From an eclectic mix of gallery shows viewable with in-person safety guidelines to a soundwalk through nature, some relevant conversations on quarantine and protest consciousness, a storytelling workshop at a new art and wellness hub, and crypto-currency VR art benefit for feral cat rescue, here are your best fresh options for whichever way you get your arts these days.
Closing this week:
Alex Anderson: Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains at Gavlak: Strange and wonderful, almost adorable, sometimes violent, both familiar and marvelously unexpected, the suite of ceramic sculptures by Alex Anderson takes on the pretensions of the art historical canon from the perspective of identity, technique, style and finely finished satire. The artist’s command of the idiom of white porcelain and the kitschy pastoral charm of commemorative vessels and animal figurines are subverted with a comic book, mythological quality and an elusive surrealism, while the overly lavish use of gold enhances both the sense of luxury and its takedown. Throughout the aesthetic gestures, issues of authorship, representation and the emblems of social power are interrogated in a series of works in which for example, fanged bunny monsters do solid-gold eye-laser battle with decapitated gods, among the hearts and snakes. Gavlak Gallery, 1700 S. Santa Fe, downtown; by appointment through July 11. gavlakgallery.com.
Thursday, July 9
Peter Williams: Black Universe at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles: With vibrant palettes and expressive drawing presenting scenes and figures from an off-beat Afrofuturist fantasy, Williams’ paintings have the energy of folk and Outsider style and the pure imagination of science fiction. The world they describe is both a possible reality ahead and a revisitation of ancestral tradition from the past — and ultimately a metaphor for the inner work of reframing identity and consciousness. Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; socially distanced, masks on for opening day: Thursday, July 9, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; by appointment through October 10; luisdejesus.com.
Amir Zaki: Where We Read: A Participatory Photography Project at OCMA: Since quarantine started a million months ago, it seems just about everyone has had one thing in common — spending more time reading. And while we’ve all been pretty good about posting the titles, artist Ami Zaki started wondering less about what we read, and more about where. This crowd-sourced presentation offers 70 pairs of images — one looking out from where you sit to read, and the other looking back at your spot. Like the times themselves, this project is a chance for some distanced intimacy, peering into each other’s book time and being alone together. The project will launch on Instagram and Tumblr on Thursday, July 9 at 11 a.m.; ocmaexpand.org.
Friday, July 10
Slanguage Lab at Compound: A new cultural and creative complex in Long Beach, Compound is devoted to a fascinating mix of art, wellness and community engagement. Before the location opens to the public this fall with a stellar permanent and rotating contemporary art collection and site-specific projects program, Compound has already launched some online initiatives. Among them is a residency with the Slanguage collective headed up by Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz, who embrace a participatory model of learning, creativity and empowerment in visual and performing arts. Their “Gotta See It to Be It” series includes interviews with artists and art professionals about their practices and careers, and today’s installment focuses on the very relevant topic of “how artists can continue to develop their voices during social upheaval.” Friday, July 10, 11 a.m.; compoundlb.com.
Buy Art Save Kittens at Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats. L.A.’s famous feral cat rescue, socialization and adoption service is hosting their first-ever art cryptocurrency fundraiser. “Buy Art Save Kittens” was curated by L.A.-based 3-D Crypto Artist Coldie and features donated digital and analog art pieces from over 40 cat fancying artists, with 100% of proceeds going toward the care of feeding of the city’s street kittens. In addition to the sale, there will be a slate of activities including a Twitch visit with Nala Cat (and their 4.3 million Instagram followers!) on Friday, a scavenger hunt, a guided art tour and more adventures in the virtual world built for the occasion. And even though its currency is crypto, you can still shop and donate with greenbacks. Friday, July 10-Sunday, July 12; kittybungalow.org.
Saturday, July 11
Camilla Engstrom: Returning Home at Over The Influence: Engstrom’s paintings are gentle but insistently colorful scenes — dispatches from a world in tune with nature, feminine energy, optimism and with a cheeky, folksy emotional IQ. Her new work was made since the pandemic and the protests changed life as we knew it, and while her suffused chromatic beauty and the empathetic sensuality of the verdant terrain and earth mothers that dwell in it still feels hopeful, Engstrom readily admits that the erupting volcanoes are “a metaphor for inner turmoil.” OTI, 833 E. 3rd St., downtown; open by appointment July 11-August 9; overtheinfluence.com.
Contested Spaces: Roundtable Discussion at OCMA: Expanding on issues highlighted in the exhibition “An Earth Song, A Body Song: Figures with Landscape from the OCMA Permanent Collection,” writer Carolyn Finney, artists Edgar Arceneaux and Kori Newkirk, and curator Daniel Duford discuss “how institutional racism has shaped public space and the American landscape.” Artists in An Earth Song, A Body Song take a range of approaches to the intercourse between the people and the planet. It was on view before the museum temporarily closed, and will be on view when the museum reopens. Saturday, July 11, 11 a.m.; ocmaexpand.org.
Suzuki Takato: Ambiguous Us at Avenue des Arts. The artist’s first solo exhibition debuts a suite of 33 paintings that depict places located only in Takako’s own secret world, where humans and animals don’t have gender or language, and instead enjoy a deeper communication. Instagram Live Opening Reception: July 11, 2 p.m., print release 6 p.m.; avenuedesarts.org.
Pete Wyer: The Sky Beneath Our Feet at Descanso Gardens: An immersive sound installation inspired by and written site-specifically for Descanso, played through 72 speakers throughout the Camellia and Oak forests, the piece accompanies guests as they wander these familiar paths in a new way and at their own pace. The Sky Beneath Our Feet was composed by Wyer to become a seamless part of the walk no matter which direction one goes, thus allowing for each person to experience its ethereal rhythms, echoes and tones in a unique choose-your-own-adventure kind of way. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada-Flintridge; 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. & 6 p.m. daily; $15; descansogardens.org.