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

Tala Madani's Dirty Protest (2015)
Tala Madani's Dirty Protest (2015)
Photo by Josh White

This week, a 73-year-old artist sings her life story and a Mid-City garage becomes a bar with ashtrays made of PBR cans. 

Out of line
Artist Henry Taylor often is quoted as saying that painting is like "having a carton of milk in the fridge. It's just going to happen." He may have started saying that before he began using milk cartons in his work, painting them black and affixing them to poles or panels. The cartons themselves, sometimes cut up or open, are somewhat grimy. The black paint makes them look like litter caught in an oil spill. So it's gratifying to see one of Taylor's black milk carton sculptures hanging behind the reception desk at the Line Hotel on Wilshire. The work interrupts the veneer of the hotel lobby, a self-consciously modern space with plush blue banquettes and marble countertops. 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; ongoing. (213) 381-7411, thelinehotel.com

Bedside and basement opera
For nine hours this weekend, musicians will play in the Fitzpatrick-Leland house that Rudolf Schindler designed in Laurel Canyon. The multilevel house, with its slightly curved front-yard swimming pool, has been serving as a sort of laboratory for the musicians. They’ve been living and playing there in preparation for this performance, composed by artist Scott Benzel and called Op. 21: Inner Experience Fellowship/Friends of Crime. A gong player will be in the basement, a pianist in the upstairs bedroom. Visitors are expected to wander and can stay as long as they want. Address and parking information available with RSVP; free. Sat., Aug. 1, 1-10 p.m. (323) 651-1510, makcenter.org.

Garage bar
Architect Adolf Loos designed his American Bar in Vienna, a fantastic construction with onyx walls and marble floors, in 1903. It was only 290 square feet, with a stained-glass American flag above the entrance. Andreas Bauer, Christoph Meier, Robert Schwarz and Lukas Stopczynski, all current artists-in-residence at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, have built a poor man’s version of the bar in Mid-Wilshire. Theirs is slightly smaller, since it had to fit into a garage (each artist-in-residence has a narrow, one-car garage as a studio). There’s exposed wood and white lights in place of Loos’ original shiny exterior, mosquito mesh in place of glass. By 9 or 10 p.m., you can’t move without brushing up against someone else. Aluminum ashtrays made from melted PBR cans sit on the counter. 1137 S. Cochran Ave., Mid-Wilshire; ending date TBD, open Fridays starting at 7 p.m. (323) 651-1510, makcenter.org.  

Smiley-faced doctor
Tala Madani titled her first solo exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery “Smiley has no nose,” a sadistically comic sentence well suited to her work. Madani, known for painting infantile, bald men in compromising positions, included quite a bit of work in this exhibition. Paintings of various sizes are staggered across four long walls, including one of a bald man in a loincloth under a spotlight in an interrogation room, and a version of the same man unwittingly feeding infants, with milk splashing from his nipples. In another painting, diapered babies paint smiley faces with feces. It’s all overkill, but overkill is part of Madani’s project — making this mostly nude, balding man grovel, yearn, whine and nurture in spite of himself. 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Mid-Wilshire; through Aug. 29. (323) 935-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com

Joan Brown's Family Portrait (1981)EXPAND
Joan Brown's Family Portrait (1981)
Courtesy of the Estate of Joan Brown and Gallery Paule Anglim.

Better than any man
Austrian painter Maria Lassnig made her 8-minute video Kantate in 1992, when she was 73. In it she sings her life story in rhyming verses. She rejects suitors, lives for her art, moves to America, smokes while wearing a cowboy hat and finds comfort in late-night television (and notes, unapologetically, “I painted better than any man”). It’s quirkily inspiring and disarming, a ballad of a woman who’s made her life her own. You see it in the final gallery of "About Face," organized by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer and Kristina Kite at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, after passing by a number of paintings and sculptures by Lassnig, Joan Brown, Diane Simpson and Brian Calvin. The whole show has a great mix of intensity and lightheartedness, as if every artist in it is completely committed to being defiantly, seductively funny. 1201 S. La Brea, Mid-Wilshire; through Aug. 29. (310) 586-6886, kaynegriffincorcoran.com

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