5 Free Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week

Esther Pearl Watson's Somewhere in FloridaEXPAND
Esther Pearl Watson's Somewhere in Florida
Photo by Elizabeth Ahn

This week, a painter mines her strange childhood in a group show in Koreatown, and an artist screens a film that's as long as a typical workday at MOCA. 

Eccentric dad, kinky horse
“We ran out of gas at the gas station,” reads the hand-painted text at the top left corner of one of Esther Pearl Watson’s semi-autobiographical paintings. “We had to wait until Dad sold all the tools out of his trunk for gas money.” In this painting, a black car sits in the foreground. Light from the car windows glows orange, and planets and shooting stars hover in the bumpily, thickly painted black sky; others of Watson’s paintings depict her dad’s eccentric behaviors. They’re included in a show called "The Furies" at the newly opened space Visitor Welcome Center, and they co-exist with work by four other women: Krista Buecking, Akina Cox, Gilda Davidian and Ariane Vielmetter. The show has a whimsical grittiness to it — Cox titled her portrait of a black horse Whore I  and crafted a whip-like, wall-hanging sculpture out of papier-mâché and raffia. 3006 W. Seventh St., Suite 200A, Koreatown; through July 9. visitorwelcomecenter.org. 

Variations on darkness
It’s the last week to see "Black," a three-man show at Blum & Poe that consists entirely of black paintings. Chinese artist Zhu Jinshi’s Wall of Air, heavier-looking than its title sounds, is a line of massive, leaning canvases on wheels. Together, the canvases span 65 feet. They were leaking liquid on the day I visited, the puddles on the floor making them seem particularly toxic and haphazardly industrial. Quentin Morris, a Philadelphia artist who works in his basement, paints black canvas discs over and over again. For decades, he’s been fixating on the color black, exploring its nuances, textures and depths, as a way to get at its cultural loadedness. Japanese painter K?ji Enokura is perhaps the most overtly poetic of the three. One of his black cotton paintings hangs at an angle, stretching from wall to floor, and a wood beam with blue paint splattered on it leans against the black-stained canvas he called Intervention No. 1.  2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., M id-City; through June 25. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com. 

Kõji Enokura's Figure A—No.1 (1982)EXPAND
Kõji Enokura's Figure A—No.1 (1982)
Courtesy of Blum & Poe

Ambiguous escape
The set for artist Adam Linder’s performance, Kein Paradiso, is a dark room on the Hammer Museum’s ground floor with a blue, green and gray tiled floor and ambiguous podiums set up in it. Linder, a trained dancer, choreographed this abstract performance specifically for Made in L.A., the Hammer’s biennial. According to the PR, the performers endeavor to escape the universalism of modernism, and find their way back to a more specific, individual way of being. This sounds abstract, and it is, but Linder’s abstractions tend to be sexy and mysteriously meta. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Wed., June 29 & July 6, 6:30 p.m.; Sun., July 3 & 10, 2:30 p.m. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu

Long day's work
Artist Kevin Jerome Everson’s film Park Lanes lasts eight hours, as long as a typical workday does. Everson, who lives in Virginia, filmed it in a Virginia factory that makes bowling alley supplies. He spent a week there with his camera, but in composing the film, he broke it up in the way a day would typically break down: arrival, lunch, breaks, departure. He shows workers painting and welding objects. “You know, I’m an art dude,” he said in a Q&A after his film screened in Chicago. So he’s always drawn to the parts of the manufacturing process that seem sculptural or painterly to him. It’s the sort of film you can drop in and out of, catching parts of the process. 152 N. Central Ave., downtown; Sun., June 26, 9 a.m. (213) 621-1741, moca.org. 

Another comeback
Ace Gallery’s newly opened show, “Selections,” is as epic as every show at Ace’s labyrinthine Wilshire Boulevard space has ever been. Light installations and disco balls glow in hallways. Young attendants watch over shimmering Mary Corse paintings, to make sure visitors maintain a proper distance. Towering glass and metal sculptures of cacti by Dennis Hollingsworth coexist with Gary Lang’s psychedelic target paintings. But this show is a bit different from past shows at Ace, since the gallery’s longtime, mysterious maverick founder has been “let go.” Douglas Chrismas — who came to the gallery business in the 1960s and has been sued about 60 times since then, by artists and clients — handed over the reigns to a bankruptcy trustee earlier this spring. He lost all control of his operation after it appeared he’d diverted funds (millions) and artwork before filing for bankruptcy a few years ago. So it’s a new era at Ace, but the same ambitious artists are still on view in the same staggeringly ambitious space. 5514 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; open indefinitely. (323) 935-4411, acegallery.net.

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