This week, Jackie Kennedy is the protagonist in a painting and drawing show in Chinatown and a new perfume "kit" approximates the smells of Hollywood hauntings.
Human Resources used to be a Chinese movie theater, and it’s cavernous. This makes it one of a few spaces in L.A. where chaos, if presented well, can feel almost elegant, and where many video works can coexist in the same room as they do in the show Suzy Halajian curated there, “The Closer I Get to the End the More I Rewrite the Beginning.” A 16 mm film Mariah Garnett made of herself dancing in a Spiderman costume occupies one corner. Near the back of the room, artist Klara Liden is seen beating a bicycle with a bat. Upstairs in a dark room there's an installation by Basma Alsharif in which a surveillance camera tracks visitors and an animated man runs then falls then runs down a steep hill. Restlessness and relentlessness pervade the show and, since the works are scattered across that big space, you feel you’re caught up in a maze as you try to find and engage them all. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; through Dec. 13. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com.
Saskia Wilson-Brown, who helms the Institute for Art and Olfaction (IAO), developed a Phantosmia perfume kit to go along with stories of Hollywood ghosts that still, purportedly, haunt this city. There's a scent for Peg Entwistle, who jumped off the "H" in the Hollywood sign. It's a little musty and based on the perfume Entwistle actually wore at the time of her death. Another scent approximates the cigars Orson Welles used to smoke at Ma Maison Restaurant in WeHo (it's now Sweet Lady Jane Bakery). In theory you could purchase a perfume set ($60) and go searching for the sites of hauntings on your own, smelling them as you go. Or stop by the IAO this week and hear Richard Carradine of Ghoula (aka Ghost Hunters of Urban L.A.) talk about hauntings. 932 Chung King Road, Chinatown; Thurs., Dec. 10, 6:30-8:30. (213) 616-1744, artandolfaction.com.
After the shot rang out
Myth has it that, late in the mid-1960s, Dan Rather went over to Abraham Zapruder’s house to sock his jaw and take away the home movie he’d made of JFK’s assassination. Rather denies this story, but somehow networks did get a hold of the film and the home video became the best-known record of the day in Dallas. The film shows Jackie Kennedy climbing up onto the trunk of the still-moving convertible and reaching toward a security guard, her dress probably already covered in blood. New York-based Karen Finley, who performed in drag as Jackie O. at the Broad Museum a week and a half ago, painted stills from that scene on small canvases. They hang in her new show “Love Field” at Coagula Curatorial, among other work exploring Jackie’s look and the Kennedy legacy. One series of drawings depict Marilyn Monroe as Jackie. But the paintings based on the Zapruder film are perhaps most affecting. Something about seeing Jackie’s pink suit and pillbox hat treated so caringly, in inexact paint, makes a historical flash point tender again. 974 Chung King Road, Chinatown; through Jan. 3. (424) 226-2485, coagulacuratorial.com.
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Floating, singing heads
Nikolas Gambaroff made three craggy bronze masks for his current show at Overduin & Co., “The Truce Hurts.” They lie on the floor in the gallery’s second room, surrounded by wall-hanging abstractions made from printer ink that, on their own, would be too on trend to excite. But the paintings are fine as overly controlled, slightly unusual backdrops for the drama playing out with the masks. Animated versions of those masks star in a two-channel video installed on a pair of big monitors in the first room. One plays sensitive philosopher, then the two break into a cover of the Association's "Cherish," first released in 1966. The awkwardly moving, emotive heads get across that song’s desperation: “You don't know how many times/I've wished that I could/Mold you into someone who could/Cherish me as much as I cherish you.” 6693 Sunset Dr., Hollywood; through Dec. 19. (323) 464-3600, overduinandco.com.
One of Martin Kersels’s new sculptures, installed at Redling Fine Art in a show called “Seen and Heard,” has a lever. Push it down, quickly, and it makes a groaning sound. On its way back up, it squeals. It’s all air pressure behind the noises. Kersels, who left L.A. to teach at Yale three years ago, calls the sculpture "Snore." Made of salvaged wood and assembled to look something like a phonograph, it conjures an antique — or an awkwardly rehabbed antique. The same can be said for the other two hand-operated, noise-making objects in the room: a bureau with a motor in its bowels and a leaning pyramid for a head, and a chair with a whirring wood box on its seat. All the “machines” go together and it’s this quaint fantasy of a pre-digital world, only none of Kersels analogue inventions have functions. They just have distinct looks and sounds. 6757 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through Jan. 16. (323) 378-5238, redlingfineart.com.