It is Indie Bookstore Day this weekend, so whatever titles linger on your wish list or neighborhood biblio-merchants you’ve been meaning to support, now is the time. This week’s arts calendar tilts toward the literary as well, featuring Ray Bradbury, classic novels, topical poetry, prosaic and political activism, and real life storytelling among the highlights. Also, livestreamed performances, video screenings, openings, closings, and perspectives on how contemporary art history intersects with identity politics.
Thursday, August 27
Unsettling Sound, at Heidi Duckler Dance. HDD’s Unsettling Ramona series centers the stories and contemporary experiences of Native Americans in California, in an arts-based discourse on the legacy of Ramona, an 1884 novel widely considered the “quintessential California” story. Unsettling Sound features scholar Dr. Theresa Gregor (Iipai/Yaqui), singer/songwriter and musicologist Kristy Martinez (Chicanx & Yoeme), and scholar Esmeralda Pum (Mayan-Quiche/K’iche) to present Indigenous punk music and subcultures, and deconstruct settler colonialism in California based on the genocidal mentality of Manifest Destiny. Thursday, August 27, 10am-12pm; free; heididuckler.org.
Reading the City: Compton and the Literary Imagination, at Sēpia Collective. An online reading and conversation with poets from Compton whose work reflects lived experience of life in the city. Poets Robin Coste Lewis, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, and Jenise Miller will read from their work and discuss the creative legacy of Compton’s unique cultural contributions and, “engage a broader discussion on place, placemaking, and art.” Thursday, August 27, 5-6pm; free; eventbrite.com.
Red Hen Press Poetry Hour: The Poetics of Climate Change, at The Broad Stage. Moderated by Sandra Tsing Loh, this monthly series explores social justice themes — such as this conversation centered on the environment. Panelists include poet/naturalist Elizabeth Bradfield, whose book Toward Antarctica offers a unique view through photographs and prose, and science journalist/playwright Alanna Mitchell, whose play Sea Sick tells the story of her 13 oceanic journeys. The event will also feature readings by poet Natalie Diaz, 2014 L.A. Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, and Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal. Thursday, August 27, 6pm; free; thebroadstage.org.
Are We Living in a World Ray Bradbury Tried to Prevent? at the Fowler Museum. Presented by Zócalo Public Square with ZYZZYVA Magazine and moderated by ZYZZYVA’s Oscar Villalon, today’s program asks viewers to, “imagine a society where truth and knowledge have no value, people are glued to their screens, and world war feels imminent. Or think of a place enraptured by the seductive promises of a carnival-hawker con man.” No, it’s not the RNC. The first is the premise of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. The second is the setting of Something Wicked This Way Comes, the story of a sinister traveling carnival leader and the young boys who thwart his plot to enslave their home. On the occasion of Bradbury’s 100th birthday, the conversation revisits how presciently Bradbury saw the dangers looming in modern society. Thursday, August 27, 6:30-7:30pm; free; fowler.ucla.edu.
Friday, August 28
The Films of Fox Maxy, at FILM at LACMA. Maxy is an Ipai Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum filmmaker and video artist from San Diego and their work in fashion and Indigenous activism has informed one of the most exciting, daring, and prolific voices in documentary today. This survey of some of their recent works including Muzzles Off, Maat Means Land, One Big Selfie, and San Diego is accompanied by a taped conversation with the artist. Friday, August 28, 10am-noon; available on LACMA’s Vimeo through August 30. lacma.org.
Climate Crisis Hotline: Confession Sessions at ICA LA. As part of the ICA’s ongoing Field Workshop micro-residencies, Space Saloon and Creative Migration host a safe space confronting the scourge of Solastasia, “the paralyzing melancholia induced from environmental distress.” From August 26-29, the Climate Crisis Hotline is a hybrid of virtual and in-person conversations, that while not quite therapy, are certain to be cathartic. Friday, August 28, 30-minute sessions, 1pm-5:30pm, pre-registration required; free; theicala.org.
Amitis Motevalli with Hesam Abedani and Bahareh Daneshagar: An Offering of Honor, at LACE. Amitis Motevalli’s new performance-based media work draws on the brief life and violent death of Romina Ashrafi. Taking place on Ashura night (a time of memoriam and commemoration of the assassination of the Prophet Mohammad’s grandson), this piece seeks to “challenge the normalization of violence against women and the under-reported cases of femicide across the globe,” while at the same time decrying the escalation of international tensions and culture wars that stem from the embrace or rejection of the horrific concept of the “honor killing.” The performance takes place in the Hollywood Boulevard-facing storefront of LACE, and will be streamed at their YouTube page. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Friday, August 28 at one minute to midnight; free; welcometolace.org.
Saturday, August 29
Pickled Memories and Breaking the Mold at SOLA Contemporary. A pair of new exhibitions open at SOLA this weekend, with all-day socially distant receptions and a lot to say about revised perspectives on personal and art historical influence. Photographer Adrian White’s Pickled Memories takes his own family photo archive as the starting point for reshaping an understanding of the present and a vision for the future. Curated by artist Sharon Barnes, Breaking the Mold deconstructs the myopic, dominant narrative that centralizes European modernism in the abstract tradition. Pointing out that on one hand, the influence of Indigenous art from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Polynesia was at least as visionary in its abstractionist power, and on the other, contemporary abstraction is alive and well among artists of color — such as those painters and sculptors assembled for this anticipated exhibition. SOLA, 3718 W. Slauson Blvd, South L.A.; Opening day: Saturday, August 29, 11am-7pm; on view through September 26, by appointment; free; solacontemporary.org.
Luke Chueh: Drawings at Giant Robot. Luke Chueh’s animals, especially that poor bear, are always going through some heavy shit, and they aren’t afraid to get honest and personal about it. With wit and melancholy, cuteness and despair, and a deep sense of the human condition despite being stuffed toys, the creatures in Chueh’s paintings and drawings may be strange, but they are also all of us. Giant Robot. 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A.; Opening on IGTV, Saturday, August 29, noon-1pm; on view through September 16, by appointment; free; instagram.com/giantrobot.
The Joy Ride, at The Roots and Wings Project. A joyful “act of political warfare” directed and conceived by Jesse Bliss and produced by Bliss and Gabriela López de Dennis, starring Alma Cielo, Ricardo “Boogie Frantick” Rodriguez, Jr., Lee Sherman and Tobias Tubbs with Writers Roger Q. Mason and Tobias Tubbs, The Joy RIde is a mobile outdoor theatre and multi-disciplinary show performed out of a vintage convertible car. Following a private live performance earlier this summer, the premiere of the work’s extended video trailer streams this weekend. Saturday, August 29, 8pm on FB Live; free; facebook.com/TheRootsandWingsProject.
Sunday, August 30
Racial Oppression in America: A Conversation with Jody Armour, at L.A. Review of Books. Author of the newly released N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law, Jody Armour appears in conversation with Dr. Melina Abdullah on the intertwined topics of Prison Abolition, #DefundThePolice, #BlackLivesMatter, respectability and identity politics, Confederate flags and monuments, bias in criminal law, and the proper role of the N-word in the political communication and artistic expression of Black folk, where, Professor Armour argues, “it can signal a rejection of respectability politics, promote political solidarity with violent Black criminals, and spark a revolution in consciousness about racialized mass incarceration.” Sunday, August 30, 4pm; free; lareviewofbooks.org.