This week, the Los Angeles DWP is the subject of an exhibition, and a boat made of ice slowly sinks.
5. Vaguely located
Jancar Gallery's current show is called “East of Encino, North of MOCA,” mostly because it needed a name and that's an accurate, if unhelpful, description of where the Chinatown-based gallery is (the valley Encino is in being quite a bit farther than the downtown art museum). The show, featuring work by artists featured in the gallery's newly launched print portfolio, is as catchily coy as its name. There's Cyril Kuhn's painting of the pope outside a castle, next to an armored knight; Robert Fontenot's photograph of a clay man with a circle-shaped head reclining in a polo shirt, naked from the waist down; and Richard Newton's altarlike triptych, with ritualistic photographs from his 2011 “Smell a Vagina” show at the gallery printed onto the wood. 961 Chung King Road, Chinatown; through Jan 11. (213) 259-3770, jancargallery.com.
4. Where power comes from
It's the year of the L.A. DWP in so many ways — the union-related fervor during the mayoral election, the L.A. Aqueduct's anniversary. The Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI) has been involved, organizing everything from a bus tour to the re-enactment of the aqueduct's opening, and now it's hosting a display called “LADWP Power.” The exhibit takes as its premise that water accounts for far less of the department's work and budget than power and focuses on the systems behind the city's electricity. 9331 Venice Blvd., Culver City; through Feb. 16. (310) 839-5722, clui.org.
3. Ill-fated voyage
Mumbai-based artist Neha Choksi wears a flowing, plastic cape as she paddles a boat of ice across a shimmering lake in her short film Iceboat. The boat, fully formed at the start, begins to melt. It's hypnotic and gentle, even though you know that the artist is about to sink. Choksi's film is part of “Home Away” at the Armory, a show curated by Kris Kuramitsu and featuring artists who have a home in this city and also somewhere far from here — Choksi used to split her time between L.A. and Mumbai, and other artists in the show have second homes in Ho Chi Minh City, Mexico City or Tokyo. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; through Jan. 26. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.
2. Sort of like a car
Benjamin Reiss' Automobile, a human-sized contraption with carefully pieced-together gears and tubes inside a perfectly smooth, four-sided wood frame, looks as if it might start moving at any moment. Reiss based it on descriptions, not images, of how an automobile works. So it includes vague interpretations of a steering wheel, catalytic converter and other such parts, all brightly colored, and most handcrafted in an impressively intentional way. The sculpture and four loosely architectural, quirkily framed paintings by Conor Thompson make up “Rogue Locomotives,” the current show at Actual Size. 741 New High St., Chinatown; through Jan. 25. (213) 290-5458, actualsizela.com.
1. Can't lose
There's a quote at the top of the image list for “Insider Sports,” the new show at artist-run space Control Room, by 19th-century novelist Honoré de Balzac: “Power is not revealed by striking hard or often but by striking true.” The rhythm and sentiment of those words work so well with the wholeheartedly lighthearted art in the show that's its good to have them running through your head as you look. Ryan Perez's jaggedly shaped, smartly framed collages are the purple of a Vikings jersey. The Alimentary Tract (Tag Team), a video by Conrad Ruiz and Graham Kolbeins, shows what must be male underwear models flexing and turning to an infectious club beat. Ruiz's panoramic, energetic watercolor Pacific Theater depicts sprinters flying forward in the center of a stadium along with a handful of animals — an enthusiastic alligator has just cleared a hurdle. 2006 E. Seventh St., dwntwn.; through Jan. 11. control-room.org.
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