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

Hannah Greely's The Great Escape (2016)EXPAND
Hannah Greely's The Great Escape (2016)
Photo, Jeff Mclane, image copyright and courtesy of the artist and Michael Benevento

This weekend, a Romanian artist creates a baroque classroom in Boyle Heights, while LACMA hosts two promising events: musicians playing inside a too-small tent and a detective film about a missing fake rock.

Closet forest
Hannah Greely’s sculpture The Great Escape is a life-size portable closet made of canvas, plaster and non-toxic resin. Evergreen trees, a gingerbread man with ears, two geese and a purple dog hang from bumpy white hangers. Some of the trees hang off to one side, so they look like the forest equivalent of off-the-shoulder dresses. The quirky closet appears in Greely’s two-person show at Benevento Gallery with artist Avigdor Arikha, whose understated pastel drawings hang on the walls. Arikha’s drawing of a red tie discarded on a table is so lush and thick with color that bits of pastel have spilled down onto the white mat that surrounds it. 3712 Beverly Blvd., Koreatown; through Jan. 14. (323) 874-6400, beneventolosangeles.com.

Heavy-duty desk doodles
A row of old-fashioned, wooden school desks fills the first room of Romanian artist Ciprian Muresan’s current exhibition at Nicodim Gallery. Brass plates cover the working surface of each desk. Ornate religious imagery, sourced from Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals, has been engraved on the plates over and over again, so it's difficult to make out the pictures exactly. This recalls the kind of worn-out school desks common in so many classrooms, scrawled and doodled on by generations of school children — only Muresan’s version is more baroque. On the walls, traced, pencil-drawn copies of the same religious imagery hang, the paper smudged with finger-prints and frames slightly askew. These also recall a common school assignment: copying well-known masterpieces, in this case all of them religious. Art education, in the way Muresan presents it here, is just one more indoctrination tool. 571 S. Anderson St., Set 2, Boyle Heights; through Jan. 21. (323) 262-0260, nicodimgallery.com.

Elbow room
Ana Prvacki’s Tent, quintet, bows and elbows is a straightforward-enough project with mesmerizing results. String musicians plays inside a silky white, entirely closed tent, their bows and elbows bumping into the sides, so the tent shakes and shimmies along with the music. This Sunday at LACMA, the Lyris Quartet, founded in 2008 by award-winning L.A. musicians, will play inside the tent. Their performance will precede the local release of Prvacki’s new book, Finding Comfort in an Uncomfortable Imagination: A Catalogue of Ideas. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Sun., Jan. 15, 4:15 p.m. lacma.org/event/ana-prvacki.

Complicated warrior, complicated name
One of the Crow scouts that rode with General Custer’s campaign against the Sioux and North Cheyenne Native Americans went by the telling name “White Man Runs Him.” General Custer discharged him right before the bloody 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn, angered that White Man Runs Him and his fellow scouts had changed from their army uniforms into their tribal battle wear, wanting to die as Crow warriors. White Man Runs Him didn’t die and, in 1908, photographer Edward S. Curtis photographed him in all his striking regalia. In the image, slightly blurred and sepia-toned, the subject appears in profile, staring without hint of a smile. This photograph hangs at the Depart Foundation as part of "Rediscovering Genius: The Works of Edward S. Curtis," a show that chronicles Curtis’ epic, decades-long project, The North American Indian, and includes the gorgeous copper plates the photographer used to make his prints. 9105 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; through Jan. 14. (424) 302-0968, departfoundation.com.

Rocky II, the hidden version
Around the time the Sylvester Stallone-starring film Rocky II hit theaters, iconic L.A. artist Ed Ruscha took a fake rock out to the Mojave desert. Artist-filmmaker Pierre Bismuth, perhaps best known for co-writing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, saw footage in a 1980 BBC documentary of Ruscha depositing this rock among other, similar-looking real rocks. However, hardly anyone he spoke to knew about this project. Ruscha himself refused to disclose the location. So Bismuth made Where Is Rocky II?, a half-documentary, half-fictional film in which a detective goes in search of this rock, interviewing art-world heavyweights and digging into Ruscha’s background. Eventually, the detective wanders around in hot desert sun along with two screenwriters whom Bismuth hired to turn the quest into a good story. The film plays at LACMA this weekend. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Fri., Jan. 13, 7:30 p.m. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.


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