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

Amy Bessone's Number 1: Silvana (2015)EXPAND
Amy Bessone's Number 1: Silvana (2015)
Copyright Amy Bessone, Courtesy GAVLAK

This week, an L.A. artist digs up old newspaper photographs of women who filed for divorce, and a writer celebrates the book he burned after he spent a year writing it.

Book burning
Writer Chiwan Choi became an artist-in-residence at Katz's Deli in early 2015. “In 2015, he will write a book and lose it,” read the press release announcing his project. Choi would write a chapter each month, read it, then publicly destroy it at various sites around the city. Katz's Deli founder Amanda Katz would oversee the collecting and transcribing witness testimonies after each event. So the process for writing Choi's book Ghostmakers would be ephemeral and experiential, in the vein of a number of conceptual artists (who have eaten works, buried them, locked them up or thrown them into tar pits). The plan was always to hold a brunch when he completed Ghostmakers. The brunch, and a conversation with Choi, happens this weekend. 3307 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights; Sat., Jan. 23, noon-4 p.m. katzsdeli.orginfo@katzsdeli.org

A grid that doesn't fit
Even though each painting and drawing in it is painstakingly rendered, Toba Khedoori’s show at Regen Projects exudes a calm, quiet energy, and also rewards close study. Look closely, for instance, at the paintings of tiled floors and you’ll see individual reflections in certain tiles. Look closely at her painting of a net against a white background and you’ll notice that the net covers all but one of the canvas’ side edges. It seems the net, though rendered by Khedoori, was not quite big enough to wrap all the way around. It’s gratifying, too, to see such small work hold a space as large as Regen. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through Feb. 13. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com

Lava lamp modernism
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright built his Ennis House in Los Feliz in 1924, taking inspiration from Mayan reliefs. It sits like an imposing fortress with Griffith Park behind it and so, even when it’s been vacant or in disrepair, it’s fascinated moviemakers and culture producers. For his show at Thomas Duncan Gallery, Emanuel Röhss took the Ennis House as his subject, reproducing some of its flourishes and ornaments. The highlight of his show, called “Invitation to Love,” are resin columns made from molds modeled on Ennis House designs. In the upstairs gallery, the columns are lit with spotlights so they glow red and orange. They also stand in front of a garish orange-red-and-black painting, which makes being in the room feel like being in a lava lamp. It’s more overtly, knowingly theatrical than Frank Lloyd Wright’s version of tastefulness. But it’s still all based on iconic modern design. 6109 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; through Feb. 26. (310) 494-1177, thomasduncangallery.com

Volcano meets honey
Longtime L.A. artist Lita Albuquerque’s new show at Kohn Gallery is simple and regal. Her “Embodiment” paintings hang inside, each with a shimmering gold, gridded, indented circle at its center. The pulsating purples, blues and reds that surround the gold circles are pigments Albuquerque made herself, using lake root and a mineral from Mt. Vesuvius. The paintings look like courtly astrological tools, objects a medieval astrologer with a flair for good design might use to explain planetary rhythms. Outside she’s installed three vitrines. In one, a salt crystal sits on dirt. In another, a chunk of the volcanic glass obsidian protrudes from a thick pool of honey. The scene is pristine inside the glass, but if the glass were to shatter, the black stone and honey would leave a sticky mess. 1227 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; through Feb. 27. (323) 461-3311, kohngallery.com

Divorcees that history forgot
For the most part, the women pictured in L.A.-based Amy Bessone’s new exhibition at Gavlak Gallery, “The Century of Women,” appear well behaved; they’re smartly dressed and carefully posed. Bessone took these images, which she blew up and printed large, from newspaper stories about divorce cases. All of the women pictured separated from their husbands between the 1930s and '70s. One smaller photograph near the back tells part of a pretty blond woman’s story: she said her husband hit her; her husband said she complained constantly about the weather. Bessone has paired these archival images with unruly ceramic sculptures of women’s torsos, each placed on a wooden pedestal. Some sculpted bodies have black fingerprints on them, beadlike growths along their skin, ropes holding their front and back together, or holes through their abdomens. They appear vulnerable but also tough, like they’ve weathered a brutal storm yet managed to stay intact. 1034 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; through March 5. (323) 467-5700, gavlakgallery.com


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