For those constantly churning minds looking for inspirational artists and events, this week proves a treasure trove of creative happenings. From a pop-up Etsy shop to a wacky parade to a musician playing an instrument her husband built, these offbeat events prove that if there's any place to let your imagination roam free it's L.A.
5. Half-Pipe, With a Twist
In 1984, two Montreal street performers took their popular combination of performance and acrobatics onto a global stage, and so began Cirque du Soleil's conquest of the world. Two decades later, Cirque du Soleil alums launched a new generation of nouveau circus performers under the title Seven Fingers or Les 7 Doigts du Main. That ensemble has in turn spawned Traces, a septet of multitalented performers who whiz through thrillingly choreographed episodes that weave acrobatics with activities like skateboarding, basketball and other sports, with a soundtrack by Radiohead, VAST and Blackalicious. Traces arrives with glowing reviews from Montreal and New York; Time listed it as one of the year's top 10 plays and musicals. The name Les 7 Doigts du Main is a play on a French idiom that references separate things that are so closely knit they work as one. There may be no comparable English idiom, but given the rave reviews the troupe garners, nothing appears to get lost in translation. Catch a video preview at tracesusa.com/sights/videos. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Fri.-Sat., April 26-27, 7:30 p.m., Sun., April 28, 2 p.m.; $25-$70. musiccenter.org. — Ann Haskins
4. Getting Etsy With It
For nearly a decade, Etsy has been a virtual alternative to craft fairs, offering an online storefront for artists, designers, thrifters and crafters. But with the recent founding of regional meet-up groups like SoCal Etsy Guild, members are striving to take their businesses offline — at least for an afternoon — at in-person events. Enter Mom and Pop Up Shop. A one-day-only collaboration with permanent San Pedro marketplace Crafted, the pop-up shop boasts more than 50 artisan vendors inside the Port of Los Angeles' World War II-era warehouses (just down the street from the permanently anchored battleship USS Iowa) and an equal number of booths hawking jewelry, quilts, scarves, fine art and housewares on the breezy, waterside campus. The city offers free trolley service from the port to downtown San Pedro, but with grub from Vella Pizza and Gravy Train Poutinerie and a full lineup of DJs and activities, you may never want to leave the port. 110 E. 22nd St., San Pedro; Sat., April 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (310) 732-1270, craftedportla.com. — Jennifer Swann
3.Your Closet Is a Protest Zone
When you're watching news reports about protests and demonstrations around the world, you probably don't focus on what the activists are wearing — but artist Jemima Wyman does. Going beyond overt signifiers like masks, which often are worn to thwart facial-recognition tools more than to instill fear, Wyman's interest in clothing-based guises and disguises isn't fashion. Rather, she is curious about how apparel like the ubiquitous black-and-white keffiyehs favored by the PLO telegraph both the scope of the collective action and the risk to the individual bodies taking it. As a painter, Wyman's language is partly based in intrigues of color, pattern, movement, layering and craft. As an engaged citizen, she is fascinated by the overlay of person and potency expressed in costume. In her new show at Steve Turner Contemporary, Effacing Power, she looks specifically at the Steubenville rape case and the imprisonment of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot, as well as more violent agitation, such as the overthrow-seeking Egyptian group Black Bloc. She incorporates painting, collage, fabric, photography and elements of craft like dyeing, quilting, stitching and weaving to not only depict and deconstruct but also evoke and memorialize in a way the 24-hour news cycle just can't. Steve Turner Contemporary, 6026 Wilshire Blvd.; Sat., April 27, 6-9 p.m.; exhibit runs through May 18, Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; free. (323) 931-3721, steveturnercontemporary.com. — Shana Nys Dambrot
2. They Never Promised Us a Rose Parade
Since 1978, the Doo Dah Parade has existed as the public face of the high weirdness that seems to manifest throughout the greater metropolitan Pasadena area — and it's a joyous, deeply wacky occasion that enters its 36th year of sincere surrealism and off-kilter fun. Some of this year's entries include enunciation enthusiast Sandra Tsing Loh and her phalanx of lab-coated JPL scientists in a convertible Cadillac; Grand Marshal Alan Zorthian, the son of the late artist Jirayr, who founded the bohemian artist paradise in Altadena known as the Zorthian Ranch; the BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team, which cooks hot dogs along the parade route, shooting them from brat-zookas for the delight and delectation of the crowd; and Snotty Scotty & the Hankies, an outfit that has led every single one of the 36 Doo Dah Parades. This year's parade is tinged with a bit of sorrow, however: Jim Kemp, creator of Doo Dah favorite the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team (which appeared in the video for Jackson Browne's “Lawyers in Love”) died July 13. East Colorado Boulevard between Altadena Drive and San Gabriel Boulevard, Pasadena; Sat., April 27, 11 a.m.; free. (626) 590-1134, pasadenadoodahparade.info. — David Cotner
1. 400 Years of Cool
“One of the reasons I enjoy contemporary music so much is that it presents languages that are completely unknown in advance of the encounter,” Gloria Cheng once observed. “The challenge of sifting through the raw data and eventually assimilating both the language and the meaning really appeals to my intellect as well as my soul.” Cheng, whose breathtaking mastery of 20th- and 21st-century piano music has earned her the title of contemporary music's “oracle,” moves over to the harpsichord this week when she presents The Intrepid Harpsichord, a recital of works “beloved and audacious” from composers past and present. The program is typical Cheng, brimming with the unexpected — such as the world premieres of William Kraft's Quillery, Veronika Krausas' L'ombre du luth and Stephen Andrew Taylor's Ubiquitin, cheek to cheek with baroque classics like François Couperin's delectable Les Barricades Mystérieuses, one of the most beautiful harpsichord works ever written, which is, in essence, an inside joke — the “mysterious barricades” referring to the huge skirts that covered women in the 18th century! Past and present are united in more ways than one: Cheng performs on an instrument built by her husband, on a model created by French master harpsichord builder Pascal Taskin (1723-1793). Presented by Piano Spheres at the Colburn School, Zipper Concert Hall, 200 S. Grand St., dwntwn.; Tues., April 30, 8 p.m.; $25, $15 students. (323) 692-8075, pianospheres.org. –Mary Beth Crain
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