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

Mary Ellen Carroll's Madame Nhu (2016)
Mary Ellen Carroll's Madame Nhu (2016)
Courtesy of the artist and Redling Fine Art

This week, two artists ask for help making their sculptures and two others make video art meant to play on cracked phone screens.

Tell-all tablecloths
Mary Ellen Carroll’s history paintings are loose, rough and done on linen tablecloths. Madame Nhu, the former first lady of South Vietnam, dabs her eyes under big sunglasses. Jackie and Caroline Kennedy appear at JFK’s funeral, their limbs clunkier than in photos. Massachusetts housewife Barbara Dunlap lays her head on a table and stares at a bisected lemon in a painting based on vintage photographs from LIFE magazine. Dunlap had just tried LSD for the first time as a participant in a psychiatric study. In Carroll’s painting, the housewife is awkward-looking, with an oddly shaped cheek and skinny fingers, but she still looks blissful. 6757 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through Aug. 26. (323) 460-2046, redlingfineart.com.

High-art cubicles
Newspapers from the first weekend in June sit neatly on the understated gray cushions inside two of Andrea Zittel’s modular furniture sculptures, installed now at Regen Projects. The newspapers make the usable sculptures appear simultaneously inviting and as affected as showroom floor models. No one has replaced the papers since the weekend the show opened, suggesting they are mostly props. Zittel, who calls her Joshua Tree studio A-Z West and often experiments with structures for simple living, titled these boldly colored, glorified cubicles Planar Configurations. They stretch across Regen’s large gallery in two long, uninterrupted lines, each cubicle connected to the next. In addition to the cushions, one cubicle includes a neatly made bed. These would be perfect in a scientist’s lab, offering subjects just enough privacy while reminding them that they’re participating in an experiment much bigger than themselves. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through Aug. 12. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.

Sun on fire
Summer is the season for group shows, and Gavlak Gallery has a tradition. In 1997, gallery founder Sarah Gavlak curated her first “Flaming June” group show, taking the title from a 1895 painting by Sir Frederic Leighton of a sleeping woman in a fiery orange dress. The seventh iteration, "Flaming Creatures," is up now, and the work is largely orange, red and pink. A figure in red, who looks a lot like an aging Snow White, holds a chalice in artist Amy Bessone’s painting, and a mannequin made to resemble artist Lisa Anne Auerbach wears an orange-and-red sweater knitted by Auerbach that reads: “Let us speak of it as a thing of the past." Alexandra Grant’s patterned collage says again and again — amid stripes, spills and tears — “I was born to love not to hate,” as though she needs a constant reminder. 1034 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; through Aug. 5. (323) 467-5700, gavlakgallery.com.

Broken phone redemption
We can only glimpse clouds floating by through one small, misshapen window on a badly broken cellphone that dangles from the ceiling in Émilie Brout and Maxime Marion’s installation at Steve Turner gallery. Called “Deliverance,” the installation includes a number of broken cellphones and tablets. The Paris-based collaborators devised special abstract videos for each, so that colors and shapes complement the cracks. For anyone who’s ever dropped a phone and marveled at the resulting pattern before despairing over lost functionality, this show will be gratifying. 6830 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through July 22. (323) 460-6830, steveturner.la.

Participation required
For their 2014 performance Mellowdrama, artists Courtney Smith and Iván Navarro teamed with musicians to create a chaotic soundstage in downtown New York. Then they poured hydrogen peroxide into the ear of a performer. They filmed the fizz and drips that came out of that ear, projecting the footage on a big screen as the music played. Their upcoming performance, The Ring, takes place at the rehabbed Garey apartment building downtown and requires participants rather than an audience. The participants will be asked to act naturally, interacting with one another while following directions and carrying out timed exchanges. It’s not clear yet what they’ll be exchanging, but the performance is about cooperation, giving, receiving, acquiring and distributing. The sculptures that result from the performance will remain on view for three days. 905 E.Second St., downtown; Thu.-Fri., July 20-21, 8 p.m.; Sat., July 22, 2 p.m.; free, registration required. nomadicdivision.org/exhibition/upcoming-performance-the-ring.


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