5 Art Shows You Should See in L.A. This Week

Noah Davis' "Imitation of Wealth" at MOCA
Noah Davis' "Imitation of Wealth" at MOCA
Photo by Cameron Crone and Carter Seddon, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

This week, an all-hours installation downtown takes a tongue-in-cheek look at 20th-century art stars and pays tribute to an L.A. artist who left us far too soon. A washing machine and bullet train feature in another downtown exhibition. 

Paintings to dig through
“Let it Yellow,” L.A. artist Keith Rocka Knittel’s exhibition at Human Resources, will be up for only four days, starting this weekend. The plan is ambitious: Visitors enter through a corridor of paintings of newspapers with reductive titles (e.g., "World at War"). Inside, they'll encounter a grid of small abstract paintings that they can rearrange at will and a stack of paintings on a pedestal that they're welcome to dig through. Upstairs in a small viewing room, they can watch a video while sitting on a specially carved foam cube. Or they can stare through a window at the installation below. Hopefully, the experience will be as chaotic as it sounds. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Sept. 9-14. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com

Adobe brick concert hall
Artist Rafa Esparza filled Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions with approximately 500 adobe bricks, which he handmade with the help of family members. Building walls with these bricks, he turned the main gallery’s corners into curves. This weekend, his installation becomes the stage for a three-day sound-art experiment called Resonant Forms. Mike Harding, who runs the experimental label Touch, will DJ on Friday, the same night San Francisco artist Jen Boyd performs with her field recordings of sounds from nature. On Saturday, artist-writers Raquel Gutierrez and Nikki Darling will perform work they wrote in response to Esparza’s adobe bricks. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sept. 11-13, 8-11 p.m.; $20. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org

Sexier than silly putty
Aimee Goguen’s video From Girls to Blobs recalls porn at first, but it's goofier and erotic in an ambiguous way. A blob that looks like Silly Putty, only slimier, collides with a white woman’s butt repeatedly. All you see against the dark background is her pinkish skin and the pinkish blob. It’s weirdly transfixing. Installed in the back corner of Chin’s Push, From Girls to Blobs is part of the group show “Their little stickers...,” organized by artist Becket Flannery. 4917 York Blvd., Highland Park; through Sept. 20. chinspush.com

Too many spin cycles
When he visited the city of Naha in Japan, artist João Maria Gusmão, usually based in Lisbon, found the washing machine in his rented apartment stressful. “How the hell do you work this piece of shit?” he asks in the essay he wrote to accompany his collaborative show with artist Pedro Paiva at REDCAT. The machine sounds pretty fancy, though, when he starts describing the 30 spin-cycle settings. It looks fancy, too, in the 16mm film of a spin cycle that’s part of the REDCAT installation. Gusmão and Paiva have filled REDCAT’s gallery with eight 16mm films that all play simultaneously, documenting their time in Naha. You see men napping on a bullet train, watching a horse in an alley, visiting a cemetery and cutting open a stonefish. It’s overstimulating and zen at the same time. 631 W. Second St., downtown; through Sept. 20. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org

Revisiting the recent past
Artists Noah and Karon Davis opened the Underground Museum, a big West Adams storefront space with an inviting garden, in 2013. The idea was to have it open to the community, with neighbors wandering in at will. For the first show, called "Imitation of Wealth," Noah Davis re-created recent masterpieces on a budget — a replica of Jeff Koons' iconic green Hoover-vacuum-in-a-Plexiglas-case sculpture, as well as versions of Dan Flavin’s neon light installations — bringing a poor man’s version of valuable things to an overlooked neighborhood. A reinstallation of this show is now at MOCA on Grand Avenue, in a new, 24-hour storefront space in the courtyard across from the museum store. It opened Aug. 29, the same day Davis died, at age 32, after fighting a rare form of cancer for nearly two years. The timing makes preserving recent history — and thinking about what’s valuable and why — feel more urgent than ever. 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown; through Feb. 22. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.

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