A Hello Kitty look-alike disembowels itself downtown, and paintings on view in Hollywood work like vortexes.
5. The straight shooter likes flowers
Alex Katz has always been uncompromising. This doesn't mean the 86-year-old artist, who started doing spare, stylized portraits when abstract expressionism was still the rage, doesn't do things like model for J. Crew or paint Kate Moss (he's done both). It just means he's consistently what he is: a straightforward draftsman with an always-recognizable hand and a penchant for pretty things. His big flower paintings - with yellow petals against brown or white against blue - are installed in the massive main gallery of 356 Mission's concrete-floored downtown space right now. They look more casual there, and probably more attractive, than they would in a more precious, white-walled room. 356 S. Mission Road, Boyle Heights; through July 6. (323) 609-3162, 356mission.com.
4. Hidden camera
Nicolas Provost hides high-resolution cameras and films unscripted scenes from everyday life - sometimes everyday scenes from the lives of iconic people, like Dennis Hopper at McDonald's. Then he edits clips together and overdubs voices to create thrillers or other kinds of film fictions. At Paris Photo, the photography-focused art fair happening on the Paramount lot for the second year in a row, Provost's film Stardust will be screening with Bruce Conner's transfixing REPORT, a 13-minute retooling of footage from the Kennedy assassination and other violent events. They'll be under "Fictions" in a screening series that includes multiple thematically paired shorts playing on their own screens (for instance, the two "Loves" films play on one screen, the "Causes" films on another) all day long. 5555 Melrose Ave., Hlywd. April 25-26, noon-7 p.m.; April 27, noon-6 p.m.; $20-28. parisphoto.com.
3. Funny feet
A group of ceramic sculptures in Zachary Leener's new show at Tif Sigfrids' gallery stands on these funny forms that look like eyeless, mouthless Smurf heads. Each sculpture has two of the heads, out of which grow glazed vertical cylinders. Another horizontal cylinder lies across the top, and various twisty or bulbous add-ons distinguish one sculpture from another. They're weird, charming, creaturelike objects that you want to get close to but don't overthink. 1507 Wilcox Ave., Hlywd.; through May 24. (323) 907-9200, tifsigfrids.com.
2. Cat cut open
The cute, one-eyed kitty in artist E'wao Kagoshima's See Saw Kitty, a 1984 painting on a canvas that's the exact shape of the kitty's body, is committing seppuku, or ritual suicide. It has a knife to its gut and a goodly gash is already gaping there. Kagoshima has another shaped painting in the Box's "Painters of Modern Life," too, of a pretty, pixie-haired doll in a sheer shirt who's using a knife to cut herself in half (see photo above). The show also includes Juanita McNeely's soft-core 1980s paintings of built, brazen ladies and often garish work by Jakub Julian Ziolkowski and Dan Burkhart. Like some of the Box's best recent-historical shows, it's aggressive and gritty and borders on bad taste. 805 Traction Ave., dwntwn.; through May 24. (213) 625-1747, theboxla.com.
1. Don't fall in
In the past, artist Elliott Hundley has often built up his works, layering images or pinning cutouts of photographed figures onto his sprawling collages, so that they dangle in space. These works resembled tapestries, intensely intricate but still very much on the surface. This time, the artist, who's always mining and reimagining classic mythology, sewed and dug into his canvases. The best ones in his new Regen Projects show, like fugitive song or sound of its own ringing, are expanses of swirling, manic, multicolored energy with embroidery-surrounded, cavelike recesses near the middle. If you tumbled in, you'd probably find yourself in a decadently beautiful but menacing purgatory. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd.; Hlywd.; through May 17. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.
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