5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. this Week: What Is Karaoke Really All About?

Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin's still from an untitled work in progress
Lizzie Fitch/Ryan Trecartin's still from an untitled work in progress
Courtesy Regen Projects

This week, karaoke gets a close examination at USC, and an animated cat appears repeatedly in an immersive Hollywood installation.

5. Playing with food
Robert Heinecken’s TV dinners, gritty, dimensional photographs of dinners from the frozen-food aisle, look as if they actually went through the microwave themselves. The dinners alone make a trip to Heinecken’s Hammer Museum survey worth it. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; through Jan. 18. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu

4. Think, then sing
The night the weeklong exhibition on art and karaoke culture opens at the USC Roski School of Art, there will be a round table during which artists discuss karaoke and formalism, karaoke and activism, smartphones and bars. Then there will be an open karaoke mic. 3001 S. Flower St., dwntwn.; Wed., Nov. 5, 7-11 p.m. RSVP required. (213) 740-0483, usc.edu/dept/pubrel/visionsandvoices.

3. When knives work better
According to late painter Lee Mullican’s wife, artist Luchita Hurtado, Mullican began painting the way he did, with short, straight lines, because he couldn’t find a brush. He was staying with friends in San Francisco in the early 1950s could only find a printer’s knife. So began his commitment to knives over brushes. In Marc Selwyn’s show of Mullican paintings from the ’70s, “Meditations on a Line,” the staggered, knifed-in lines sometimes make his work look like tapestries, and at other times, like pixelated patterns. Always, they’re idiosyncratically obsessive, which makes looking fun. 9953 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; through Nov. 15. (310) 277-9953, marcselwynfineart.com.

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2. The jazz painter
If you haven’t seen much of Jazz Age Chicago painter Archibald Motley’s work — and not many people outside the Midwest have — then you probably only know the iconic paintings: stylized, filled-to-the-brim club scenes like Hot Rhythm (1961). The Motley exhibition at LACMA shows the painter moving back and forth between the stylized scenes, in which he seems like an outside observer, as well as the intimate, tenderly representative portraits of an uncle or the grandmother who was born a slave. His self-portrait, funnily, straddles the two camps: half stylized, half intimate. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Feb. 1. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org

1. Camping at the theater
When Ryan Trecartin installed his fantastic “Any Ever” show in MOCA’s Pacific Design Center satellite four years ago, you had to go back at least three times to take in the high energy and the rapid-fire language (“I’m really into the Third World right now,” says a teenager on a plane, quickly in a high-pitched voice, in one video). But the brand-new Ikea furniture scattered around seemed distracting — and not in the thought-through, worked-over way Trecartin’s frenetic, Internet-inspired videos felt distracting. In contrast, the set Trecartin and collaborator Lizzie Fitch sculpted for their current Regen Projects show feels entirely thought through. Red carpet surrounds the gallery, tents, sleeping bags and movie theater seats, where you can lie or sit, and a blue curtain against the longest wall feels perfect. So when you watch the videos — gamelike, half animated, reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project and partly shot in the former Masonic Temple on Wilshire — you’re already immersed in the experience. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; through Nov. 26. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.


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