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5 Awesome Free Things To Do in L.A. This Week

Roof Piece in the Trisha Brown Retrospective
Roof Piece in the Trisha Brown Retrospective
Photo courtesy of Kevin Vast

5. Campfire Songs

Outside time is always the right time when you live in L.A. We have beyond-compare bragging rights when it comes to temperateness, so why not celebrate our luck during what is elsewhere the harshest of all seasons, winter, by gathering in Vista Hermosa Park for two family-oriented events? Ring in the New Year and the changing of the Earth's axis with a Colors of Winter Craft Afternoon and a Cheers to the New Year Campfire -- free hot dogs and marshmallows included! Both events will be led by Mountains Recreation and Conservation naturalists, as part of their weeklong "Welcoming Winter" series of events. Enjoy mixed-media art projects inspired by the shapes and colors of nature from 1-3 p.m., then warm up next to the campfire with roasted wieners and sing-alongs from 4:30-6 p.m. Vista Hermosa Park is a hidden gem in Echo Park with a great view of our downtown skyline, so if you have little ones and are in town for the holidays, and you haven't taken the time to appreciate Mother Earth lately, this is the perfect excuse to venture out and give her a kiss on the cheek. Vista Hermosa Park, 100 N. Toluca St., Echo Park; Fri., Jan. 3, crafts 1-3 p.m., campfire 4:30-6 p.m.; free. (213) 250-1100, lamountains.com/pdf/Vista​DecemberJanuaryweb.pdf. --Rena Kosnett

4. An Art Book Party

Kori Newkirk had a pretty good 2013, with a big show in NYC in May and a Fellows of Contemporary Art grant that soon will result in a show here at home. He's keeping it rolling into 2014, with the release of a new art book Jan. 5. Published with LM Projects, Kori Newkirk: Sometimes Always Perhaps Never is part monograph, part work-process journal and part interview archive, promising "a glimpse into Newkirk's 'studio practice' ... a space unseen by the public and very private for the artist." The contents included documentation of, and original art inspired by, moments in Newkirk's nearly 25-year career (beaded curtains, great white sharks, ninja-star snowflakes, large-scale fingerprints, labor-inspired sculptural works, and an array of self-portraiture). But because the book is also a singular work of art, the pages of cheeky graphics, slow-burning symbolism, intuitive wit, sociopolitical observations and Newkirk's famously deliberative creative process are augmented by the inclusion of found objects, sketches, pop culture and art historical references, informal conversations and public/private thought experiments that provide the promised insight. Of the limited-edition first run of 120 copies, 40 special books include original collages, random photography and unique surprises tucked into the pages. At this release event, Newkirk will be raffling off a few small sculptures, made of vintage cassette tapes, from his studio archive -- because to Newkirk, everything is relevant and nothing is junk. Art Catalogues at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sun., Jan. 5, 4-6 p.m.; free. (323) 857- 6587, lmprojects.net. --Shana Nys Dambrot

3. Learn About California's Craziest People

What is it about California that attracts so many weirdos? Is it the weather? The Pacific Ocean? Or all those cameras ready for closeups? Sacramento-based author David Kulczyk's new book, California Fruits, Nuts & Flakes: True Tales of Caliornia Crazies, Crackpots and Creeps, has dug into the tales of 45 of those characters who helped define the Golden State for the rest of the world as the home of sunburned eccentrics and motivated lunatics. His profiles include freewheelers such as filmmaker Ed Wood, proto-hippie songwriter eden ahbez and Jack Pickford, the misfit brother of Mary Pickford whose liver (and genitals) cost him his career and his life. Anyone who has spent any time on the Los Angeles subway knows there is a rich tapestry of semi-psychotic creative types with ideas to share. Now they even get their own TV shows. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues., Jan 7, 7 p.m.; free, book is $14.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. --Sean J. O'Connell

 

2. Women in Punk Book Reading

Women never had it easy in rock & roll; they've always had to slug it out, first with meathead 1950s cavemen, then with proto-1960s cock rockers. After the loss of brilliant game-changer Janis Joplin, the '70s quickly proved even less welcoming territory. But the high-impact 1977 arrival of The Runaways and X's Exene Cervenka (not to mention Poly Styrene and Debbie Harry) and their super-charged, defiant stance quickly changed the entire music landscape. Loyola Marymount's Evelyn McDonnell, a former editor at the Village Voice, chronicles the moment in Queens of Noise: Music, Feminism and Punk: Then and Now. Tonight she analyzes the scene with Cervenka herself, as well as Bratmobile's riot grrrl spearhead Allison Wolfe, in what promises to be a lively, thought-provoking discussion. There's a lot to cover -- and a ton of good stories to tell. Expect nothing less than serious, sizzling enlightenment. Los Angeles Central Library, Mark Taper Auditorium, 630 W. Fifth Street, dwntwn.; Thurs., Jan. 9, 7:15 p.m.; free, resv. req. (213) 228-7025, lfla.org. --Jonny Whiteside

1. A Perfume Concert

A concert with aromas instead of words, based on a 100-year-old avant-garde failed masterpiece, "A Trip to Japan in 16 Minutes, Revisited" is a collaborative project spearheaded by the Institute for Art and Olfaction. They're re-creating a lost work by Sadakichi Hartmann (1867-1944). Before settling in Riverside, Hartmann was a writer and artist beloved by bohemian, turn-of-the-century New York City. He toiled for years on a "perfume concert," wherein the narrative would be conveyed through scent instead of sounds, words or images. The institute, whose mission is to treat scent as fine art, received notes on his plan last year, and they immediately struck a creative chord. Besides accounting for differences in how the world smells 110 years later, the team had to re-create his intentions from fairly esoteric notes, while also updating the "story" for modern times in an intuitive, if-he-were-alive-today mode. The "trip" unfolds in segments keyed to original scents by perfumer Sherri Sebastian, disseminated through an atomizer-style contraption of Hartmann's design and reinvented by Kamil Beski and Eric Vrymoed. It's unclear whether Hartmann would want to share the stage with modern sights and sounds, but we're living in a multiplatform, interdisciplinary world -- so each aroma is accompanied by an original score by Bennett Barbakow and live sound effects by Julia Owen, and the entire undertaking is chronicled in a limited-edition program by Micah Hahn. Program note: Audience members will be blindfolded -- the better to smell the art with, my dears. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Thurs., Jan. 9-Sun., Jan. 12, various times; free, resv. req. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. --S.N.D.

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