This week, a dominatrix and an artist face off in a third-party presidential debate in Chinatown and another artist literally turns life insurance ads into puzzles.
Astronauts on the beach
The welcome sign that Olga Koumoundouros made out of sheepskin and chunky yellow paint is certainly a bit kitschy, but it’s also aggressive and tactile enough to win over the kind of people who wouldn’t be caught dead with a welcome mat on their stoop. Koumoundouros’ sign hangs in the side gallery at Commonwealth and Council, feet away from a mid-century-modern lamp that’s been turned into a parasol with the help of painted burlap and a crisp white dress shirt. In the main gallery, Koumoundouros has built an off-kilter, gritty spoof on a home entertainment center. Two-by-fours, boxes and sculptural contraption hold up two flat screens on which a video called Salting Fruits plays. Koumoundouros and a collaborator are on a beach, marking chalkboards and wearing silver suits that make them look like astronauts, until the suits suddenly come off and the two are burying themselves in wet sand like mad scientists who don’t give a damn. 3006 W. Seventh St. #220, Koreatown; through Sep. 10. (213) 703-9077, commonwealthandcouncil.com.
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Julia Haft-Candell’s Blob with glaze pool and Hand-sized blob are quite small ceramic shapes, so small they could easily be tripped on. They look like little creatures and currently sit on the floor near the back desk at Fellows of Contemporary Art, as part of a show called “Uncommon Ground.” They’re a few feet away from another sculpture by Haft-Candell, a bumpy blue-and-reddish waist-high arch, and linen-wrapped steel shapes by Molly Larkey that protrude from the walls. The show, which also includes Anna Breininger’s blurred painted pattern on cloth and plastic, nudges formal abstraction gently out of its comfort zone, veering carefully toward the weird. 970 N. Broadway, Suite 208, Chinatown; through Oct. 20. (213) 808-1008, focala.org.
Consider the alternatives
Dominatrix Tara Indiana and artist Jeffrey Vallance have both thrown their hats into the presidential ring, and they will be debating their liberal (but different) platforms in Chinatown this weekend. Indiana's slogan is "whipping America back into shape one middle-aged white guy at a time.” At her height, she recently told GQ, she employed 80 dominatrixes. “I feel like if I can be a leader and a manager of dominant women, being president will be a piece of cake,” she said (she’s also dominated 10,000 men). Vallance’s slogan is “Vallance Now. More than Ever.” According to his campaign manager, who may or may not exist, the answer to “Why should I vote for Vallance?” is a “simple and honest” “consider the alternatives.” The debate will take place in a motel bedroom but will be livestreamed at Coagula Curatorial. 974 Chung King Road, Chinatown; Sep. 3, 9 p.m. (323) 480-7852, coagulacuratorial.com.
Death in the lobby
Artist Klaus Weber's death masks hang in the lobby of the Equitable Life Building on Wilshire right now. All are off-white, some yellowed. Some look classical, like the faces of ancient kings. Others look familiar — apparently, Weber modeled some on celebrities, while others are fictional people. Not all of his models are actually dead, and a few of the same faces, including that of a bearded, scholarly seeming man, repeat a few times. The building's lobby is opened 24/7, which means the masks are always accessible. 3435 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; through Sep. 30. equitablevitrines.com.
Deadhead penny pincher
Tape racks holding only live recordings of the Grateful Dead currently cover the easternmost wall at Park View. The recordings were made between 1965 and Jerry Garcia’s 1994 death. Mark A. Rodriguez, in his continuing exploration of mortality and money, assembled the collection of tapes over years. He also built smiling, human-sized flowers, cut out of wood, which occupy the gallery like roadblocks. Puzzles made out of life insurance ads (“Buy $50,000,” “as low $3.49 per month”) hang framed on walls, or lean beneath half-slick, half-chintzy table Rodriguez built himself. Lamps made out of melted pennies sit on a table. Tarps with photos of financial district skyscrapers hang from the ceiling. The small gallery feels full of big aspirations and distracting, all-consuming obsessions. 836 S. Park View St. #8, Westlake; through Sep. 10. (213) 509-3518, parkviewparkview.com.