4 Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week (Plus a Great One for $13)
Start your weekend off with a two-day festival in Grand Park celebrating Filipino arts, culture and – of course – delicious food. Next, do some soul-searching with multi-artist exhibit "My Self Is an Other." Get some literary laughs with a reading of rhyming two letter words, and if you're looking for more art, check out the sculptural inaugural exhibits of Various Small Fires' new space in Hollywood.
All those events you can catch for free – but if you've got thirteen bucks we'd recommend checking out a special 80th anniversary screening of Cleopatra at the Egyptian, featuring pinup art, photo ops, and drinks. It's gonna be a wild week.
5. Head to the Philippines
In 2002, Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown became the United States’ first official “historic Filipinotown,” a well-deserved designation: L.A. is home to the largest population of Filipino-Americans in the country. The southwest enclave of Echo Park, bounded by Hoover, Glendale, Beverly and Temple, has historic origins dating back to the 1940s, when Filipinos began buying houses and developing a solid community structure in that area. But local Filipino history spreads beyond just those streets. Neighborhoods all over the city (Bunker Hill, Little Tokyo, Eagle Rock) have communities with deep Filipino roots — no other U.S. city has a better availability per square mile of sweet halo-halo (a dessert of shaved ice, evaporated milk, fruit and rice) or the savory egg rolls called lumpia. On Saturday and Sunday, Grand Park hosts the 23rd annual Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture, and delicious food offerings are just the beginning. The festival is organized by FilAm ARTS (the Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture), which has lined up artists, live bands, martial artists, the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (based in SoCal, naturally), a poetry slam, bamboo dancers and even a vegetable competition. You can’t eat at Jollibee once and say you understand Filipino culture, correct? Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Sat., Oct. 4, noon-8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (213) 972-8080, grandparkla.org. —Rena Kosnett
4. Know Your(other)self
Claressinka Anderson and Sonny Ruscha Granade co-curate the newest exhibition and integrated pop-up shop at the Underground Museum, a rather new, utterly experimental, independent exhibition space in what could be thought of as the far east end of Culver City’s gallery district. (It’s technically Arlington Heights.) My Self Is an Other gathers together five contemporary artists for a painting-centric group show that’s self-absorbed by design, as each artist takes on a facet of existential philosophy examining where “me” ends and “you” and “everyone else” begin. Alexandra Grant deploys words and social/psychological theory as both composition and content and frequently collaborates with writers (including in her new book with Keanu Reeves). Collaboration and collective authorship also are themes for Kendell Carter, whose woven painting is an unfinished work to be physically completed by the involvement of the other artists in the show. Dennis Koch makes finely constructed drawings that reflect his interest in theoretical math and physics. April Street’s sculpturally manipulated and painted hosiery works take a more directly feminist point of view. And finally, painter Rives Granade builds up layered images, re-creating the gradual distortions that accrue in public image and private memory, addressing the chasm of perception between the mind and the world. The curators also take over the store space with a thematic pop-up offering work by artists including FriendsWithYou, Francesca Gabbiani, Matt Merkel Hess, Jow, Polite Society Paper, Robert Minervini, Fay Ray and Eddie Ruscha. So if you’re not quite up to finding yourself just yet, you can fill the void with shopping. The Underground Museum, 3508 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights; Sat., Oct. 4, 6-9 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Wed.-Sat., noon-6 p.m., through Nov. 22. (323) 989-9925, theunderground-museum.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
See also: Our Best of L.A. issue
Still from Cleopatra (1934)
Courtesy of American Cinematheque
3. See Cleopatra at the Egyptian
Eighty years to the day of its 1934 premiere, this celebratory screening of Cecil B. DeMille’s infamous epic Cleopatra provides a dizzying mixture of stunningly overwrought faux-period art direction and Hollywood’s spicy pre–Hays Code cheesecake culture. Claudette Colbert’s Cleo — a sizzling, high diva/brat performance, drastically enhanced by eye-popping, décolletage-celebrating wardrobe (designed by Travis Banton) — meets co-star Henry Wilcoxon’s wooden masculinity to create a divinely ridiculous, erotomaniacal harmony. The film’s pronounced tease-o-rama proclivities (the milk-bath sequence alone is a creamy overdose of vintage va-va-voom) are exploited further at this screening by a special exhibition of freshly created Egyptian pinup art, lovingly rendered by Cleo-fixated artist Ashley Brooke Cooper (of the Girls Drawin’ Girls collective) and displayed during a postscreening party in the courtyard. Costumes are encouraged; the party also features photo ops, contests, makeup stations and, courtesy of sponsor Golden Road Brewery, drinks (don’t forget, the ancient pharaohs quaffed beer daily). A shindig mounted on near–Cecil B. DeMille scale, this one is certain to be a blast. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., Oct. 5, 5 p.m. art show, 7 p.m. screening, 9 p.m. party; $13, $9 members, $11 seniors & students. (323) 466-3456, american?cinema?the?que??calendar.com. —Jonny Whiteside
2. Get Wordy
For those who have worried that the sub-mental and the hyperliterate can never be reconciled, your deliverance this week comes as Stephin Merritt discusses and signs 101 Two-Letter Words. The book is the Magnetic Fields’ singer’s new collaboration with New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast — basically, it’s her hip granny doodles of stunned and confused people complementing Merritt’s four-line rhymes for each of the 101 two-letter words included in The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. Caught squarely between the Scylla and Charybdis of “That’s it?” and “That’s IT!”, this is basically one big swan dive into the perfumed depths of whimsy, with 10-cent words such as at, be, go, hi, no and up jockeying for position with 10-dollar ones like aa, ka, qi and xu. Lo! Do! Go! Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Mon., Oct. 6, 7 p.m.; free, book is $19.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com/stephen-merritt-2014. —David Cotner
1. See Art in 3-D
Various Small Fires is the latest independent gallery to go full warehouse, moving from the Venice Beach digs it has occupied since 2012 to a renovated, 5,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor compound in the art district springing up on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. The new gallery offers discrete spaces for exhibiting a range of media, from painting and sculpture to video and performance. The most intriguing area is the “sound corridor” — a hallway rigged with hidden speakers for the presentation of sound-based art, leading to a courtyard exhibition/event space. One of the two inaugural exhibitions, Scott Benzel: Inverted Capitol Spire, Programmatic Architecture Displacement 5-7, & Inversion V, takes advantage of both. Benzel’s site-specific installation riffs on the nearby Capitol Records building’s spire, turning it upside down and showing it interacting with the Randy’s Donut sign, as proposals for “anti-monumental” monuments. Back in the corridor, pause to enjoy the sounds of a string quintet performance culled from The Beach Boys’ 1969 Capitol Records release “Never Learn Not to Love.” (Fun fact: That song was written by Charles Manson.) In the main rooms, Amir Nikravan: Merge Visible offers paintings and a related sculptural installation executing an analog, physical enactment of the Photoshop command that collapses layered images into single flatnesses. Essentially, he makes sculptures, wraps them in material, enacts a kind of 3-D grave-rubbing, spray-paint stencil, and presents those images stretched like paintings, which they both are and are not. They’re more like abstract performance artifacts, and they’re also photographic in a way, despite dealing mainly with negative space. It all sounds very conceptual and esoteric, but the pairing of these two consummate experimenters will no doubt show the flexibility of the new space to great effect — and the inaugural party will be too crowded to see the art anyway. 812 N. Highland Ave., Hlywd.; Thu., Oct. 9, 6-9 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Tue.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through Nov. 8. (310) 426-8040, vsf.la. —Shana Nys Dambrot
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