyone interested, as a viewer or participant, in the stunning stream of creativity that ultimately influences the mainstream movie industry so intrinsic to LA.

Skewers at 626 Night Market
Photo: 626 Night Market

626 Night Market - Santa Anita Park (Aug. 26-28 & Sept. 3-5)

Named for an area code in the San Gabriel Valley and inspired by Asia’s famed open-air nighttime bazaars, 626 Night Market similarly brings people together to eat, drink, socialize, and enjoy live entertainment at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. With more than half a million Asian Americans residing in the San Gabriel Valley - two-thirds of whom are immigrants - expect an authentic and exotic experience comprising more than 250 food, merchandise, and craft vendors; games, concerts, and entertainment attractions; and an art walk featuring emerging artists representing diverse backgrounds and mediums. Intended to unite and empower the community by showcasing local talent including chefs, performers, and entrepreneurs, 626 Night Market has been a singular San Gabriel Valley must-do since 2012, attracting up to 100,000 attendees.

Deli scene from "When Harry Met Sally…"
"When Harry Met Sally…" | Photo: Columbia Pictures

“I’ll Have What She’s Having” - Skirball Cultural Center (through Sept. 18)

The Jewish deli is more than a place to grab a towering corned beef sandwich, aromatic bowl of matzo ball soup, or giant potato latke. With roots reaching back to the mid-19th century pushcarts of European-Jewish immigrants in New York, the Jewish deli became a uniquely American institution that has both reflected and adapted to pervading socio-political trends.

Now on view at the Skirball Cultural Center through September 18, “I’ll Have What She’s Having”: The Jewish Deli captures the essence of the classic Jewish deli through appetizing recreations of classic dishes, vintage signage, menus, uniforms, ads, and video clips. L.A. delis are well represented, including a huge neon sign from the old Drexler’s in North Hollywood, plus artifacts from Canter’s, Nate ‘n Al’s, and more.

"I'll Have What She's Having" is named for the "climactic" scene with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal at NYC’s Katz’s Delicatessen from When Harry Met Sally (1989). Crystal came up with the now-classic line, which was delivered by Estelle Reiner, the mother of director Rob Reiner.

¡FIESTA! at Bob Baker Marionette Theater (through Sept. 18)
¡FIESTA! | Photo: Bob Baker Marionette Theater

¡FIESTA! - Bob Baker Marionette Theater (through Sept. 18)

Legendary puppeteer Bob Baker was L.A. through and through. He was making marionettes and selling them across the U.S. and Europe while still attending Hollywood High and went on to become head animator of Paramount Pictures’ Puppetoons series. In 1963 he co-founded his eponymous Marionette Theater, which moved to its current York Boulevard location in 2019 and is the oldest children’s theater company in the city.

Baker, who passed in 2014, created ¡FIESTA! more than half a century ago as his “love letter to Latin America,” drawing inspiration from both his L.A. neighbors and his majority-Latin American team of puppeteers. For its 2022 presentation, this 1960s classic has been revitalized and reimagined, with the likes of dancing cacti and a puppet mariachi band reflecting a variety of voices, cultures, and traditions for a new generation discovering the magic of marionettes.

Takashi Murakami - "In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow" (detail)
Takashi Murakami - "In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow" (detail)  |  Photo: Daniel Djang

Takashi Murakami - The Broad (through Sept. 25)

Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow is Takashi Murakami’s first solo exhibition at The Broad, including new pieces inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic plus enveloping immersive environments and augmented reality works. Spanning sculpture, painting, wallpaper, and AR, the 18 displayed works from the celebrated Japanese artist explore subject matter including pop culture, postwar Japan, globalization, and religious iconography. Visitors are supplied with QR codes that bring elements like Murakami’s iconic “happy flowers” to life on smartphones as never before. Much more tactile are two of the 60-year-old’s most monumental paintings to date, the 32-foot-wide 100 Arhats and the 82-foot-wide In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, as well as his 1999 sculpture DOB in the Strange Forest (Blue DOB) that features his recurring, anime-influenced Mr. DOB character.

KCRW Summer Nights at Chinatown Central Plaza
Summer Nights at Chinatown Central Plaza | Photo: KCRW

KCRW Summer Nights - V/A (through Sept. 29)

A veritable L.A. institution, KCRW Summer Nights returned in full effect this year, after postponements and scaled-back events earlier in the pandemic. The beloved free concert series began three months of outdoor, all-ages parties in early July featuring KCRW DJs, carefully curated buzz bands, and more.

Still to come are DJs Novena Carmel and Raul Campos at Chinatown Central Plaza on August 20; Allison Russel with ÌFÉ and Raul Campos at Grand Performances on September 3; Tolliver with DJ Travis Holcombe at One Colorado on September 10, followed by Mark de Clive-Lowe with DJ Leroy Downs at that same venue on September 11; and concluding at MOCA & JANM with DJs Valida and Scott Dallavo on September 22, and DJs Anthony Valadez and SiLVA on September 29.

"For Race and Country: Buffalo Soldiers in California" exhibit at CAAM
"For Race and Country: Buffalo Soldiers in California" | Photo: CAAM

"Buffalo Soldiers in California" - CAAM (through Oct. 30)

Be it from the Bob Marley song or from movies, many of us have heard the term “Buffalo Soldiers.” This nickname for all-Black U.S. Army regiments was initially coined during the Indian Wars of the late 19th century and lingered through 1948, when the military was desegregated.

Now on view at the California African American Museum (CAAM) through October 30, For Race and Country: Buffalo Soldiers in California is an enlightening exhibition that explores the surprising history surrounding these men who, in and out of uniform, helped shape the Golden State, including building churches and parks. Peeling back myths, it uses artifacts, interviews, photos, uniforms, newspapers, and historical records to explore historical debates in the Black community over participation in wars, confront the role of Black soldiers in Army violence against Native Americans, and to illuminate the conflict faced by Buffalo Soldiers between commitment to equality for their people and to the country they chose to serve.

"L.A. Underwater" exhibit at the Natural History Museum
"L.A. Underwater" | Photo: Natural History Museum

"L.A. Underwater" - Natural History Museum (ongoing)

Los Angeles was founded less than 250 years ago. So, consider that the area was underwater for more than 90 million years. Now on view at the Natural History Museum, the multimedia-rich L.A. Underwater: The Prehistoric Sea Beneath Us exhibition takes a deep dive into this ancient era and its lingering legacies. Spectacular fossils lurk beneath L.A.’s concrete crust. Nearly 40 of these - many of them unearthed by everyday Angelenos - are featured in L.A. Underwater, which is free with museum admission or membership.

A huge wall projection brings giant prehistoric sea creatures back to life, including a bus-sized shark. There’s an interactive map of where fossils have been found locally, and a mesmerizing hologram of an outlandish, long-extinct squid-like creature. The residual fossil fuels that have helped propel L.A.’s growth are also highlighted, bringing subaquatic prehistory vividly into the here and now.

Lobsterdamus Lobster Nest and Lobster Truffle Fries at Smorgasburg LA
Lobster Nest and Lobster Truffle Fries at Smorgasburg LA | Photo: @lobsterdamus, Instagram

Smorgasburg - ROW DTLA (Sundays)

If yours is one of those families that can never agree on where to eat, Smorgasburg is the place to say bye-bye to bickering and hello to harmonious dining. With locations in New York and Downtown LA, Smorgasburg is the largest weekly open-air food market in the country, attracting 50,000 people each weekend to enjoy the creations of a hundred local vendors. The LA event offers everything from roti to ribs, churros to grilled cheese, sushi to slushies and much more - vegan and vegetarian diners have ample options.

Open 10am to 4pm every Sunday at ROW DTLA on Alameda Street. There’s free 2-hour shaded parking, live music and DJs, a family-friendly beer garden, and sufficient food and beverage options to merit frequent repeat visits. Sorry, no pets.