7 Great Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week

From "Mikael B and Thomas Fryd: Emerging Alchemy"
From "Mikael B and Thomas Fryd: Emerging Alchemy"

Political commentator Cokie Roberts discusses her latest book, Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, which sheds light on the new roles in the early 1860s of women in the nation's capital, namely those who contributed to politics, health care and social services. These women kept the Union unified and risked their lives working as nurses, journalists and even spies. Using newspaper articles, government records and private correspondence, Roberts highlights a cast of important characters, from Mary Todd Lincoln and American Red Cross founder Clara Barton to abolitionist and feminist Jessie Benton Frémont. The Huntington, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino; Fri., May 15, 7:30 p.m.; free. (626) 405-2100, huntington.org. —Siran Babayan

"Mikael B and Thomas Fryd: Emerging Alchemy" is the second exhibition in Project Gallery's new Westside space, and the first showing of a multimedia collaboration between street and studio painter Mikael B. and fashion and fine art photographer Thomas Fryd. Fryd creates surreal, elaborately transformed photos of expressive human anatomy; then Mikael B. gives them a dynamic digital dimension, prints them on canvas and finally treats them with all the eclectic tools in a modern painter's repertoire. The results are abstract and narrative, sexy and scary, strange and familiar — and, now, thanks to toy designers and fabricators Pretty in Plastic, two images skip the canvas and become seductive, playful sculptures, rebooting the sensual mayhem that inspired the whole idea. Project Gallery, 1625 17th St., Santa Monica; Sat., May 16, 7-10 p.m.; exhibition continues by appointment through June 11; free. (213) 453-9214, projectgallery.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot

California State Science Fair
California State Science Fair
Courtesy of California Science Center

Like the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery hosting it, and its historic Barnsdall hilltop surroundings, the annual City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowships (C.O.L.A.) exhibition is a perennial jewel in the Department of Cultural Affairs' crown. Each year a small group of midcareer L.A. artists receives funds to support new work. This simple premise consistently yields surprising results — and this year fulfills that potential with powerful and daring offerings from artists including Kelly Barrie, Jeff Colson, Alexandra Grant, Harold Greene, Sherin Guirguis and Elizabeth Leister. Leister will execute a performed drawing at this afternoon's opening reception. Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Sun., May 17, 2-5 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues Thu.-Sun., 12-5 p.m., through June 28. (323) 644-6269, lamag.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot

Last year's top winner at the California State Science Fair was a project titled "Enabling Situational Awareness: A Hat-Based Hands-Free Haptic Navigational Aid for the Visually Impaired." This year, expect nearly 1,000 young scientists from more than 400 schools to raise the bar as they compete for more than $50,000 in cash prizes. The entries span 22 categories, including chemistry, microbiology, physics, mathematics, electronics, zoology and behavioral science, and will be judged by hundreds of scientists and engineers. Though it's a two-day event, viewing hours for the public are Monday, with students on hand to answer questions. California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Drive, Exposition Park; Mon., May 18, 3-4:30 p.m.; free. (323) 724-3623, californiasciencecenter.org. —Siran Babayan

The news is rife with disturbing accounts of unexplained, racially motivated police shootings, prompting a much-needed dialogue that examines why law enforcement officers appear to be implementing increasingly martial tactics. A forum called The Militarization of America's Police Forces will feature Elizabeth Beavers, the legislative associate for militarism and civil liberties at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Norm Stamper, a former Seattle police chief and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing. KPFK radio host Ian Masters moderates. Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., May 19, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Tanja M. Laden

Manhattan Beach's the Comic Bug puts the spotlight on out-of–left field creators with Indie Comics and Zine Day. Stock up on self-published works during the day and hang around for evening readings and signings from three locals. MariNaomi was nominated for an Eisner Award last year for Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories, a collection of anecdotal tales that mixes the funny with the heartbreaking, drawn in a wonderfully minimal style that puts the focus on the story. Matt MacFarland's appearance coincides with the release of his second issue of Dark Pants. J.T. Steiny is a prolific illustrator whose works often capture the idiosyncrasies of life in Los Angeles. The Comic Bug, 0x000A1807½ Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; Wed., May 20, reading at 6 p.m.; free. (310) 372-6704, thecomicbug.com. —Liz Ohanesian

Joan Rivers went to that comedy club in the sky less than a year ago, and already her daughter, Melissa Rivers, is pimping a memoir, The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief and Manipulation, about their relationship. Mother would be proud. In fact, Rivers describes being approached by a literary agent on the day of Joan's funeral. That's show business. Rivers lovingly looks back on life with one of the original insult comics, from traveling with Joan during her early Las Vegas years and meeting her father to reinventing red-carpet reporting. Rivers also shares stories about Joan's legendary plastic-surgery obsession, her love of airline food and room service and her least favorite celebrity (Tommy Lee Jones), as well as Joan's tips on etiquette and dating, including "Make sure he's straight." Barnes & Noble, 189 The Grove Drive, Fairfax; Wed., May 20, 7 p.m.; free. (323) 525-0270, barnesandnoble.com. —Siran Babayan

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