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

"The Coaster Show," an art show featuring paintings on beer coasters
"The Coaster Show," an art show featuring paintings on beer coasters
Courtesy of La Luz de Jesus Gallery

La Luz de Jesus Gallery brings the bar to the gallery. For its third annual "The Coaster Show," painters, illustrators, animators, sculptors and tattooists use more than 1,000 4-inch coasters as their canvas, transforming them into miniature pieces of art. With some priced at $250, these are undoubtedly the most expensive coasters you'll ever purchase, but at least the beer at the reception is free. La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Fri., Sept. 4, 8-11 p.m.; free. Exhibit continues through Sept. 27. (323) 666-7667, laluzdejesus.com. —Siran Babayan

In L.A., winters are green and summers are fiery. Then there's May gray, June gloom, the passionfruit-pink haze of smog and drought-fueled sunsets entertaining drivers of candy-colored cars. Inspired by the colors of Los Angeles, American Bachelor author Michael Rababy curates "My L.A.," featuring works by photographers who capture the city's ever-elusive light. It's part of a larger group photo show curated by the gallery. Hive Gallery, 729 S. Spring St., downtown; reception Sat., Sept. 5, 8-11 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. Exhibition continues Wed.-Sat., 1-6 p.m., and by appointment through Sat., Sept. 26; free. (213) 955-9051, hivegallery.com. —Tanja M. Laden

Buskerfest, an annual free, outdoor showcase that counts Cold War Kids, Chicano Batman and Avi Buffalo as past performers, asks up-and-coming musicians to get back to the roots of live performance: playing in the street. Audience members use wooden nickels to vote for their favorite local musicians in a lineup that features Bloody Death Skull, Rosie Harlow & the Tall Tale Boys, Full Tilt Trio, Tall Walls, Tall Tales & the Silver Lining, Forest of Tongue, Tacky Little Hat Shop and Paper Thin Hands. With minimal setups, this show is all about connecting with the audience. East Village Arts District, First Street between Linden Avenue and Elm Avenue, Long Beach; Sat., Sept. 5, 5-11 p.m.; free. summerandmusic.com. —Sascha Bos

Adam Mansbach and Alan Zweibel discuss their new book, Benjamin Franklin: Huge Pain in My..., which centers on middle schooler Franklin Isaac Saturday, who doesn't get along with his stepfather, is unpopular with his classmates and has a crush on a girl. For a school assignment, he writes a letter to Benjamin Franklin describing his angst-ridden life, and the founding father responds from 1776. They continue their correspondence and develop a pen-pal friendship. Fans of Mansbach know his popular 2011 kids book for adults, Go the F**k to Sleep. Zweibel was among the original writers of Saturday Night Live and co-created It's Garry Shandling's Show. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Tue., Sept. 8, 6:30 p.m.; free, book is $12.99. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com. —Siran Babayan

Michelle Franke, executive director of PEN Center USA, founded The Rattling Wall in 2010. Published by Narrow Books, the L.A.-based literary journal prints everything from short fiction and travel essays to poetry, illustrated by an artist. The featured artist in the latest installment is Kristina Collantes, whose work has been in The New Yorker and Juxtapoz. Celebrate the launch of Issue 5 at Skylight Books, where a few featured writers — David Ulin, Cecil Castellucci, Rita Williams, David Francis, Julianne Ortale and Susan Berman — read their work. Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Wed., Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m.; free. (323) 660-1175, therattlingwall.com. —Tanja M. Laden

The dance troupe String Theory
The dance troupe String Theory
Photo by Luke Rothschild

Upcoming Events

Undaunted by artistic borders, the dance company String Theory often creates unconventional instruments, including its signature gigantic harp, and has been known to garb its dancers in music-making costumes. Led by Luke and Holly Rothschild, this eclectic ensemble of dancers, musicians, composers and stringed instruments reprises the site-specific Seaclipse in Tongva Park's al fresco environs. Starting at the big tree at the park's north end (Colorado Avenue between Ocean Avenue and Main Street), the performers guide the audience through the striking, ocean-adjacent space. The park recently was named one of six finalists in this year's international Urban Space Award Competition. Tongva Park, 1615 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; Wed., Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m.; free. tongvapark.smgov.net. —Ann Haskins

Brian Kellow discusses his biography of show business agent Sue Mengers, Can I Go Now?: The Life of Sue Mengers, Hollywood's First Superagent. Born to German-Jewish parents who left Europe during the rise of Nazism, Mengers — the subject of 2013 one-woman show I'll Eat You Last, starring Bette Midler — rose through Hollywood's ranks, first as a secretary at William Morris Agency, then as an agent at Creative Management Associates (later ICM). Her clients included Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, Gene Hackman, Faye Dunaway, Candice Bergen and, most notably, Barbra Streisand. Kellow, whose previous bios were of Pauline Kael and Ethel Merman, chronicles the height of Mengers' career in the '60s and '70s, and its decline in the '80s, including her falling-out with Streisand. Kellow interviewed more than 200 celebs, including Streisand, Polly Bergen, Tuesday Weld, Sherry Lansing, Rona Barrett and Tina Sinatra. Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Thu., Sept. 10, 7 p.m.; free, book is $27.95. (310) 659-3110, booksoup.com. —Siran Babayan

Not to take anything away from Citizen Kane, whose nonpareil reputation is certainly well-deserved, but the unofficial Greatest Film of All Time isn't even the greatest Orson Welles movie. That would be The Magnificent Ambersons, which you can see for free at Cal State Northridge as part of the school's semesterlong Welles retrospective. Deeply melancholy but also strangely warm, like a night spent alone in front of the fireplace, it features some of the most soothing narration of all time (courtesy of the filmmaker himself) as it tells of a once-great family's fall from grace. CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge; Thu., Sept. 10, 7 p.m.; free. (818) 677-1200, csun.edu—Michael Nordine

Music videos aren't the phenomenon they once were, and MTV was never the only game in town (even if it was the largest). For a year and a half in Boston, a free channel called V66 provided an independent alternative and either featured or influenced the likes of New Edition, Dropkick Murphys and The Cars. Filmmaker Eric Green will be on hand at Echo Park Film Center to discuss his new documentary, Life on the V: The Story of V66, which features archival footage from V66 as well as interviews with the artists and fans affected by the channel. Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Thu., Sept. 10, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 484-8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org. —Michael Nordine


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