This week, a feminist navigates porn and marriage in a one-woman show, and the voice of the first black female presidential candidate fills a Culver City gallery.
Packed dirt covers the floor in the first room of Henry Taylor’s show at Blum & Poe. There’s also a tree, a chainlink fence and a graffiti-covered cinderblock wall, and from behind the assemblage looks like a homeless encampment, complete with a tent draped in a blue tarp. A spray-paint portrait of Michael Jackson takes over one wall, and other portraits, probably of people Taylor knows personally, hang elsewhere. Astroturf and a fake pool cover the floor of the next room, where all the hung paintings show figures that are out in the sun but aren't at all relaxed. A small gallery in back includes a messy replica of Taylor’s studio, and then there’s the video installation Taylor did with filmmaker Kahlil Joseph, a haunting tribute to Bob Marley playing on two screens in an all-black room that smells of burnt weed and incense. The show is too much, though not necessarily in a bad way. The whole thing communicates frustration with restraint and good taste. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City; through Nov. 5. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
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Most expensive Picasso ever
The walls and floors of Smart Objects are pristinely white, so the space glows when lit. It’s hard not to notice it if you’re walking by after dark. Simple black vinyl numbers, or "tags," appear on walls and pedestals. Scan these with a phone or iPad and augmented reality renderings of art objects will appear, some among the most expensive works sold at auction to date (by Picasso or Giacometti). Chadwick Gibson, the founder of Smart Objects, went to six Christie’s auctions in New York and scanned the work about to appear in record-breaking sales. He calls the show "Christie's Captures," and navigating it can be unwieldy. You might back up to get a better view then accidentally move out of range, the artwork disappearing from your screen. A tag might not scan right away. But the images are impressively crafted and the process gratifyingly illicit. These artworks aren’t supposed to be here, "installed" in a small storefront, and some might not be visible to the general public again for years. 1828 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; through Oct. 16. (213) 840-9681, smartobjects.la.
The late politician Shirley Chisholm campaigned for president in 1972, making her the first black woman to vie for the role. At Susanne Vielmetter Projects, a speech Chisholm gave in Los Angeles during her campaign currently plays from speakers installed in a room of all-black sculptures by artist Rodney McMillian. Her voice, fierce as she calls for changes in perspective and policy, resonates in a room otherwise filled with mundane, non-descript objects: a black mound and black containers of various shapes and sizes. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through Oct. 22. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.
Shirts in the shower
For a few years, artist Ry Rocklen has been sculpting sloppily folded shirts in stoneware and porcelain. At Honor Fraser, shirt tiles form a faux shower wall. Grout helps bind them together, and three shiny showerheads protrude. It’s like a joke you don’t quite feel comfortable laughing at because it's so well-made — maybe you’re supposed to take it seriously. Elsewhere in the show, titled “L.A. Relics,” Rocklen has turned objects found on the street into ceramic sculptures installed on glass shelves with mirrors in back, so you can see each sculpture’s backside. A sculpture with a flat, cartoonish Batman decal in front is an intentionally archaic-looking, round, intricate creature in back. 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City; through Oct. 27. (310) 837-0191, honorfraser.com.
Sex-positive porn addict
Artist Ann Hirsch appeared on VH1’s Frank the Entertainer in a Basement Affair, a Bachelor-style show in which a man who lived in his mom’s basement tried to find a wife. She competed sincerely for a while, then broke character, rapping about “dirty” sex. She wanted to break with form in a way that couldn’t be edited out, she’s said. Hirsch, whose performances often channel gender constructs in the lives of women who live, to some extent, on the internet, is doing a new performance at Machine Project this week ostensibly about being married and maybe addicted to porn and navigating sex-positive feminism. 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Wed.-Thu., Oct. 19-20, 8 p.m.; $10. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.com.