William T. Wiley's Pre-Tsunami Abstraction with Migraines (2011)
William T. Wiley's Pre-Tsunami Abstraction with Migraines (2011)
Courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery

5 Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week

This week, hundreds of gloves fill a Culver City gallery, and two Mexico City artists get arrested for being insatiable (and possibly drunk).

Black balling
The year Martin Luther King Jr. died, artist William T. Wiley made his sculpture Monument to Black Ball Violence, in which a ball of black electrical tape rested on a waist-high wooden stool. A log-shaped box tucked between the stool legs held more tape so that viewers could add to the ball, which got bigger and bigger as 1968 became 1969. Currently, Monument, crowned with a golden halo, sits at the center of Parker Gallery’s upstairs exhibition space, the regal protest piece flanked by more recent work by Wiley. The 2011 painting Pre-Tsunami Abstraction With Migraines mostly consists of a black and white tangle of undulating lines and ghostly shapes. A ram’s head rises out of smoky waves and beady white eyes gaze out from a black Gumby-shaped body. Barely perceptible thin, colored webs and constellations float above the heavier imagery, as if some idealistic mathematician has tried to impose order on a sea of unknowns. Uncertainty and chaos subsume these patterns in the end, but they're still a hopeful presence. 2441 Glendower Ave., Los Feliz; through Jan. 20. (213) 631-1343, parkergallery.com.

Insatiable girls
Marcelaygina, the duo made up of artists Gina Arizpe and Marcela Quiroga, invited an audience to the Mexico City art space Ex Teresa for a performance in 2000. Guests waited a while for either artist to show up, and then suddenly and dramatically they both did, dressed in black pleather bodysuits and in police custody. The director of the art space kicked the artists out, calling them “insatiable” girls, and the police pulled them away. Arizpe and Quiroga apparently had been driving around the Zócalo, or public square, acting drunk, until the police picked them up and escorted them to their gig; the artists never admitted whether the officers were in on the charade. A video of the whole thing plays on a loop at the Armory Center for the Arts as part of “Below the Underground: Renegade Art and Action in 1990s Mexico.” It’s an uncomfortably confusing yet compelling watch: What’s happening to these ostentatiously dressed women? Are they being oppressed or legitimately contained? 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; through Jan. 22. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.

Bursting in air
Painter Ben Sakoguchi gave one of the few interviews of his long career in 2006, to Sports Illustrated. The artist had painted a series of baseball players posed on orange-crate labels, and he talked to the sports mag about Jackie Robinson and Hall of Famers who’d belonged to the KKK. The paintings themselves were seductive, however. ”People don't want to be lectured about politics or race, so I use images and colors that soften the blow,” Sakoguchi said then. Now, his 1983 montage of paintings, “Bombs,” hangs at Potts in Alhambra. Twenty-four modestly sized, framed renderings of explosions, nuclear weapons, test sites and burn victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki appear side by side on a single wall. These, too, are seductively painted. The Bikini bomb’s plume billows against a bright blue sky. The 1945 Trinity explosion is pictured as a vibrant orange orb, and red all-caps text hovering above reads, “Ball of Fire Touching the Ground.” It’s Sakoguchi’s matter-of-fact clarity that makes his work sting. 2130 Valley Blvd., Alhambra; through Jan. 28. potts.la.

Pocket-sized assault weapon
Over the past year, artist Shana Lutker put out calls for hand models. She’d post on social media, and artists and art worlders would volunteer their limbs. In the end, she made 319 single leather gloves — no pairs. She laid out these idiosyncratically shaped, brightly colored, disembodied hands over a massive mirrored plinth in her current show at Susanne Vielmetter Projects. Lutker’s recent exhibitions have all loosely responded to the theatrical fights between surrealists, the hot-blooded, high-minded group of artists most prominently working between the world wars. This installation takes its inspiration from a 1935 incident: Critic Ilya Ehrenburg had taken down the surrealists in a recent essay. André Breton, author of the Surrealist Manifesto, saw Ehrenburg on the streets of Paris, ran up to him and started slapping him repeatedly with a green leather glove. Now Lutker has 319 equally subtle, portable weapons. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through Jan. 13. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.

Dancing democracy
Simone Forti and Carmela Hermann Dietrich, both dancers and artists, collaborated in the late 1980s and early ’90s. They developed performances in response to cities (Seattle, New York) among other things, and the younger Hermann Dietrich often cites her years working with the improvisational, uninhibited Forti as formative in her bios. This weekend, they’ll improvise together in REMATCH, a reunion of sorts at Highways Performance Space. Hermann Dietrich will pay homage to Forti with “Thoughts on Three Chosen Words,” which involves the audience picking words from a dictionary. Then the two will together dance in response to Amy Goodman’s progressive news program, Democracy Now. 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 8-9, 8:30 p.m.; $20-$25. (310) 453-1755, highwaysperformance.org.

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