5 Free Art Shows to See in L.A. This Week
Anna Sew Hoy's Psychic Body Grotto
Courtesy of the artist and LAND
This week, a chair sprouts breasts in a Glendale gallery and a photographer explores her Boyle Heights friendships for her downtown show.
A spindly-legged space
Artist Anna Sew Hoy’s gazebo looks like a headless spider made of bronze. It has six rough, sprawling legs and stands on a mound of sandy dirt at the Los Angeles State Historic Park off Spring Street in Chinatown, and it’s meant to be used for “rituals that have yet to be invented,” for informal gatherings or for formal ones. Called Psychic Body Grotto, the sculpture officially opens to the public this weekend, with a reception hosted by the non-profit LAND, which commissioned it. 1245 N. Spring St., Chinatown; reception Sun., May 21, 4-7 p.m. nomadicdivision.org.
Sea creatures with smoking habits
Keith Boadwee made a book called Shitzine earlier this year. It’s tan and brown and full of drawings of encounters with shit, which might be coming out of bodies in funny shapes or being used in lieu of frosting on cupcakes. It sits at the front desk at the Pit, where “COUNTRY SAD PALETTE MAN,” Boadwee’s exhibition of loose, gross and funny paintings, is currently on display. He made many of them in collaboration with former students, and they all feel like jokes pushed so far that the punchline is beside the point. A green chair has two, full, green breasts (Green Chair With Tits, it’s called); a fish smokes a cigarette inside his fish bowl; trees with eyes dance against a blue sky; and, of course, there’s a rainbow of shit coming flowing through a glowing prism like the one on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. 918 Ruberta Ave.,Glendale; through June 18. (916) 849-2126, the-pit.la.
On Wednesday night at Human Resources, artist Suzanne Kite performs Everything I Say Is True, reweaving narratives about the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the birthplace of her grandparents. Tribal tensions and frustrations over government treaties led to a standoff between activists and law enforcement in 1973; this history informs Kite’s performance, as does the difficulty of knowing the “truth” about historical moments. On Thursday, a group of healers will convene to talk about trauma and resilience. On Saturday night, artist Edgar Fabian Frias will lead an intimate workshop on divination practices (RSVP required). All of this is part of "on the other / side," a four-day exhibition by two nomadic, politically motivated organizations, at land’s edge and Decolonize L.A. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Wed.-Sun., May 24-28. humanresourcesla.com.
Fair bombs bursting in air
In 1987, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the collective Group Material staged an exhibition called “Constitution” at Temple University in Philadelphia. They painted the walls tan, the color of faded documents, and printed the Constitution on the wall of the gallery, annotating the text with imagery from unapologetically political, angry artists like Nancy Spero and Andres Serrano (who, that same year, became notorious for placing a crucifix in piss). Now it’s been 230 years since the Constitutional Convention, and LAXART has staged “Reconstitution,” an exhibition that, according to the press release, responds to “an electorate whose divisiveness has significantly deepened over the past 30 years.” Again, the text of the U.S. Constitution appears on the walls, though not always in English. On the white exterior of the gallery, the preamble to the constitution is spelled out in Farsi. Inside, among work by over 40 other artists, hangs Edgar Heap of Birds’ drawing Democracy and Genocide, in which scrawled white epitaphs appear on rectangles painted in shades of red: “Is Republic Fair Bombs Bursting in Air,” and “Massacre Monster Screams Welcome to Vote.” 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through May 27. (323) 871-4140, laxart.org.
Feeling trapped and attached
Sarah, a social justice activist with long dark hair, posed for artist Star Montana on a hot summer day, her brow furrowed and her shadow starkly defined on the sidewalk behind her. The two women had gone to Chicago Street in Boyle Heights, because Sarah is from Chicago but also because Sarah’s dad and Montana’s mom used to shoot up around there, when both were heroin addicts living in the neighborhood. One week after Star took the portrait, LAPD officers shot the 14-year-old Jesse James Romero right on that street. Sarah romanticizes Boyle Heights, Montana told Main Museum director Allison Agsten in advance of her solo photography show there. “[B]ut if you were to grow up here,” said Montana, “you might've really hated it the way I hated it, because you feel trapped here, and suffocated here, so it's a kind of both ways.” All of the photographs by Montana, currently on view in the raw, wide-open lobby, have stories that go along with them. They’re portraits motivated by relationships and a deep sense of place. 114 W. Fourth St., downtown; through July 23. (213) 986-8500, themainmuseum.org.
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