Bibliophiles, engine-loathing cyclists and fans of absurd but beautiful Technicolor art can probably leave their wallets at home this week, at least if they're looking for something fun to do.
7. Bedazzle This!
There is a certain operatic, archetypal quality to the process Mickalene Thomas uses to create her artwork. Her inspiration draws on images of African-American women in popular culture, her own childhood memories and memes from art history, which is a familiar enough way to approach contemporary visual art. But as her unique process moves through stages of photography, collage and painting on its way to becoming large-scale, Technicolor, hyperactively patterned, glittering and literally Bedazzled portraits, landscapes and interiors, it both charms and disorients. Overstimulating and absurdly beautiful, Thomas' work is joyful yet ominous, as her compositions assembled from heavy lines and blocks of rich color and bold patterns threaten to fly apart before your eyes. But the pictures also have a strangely tranquil quality; the way they flirt with abstraction lends a dreamlike interior logic to the tableaux, which signals their deeper meanings. “Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe” is her first big, solo museum show, and it encompasses her iconic portraits of women in domestic settings, as well as her depopulated interiors, which are no less rich in expressing the tug of fantasy and nostalgia. New for this show is a series of landscape paintings that use her full bag of kaleidoscopic, visual strategies to take her female figures out into the world beyond the house of memory. Santa Monica Museum of Art, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., April 13, 7-9 p.m.; exhibit runs Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Aug. 18; free. (310) 586-6488, smmoa.org. — Shana Nys Dambrot
6. Everything's Coming Up Woody
Three months shy of what would be his 100th birthday, Woody Guthrie, the prolific, influential and politically charged folk musician, is being celebrated with a daylong conference arranged by “four distinguished universities,” the Woody Guthrie Archives and the Grammy Museum. “The Dust Bowl Troubadour” traveled alongside migrant workers from Oklahoma to California, gathering songs and rising to fame in Depression-era L.A. Woody Guthrie's Los Angeles: A Centenary Celebration offers a heady program for an itinerant wanderer whose guitar announced “This Machine Kills Fascists,” with discussions examining Guthrie's “Musical/Political Evolution,” “Woody's Influences Across Space and Race,” the forging of “an American political tradition,” labor unrest, migration and the Dust Bowl culture. The day is punctuated by performances from students at the Thornton School of Music; guests also can opt to attend the separate Club Nokia musical celebration, featuring John Doe, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Morello and others. University Park Campus, Bovard Auditorium, 3551 Trousdale Pkwy.; Sat., April 14, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; free, resv. required: web-app.usc.edu/ws/eo2/calendar/113/event/893771. — Skylaire Alfvegren
5. Ooh, Ooh, That Smell
“Harsh Realities Still Remain” are the bywords by which the Kaleidomagorics VII: Quasi-Festival of Quasi-Festivals girds its collective creative loins, spewing out the plume of raw, gritty creativity that is the usual spiritual sanctum around the Smell. What to expect from tonight's particular world of wonders: music by Sir Axel Estrada; heavy-metal merchants Ides of Gemini, who have their debut LP out next month on hotly touted Neurot Recordings; the Coptic dottiness of musical prestidigitators Lantvrn; and Moab. In between the music are $5 haircuts from Cinco Dollares (the duo of Kiersa Carhart and Brenda Jett Kamt); a custom leather and denim bazaar; an exhibition of art and visuals by Kyle Forrest Burns, Andrew Jason Conte, Martin de Pedro, Ruairiadh O'Connell and Travis Wyche; and those ever-popular, “yummy” vegan baked goods from the culinary cabal of Maneesh Madahar and Michelle Marquis. The Smell, 247 S. Main St., dwntwn.; Sat., April 14, 8 p.m.; $5. (213) 625-4325, thesmell.org. — David Cotner
4. It's Pronounced “Cic-la-VEE-a”
CicLAvia is a very fun biking event that happens twice a year. The people close down some streets and you can come to these streets on April 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can each either jog, walk or ride a bike. There are many friendly people at CicLAvia, like when I was biking up a tough hill and my dad was helping me from one side and then another guy started helping me from the other side and I was able to get to the top of the hill! CicLAvia is a very fun experience, and what is very cool is that on a daily basis, these streets are full of cars. So go to CicLAvia if you want to have fun on these closed streets! Route covers Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, through Little Tokyo, downtown, Westlake and MacArthur Park, Koreatown and into East Hollywood; Sun., April 15 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.; free; info at ciclavia.org. — Mojo Hill (age 10)
3. These Books Are Made for Giving
In one week, it'll be World Book Night — when people around the world who might not ordinarily have access are given books by various benefactors. It's also the anniversary of the deaths of both Cervantes and Shakespeare, who undoubtedly would love to take part in World Book Night if they weren't already dead. Something so inescapably global needs preparation, of course — and tonight's World Book Night Advance Party is brimming with goodwill, free pie and door prizes. Some of the books selected for World Book Night: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers; The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; Just Kids by Patti Smith; and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (and she knows from pies!). So, if you've signed up to give the gift of literacy (or, at the very least, the blessing of annihilated boredom), pick up your boxes of chosen books at Diesel and have some pie as you do. Wash your hands first, though. Diesel Books, 225 26th St., Ste. 33, Brentwood; Mon., April 16, 6 p.m.; free. (310) 576-9960, dieselbookstore.com. — D.C.
2. Armenian to Tell You Something
Fans of now-dormant System of a Down might have gotten a better understanding of the metal band's politics thanks to Screamers. Carla Garapedian's 2006 film pairs concert footage with the members' reflections on the Armenian genocide, the 20th century's first, perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks during World War I, which has yet to be acknowledged by the current Turkish government. It's both a cultural and personal bone of contention, as most of the musicians are descendants of survivors, including head screamer Serj Tankian, seen in the film interviewing his 96-year-old grandfather, who was raised in American missionary orphanages after his family perished. (Activist Tankian often puts his money where his loud mouth is; the documentary accompanies Tankian and bandmade John Dolmayan as they attend a D.C. rally and confront then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert in the hopes of getting Congress to pass a resolution that would formally recognize the genocide, only to be politely brushed off.) Included are interviews with other survivors, as well as the usual political and scholarly talking heads, who argue the broader moral message that one form of ethnic cleansing begets another, be it the Holocaust, Iraqi Kurds, Rwanda, Kosovo or Darfur. The screening is part of the museum's trio of events commemorating the Armenian Genocide, including director Atom Egoyan's 2002 film, Ararat, followed by a talk with Egoyan and Tankian later this month. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; Tues., April 17, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000; hammer.ucla.edu. — Siran Babayan
1. Oh Say Yosemite
L.A. Times staff photographer and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Mark Boster has covered the news in California for 28 years. It's his work covering the changing seasons in California's Yosemite National Park, however, that is set to shine tonight with the unveiling of his lavish coffee-table book Four Seasons of Yosemite ($34.95, Time Capsule Press). As if the prospect of a book of good-smelling, beautiful photographs weren't enough, the book also includes the Robert Redford-narrated DVD Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven. This isn't just a meet-and-greet, either: Boster will give tips to aspiring photographers on how to catch that perfect shot. Given the timeless, unyielding nature of Yosemite, this might seem like not much of a challenge — but tricks both of nature and light usually reveal more surprises than one could hope to imagine. Now if we could just get that coffee-table book on Yosemite Sam. The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., dwntwn.; Wed., April 18, 7:30 p.m.; free. (213) 488-0599, lastbookstorela.com. — D.C.