This week, two artists experiment with messy, fleshy ceramics, while Ann Hirsch recreates drawings from childhood therapy sessions.
One room of rain
The origin story of Rain Room, the art installation that had people lined up for hours when it debuted in New York two years ago, is surprisingly corporate. It was commissioned by Restoration Hardware back in 2012. The company had just decided to enter the contemporary art market and wanted something truly impressive to mark its arrival. The artists who call themselves Random International provided the perfect proposal: a room in which water falls from the ceiling but never actually hits viewers, unless they walk too quickly for sensors to detect them. About 17,000 people have already made reservations to enter the room, and the experience is surreal. Standing beneath manufactured rain that barely touches you in the midst of a drought makes technology feel disturbingly distanced from reality. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through March 6; $10, appointment required. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
Hard to access
Artist Brody Albert used MDF to construct two pristine replicas of scissor gates for the current show at Vacancy, called “Open to the Public.” The show’s title is meant to be a bit of a tease, because when you walk in, you’re face-to-face with Albert’s gates. They reach from one wall to another and can’t be opened (or at least they shouldn’t be; people tried pulling them apart at the opening). So if you want to see the other half of the show, which includes web and wall work by artist Kaeleen Wescoat-O’Neill, you'll have to walk around the building, through the alley and in the back door. 2524½ James M. Wood Blvd., Westlake; through Nov. 28. vacancyla.com.
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The centerpiece of Jessica Jackson Hutchins’ lobby show at the Hammer Museum is a weathered pleather couch. It’s missing a leg and splattered in light brown paint. An earthy, tumorlike ceramic growth weighs down the couch's left side, but two delicate little vessels sit on top of that growth, contrasting its messiness. Encountering the sculpture is like coming across a pile of thrown-out furniture in an alley and finding damaged but precious keepsakes near the pile’s crest. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; through Jan. 24. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
A story printed on brightly colored paper accompanies Ann Hirsch’s exhibition at Smart Objects. In the story, a young “Annie” produces drawings in the office of psychotherapist “Dr. Guttman.” Most of them are of beautiful young women in trendy clothes: platform shoes, halter tops. Ann Hirsch has reproduced drawings of women like this, rendered childishly, for her show. They hang against the burnt-orange carpeting that runs along most of the walls. In the back gallery, a few small monitors have been embedded into a carpeted column. On the monitors, a grown-up Ann Hirsch appears attention-hungry in YouTube videos, grappling with self-confidence, sexiness and prettiness. Her audience has become far bigger than Dr. Guttman now; she's inviting anyone to watch. 1828 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; through Nov. 27. (213) 840-9681, smartobjects.la.
Priestesses with many hands
French dramatist Antonin Artaud called Mexico “the land of speaking blood” and set out to find a “new Revolutionary force” when he went to visit in 1936. He traveled across the Sierra Madre on horseback while there and, years later, after a series of mental breakdowns, did a series of strange drawings and writings about the trip. Artaud's reflections on Mexico inform the roughly made ceramic oddities in artist Richard Hawkins’ two concurrent shows, up now at Richard Telles Fine Art and Jenny’s. Hawkins' wall-hanging sculptures of priestesses with four hands, cracked caskets and serpentlike machinery evoke ancient religions or hieroglyphs on walls — except they’re too funny to feel truly ritualistic. Instead, they're a crude, loose homage to an eccentric adventure. 7380 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood. (323) 965-5578, tellesfineart.com. 4220 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 741-8237, jennys.us. Through Dec. 12.