5. Van Gogh at the bar
"End of the Night Café," the show put together by Charles Mayton and Lucas Knipscher at Thomas Duncan Gallery, is meant to resemble an overstuffed bar. A makeshift counter angles out into the main room, a roughly painted menu board and liquor shelf hanging behind it. There's neon signage in the window and, hanging all around, garish paintings, kitschy paintings and paintings of people drinking, made by Mayton, Knipscher and other artists they enlisted. Pat Palermo's loose acrylic and oil renderings of actors, such as Kirk Douglas and Tim Roth, moodily playing tragic artist Vincent Van Gogh are the highlight. 6109 Melrose Ave.; through June 7. (310) 494-1177, thomasduncangallery.com.
4. Women in distress
Francisco de Goya made his intensely dramatic drawing They Carried Her Off
around 1776. All black and white, it shows a woman screaming and kicking as two cloaked figures forcefully, awkwardly carry her away. Surrealist Max Ernst's 1934 collage of two naked ladies arguing while bathing is equally dramatic, and also funny. Artist Christiane Lyons reproduces both these images in her Mama Said
paintings, three versions of which appear in her new show at MJ Briggs/Anna Meliksetian gallery. Goya's kicking lady is on the top and Ernst's bathing ladies are flipped upside down and on the bottom. The water from Ernst's drawing seeps up, overlapping Goya's scene and making both images seem like they're part of the same twisted story. 313 N. Fairfax Ave., W. Hlywd.; through May 30. (323) 651-1132, mjbriggs.com.
3. Listen as you lunch
Each Tuesday in May, during the lunch hour, artist Elana Mann and Camilo Cruz, a community relations officer at the L.A. Superior Court, have been hosting discussions in Grand Park. They bring together a collection of city employees to talk about their roles. Called Grand Rounds
, the project has no set agenda other than, ideally, initiating some thoughtful, productive conversation among people whose job is keeping the city running. Anyone can listen, and Mann, who often does work about hearing and being heard, has a good track record when it comes to making listening interesting. 227 N. Spring St., dwntwn.; Tuesday, May 27, noon. musiccenter.org/events.
2. Dark diva
"Frequently, she's depicted as this dumb blond," Eleanor Antin said a few years ago of Helen of Troy, the destructive beauty from Greek mythology. Antin has been fascinated by historical, mythic women since the 1970s, and when she set out to depict her own Helen of Troy in 2007, she decided she needed two Helens: a flirty, charming blond one and a dark, deep brooding one. In the photograph Constructing Helen
, the brooding one is shown in black-and-white, her body blown up to superhuman proportions, perfectly still and covered in white powder that makes her look like marble. Normal-sized men in berets "work" on her, as if sculpting her from scratch. One, standing on a ladder to be tall enough, squeezes her nipple. This fantastically strange photograph is part of Antin's current show at Diane Rosenstein Fine Art. 831 N. Highland Ave., Hlywd.; through May 31. (323) 397-9225, dianerosenstein.com.
1. Vapid hipster art on the rise
The Jogging collective, a group of artists who post the bulk of their work on Tumblr, made a series of public service announcements attacking itself. "Time after time, we've seen vapid hipster art get ahead while middle-class American families are falling behind," says a serious female voice. She goes on to argue that Jogging, addicted to getting more followers at any expense, is responsible for this trend and that the middle class deserves more conceptual substance. While she speaks, a red-and-blue-tinted desert landscape fills the screen. That's what Jogging does best: satirize popular forms of communication and mash up pop culture. The new series of videos the collective made for MOCAtv debuts this week. 250 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Thursday, May 29, 7 p.m. (213) 626-6222, moca.org/rsvp.
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