Exposition Park is the place to be this week: A photographer who tied up illicitly picked flowers speaks at USC, while a Norwegian photographer who worked more than a century ago and a group of self-taught African-American artists have smart work up nearby.
5. Dollhouse for an iconoclast
In that sometimes-awkward corner at the back of Night Gallery, artist Sam Anderson has installed a tiny tableau. A single wooden door a few inches high, propped up by miniature red bricks, stands next to some pebbles. Thumb-sized matryoshka dolls stand near a wall, and there's a haphazard construction-material sculpture, which looks a lot like Anderson's much bigger works in the next room. It's like the dollhouse alternative for the kid who doesn't dream of a conventional life at all, and it's among the highlights in the gallery's current group show. 2276 E. 16th St., dwntwn.; through April 6. (650) 384-5448, nightgallery.ca.
4. Wildlife utopia
Japanese artist Ito Jakuchu probably made Birds, Animals and Flowering Plants sometime in the mid-1700s, decades before American painter Edward Hicks made his famous Peaceable Kingdom. But the idea is similar: Creatures that wouldn't normally congregate are all happily there, in close quarters. Jakuchu's image, a boldly colored mosaic that plays out across six panels, is part of the “Color of Life” show in LACMA's Japanese Pavilion. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through April 20. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.
3. Pulling up the flowers
“I've always taken things from underneath and put them on top, so it would make sense that I would pull all the flowers out and try to see them better by contrasting them against the sky,” Collier Schorr said in 2008 of her Blumen photos, bound-up flowers suspended between fence posts or other such things. Schorr's photographs, whether of flowers, wrestlers or boys warily posing as girls, are compelling on their own. But they're even better when she talks about them, which she'll do at USC this week. 850 W. 37th St., Exposition Park; Friday, March 27, 7:30 p.m. (213) 740-2787, roski.usc.edu.
2. Doing it their way
Herbert Singleton, an artist who spent 14 years in Louisiana prisons for a range of offenses, scrawled “hEAVEN hELP US ALL” in white against his wood-carved, painted relief of a funeral procession. A tree in the background with only one thick branch looks as if it's pointing the way to the mausoleum, and the woman walking beside the bright gold casket looks gut-wrenchingly sad, even though the colors around her are fantastically bright. It's not the lack of training that makes him or others in the California African American Museum's current show of self-taught artists from the South impressive. It's the efficacy and urgency of the images. Singleton, heaven-and-hell-obsessed Leroy Almon and self-styled historian Sam Doyle taught themselves exactly what they needed to know to express what they wanted to. 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; through April 6. (213) 744-7432, caamuseum.org.
1. Century-old poseur
Marie Høeg worked as a commercial photographer in the 1890s and early 1900s, taking souvenir portraits and landscape photos. She had a partner, Bolette Berg, certainly a professional partner and maybe also a romantic one; together they staged a number of fantastic portraits poking fun at Norwegian stereotypes, never meant for public view. Høeg would adopt perfectly stoic expressions and had a masculinely defiant affect. She posed as a polar explorer in one, the one Sille Storihle first saw when doing research on nationalism. Storihle and Liv Bugge — together, they make up the artist collective Frank — became fascinated by the work, and the way it reads now, as gender-bending experiments. They decided to exhibit the photos, currently on view at the One Archive along with mesmerizing video work by contemporary Norwegian artist Klara Lidén. 909 W. Adams Blvd., Exposition Park; through June 28. (213) 741-0094, onearchives.org.
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