Viewers might not be sheltering in place anymore, but our live Wednesday interview series that started at the beginning of the pandemic has no plans to go anywhere. (Sign up for Alta’s events newsletter.) This year, Alta Live welcomed subjects as well as contributing writers and artists from the pages of Alta Journal, including these eight highlight guests who took attendees through the studio of Heath Ceramics, the murals of Diego Rivera, and deep beyond our solar system.
ALTA LIVE: HEATH CERAMICS’ STUDIO DIRECTOR TUNG CHIANG
One of the top creative minds at world-famous Heath Ceramics, guest Tung Chiang urged viewers to use his products rather than simply display them. “The bud vase will feel super happy and useful if you use it,” said Chiang. (Editor’s note: a flower was placed in the Alta Live host’s bud vase, and it was indeed happier.) Chiang also revealed his favorite piece of Heath pottery: “one little bird sculpture.” It’s sold out.
ALTA LIVE: RETHINKING MARION DAVIES
A benefit Alta Live strives to provide our viewers with is access—and this episode delivered. Marion Davies biographer Lara Gabrielle was joined by noted California historian William Deverell and Alta editor and publisher Will Hearst, the grandson of Davies’s longtime love, William Randolph Hearst, for this intimate conversation on an underappreciated figure.
ALTA LIVE: A LOOK INTO DEEP SPACE WITH PROFESSOR GARTH ILLINGWORTH
This episode holds a special place in Alta Live lore, as we simply set out (on Google) to find someone to talk to our viewers about the James Webb Space Telescope and ended up featuring one of its earliest inventors, who, as an added bonus, turned out to be an exceedingly fun interview. Professor Garth Illingworth delighted Alta Live attendees with his knowledge, good humor, and enthusiasm for outer space.
ALTA LIVE: THE LEGACY OF TUPAC SHAKUR
Hip-hop historian Davey D, who knew Tupac Shakur personally, joined Alta contributor Santi Elijah Holley for what turned into a very personal, detailed conversation on the late rapper. Holley, by the way, recently received a Los Angeles Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Award for his feature on Shakur.
ALTA LIVE: DIEGO AND FRIDA’S SAN FRANCISCO STAY
One of the elements that made the last half of this interview with Alta contributor Gary Kamiya so enjoyable was the enthusiastic audience questions. We took a deep dive into the romantic and creative San Francisco stays of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo—and nearly everyone in attendance had something to say about it.
ALTA LIVE: SUMMER READING ROUNDTABLE
This twice-annual roundtable featuring salespeople from independent bookstores throughout the West Coast is a favorite of the Alta Live production team. Here’s a behind-the-scenes truth bomb: we know all the titles each bookseller will recommend in advance. That allows for no double-ups and time for our staff to prepare product links to all the books. Switching up the usual Alta Live format with this lightning-style literary fest is a treat.
ALTA LIVE: GRIFFIN DUNNE AND JOAN DIDION
Actor, writer, and filmmaker Griffin Dunne penned a deeply personal article for Alta about his aunt, the late Joan Didion. It was especially exciting to have him join Alta Live and expand on his documentary about her, his memories of growing up in a famous literary family, and his grief process since her passing. Dunne, who is one of the stars of the award-winning television series This Is Us, left our audience both starstruck and as if we were all new friends of an ultra-charming Hollywood celebrity.
ALTA LIVE: THE GENTRIFICATION OF PSYCHEDELICS
One of the few people who can match wits with brilliant writer Roberto Lovato is Los Angeles Times columnist and Alta contributor Gustavo Arellano. Arellano took over as moderator for a fascinating deep dive into Lovato’s award-winning feature on the popularity of psychedelics in San Francisco’s Mission district. Watching these two razor-sharp minds engage in a no-holds-barred conversation on a controversial topic was mesmerizing—live interview at its best.