This week’s arts options continue to proliferate, mostly within the parameters of Safer at Home, with a couple of fresh new additions to the growing “from your vehicle or on the sidewalk” sector. Remote conversations, virtual salons, livestreamed content ranging from avant-garde film and futuristic video to feral performance art continue to dominate the arts calendar. However, a new window gallery project and a two-weekend, occasionally theatrical processional event do get you out of doors (wear a mask!) and into the presence of the art itself.
Speaking of the physical presence of art, there are some galleries who have begun actively offering in-person viewing appointments. A random sampling of my own inbox includes Shoshana Wayne, Lowell Ryan Projects, Praz Delavallade, Anat Ebgi, Art Angels, Bruce Lurie Gallery, and Lancaster MOAH, but doubtless there are already others and more will soon join them. Promising minimal, timed occupancy, no-contact entry, no big public receptions obviously, thorough and frequent cleansing of common areas, and of course, all the masks, this is frankly giving me something to wrestle with.
On one hand, this is good news, and not just for audiences. Galleries are small businesses after all, and their function is to present exhibitions and sell art. Artists want to show, audiences crave essential experiences, the critics need something to critique without compromising, collectors want momentum and something to be a part of — and it’s always easier to sell in person than online. In some ways, knowing you’ll have the place all to yourself can deepen the viewing experience. Depending on your pre-existing levels of trust and familiarity with a gallery’s location and staff, this is probably doable — the weird awkwardness of making a private appointment then having to really keep it notwithstanding.
But at the same time, it’s not at all clear how safe this sort of thing is, even with all the best practices and science-based intentions. Those concerns are real. I haven’t felt that it was responsible to blithely send folks out into this unknown landscape yet; it feels a bit soon to be in an enclosed space with even a small number of other people. That said, going to galleries is part of my job, and I will surely be among the first to try this out. However you feel about the prospect, it does represent an interesting development for art-world watchers. Think it over, and whatever you decide, do it responsibly. In the meantime, we may as well settle in for another fine weekend of the digital and vehicular cultural programming we’re getting used to.
Thursday, May 21
OCMA’s curators mined its collection to put together What Day Is It Again? — a 24-hour film festival featuring five works that resonate with the stay at home experience. These classics of early-days video art were largely made in the 1970s, but being shot in domestic spaces and rife with their own character of the ridiculous, the nostalgic, and the dystopian, the time is ideal for viewing them in a new context. Thursday, May 21, 6 a.m.- Sunday, May 22, 6 a.m.; ocmaexpand.org.
Annenberg Space for Photography hosts photographers Harry Benson & David Friend in the first of their new “Casual Conversations: The Vanity Fair Talks” — a four-part series of Zoom-based discussions between renowned Vanity Fair photographers and editors. The series is offered in conjunction with their landmark exhibition Hollywood Calling. Thursdays, May 21-June 11; 11 a.m.; annenbergphotospace.org.
Metabolic Studio continues its Interdependence Salon Thursday afternoon series of multidisciplinary gatherings, reconfigured for the Zoom, focusing on creative advocacy for societal and cultural goals prioritizing community. In this edition, host Ryan Albert welcomes guests O-Lan Jones and Douglas Lee. Jones is an award-winning composer, sound designer, writer, and actress; Lee is a multidisciplinary artist whose primary focus is sound art. Thursday, May 21, 1-2:30 p.m. eventbrite.com.
The Lapis Press presents a conversation with artist Alexandra Grant and OCMA curator Cassandra Coblentz. Grant and Coblentz will be discussing previous and upcoming projects, including audience engagement. Coblentz is the curator of Grant’s upcoming solo show at OCMA, Telepathy is One Step Further Than Empathy, rescheduled to open later this year. Thursday, May 21, 3 p.m.; instagram.com.
Art + Practice presents Reading the Constellation with Addy Zou — a tour of Collective Constellation: Selections from The Eileen Harris Norton Collection (on view through January 2). In this tour, Zou takes a closer look at works from the collection using found texts reappropriated by the artists, including poems, fiction and scientific studies. Thursday, May 21, 5:30-7 p.m. artandpractice.org.
Friday, May 22
18th Street Arts Center hosts a conversation with artist Patty Chang and curator Anuradha Vikram, moderated by curator Asha Bukojemsky of Marathon Screenings, to close their two-day live-stream event featuring Chang’s new video and text-based project, Milk Debt. In English with Spanish interpretation. Screening: Wednesday, May 20, noon-Friday, May 22, 1 p.m.; artist talk: Friday, May 22, 1 p.m. 18thstreet.org.
FEMMEBIT screens Casey Kauffmann’s Knowing Others and Wanting To Be Known on their Twitch channel. Kauffmann is an interdisciplinary artist whose ambitious video collage consists of an avalanche of short (30-second to 3-minute) micro-films strung together to evoke the flow of a social media feed, or a compressed binge-watch. The screening will also include a conversation between Kauffmann and her USC thesis Committee: Jennifer West, Amelia Jones, and Edgar Arceneaux. Friday, May 22, 8-9:30 p.m.; twitch.tv/femmebit.
Saturday, May 23
Around 120 painters, sculptors, photographers, performance artists, film and video makers, poets, designers and musicians take part in the Drive-By Art Los Angeles project, “an outdoor public art exhibition experienced from the safety and intimacy of one’s automobile.” While in general L.A.’s car culture is problematic to say the least, in this moment the car offers art-lovers the chance to have the live, in-person and site-specific art experiences they’ve been missing.
Artists east of Western Avenue will participate over Memorial Day Weekend (May 23-25) and artists west of Western will participate the following weekend (May 30-31), and the dates further are divided into day and night shifts, depending on optimal viewing conditions for the works. Inspired by a recent South Fork (Long Island) project, the L.A. version has been organized by our own Warren Neidich, Renee Petropoulos, Michael Slenske and Anuradha Vikram, who will also be conducting real time interviews with some of the artists on Instagram and Facebook. This weekend and next weekend, noon-6 p.m. & 8 p.m.-midnight. drive-by-art.org.
LAST Projects hosts the fourth and final SUPERMOON Transmissions, a live broadcast series from interdisciplinary artist Liz Walsh, who in supplementing her gallery exhibition has been curating the most exceptionally eccentric short-form magazine-style line-ups of music, performance art, off-beat mediations, unlikely how-twos, poetry, and general digital psychedelia. Saturday, May 23, 9-11 p.m.; twitch.tv/lastprojects; youtu.be/DlHI8GSZxTs.
Open Mind Art Space in collaboration with JAUS, opens Rona v Amabie, a storefront window exhibition featuring new work by Los Angeles-based artists Aska Irie and Tomoaki Shibata. The galleries had already planned to exhibit a collaborative project by Irie and Shibata this month, which has subsequently been reimagined as a window exhibition viewable from the street, and from within the context of the pandemic. Irie’s striking Virus sculptures were created last year as “a discourse on how misinformation spreads like a virus,” but they have since clearly taken on a whole new meaning. Shibata’s colorful mixed media works are abstract portraits of Amabie, a mythical Japanese spirit/creature who is believed to have the power to cure plagues. Shibata started creating these works in response to the current social media #amabiechallenge, prompting illustrators to draw Amabie in an energetic but esoteric effort to protect people from COVID-19. Visible 24/7 from May 23-June 21; openmindartspace.com.