5 Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week

Still from Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
Still from Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
Kirby Dick

This week, a 150-year-old palm tree takes center stage in a Hollywood show, and a clinic for people who want to be sicker than they are pops up in Eagle Rock. 

Clinic for the wannabe freak
The St. Bob Memorial Sick Clinic, which will pop up for one night only at Eagle Rock’s Situation Room, serves those who want to be less normal or want to embrace taboos but don't really know how. “Are you ostracized … for being ‘too vanilla’?” the clinicians ask in their press release. The clinic is named after writer and artist Bob Flanagan, who spent the years before his death from complications of cystic fibrosis performing acts of sadomasochism with his partner, Sheree Rose. Also, he and Rose in 1994 built an installation at Santa Monica Museum of Art in which a children’s hospital coexisted with a torture chamber, and Flanagan’s face appeared on a video monitor in a rose-filled casket. Rose and other collaborators or acolytes of Flanagan’s will staff the clinic, and proceeds go toward publishing Flanagan’s last, autobiographical work, The Book of Medicine. 2313 Norwalk Ave, Eagle Rock; Fri., Jan. 6, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.; donations on sliding scale.  facebook.com/thesituationroomla.

Boosting the brand
You can touch the fur-covered surfaces of the objects in “Rick Owens: Furniture,” a dimly lit exhibition at MOCA PDC. They were, after all, made for use and feel surprisingly soft. The modular chairs and stools and alabaster bench come in muted colors, as do fashion designer Owens’ clothes: off-whites, browns, blacks, tans. They recall brutalist architecture, or midcentury minimalism with a touch of punk tossed in. Owens’ longtime partner and wife, Michele Lamy, produced this furniture line, although only his name appears in the title. But the show is about the brand more than content or authorship. The name “Rick Owens” here stands in for status, showing how aesthetic consistency can become synonymous with success. 8687 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood; through April 2. (310) 289-5223, moca.org.

Palm tree that wouldn't stay put
Basel, Switzerland–based artist Kilian Rüthemann hand-built a red brick wall and installed it in the entryway to Mier Gallery’s project space, where it extends from the floor almost to the ceiling and curves in the middle as if casually leaning back. In the room behind the wall, Rüthemann attached smaller brick rectangles, about the size of windows, to the walls. A wall-length print shows a lone, 100-foot-tall fan palm tree standing in Exposition Park. Rüthemann chose this tree because of its age — 150 years — and the fact that it has been replanted three times over its lifetime. He was interested in how seemingly stationary monuments could also be tractable, and his show does manage to feel transitory on the whole. The leaning wall, held up just by gravity, looks as though it could topple at any moment. 1107 Greenacre Ave., West Hollywood; through March 31. (323) 498 5957, miergallery.com.

Pet Peeve cemetery
This weekend, artists Molly Jo Shea and Steven Frost invite viewers to discard and bury their “major sources of discontent.” This could be an “I voted” sticker, a traffic ticket, an unfortunate email, a rejection letter or an emotionally loaded object. A funeral procession will take place at the opening of the show at Basement Projects in Santa Ana, and the artists also built a Pet Peeve Cemetery, complete with an altar for grievances. 207 N. Broadway, Santa Ana; Sat., Jan. 7, 7-10 p.m., funeral procession at 9:15 p.m. basementprojects.tumblr.com.

Sun, moon and oil industry
A regal-looking man dressed in a cloak covered in suns and moons stands behind two lions with one head. Above them floats an ornate celestial calendar. The right side of this engraving, made in 1678 by Matthäus Merian the Elder for the text The Hermetic Museum, is lit only by the moon. The left is sunlit. All the trees have alchemical symbols superimposed over their leaves. The staggering detail of the engraving would compel on its own, but knowing that this image appeared in a text meant to shed light on alchemical spirituality makes it better. All the ornate intricacy had a function. Many such gems appear in the Getty’s “Art of Alchemy” show, thought it’s disappointing that the curating and wall labels frame alchemy as the forerunner to industry and science as we know it, as if its privileging of intuition and spirituality was simply a phase that modernity tamped out. But perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, since the show appears in a museum founded by an oil tycoon. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; through April 2. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu.


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