5 Free Art Shows You Should See in L.A. This Week

Installation view of "The Reason We No Longer Speak" at Fahrenheit
Installation view of "The Reason We No Longer Speak" at Fahrenheit
© Jeff Mclane

A contorted alien is in a post-disaster zone, clear oil is dripping continuously from a ceiling in Hollywood and a cheese grater works beautifully as an art-making tool. 

5. Going in a circle
When artist Tacita Dean and actor Stephen Dillane performed their collaborative “play,” Carriageworks, the actor paced around the border of a chalk circle while two cameras followed him. He delivered words lifted from Shakespeare or other well-known sources, as well as personal stories, and sometimes read from pieces of paper he took from Dean, who sat in the front row. Dean, who said early on that the footage of the performance could be chaotic “and utterly unwatchable,” has edited that footage into a film, called Event for a Stage, showing at LACMA. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tuesday, March 17, 7:30 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.

4. Kitchen drawing tools
Wax paper and a cheese grater were artist Mona Hatoum's materials of choice when she made the charming, seductive work that’s hanging in a corner of the Hammer’s “Apparitions: Frottages and Rubbings” show. She rubbed the grater against the paper, so now that wax paper has graterlike bumps in it. The show, all about artists who have worked with rubbings, casts a pretty wide net. It spans more than a century and includes work by well-known surrealists as well as anonymous work, which means there are funny, unexpected gems in most rooms. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; through May 31. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu

3. Dripping sculptures
Dani Tull’s smooth, wax, larger-than-life cobwebs, sitting on low pedestals at LAM gallery, look durable. So even if you know, factually, that wax melts, you might not expect these objects to be susceptible to heat or light. That slippage between what’s vulnerable and what’s not is a compelling aspect of the whole show, which includes sunset-colored paintings of wispy branches and clear lines of viscous oil dripping down plastic tubing that stretches to the ceiling. 913 N Highland Ave., Hollywood; through April 11. (323) 498-5977, lamgalleryla.com

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2. Boxhead baby
Florida artist Mernet Larsen’s figures are all edges and angles. In “Chainsawer, Bicyclist, and Reading in Bed,” her exhibition at Various Small Fires, one of the most memorable paintings is a pink, blue and grayish one of a couple leaning over their baby. It’s comically stiff, as the baby’s limbs, like the couple's, are inflexibly rectangular; his head is a cute little square. From a distance, a scene like this looks as if it could have been computer-generated. But if you get close, you can see the artist’s pencil marks beneath paint strokes and start to understand her boxy scenes as tenderly handmade. 812 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; through April 11. (310) 426-8040, vsf.la.

1. Post-disaster
“The Reason We No Longer Speak,” the installation by French artist David Douard and L.A. artists Jesse Stecklow and Liz Craft at Fahrenheit, is futuristic, elegant and derelict at the same time. There’s a metal loft in the installation’s dimly lit half, and wispy drapes hang around it. Plastic jugs, maybe for water, maybe for something else, are on the floor. On the other side of a temporary wall, a plastic alien with silver teeth contorts herself. The alien has been scuffed up — she has black duct tape on one limb. It starts to feel as if you’re in some tasteful person’s abandoned, postdisaster basement bunker. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; through April 18. Fahrenheit@flaxfoundation.org, fahrenheit.flaxfoundation.org

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