From interactive art installations to help you escape any holiday blues to a grassroots and inclusive comic convention, Santacon and the Krampus Run, and an evening with the cast of Fresh Off the Boat, here are the 12 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
From Paris to Highland Park
Pacific Opera Project's barely faithful makeover of Giacomo Puccini's classic opera La Bohéme would appear to be just a joke, and its popular production is often ridiculously daft. The local company has updated librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa's tragic, sentimental story about a dying seamstress, Mimi (alternately portrayed by Maya Rothfuss and Kerri Ann Otaño), and relocated the action from Paris to modern-day Highland Park, necessitating a title change to The Hipsters. But Puccini's melodies are still a sucker punch to the heart amid the churro carts and trendy bars of Northeast L.A., thanks to POP's high-flying, floorboard-stomping crew of comically attuned yet emotionally persuasive vocalists. Highland Park Ebell Club, 131 S. Avenue 57, Highland Park; Fri.-Sat., Dec. 7-8, 8 p.m.; Thu.-Sat., Dec. 13-15 & 20-22; $15-$160. (323) 739-6122, pacificoperaproject.com. —Falling James
Escape From L.A.
America is sort of a mess. But it's also a mesmerizing place to live no matter what. Mesmerica 360 Live! will embody the alchemy of American life, but as an escape from realities, with a 360-degree immersive 3-D art and live music experience inside a domed downtown L.A. cinema space. James Hood has created this show to coincide with his new album of the same name; he seems to be going for immersive escapism, where peace, tranquility and renewal soak the senses. And who doesn't need that? The Grammy-nominated composer-percussionist (who played drums with The Pretenders and led the electro act Moodswings) has created a hypnotic presentation with animated art curated from artists around the world and his own stimulating soundtrack. Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 S. Bixel St., Westlake. Fri.-Sat., Dec. 7-8, 14-15 & 21-22, 7:30 & 9 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 9, 16 & 23, 4 & 6 p.m.; $29-$59. eventbrite.com/e/mesmerica-live-a-visual-music-journey-the-vortex-dome-los-angeles-tickets-52230734533. —Lina Lecaro
Power of the Pen
With 120 artists, workshops, drawing sessions, talks and signings, Comic Arts L.A.'s fifth annual edition is its biggest yet — but this is nothing like its epic -Con cousins. Instead, the focus here is on grassroots-level inclusivity, inspiration and support for the upcoming generations of graphic voices. With workshops on nurturing creative instincts, the influence of manga and anime on global comic culture, and highlighting representations of queerness, parenthood and communities of color, CALA is about using the power of comics for good. For example, CALA has partnered with the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network to collect and donate comics and graphic novels to SoCal detention facilities, offering brighter visions of the future to kids who need it more than most. This year's special guest is Prince of Cats author and artist Ronald Wimberly, a leading voice for depictions of heroes of color in the genre. Homenetmen Ararat, 3000 Dolores St., Glassell Park; Sat.-Sun., Dec. 8-9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. comicartsla.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Ho Ho Ho!
Dust off your Santa suit because the spirit of Christmas is in the air, and it isn't just for children at Santacon. The annual day (and, if you're game for the afterparty, night) of red-clad revelry and carousing starts bright and semi-early at 11 a.m. at a location to be revealed the day before. There will be “reindeer games,” gifts and, if history is any indicator, improved Christmas carols (last year's event featured the likes of “Oh Come All Ye Perverts” and “I'm Dreaming of a White Russian”). Bring your Metro pass, and don't be a Grinch or that relative who hits the bottle too hard on Christmas, because what is Santacon about if not spreading holiday cheer? Sat., Dec. 8, 11 a.m.-10 p.m; free. facebook.com/events/703423610014250/. —Avery Bissett
What Makes for a Delicacy?
The downtown Arts District staple A+D Museum (that's architecture plus design) opens four new exhibitions this week, a far-ranging assembly of disciplines that touches on intersecting issues of food, culture, art, technology and living space all viewed through the lens of contemporary design practices. Volume represents a unique partnership between a local design studio and young artists from Leimert Park. PERSISTENT: Evolving Architecture in a Changing World presents new models for thinking about building in a sustainable and environmentally evolutionary way. A new collection from PATIO envisions the home in a state akin to a computer's Dark Mode, imagining space in a liminal but luminous way. There's also a pop-up panoramic environmental immersion installation. And strangest of all, Sweden's infamous Disgusting Food Museum posits questions of nature versus nurture when it comes to epicurean revulsion and eccentric delicacies. We're talking fruit bat soup, Jell-O salad, fermented fish and roasted bull penis. Fortunately for attendees of the opening reception, DOAP Kitchen's catering will not be based on these dishes. A+D Museum, 900 E. Fourth St., downtown; opening reception: Sat., Dec. 8, 7 p.m.; exhibit: Wed., 2-6 p.m., Thu.-Fri., 2-8 p.m., Sat.-Sun., noon-7 p.m., thru Feb. 17; $10. (213) 346-9734, aplusd.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
You Control This Exhibition
Utilizing a gesture sensor, camera, monitor and computer, Glendale artist Ken Salter has looped together a mosaic of repeating images, whose patterns shift when triggered by the viewer's motions, resulting in a mirrorlike kaleidoscope of vibrantly colorful, psychedelic pictures. “When people move their hands, it changes the geometry of the mosaic,” Salter says about his new interactive exhibition, “The Garden of Strange Loops: So Tonight That I Might See.” The former Disney Imagineer and consultant in Carlson & Co.'s fabrications of Jeff Koons' sculptures has aligned his patterned imagery with languidly trippy music by Mazzy Star. Salter notes that the multiplied mosaics create their own “beautiful organic patterns that are unexpected, a good example of emergence.” Gallery 30 South, 30 S. Wilson Ave., Pasadena; Fri.-Sun., Dec. 7-9, noon-6 p.m.; thru Jan. 27; $15. (323) 547-3227, gallery30south.com. —Falling James
Planting Seeds of Thought
The war in Syria and the gathering and studying of seeds would appear to have little to do with each other, but Palestinian-American filmmaker Jumana Manna conflates these subjects in her new hourlong documentary, Wild Relatives, whose title refers to the natural versions of plants altered by humans. Among other things, Manna looks at modern threats to both the natural world and the work of small farmers, and documents how a Syrian research center's gene bank of seed samples — left behind in the chaos of the country's civil war — was re-created with backup samples stored in the Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle. Manna will attend the screening. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Mon., Dec. 10, 8:30 p.m.; $12. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Falling James
Fresh Off the Boat, now in its fifth season, has broken cultural barriers as the first sitcom with an all–Asian-American lead cast since Margaret Cho's All-American Girl nearly 25 years ago. Inspired by restaurateur Eddie Huang's 2013 memoir, the ABC comedy follows the Taiwanese Huang family — including tough, penny-pinching matriarch Jessica (Constance Wu), steakhouse owner and affable dad Louis (Randall Park), their three boys (Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler, Ian Chen) and grandmother (Lucille Soong) — in Orlando in the '90s. Since the show premiered in 2015, Wu has become a film star thanks to Crazy Rich Asians and Park has become a comedy staple; and big-name comedian Ali Wong was a writer on the show for two seasons The Paley Center's An Evening with Fresh Off the Boat features a screening and discussion with actors Park and Wu as well as executive producer Nahnatchka Khan. Paley Center, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; Mon., Dec. 10, 7 p.m.; $25. (310) 786-1000, paleycenter.org. —Siran Babayan
Cast your mind back to a simpler, more innocent time, when having a mistress was so impossibly immoral that having it exposed in public meant you couldn't get elected dogcatcher, let alone president. At this screening of Jason Reitman's new film The Front Runner — the story of Democratic candidate Gary Hart's 1988 presidential bid and the exposure of his affair with Donna Rice — you'll see Hugh Jackman's deft and nuanced portrayal of Hart and witness his downfall as he wipes out from a lethal combination of the shifting winds of moralizing and demoralization. A Q&A with director Reitman follows the screening. Billy Wilder Theatre, Hammer Museum, 10898 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tue., Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m.; $20 general, $10 members. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu/programs-events/2018/12/the-front-runner-and-qa-with-jason-reitman. —David Cotner
The photographs in Jeremiah Chechik's new exhibition, “Among Stones” at Hollywood's SHOW Gallery, could never be tagged #nofilter. His crisp, eerie and evocative landscape captures from the Joshua Tree desert show the iconic arboreal and heavy-stone masses and shapes in stark relief against flawless skies — but the air has its own thing going on. Though made as photographs, with the luscious saturation of the palette cues he layers in, subtly gradient and responsive to natural shade and shadow, Chechik takes on the role of color-field painter or science fiction illustrator. Strange and beautiful, alien and romantic painting and photography combine to do what art does: show us back our familiar world, transformed. SHOW Gallery, 1515 N. Gardner St., Hollywood; opening reception: Wed., Dec. 12, 6-9 p.m.; exhibit: Tue.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m., thru Jan. 5; free. (323) 834-8142, show.gallery. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Writ Large Press is 10 years old this month and to celebrate, instead of a book, the DTLA imprint's commemorative release is a mixtape. Like, on cassette. This actually makes sense because WLP is an old-school, hard-drinking, late-night dancing, chapbook-publishing, raucous public readings, crate-diving kind of independent literary hub. The mixtape is a limited edition (100 copies) that includes readings by a panoply of WLP's poet and author family members, such as Melora Walters, Mike Sonksen, F. Douglas Brown, Teka-Lark Fleming, Chiwan Choi, Khadija Anderson, Rachel McLeod Kaminer and Ernest Hardy. For a poetry party, this one is going to get loud. Grand Star Jazz Club, 943 N. Broadway, Chinatown; Thu., Dec. 13, 8-11 p.m.; free. facebook.com/writlargepress. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Santa's for suckers. For LA.'.s darkside-loving denizens, it's all about the Krampus, and for six years now the annual Los Angeles Krampuslauf (Krampus Run) has been gathering fans of the Central European folklore figure for a raucous procession through the depths of downtown (Winston between Main and Los Angeles streets). And it's happening during Art Walk! Expect Krampusy chaos as people dressed in hairy and horny getups pound the pavement and party like animals. The run/walk portion is from 8 to 9 p.m., followed by a free gathering at the Lash (117 Winston St.) from 9 to 10 p.m. How all these horrific holiday hijinx are going to stay within the perimeters of a mere two hours is anyone's guess, but don't be surpised to see more faux fur in downtown's surrounding bars and hangouts on Thursday. Those interested in being an official performer at the event, email email@example.com. Downtown L.A.; Thu, Dec. 13, 8-10 p.m.; free. krampuslosangeles.com/la-krampuslauf-2018. —Lina Lecaro