This week, a heavily armed father reaches for his albino baby and an army of Lenin busts finds a new home.
In 1763, Mexican artist Miguel Cabrera painted a family on a canvas scroll. The man wears the kind of leather jacket worn by Spanish soldiers tasked with reigning in rebellious Native Americans. He has a dagger in the pocket of his velvety blue pants and a rifle beside him. He sits, taking a well-dressed toddler with albinism from her morisca mother. Cabrera’s painting is a casta painting, part of a genre of artworks that depicted the race-based social rank system the Spaniard’s devised for Mexico. It hangs in LACMA’s current exhibition, “Painted in Mexico: 1700-1790,” a show full of works like this one, lush in detail and loaded with the complicated cultural realities of a time in which one cultural was asserting itself over, colliding with and collapsing into another. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through March 18, 2018. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
Manipulating Mrs. Allfours
Jeremy Anderson’s miniature bronze sculpture, Mrs. Allfours Posing for the Marquis de Sade (1966), takes an uncomfortable approach to eroticism. The title is a pun and tribute to the original sadist, and the sculpture depicts a flat-limbed woman standing on arms and legs that are all exactly they same length, her hair falling over her face. The sculpture currently sits on a white pedestal as part of Anderson’s quixotic retrospective at the Landing, right beside another bronze depiction of Mrs. Allfours. This time, the woman lays on her back on a beige brick, with Sigmund Freud’s head growing out of her crotch. The show, by the under-known painter and sculptor who worked in the Bay Area until his 1982 death, teems with slightly twisted, sometimes sexist, gorgeously crafted riffs on history. Toys of a Prince (After G. de Chirico, 1914) turns a party hat the Italian painter de Chirico painted over a century ago into a three-dimensional object. A top, balls and other celebratory, playful objects sit on an orange wooden table that slants toward the floor. Nearby sits Belladonna Amaryllis (1970), a life-size sculpture of a naked woman carved from sugar pine holding herself up, breasts skyward, her feet and elbows resting on fake tiger skin. 5118 W. Jefferson Blvd.; West Adams; through Dec. 16. (323) 272-3194, thelandinggallery.com.
Artist Jack Pierson curated “Tomorrow’s Man 4,” the group show currently up in the side gallery at Regen Projects (Pierson’s big text sculptures and Gary Simmons' minimal word paintings hang in the main gallery). He layered art on top of art in such a way that the whole experience becomes much more important than any one work by any one artist. Posters by Cali DeWitt hang on all four walls: the word “Waste Land,” “Buried Alive” and “Chronic Pain” are superimposed over photos of pink roses, while “Guiding Light” and “Miracle Work” appear over photos of fiery explosions. John Tottenham’s pen and ink drawings of rural towns that look economically distressed hang on top of Dewitt’s posters, as do Trevor Hernandez’s photographs of stairways blocked off by police tape or weeds and brush. Two red, black and white signs painted by Shari Elf hang high, flanking the entrance. One says “Surrender” and the other says “Sign from God.” Alone, all this work would feel bleak and dystopian, but together it's festive, like a party at which all the guests lean toward gallows humor. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through Dec. 22. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.
Since the Broad museum opened downtown, one of its claims to fame has been that window into its interior storage room, which you can gaze through while ascending and descending the sci-fi stairwell. At the Wende Museum of Cold War artifacts, which just opened anew in the former National Guard Armory in Culver City, you can get much, much closer to the storage. Two long hallways on either side of the main exhibition space include drawers and glass cases. There’s an egg-shaped chair from West Germany in one case, and a small army of Lenin busts in another. The most arresting Lenin bust, though, is in a glass case right near the entrance and one of the first objects you see when you enter: Pink Lenin, a bust of the Communist icon made in the 1960s, was spray painted hot pink and pastel green during a 1989 uprising in Leipzig, when it turned from a patriotic object into a protest piece. The best works in the thematically organized inaugural show, “Cold War Spaces,” are like this — their meanings were altered as history unfolded. 10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City; through April 29. (310) 216-1600, wendemuseum.org.
Through the hole
There’s currently a hole in the partition that divides the front half of Cherry and Martin gallery from the back half. A narrow table with cinderblock legs stretches through it, and on that table sit ceramic vessels by artist Adam Silverman. The whole thing looks irrationally precarious, like these vessels are on a conveyor belt barely wide enough to hold them, traveling through a tunnel to nowhere. But none of the uneven, textured, subtly colored objects have fallen. Three endearingly lumpy, phallic ceramic sculptures sit on the floor near the back as if standing guard over the whole situation. 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City; through Jan. 27, 2018. (310) 559-0100, cherryandmartin.com.