This week, one artist pays homage to Donald Duck's trouble-making nephews, and another makes bad jokes in Hollywood.
Sardine can militance
A life-sized doll of a KKK member sits next to a tiny man with a receding hairline and orange-ish skin and curls. They’re both inside the antique, three-wheeled motorized cart that’s at the center of Steve Hull’s show at Meliksetian Briggs. The cart practically fills the small gallery and has a jerry-rigged speaker attached to its roof, blasting a muffled sermon given by an old-school preacher. The cart pulls a gray battleship made of sardine cans behind it, and abstract paintings by Hull hang on the walls. Crippled by Guilt is a web of thick gray lines above a deep blue. A confederate flag and a U.S. flag flank it, while a model of a white church sits on a barrel in front of it. It’s not clear how the painting relates to these loaded accoutrements, but confusion seems to be part of the show’s point. 313 N. Fairfax Ave., Beverly Grove; through April 15. (310) 625-7049, meliksetianbriggs.com.
A firecracker exploded under their father’s chair, which is why Huey, Dewey and Louie had to move in with their Uncle Donald Duck. Only later, once the three little ducks were already in his care, did Donald realize that they’d placed that firecracker under the chair themselves. So the story went in 1937, when comic artist Al Taliaferro added the nephews to Donald’s biography. In decades since, the nephews have become nearly as popular as their uncle. Their international presence is, in a way, the impetus for Sarah Ortmeyer’s show at the newly opened alt space Potts, run out of a former plumbing supply shop in Alhambra. There, Berlin-based Ortmeyer has hung white baseball caps on walls and laid them out on the floor in intuitive patterns. Loosely arranged in sets of three, the hats have the nephews’ names on them, translated into a wide variety of languages. Dulik, Bulik, Kulik; Rip, Rap, Rup; Tick, Trick, Track. The whiteness of these hats homogenizes the diversity of the translations, emphasizing the ducks’ identity as global export over their quirkiness as cartoon characters. 2130 Valley Blvd., Alhambra; through April 10. potts.la.
Grass through concrete
Kishio Suga first made Differentiated Order, a sculpture of paper and stone, in 1979. For his current show at Blum & Poe, he has remade it, placing a large, circular sheet of black paper over a constellation of gray stone blocks. Perfect rectangles cut into the paper reveal the stones holding it up, but the surface looks so smooth that it almost seems the gray of the stones has been painted on. Such subtle tricks are Suga’s forte. In the gallery’s foyer, a thin branch weighted down by concrete stands on the floor and arcs back to connect with one of three wooden shelves that Suga has attached to an all-yellow, wall-hanging canvas. Upstairs, grass protrudes from stacks of cinderblocks that stretch across most of the gallery space. 2727 La Cienega Blvd., Mid-City; through April 22. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
The group show at Regen Projects right now is a smorgasbord of artwork from the 1990s, but one that includes gems: artist Gillian Wearing’s video of women blowing into Coke bottles to make music; Lawrence Weiner’s wall texts ("Things Made to Be Seen, Forcefully Obscured"). Richard Prince’s joke painting is in characteristically bad taste, the words printed beneath images of domestic lamps and palm trees: “I met my first girl, her name was Sally. Was that a girl, was that a girl. That’s what people kept asking.” Gary Simmons’ 1993 painting Time 4 Sum Aksion, large and intentionally messy, lifts its title and general look from rapper Redman's single of the same name, also out in 1993. The song gets violent: "Listen, look, oops, brother where your eyes at?/There on the floor, pick 'em up." So does the painting, the text scrawled across it as if in frustration. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through April 14. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.
Helpless talking heads
In Tony Oursler’s Guilty (1995), a mattress smashes a round ball in the shape of a head. A dress protrudes from that head, laid out flat on the floor, and a video projection of a woman’s confused face plays out on the ball/head. It’s awkward to look at, comical and also a bit violent. Her face is moving and looks alive, but she has no control over her situation. New York–based Oursler, who has been working with video and sculpture in weird, uncomfortable ways since the 1980s — his current show at Redling in Hollywood includes an array of talking aliens with painted faces but human, video-captured eyes and mouths. He will speak at the Broad this weekend, as part of the conversational “Unprivate Collection” series. The Broad, Oculus Hall, 221 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri., March 17, 7 p.m.; $10. thebroad.org/programs/un-private-collection-tony-oursler-branden-joseph.