Five Artsy Things to Do This Week, Including a Castle in the Clouds

Daniel Small's Excavation II installation
Daniel Small's Excavation II installation
Courtesy of the artist and Public Fiction

This week, a performance artist celebrates a jazz singer, a Parisian artist celebrates a German-born architect and an iconic L.A. gallery says goodbye with the same savvy it's always had.

5. Everyone onstage

Abbey Lincoln played a black maid in the 1968 film For Love of Ivy -- not a bit part but the lead opposite Sidney Poitier -- and movie critic Roger Ebert remembers her arriving at the press conferences in what he called "the African, or natural, hairstyle" and a gold African dress. She'd say things like, "Sidney Poitier has proven black people are a salable product in the box office," "We're all stereotypes" or, of black Americans on screen, "You can't really tell a story until everyone gets onstage." Lincoln, better known as a jazz singer who collaborated with Max Roach, died in 2007. Performance artist Margaret Laurena Kemp met her in the 1990s, and describes Lincoln as a life force. This weekend at Pieter performance space, Kemp debuts In a Circle Everything Is Up or An Affair Abbey Lincoln, an in-progress, multimedia performance celebrating Lincoln. 420 W. Avenue 33, Lincoln Heights; Sat., Sept. 8, 8 p.m. pieterpasd.com.

4. When sculptures invade a Neutra house

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When Parisian artist Xavier Veilhan moved into Richard Neutra's Silver Lake Boulevard home this summer, he noticed the chrome tube legs the modernist architect installed on his wife's piano were rusting. Veilhan had them re-chromed as he went about installing his slick metal sculptures throughout the house Neutra designed in 1932 and lived in. Veilhan is far more literal then the German-born architect -- a figure of Neutra sleeping is installed inside a rocket ship sculpture on the house's airy second floor. But his detail-oriented smoothness imbues the house with a certain romance and shininess. A film of Veilhan's, an ethereal, highly produced celebration of artistic vision called Furtivo, should have the same effect when it and a few other shorts screen at the house this weekend. 2300 Silver Lake Blvd.; Fri., Sept. 7, 7 p.m. (323) 644-5480, neutra-vdl.org.

3. Funny, but not too funny

Margo Leavin Gallery will close this fall, after 42 years in business. Its final show, called "Arctic Summer," gets at that cool, pared-down approach the gallery and its artists have always taken to humor. The first room feels like kindergarten, with Larry Johnson's version of the ABCs, each letter dripping ink as though melting, on the wall and Sol LeWitt's slick white building blocks laid out on the floor like a minimalist fantasy city. William Leavitt's 1970 piece Wind Sound is installed in another room. On a pedestal against one wall, there's a radio transmitter Leavitt built using a Radio Shack kit. The transmitter sends stock recordings of blowing wind to a radio on another wall that broadcasts the sound. Even if you think you're just hearing static, if you're in that room, you're actually hearing the wind as it's passing by you. 812 N. Robertson Blvd., W. Hlywd; through Sept. 15. (310) 273-0603, margoleavingallery.com.

2. Secret stairwell space

The Finley in Los Feliz is an especially small art space. It consists of one wall above a stairwell in the Los Feliz Villas apartment building. Usually only one artwork shows at a time, and you can only get into the corridor where it hangs if you live there, or have some other sneaky way into the gated complex. But you can climb the two concrete steps up to the "viewing platform" in the yard right outside the complex's front window and peek in. Best to go when the sun isn't too bright, so you can see through the glass without a distracting glare. Right now, the Finley features work by artist-couple Andrea Longacre-White and Brendan Fowler, a photo of a dusty iPad with the Los Feliz Villas stairwell visible on its screen. 4627 Finley Ave.; through Oct. 14. (617) 794-4530, thefinleygallery.artcodeinc.com.

1. Fake props

Daniel Small's painting of a mythic palace in the clouds hangs right behind his sculpture of a sphinx headdress on top of a marble pedestal. It all feels fake -- clearly, this "headdress" didn't come from an archeological dig -- but like most smart theater props, they're enough to convince you they're part of a story worth hearing. Small's art appears in Public Fiction's group show "The Props," act two in a three-part entree into art-theater crossovers. On Sunday, two other artists in the show will give performances that masquerade as slide lectures. Martine Syms will give something of a sermon on the design of title sequences in mainstream black films since 1990. Jibade-Khalil Huffman's We Don't Believe You, You Need More People will turn from artist talk into a long-form poem. 749 Avenue 50, Highland Park; through Sept. 14; lectures on Sun., Sept. 9, 8 p.m. publicfiction.org.

Follow me on Twitter at @cgwagley, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.

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