A painter hangs some of his work outside in Mid-Wilshire, and downtown, another painter powwows with a geologist and a marine biologist.
Linda Stark’s Purple Protection Potion is a gooey, small work. Petals, herbs, stones and glass eyeballs bulge from beneath the translucent pink and purple paint, which drips off the edges of the canvas. Stark, who has been working in Los Angeles since the 1980s, also made a potion graph to accompany the painting so viewers will know what the potion contains. Her bodily, fantastical work — which includes a lush painting of a navel and another of a bespectacled cartoon cobra — hangs alongside paintings by Agnes Pelton and Alex Olson. Pelton worked in the 1940s making spiritual Southwestern landscapes that hang here in gold frames. Olson depicts containers for emotions and uncertainties. In one of her works, a yellow heart floats in a glass pitcher that’s about to pour out its contents. 1201 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-Wilshire; through May 28. (310) 586-6886, kaynegriffincorcoran.com.
New York-based artist Chris Martin has hung framed paintings on the exterior of David Kordansky Gallery for his show “Saturn Returns,” so there’s a psychedelic star streetside and a galactic, glittery blue scene along the driveway. Hopefully, it's the beginning of a trend — more exhibitions on gallery exteriors would be a boon. Inside, Martin’s paintings are bigger, including the looming portrait of Amy Winehouse, pink-skinned and dressed in a red bikini top. With the exception of a painted frog and cigarette-smoking skeleton, it’s the only explicitly figurative painting in the exhibition. The others are glitter-encrusted abstractions, the strokes often expressively loose and aggressive but the palettes whimsical (hot pink abounds). 5130 W. Edgewood Place, Mid-Wilshire; through May 28. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
Vanished Animal 3, a sculpture by Iva Gueorguieva, has a petite steel ladder at its center. Colored clay shapes and printed fabric loop and lean off that ladder. This and Gueorguieva’s other sculptures would look like ruins, leftover from some urban disaster, if the colors weren’t so bright and the pedestals they sit on so perfectly white. They’re included in “The Conversation” at Steve Turner right now, a two-person show that also includes paintings by Mexico City-based Joaquin Boz. All part of his Camouflage series, Boz’s paintings have a world weariness to them; they’ve been scratched at, rubbed out and worked over, so now they look faded and blurry. Gueorguieva’s sculptures lack that sense of completion, and make up for it with their exuberance. 6830 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through May 28. (323) 460-6830, steveturner.la.
In 2007, artist Karl Haendel made a two-column list. On the left, he listed characteristics of Hitler and, on the right, his own characteristics. Hitler was murderer, while Haendel is a “jay walker.” Haendel is a Jew, Hitler was a “Jew killer.” Haendel is a “failing artist”; Hitler failed as an artist. This list, large, framed and handwritten, hangs at the start of Haendel and Tony Lewis’s two-person show at LAXArt. Right across the room, Lewis has used screws, rubber bands and loose graphite to spell out “Don’t Rain on other people’s parades.” Dark fingerprints messily surround the words. These two works set the tone for the show, and precise drawings and balled-up paper fill the space between them. The galleries overflow with conflicting impulses. The anxious energy of self-conscious perfectionist keeps butting up against the urge to blot things out, tear them up and leave marks behind. 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; through May 21. (323) 871-4140, laxart.org.
Painting with scientists
Artist Lily Simonson used to have specimens in jars around her studio, research material for her big, expressive, improvisational paintings of sea animals and landscapes. She started traveling to Antarctica a few years ago, working alongside scientists. It’s not often you get to hear a painter more interested in mood and gesture than precision talk about her collaborations with marine biologists. But biologist Gretchen Hofmann of UC Santa Barbara and Joe Levy, a planetary geologist from University of Texas, will talk with Simonson this weekend about working together in the Antarctic. 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown; Sat., May 21, 3 p.m. (213) 806-7889, cb1gallery.com.