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

Installation view of Paul McCarthy's Tokyo Santa from "Collection: MOCA’s First 30 Years, November 15, 2009–May 3, 2010"
Installation view of Paul McCarthy's Tokyo Santa from "Collection: MOCA’s First 30 Years, November 15, 2009–May 3, 2010"
Courtesy of MOCA Los Angeles, photo by Brian Forrest

This week, a massive new gallery debuts with an all-women show, and a friendly concierge mans a kiosk as part of a Koreatown exhibition. 

Sick women
Last year, artist-writer Johanna Hedva delivered a smart, compelling talk at the Women’s Center for Creative Work, which became the essay "Sick Woman Theory." In the essay, she describes being in her apartment in MacArthur Park, hearing Black Lives Matter protests and wanting to join, but being unable to get out of bed. She also describes her own chronic, confounding illness and the impersonality of the Western medical industry, and suggests that the greatest enemy to capitalism is taking care of yourself and of others. Hedva will be speaking about sickness and tenderness with two others at South of Sunset: Amy Berkowitz, who writes about chronic pain, and artist-historian Catherine Czacki. 1218 W. Temple St., Echo Park; Thu., March 31, 7:30 p.m. southofsunset.la. 

Pickles for all
The night of Alice Könitz’s opening at Commonwealth & Council, a friendly concierge manned the brightly colored kiosk in the main gallery. He would provide plates and napkins to any guest who wanted to step up into the raised side room and sample the nuts and pickled goods that Könitz had laid out inside a bamboo and copper contraption. He also would answer questions, such as: Is it OK to nap in one of the overlapping, colored hammocks in the adjoining gallery? For any visitor who arrives at the show when the concierge is absent, the answer is yes. But you enter the hammock at your own risk. Like much of Könitz’s work, the exhibition, called "Commonwealth" (“in pursuit of our common well-being,” says the press release), pairs her signature geometric, modular aesthetic with low-key friendliness. 3006 W. Seventh St., Suite 220; through April 16. (213) 703-9077, commonwealthandcouncil.com

Biggest addition
Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, which opened downtown on March 13, is the newest outpost of Zurich-based Hauser & Wirth and the largest commercial gallery Los Angeles has ever had. It’s museumlike in scale (larger than MOCA’s Grand Avenue space, in fact) and will, by this summer, have a restaurant and a courtyard with free Wi-Fi for visitors. Its inaugural show is a survey of sculpture by women from 1947 to the present. The scope is perhaps a bit too sprawling, but some of the work is thrilling to see. In the first gallery, quirky totems by iconic sculptor Louise Bourgeois stand on a pedestal in front of gritty, sooty assemblages Lee Bontecou made in the 1950s and 1960s. In a back gallery, Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz’s ratty Wheel With Rope from 1973 winds snakelike from one gallery into another. 901 E. Third St., downtown; through Sept. 4. (213) 943-1620, hauserwirthschimmel.com

A view of the inaugural exhibition at Hauser Wirth & SchimmelEXPAND
A view of the inaugural exhibition at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel
Courtesy Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel

Rogue librarian
The night Eric Kim and Hailey Loman, co-founders of the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA), laid in wait for their conniving assistant became emotional quickly. They knew their assistant had been undoing all their cataloguing labor late at night — she subscribed to a radical, anti-hierarchical cataloguing theory. They just had to catch her in the act. When they did, she cried, and they held her before calling the police. This isn’t actually true, but it’s one of the comedic, fabricated or half-fabricated “histories” recounted on the wall of LACA’s second-anniversary show, curated by writer Eli Diner. Below the wall text, gems from the gradually growing archive of L.A.’s performance scene and alt spaces occupy vitrines. One book is tiny, about the size of a thumbnail. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; ongoing. (213) 935-0740, lacarchive.com

Scary Santa
An army of fake, derelict Christmas trees fills a gallery at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary. They’re dusty, tilted and part of longtime L.A. artist Paul McCarthy’s Tokyo Santa installation. Photographs in crisp green frames, showing McCarthy performing as Santa in 1996 at Tokyo’s Tomio Kayama Gallery, hang on the walls around the trees. The artist wears a garish old-man mask, and sullies his red-and-white suit by squirting ketchup and splashing paint. This installation is just one eccentric masterpiece in the just-opened show “Don’t Look Back: The 1990s at MOCA.” 152 N. Central Ave., downtown; through July 11. (213) 626-6222, moca.org. 

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