This week, an artist turns two galleries and a storage unit into pseudo-sets for a remake of a Western, and 29 L.A. painters show in a former downtown bank.
5. Finally finished
"Little Ellie, what have I told you about self-expression? ... It goes nowhere," Stalin tells artist Eleanor Antin in Antin's new memoir, Conversations With Stalin. She has routine, imaginary encounters with the dictator throughout this book about growing up in New York, the child of Jewish communists. Antin began giving wry, colorful readings from the book a few years before she finished it. And why not? Refining and rehashing have been part of her art for decades (in the '70s, she aggressively dieted for 36 days to sculpt herself into an ideal figure, and in the '80s she periodically appeared in the guise of struggling African-American ballerina Eleanora Antinova). Now the book is finally done and she will read from it again at LACMA before signing copies. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; Sun., June 2, 1 p.m.; free. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.
4. Too weird for Disney
In Erin Dunn's Rapture's Adagio, two Claymation abbesses dance while a candle drips in reverse, coming back together instead of melting away. In Kathleen Daniel's video Realness, two computer-animated figures with puckered lips that look Botoxed lean slowly toward each other to kiss. They miss, then pull away and try again and miss again. The motion is hypnotic, despite the oversized flies that keep hovering around their faces, the psychedelic scenery behind them and their own exaggerated features. Work by Dunn, Daniel and other artist-animators features in MOCA's "Aboveground Animation" night this week. 250 Grand Ave., dwntwn. May 30, 8 p.m. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.
3. Robbery in three takes
As soon as you walk through the door at Redling Fine Art, you are standing inches from one of Dash Manley's paintings. All the paintings in his current exhibition are double-sided -- maybe with fields of color on raw linen on one side and a Plexiglas-covered collage on the other -- and leaning against upright steel armatures bolted to the floor at various angles that make the room feel like a maze. This installation is The Great Train Robbery (Scene 3, Version B). Scene 3, Version C is in a storage unit you'll have to walk to from Redling's space. The paintings there are similar but closer together. That the 1903 Western The Great Robbery, about bandits who rob a bank and then hijack a train, inspired these installations won't matter explicitly until you go to LAXArt in Culver City, where Scene 3, Version A is installed and see the accompanying hi-res stop-motion video, in which Manley acts out the scene, ducking and falling with his paintings as sets. 6757 Santa Monica Blvd. and 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through June 29. (323) 230-7415, redlingfineart.com.
2. A different kind of Classical Revival
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The Farmers & Merchants Bank has been downtown on the corner of Fourth and Main since 1905. It was built in the Classical Revival style, which means it has faux-Corinthian columns outside and cavernous ceilings and a high balcony just for show inside -- the garish chandeliers probably came later. The bank has been an events venue since the 1980s; the event there now is "Painting in Place," an expansive show organized by Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND). Olga Koumoundouros painted a thick rainbow directly on walls and windows, while on Britton Tolliver's canvas, gridded teal squares that resemble poolside tiles overlay more unruly swells of color. Alexandra Grant has installed neon letters in a corner next to a mirror, so that the neon, which reads "I See Myself in You," reflects back at itself. 401 S. Main St., dwntwn.; through July 31. nomadicdivision.org
1. Cool customer
Most of the paintings in John Wesley's current exhibition at David Kordansky Gallery are done in his favorite colors: blues and pinks. They're also consistently, intentionally executed, which makes their quirky suggestiveness seem almost natural. Black-haired naked girls with soft pink skin are on their knees and covering their heads on a baby blue bike helmet Wesley painted in 1973. A similarly pink-skinned nude woman with schoolteacher glasses and bright red lips is on a canvas Wesley painted in 2004. A nude man stands facing her, two hands that must be his -- they hardly seem attached to his body -- hovering confusedly near her left breast. She looks aloofly downward, as if she hasn't noticed he's there. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through July 6. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.