This week, paintings in Culver City are optimistic but in a measured way, and dancers in offensive silk scarves usher in MOCA's Mike Kelley survey.
5. Street-corner exhibitionism
At the intersection of Fountain and Virgil, across from Boo's Philly Cheesesteaks, there's a homemade wood and glass display case that's about 10 feet tall. It's built into someone's side yard and it has been home to funny, fairly simple installations for at least the past year. Last month, there was a gold-encrusted bikini in there. Right now, it features a large, black-and-white-striped object the shape of a guillotine blade. Southwest corner of Virgil and Fountain, Silver Lake.
4. Future sidewalk furniture
“When people climb out of the hole in about 2020, what will they meet?” asks Ben Caldwell, longtime Leimert Park – based artist and advocate, referring to the opening of the Leimert Metro station in his historic neighborhood. He'd been thinking about that when he partnered with USC professor François Bar, a group of students and a group of Leimert artists to imagine different ways to make street life lively again – such as “subverting” old pay phones, turning them into storytelling machines and installing them along the street. They've also been working on other interactive sidewalk furniture prototypes. Some will be on view this weekend during Leimert Park Art Walk, in the pop-up plaza at the end of the square, which Bar and Caldwell would love to make permanent by convincing the city to close off a stretch of street. 43rd and Degnan, Leimert Park Village; Sunday, March 30, 3-8 p.m. leimertparkartwalk.com.
3. Imaginary deathly shadows
The Hammer's small vault gallery has always felt somewhat churchlike, which makes Andra Ursuta's current installation in that space feel even more like an old-fashioned churchyard scene than it otherwise would. Ursuta never visits cemeteries, but she made the sculptures for this show based on the shadows she imagines gravestones casting. The multicolored, knotty plaster and found-object shapes in varying size are quirky and ghostly in a transfixing way. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; through May 26. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
2. Heavy fashion
In 1989, fantastic L.A. artist Mike Kelley, who died last year, collaborated with choreographer Anita Pace to make Pansy Metal/Clovered Hoof. A performance that's ritualistic and loosely inspired by fashion shows, it involves dancers wearing dress-length silk scarves Kelley designed – one depicts a black-and-white penis wearing a crown – and moving down, up and across a runway to heavy-metal music. When Kelley's survey opens at MOCA's Geffen building this weekend, four dancers will reprise the performance, with music by British band Motorhead accompanying. 152 N. Central Ave., dwntwn.; Sunday, March 30, 1 p.m.; membership required. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.
1. Happy days, here for now
Rebecca Morris makes work that's unpretentiously smart and sunny in a way that's more matter-of-fact than optimistic. She painted a blue sky – like expanse at the center of one of the new paintings in “Fantastic L.A.,” her current show at LAXART. Polka dots and small strips of patterns resembling bricks and pebbles frame the blue, and the main, thick border is the color of terra cotta. Looking at this painting in particular is like looking out the window on a pleasant day and thinking you don't necessarily expect the skies to stay that way, but you should enjoy them for as long as they do. 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; through April 26. (323) 868-5893, laxart.org.
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