With the city, county, and state all re-closing big social and commercial sectors, it feels like the return of stay at home even if we aren’t calling it that yet. At the very least, caution is encouraged and masks are required in everything we might do. This week’s round up of compelling visual culture splits the difference, with a balance of homebound arts programs and by-appointment excursions taking in emotional abstract painting, portraits of distant friends, a conversation on Middle Eastern design, a walk-in world made of cake and nefarious beauty, a panel on intersectional post-feminism in the arts, new streaming video, and serial zoom theater.
Thursday, July 16
Nir Hod: The Life We Left Behind at Kohn Gallery. With quietly tempestuous beauty, Hod’s moody abstractions are both diaphanous and earthbound — the kind of ethereal, detail-rich work that expands in the viewer’s physical presence to reveal deeper levels of emotion with contemplation. The works have the energy of a Rorschach test, wherein their imagic suggestions launch each viewer in their own personal direction. “By telling the truth through beauty,” writes Hod, “you get away with many things.” 1227 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; open by appointment July 16 – August 3. Kohngallery.com.
In Conversation: Linda Komaroff and Omar Offendum at LACMA. Komaroff, Curator of Islamic Art and Department Head, Art of the Middle East, and Offendum, Syrian American rapper and spoken word artist, get together for a chat on the occasion of L.A. County’s Muslim American Heritage Month. Back in 2015, Offendum recorded a spoken word performance inside LACMA’s Damascus Room — a unique installation in which a traditional Syrian home was relocated intact to the museum. Now the pair revisits the Damascus Room installation in light of subsequent societal shifts that also touch on the role of our cultural institutions in community narratives. Thursday, July 16, noon; watch via Zoom at lacma.org.
Friday, July 17
Scott Hove: The Beauty War at Cakeland. The immersive, multisensory installation at Hove’s new Cakeland HQ in Chinatown is a frosting-festooned maze which walks audiences through a sugary, baroque story of the ages-old struggle between light and darkness. Using the motif of fancy desserts in his signature style of overdone seductiveness, empty calories, dangerous pleasures, perverse luxury and ticklish hallucination, Hove explores the emotional aspects of tricks and treats. The world has changed since Cakeland’s mid-March grand opening was postponed, but Hove’s ideas about pleasure and terror, consumption and access, and what makes inner and outer beauty are still on point. And in consideration of mandated single occupancy and social distancing, you’ll have even more cake for yourself. 936 Mei Ling Way, Chinatown; Open by ticketed appointment beginning July 17; $17; cakeland.la.
Las Hijas de los Días: Post-feminism in the Diaspora at 18th Street Arts Center. A conversation between Fiamma Montezemolo, PhD in Anthropology and MFA in Art, and Sara Solaimani, PhD in Art History, Theory, and Criticism, unpacks themes manifesting in the artworks from the group exhibition Las Hijas de los Días —7 Female Views from the Margins currently installed at the center’s Airport Gallery. The talk intends to “interweave the art historical and anthropological knowledge of our guests with works by artists in the show, positioning these works within broader psychogeographical and historical contexts,” the better to examine social and cultural migration intersecting along the generational post-femininst continuum. Friday, July 17, 1pm, watch via Zoom/FB Live at 18thstreet.org.
Saturday, July 18
Tuan Andrew Nguyen: The Boat People at James Cohan Gallery/Vdrome. James Cohan Gallery is based in New York, but the internet is all over, and CalArts and UC Irvine grad Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s new work The Boat People is thus available to watch from anywhere. The online stream is paired with an interview between the artist and noted film theorist and curator May Adadol Ingawanij. Nguyen has a way of seamlessly merging history and myth of east and west into sumptuous film-based works that illuminate and provoke. As Ingawanij writes, “The Boat People is a fable composed through surprising juxtapositions. The bodies navigating the open seas in a whimsical yellow boat are five scrawny children. They wade ashore a deserted, sun dappled island, wearing marvellous steampunk headdresses…accompanied by a strange, lively, syncopated soundtrack. There is no one else in this place but the children…It is the end of the world.” Streaming now through July 21; vdrome.org.
Amy Kim Keeler: Future Jupiter at Lowell Ryan Projects. A suite of 16 small-scaled works made with hand-stitched cotton thread and corrugated cardboard, Keeler’s works are precious in their tactility but humble in their meditative ritual. Rather analogous to a walking meditation, these precision yet organic fractally-derived patterns reflect both the ambulations of natural phenomena and the meaningful repetition of mark-making gestures. 4851 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams; open by appointment July 18 – August 29; lowellryanprojects.com.
Sunday, July 19
Troubadour Theater Company: The ODDyssey at the Getty Villa. The ODDyssey recounts Homer’s epic tale in five webisodes of family-friendly, “wacky and whimsical” zoom-based storytelling. While the cyclops, witches, sirens, gods and monsters logging in from their lairs might have a more carnivalesque, dare we say clownish, character than the Greek classic might otherwise evoke, this lightly frantic production is a true reflection of the present moment. For five consecutive Sundays, each 15-20 minute episode will premiere on the Getty’s YouTube channel, where audiences can live chat with the actors during each one’s debut and at the reunion party at the end. Sundays, July 19–August 16, 3pm; free. youtube.com/gettymuseum.
Helen Chung: Portrait of An Art World and George Stoll: camouflage at LSH Colab. Chung’s experience in the art world is documented through lively, interpretive, essential portraits of her fellow artists and arts mavens, made from live sittings which create “a personal and indelible record of her time.” Her subjects include her exhibition partner George Stoll, a witty conceptual sculptor. The pair will be on site for a socially distanced afternoon today, after which appointments and masks are required. 778 N.Virgil Ave.; opening reception: Sunday, July 19, 4-6pm; by appointment through August 16; instagram.com/lsh_colab.