This week, treat yourself to a shot of cultural infusion that won't break your bank. Los Angeles is teeming with art experiences right now, both campy and highbrow, from eccentric pop art in Venice Beach and Barnsdall Park to a talk with controversial museum director Jeffrey Deitch. Embrace the October spirit with a Walktoberfest architecture tour in Beverly Hills or a Dia de Los Muertos festival in Whittier. And revel in the fact that all but one of these five events are free of charge.
5. Beyond Eden Art Fair
The Beyond Eden art fair began in 2008 as East of Eden. By its sophomore installation, however, the name had been changed to reflect the fact that the new contemporary-art movement had outgrown the Eastside geography that was its L.A. spawning ground, occupying galleries all over town and claiming a seat at the mainstream art table. Now in its fourth edition, Beyond Eden is a rock & roll take on the art-fair experience, tailored for the part of the art world that typically would skip the fancy-pants fair circuit. The 2013 edition features expansive installations by four galleries that have been pillars of what we're not supposed to call “lowbrow art” anymore — C.A.V.E. Gallery (Venice), Copro Gallery (Santa Monica), Spoke Art (San Francisco) and Thinkspace (Culver City). Wildly popular for its embrace of illustration, street art, graffiti, fantasy, folk, outsider and pop-infused surrealism, the movement has invaded every level of visual culture. More than that, its progressive subversion has forever changed the conversation about what is valuable and important in contemporary art. Saturday's opening reception features live painting, a hosted bar, deejay action and a presentation honoring Greg Escalante of Juxtapoz Magazine and Copro Gallery for his decades of visionary support of the movement. In addition to the presentation of its own gallery artists, fair founder Thinkspace invites local mural and graffiti photographer Birdman to curate a group show of work by the artists he stalks in the streets. Whether you're high or low, L.A. can still be your paradise. L.A. Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., Oct. 12, 5-11 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 13, noon-5 p.m.; free. (323) 644-6269, beyondedenart.com. –Shana Nys Dambrot
4. Dia de los Muertos Art and Music Festival
Over the last 100 years or so, Uptown Whittier has developed an atmosphere of refined California funk, and the occasion of art gallery/community center Casita del Pueblo's annual Día de los Muertos Art and Music Festival should further enhance the district's slightly offbeat tone. The holiday, of course, is much more than gleeful shenanigans: It represents a rich psychological confection, one where the veneration and celebration of lost loved ones brings into sharp focus the temporal quality of life, the importance of accepting death and transcending mourning, the need to reach beyond grief and into a spiritual realm where the past and future seem, somehow, to intertwine. It's one hell of a context for a party. And with the formidable charms of hostesses Lisa Love and Ruby Champagne, costumed revelers, a classic-car show, a wide variety of family and community memorial altars, art, vendors, a tamale cook-off, a kiddie “art zone” and plenty of wild, live music from female-fronted R&B soulsters The Drizz, cumbia-reggae groovemongers Betty's Mustache and high-impact Afrobeat radicals Mexico 68, this lively Day of the Dead throwdown will reach deep inside your soul. Casita del Pueblo, 13100 Philadelphia St., Whittier; Sun., Oct. 13, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. (562) 693-2844, casitadelpueblo.org. –Jonny Whiteside
See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week
3. Beverly Hills Architecture, Art and Alleys Walk
You can be a pedestrian, but you don't have to actually be pedestrian — that's the moral of the Los Angeles Walks-presented Beverly Hills Architecture, Art and Alleys Walk. A 2-mile, all-ages triptych of architecture, public art and secret alleys in Beverly Hills led by renowned street-beater Ellen Lutwak, it starts at Nic's, Larry Nicola's swinging restaurant in the posh suburb's downtown. He's supporting the Walk because of his reasonably Zen observation that “everyone has to slow down.” Accordingly, he'll bike to work from Mid-Wilshire and tell you all about what he's gleaned from his decades-long Beverly Hills experience as he walks with you. It's the second in L.A. Walks' Walktoberfest series: Subsequent journeys through Glendale (Oct. 19) and Santa Monica (Oct. 26) also will end in a place where you can have a nice refreshing drink when the sidewalk ends. Nic's, 453 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; Mon., Oct. 14, 5:30 p.m.; free. (310) 550-5707, facebook.com/losangeleswalks. –David Cotner
2. Venice ArtBlock to “Keep Venice Weird”
When Google took over the former Chiat/Day building on Main Street in Venice Beach (you know, the one with the giant Claes Oldenburg binoculars out front), locals figured that would be fine. A fairly progressive company (or at least one that wants to be seen that way), the tech giant attempted to prove its indie street cred by signing on as the major sponsor of the legendary Venice Art Walk. The annual event, held in May, was in some ways expanded, which was all well and good. But feathers were ruffled in the 'hood when boundaries were tightened to exclude certain blocks — booting some perennial participants from the open-studios tour at the event's core. But this is Venice, dammit, and these artists ain't playin' — they're pushing back. This Sunday's free, self-guided tour of nearly 50 art and design studios, Venice ArtBlock, offers art walkers what a source close to the fracas calls “a counterpoint to the exclusionary fiasco of the corporate co-opting.” Meet at the group's ad hoc HQ at Sunset and Fourth to get your route map (or download it from the website) and catch a shuttle if you prefer your art without the walk. Folks are organizing music, food trucks, wine sponsors, performances, discussions, demonstrations, readings, live art, crafts and, above all, an experience that reflects the bohemian soul that made — and is working hard to preserve — the Venice you know and love. Fourth Street and Sunset Avenue, Venice; Sun., Oct. 13, noon-5 p.m.; free. (310) 957-7037, veniceartblock.com. –S.N.D.
1. Talk Art with Jeffrey Deitch and Michael Chow
If there is one secret to financial success that restaurateur Michael Chow and outgoing MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch probably would agree on, it's the power of quality eyewear. The bespectacled lightning rods have left quite a mark on the art scene. Mr. Chow (of the eponymous restaurant) amassed a sturdy collection of contemporary paintings since selling his first Peking duck in London in 1968, while Deitch sold off a wall's worth of art in 1972 and never looked back. Deitch spent three years running MOCA before recently submitting his resignation after being lambasted for embracing celebrity (in Los Angeles? The nerve!) and inspiring a mass defection from the museum's board. Come see Michael Chow, Jeffrey Deitch and Steven D. Lavine, president of CalArts, talk about the business of art before they're all run out of town. REDCAT Theater, 631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; Tues., Oct. 15, 8:30 p.m.; $10 general, $8 REDCAT members, $5 students, free for CalArts students/faculty/staff. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. –Sean J. O'Connell
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