The city’s culture sector is opening back up, but remains committed to both outdoor and online accessibility. For example, while just about every area museum and art gallery is open or about to re-open, this week there’s a monumental amount of film and especially eclectic theatrical offerings, including audio plays and interactive conceptual games, happening exclusively online, as well as a host of site-specific outdoor art experiences.
Thursday, May 20
ART: Celebration Spectrum. Curated by dublab’s Mark McNeill and created for We RIse/ArtRise in collaboration with artist Tanya Aguiñiga, Celebration Spectrum is a month-long public art installation, programming, and digital experience that creates space for the missed celebrations of a year in isolation. The work transforms the outdoor expanse of Grand Park into a deconstructed party, unfolding in a progression of four installations that represent the arc of an epic celebration. On Thursday, May 20, tune into a livestream conversation with Aguiñiga and McNeill, exploring how art can serve as a powerful vehicle for healing and joyful expressions. On view in Grand Park, downtown, through May 31; conversation on Facebook Live, Thursday, May 20, 6pm; free; grandparkla.org.
FILM: Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. IFFLA showcases a combination of features, shorts and documentaries. The festival provides programming and activities that no other film festival in Los Angeles offers and serves a community of Indian and international filmmakers with the potential of reaching a crossover audience. IFFLA offers the Los Angeles community a unique opportunity to learn about India’s multi-faceted culture and long history of filmmaking. May 20-27; online; $20-40; indianfilmfestival.org.
THEATER: Zip Code Plays, Season 2. Last year’s series debut was, “an enchanting and original response to the pandemic era’s lack of live, in-theater experiences,” and a new season takes the potential of the audioplay form in exciting new directions. The six, short (at about 30 minutes each) plays in Season 2 are set in Pacoima, North Hollywood, Monterey Park, Echo Park, Inglewood and West Hollywood. The new season goes live on May 20; free; antaeus.org.
Friday, May 21
ART: Off/On at the Palladium. A big, bright, beautiful neon art installation in the outside windows of the Palladium, for the enjoyment of all who pass by. The event is produced with PBR, local Neon artist Dani Bonnet, and the Museum of Neon in Los Angeles (MONA). The artists include neon art legend and transgender activist Roxy Rose, who’s family were the largest producers of neon signage during its peak of popularity in the 40s and 50s. MONA will be leading guided tours that meet at the Palladium and examine the iconic neon signage in the surrounding area. Hollywood Palladium, on view May 21-28; free; timeout.com; guided tour on May 27, $25; neonmona.org.
ART: Mental Health Practices: Soundbath. Live from from Crenshaw Dairy Mart’s abolitionist pod (prototype) — installed at MOCA as part of the We Rise/ArtRise programming — John San Juan leads a guided soundbath which he hopes will, “help to clear a busy mind and reconnect us to our body. Specific frequencies can improve brain function and restore the body’s natural ability to self-regulate. Receiving sound healing on a regular basis can greatly improve one’s sleep, unlock inspiration, and offer deep relaxation.” Friday, May 21, 11:11am PT; Live on Instagram @moca; free; moca.org.
ART: Paul Pescador at ICALA. The in-person return of Art Buzz gatherings at ICA LA offers exhibition viewing and the chance to meet the artists. For this celebratory new edition, meet artist Paul Pescador along with Asuka Hisa, ICA LA’s Director of Learning and Engagement, and visit Pescador’s exhibition PSA — a series of twelve Public Service Announcement-style videos about the mechanisms of government and civic understanding. Friday, May 21, 5 or 6pm; free but reservations are required; theicala.org.
ART: Akea Brionne Brown: In the Center, but Not Seen, at Iris Project. Brown uses intricately staged self-portraiture to examine the overwhelming effects of racial displacement and erasure in Americana, a cultural and economic construct that continues to omit Black Americans to this day. The product of predominantly white educational and social spaces, Brown makes her positionality visible using vintage American textiles, physically wrapping herself in the symbolism of historic Americana to highlight the absence of Black bodies like her own. 953 Amoroso Pl., Venice; May 21-July 4; free; irisproject.com.
Saturday, May 22
ONLINE WORKSHOP: Elana Mann: Let Suffering Speak, at 18th Street Arts Center. Join artist Elana Mann in letting our voices and bodies rumble, clatter, and blast. Participants will learn how to make musical instruments and megaphones using simple household materials. Create your own sound sculpture for healing self-expression; the workshop will culminate in group sound-making. May is Mental Health Awareness month, and taking time for creativity together with loved ones is a key part of self-care in these uncertain times. 18th Street has partnered with WE RISE LA to create these moments for creative growth centered around the theme of wellbeing. Saturday, May 22, 11am; free; 18thstreet.org.
ART: Federico Solmi in conversation with Lawrence Weschler at Luis De Jesus. In conjunction with Solmi’s solo exhibition The Bacchanalian Ones, this will be the gallery’s first in-person event at their new downtown location. Weschler and Solmi will explore the underlying politics, methods, and antecedents behind Solmi’s brilliant and transformative multimedia works, as well as the underlying disagreement (or divergence of sensibilities) with Virtual Reality goggles. 1110 S. Mateo, downtown; Saturday, May 22, 11am; free but rsvp is required; luisdejesus.com.
ART: Christiane Feser: In Between, at Von Lintel Gallery. Celebrating the gallery’s move to a fresh new space in Bergamot Station, the exhibition of Christiane Feser’s recent work represents something of a new direction for the artist as well. Known for her deft manipulations of photographic prints and 3-D paper sculpting, Feser creates optical illusions as to depth, shadow, image, object, perspective and light in painstakingly detailed abstract, pattern-based compositions. In her work from the past year, her imagery has become more delicate, with expanded pictorial space and material explorations with translucence — more architectural than fractal, and demonstrating an array of new techniques in the process. Von Lintel Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica; open house: Saturday, May 22, noon-7pm; on view through June 27; free; vonlintel.com.
A Conversation with the Creators of She Is Called: Dear Stranger. Join the creators and artists behind She Is Called: Dear Stranger, a new web-based multimedia production from Brooklyn Youth Chorus, for an in-depth discussion about the development of this unique project. In a discussion moderated by interdisciplinary performer and radio host Helga Davis, Brooklyn Youth Chorus Founder and Artistic Director Dianne Berkun Menaker will join director Charlotte Brathwaite, creative team members Sunder Ganglani and Tareke Ortiz and singers of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus to talk about the origins of the project, the development process and the creation of the She Is Called: Dear Stranger experience. Saturday, May 22, 1pm; free; cap.ucla.edu.
DESIGN: SCI-Arc Spring Show 2021. Making A Scene is a film and installation directed and curated by SCI-Arc faculty Natou Fall and Zeina Koreitem. Experienced virtually, this year’s Spring Show exhibition will be staged simultaneously as experimental narrative film and archival stream highlighting extraordinary student work from the past year, screened live. Saturday, May 22, 6pm; free; sciarc.edu.
Sunday, May 23
THEATER: chekhovOS /an experimental game/ at CAP UCLA. A live and interactive virtual theater experience inspired by Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov as Anton Chekhov. Golyak’s latest work fuses film, theater and video game technology to create a new medium where viewers are able to interact with the performers. Further drawing from recordings of Chekhov’s letters and dreams, this interactive online theater experience accesses the operating system behind both Chekhov’s computer and the world in which his characters live, searching for happiness. Sunday, May 23, 5pm; free; cap.ucla.edu.
THEATER: Two Sisters and a Piano at New Normal Rep. Set in 1991, during the Pan American Games in Havana and while the Russians are pulling out of Cuba, this play portrays two sisters, Maria Celia, a novelist, and Sofia, a pianist, serving time under house arrest. Passion infiltrates politics when a lieutenant (played by Jimmy Smits) is assigned to their case and becomes infatuated with Maria Celia, whose literature he has been reading. Streaming through May 23 only; $25; newnormalrep.org.
THEATER: The Latrell Show at IAMA Theater. Written and performed by Brandon Kyle Goodman and co-directed by Stefanie Black* and Devere Rogers*, The Latrell Show is a dark comedy that explores the mental aerobics of being Black and Queer in America by way of a hilarious and opinionated talk show host, Latrell Jackson. As Latrell films a “very special” episode giving hot takes on his favorite hot topics, matters of the world begin to compromise his relatable persona. Streaming on demand, May 23-June 20; $15; iamatheatre.com.
Art & Activism Convention. From Anti-racist children’s books to political cartoons to superheroes of color, artists are playing a critical role in the fight against injustice. Join Heroes of Color and other artists in the virtual world of our Art & ActivismCon as we elevate the creative expression of a wide range of talented artists who are demonstrating their activism through art and literature. Enjoy an amazing lineup of panelists, workshops and creative artists in this 3-day marathon of networking, learning and growing. Support businesses of color and spread the word. Online; May 28-30; $20; heroesofcolor.com.
ART: Mikael B.: Flow State at Maddox Gallery. Maintaining a balance between chaos and control, introspection and emotional expression, careful intent and raw gesture is a challenge not only for visual artists, but for every human. In his studio, painter Mikael B. is engaged in this quest for balance every single day. On view are examples from two concurrent but complementary bodies of work made in the last year — one exhibiting an almost impossibly clean precision in its engineering of interlocking shapes, planes, saturated color and retro panache; the other a wildly gestural, thickly painted, gold-flecked series of meteor fields where he lets all of that go. The artist has devised a holistic, assertively chic black-on-black immersive mural for the space, underscoring the unified field of consciousness that contains contradictions and multitudes in all of us. 8811 Beverly Blvd., WeHo; on view through May 31; free; maddoxgallery.com.