Culver City Observer -

By Sandra Coopersmith
Observer Features Reporter 

Come Celebrate Our Cultural Corridor

 

November 1, 2018

What do you get when three unique museums, all within two blocks of each other, join forces to present free tours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 9 as the kick-off event of the Culver City Cultural Corridor?

That's easy – an enlightening, inspiring and enjoyable experience to remember, thanks to its sponsors: Advocates of The Culver City Cultural Corridor and the Culver City Arts Foundation.

The Cultural Corridor is a 1.4 mile stretch centered along Culver Blvd. and anchored in the east by the theatre that houses Tim Robbins' The Actors' Gang, at mid-point by the Kirk Douglas Theatre, and in the west by the Wende.

Mark your calendar for a day that will be educational and entertaining, encompassing the Mayme Clayton Library & Museum (MCLM), 4130 Overland Ave., claytonmuseum.org, (310) 202-1647; the Culver City Historical Society Archives & Resource Center (ARC) located in the Veterans Memorial Building at 4117 Overland Ave., culvercityhistoricalsociety.org, (310) 253-6941 (enter through the parking lot at the rear of the building); and The Wende Museum of the Cold War (Wende), 10808 Culver Blvd., wendemuseum.org, (310) 216-1600.

Information regarding each museum's regular times of operation, exhibits and events can be found on the websites, but for one special day all three will be open to the public, with a reception at the Wende (RSVP required) starting around 6 p.m.

For further information and to be placed on the reception reservation list, please email cc.culturalcorridor@gmail.com or call (424) 209-7782. As of Oct. 28th confirmed donors of refreshments for the reception are Albert Vera of Sorrento Italian Market, Independent Studio Services, and Costco.

There will also be a raffle, and former mayor Jim Clarke noted that members of the Culver City Chamber Orchestra will be performing at the reception.

Hope Parrish of ARC explained that the idea for this event started about four months ago with continuing communication between herself, city historian Julie Lugo Cerra, Jim Clarke, city poet laureate Janet Hoult, Justinian Jampol, Lukas Richter and Jessica Hoffman of the Wende, and Lloyd Clayton and Steven Fisher of MCLM.

ARC may be very small in size but it plays a significant role in the community, as it was created for the purpose of collecting, preserving and exhibiting the history of Culver City and its cultural and civic accomplishments

Parrish stated that "the Historical Society was started by Julie Lugo Cerra and her father. I've been involved for 12 years and am currently president." Many in her family graduated from Culver City schools and she is a third generation motion picture property master, factors that contributed to her interest in and commitment to ARC.

"I love everything about the Historical Society and I work with Julie and others to preserve Culver City's history," she said. "The many programs we've presented included the making of The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, and how Culver City High School started. ARC tries to help people and we are constantly learning. We get at least a couple of calls a week seeking information. We have a wonderful newspaper collection from the early 1900s and a great collection of memorabilia, including an MGM showcase and aerial photos that people really like. We are like The Little Engine That Could."

MCLM's Steven Fisher noted that its "mission is to preserve, collect and exhibit African American Culture. MCLM is a research library and museum. We have the largest collection of African American cultural items and memorabilia on the West Coast, only smaller than the Schomburg Museum in New York. Among the many items we have a large collection of rare and out-of-print books, early Hollywood movie posters featuring black actors, films, photos, newsprint and more. MCLM is in its twelfth year at the current location, the old Culver City Courthouse.

He specified that "among our most treasured items is a signed manuscript, the first written by a slave and published: 'Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral,' by Phillis Wheatley."

Wheatley, born in Senegal, Africa around 1753, was brought to America in 1761 and sold into slavery to John Wheatley, whose family took great interest in her education. She studied Latin and the works of classic writers, whose influences are prominent in her work along with the Bible and eighteenth century evangelical Christianity. She published her first poem in 1767, and at 20 was the first African American and, notably, only the second woman in America, to publish a book. Many modern poets, including Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni and June Jordan have cited her as an inspiration and an influence.

The Wende's mission is "to preserve Cold War art, culture, and history from the Soviet Bloc countries, inspire a broad understanding of the period, and explore its enduring legacy." Its name, pronounced "venda", is a German word meaning "turning point" or "change" that has come to describe the transformative period leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Jessica Hoffman shared that "the website (which will be given a major update soon) definitely does not reflect all of our current spirit and offerings. The Wende is a laboratory for artistic and cultural experimentation, with innovative exhibitions and a full schedule of public programs. 2018 featured a theatrical production about Lee Harvey Oswald's time in the Soviet Union, community discussion forums with contemporary artists including the street artist El Mac, film screenings, and the launch of the Music at the Wende series, which offers free concerts by esteemed Southern California musical organizations. The inaugural concert received a rave review in the L.A. Times.

"The Wende is delighted to participate in this collaborative event with our neighbors in the Culver City Cultural Corridor. In all of our public programs, the museum aims to make connections between art and history and between the past and the present. Creative collaborations like this one with the Culver City Historical Society and the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the diverse cultural offerings of Culver City.

"The Wende is proud to be part of the Culver City Cultural Corridor. It is an incredible opportunity to have other cultural organizations as close neighbors, and we are excited to activate our connections as a creative, dynamic community."

Confucius said, "Study the past if you would define the future," and since museums such as these three provide the roots from which knowledge grows, on Nov. 9th slip on your sneakers and definitely plan to explore, enjoy, and learn.

 

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