This week, the art world joins in commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment, looking back as well as to the present for ways to continue the work. There is also colorful abstraction online and in windows, a limited-run film of a dance world masterpiece, uncanny photography, paintings about obsession, and paintings about being alone.
Celebrating Women’s Right to Vote
Rise Up L.A.: A Century of Votes for Women at the Natural History Museum. Celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment and its codification of (some) women’s enfranchisement, NHM is among the arts venues commemorating not only the occasion, but the subsequent expansion of its further inclusivity, and the extreme resonance of the historical suffrage movement with the challenges and engagements in today’s political struggles, in particular surrounding threats to voting rights. Launching online with the goal of presenting the full IRL exhibition this fall, Rise Up L.A. centers its narrative within the history of the region, especially by highlighting the lived experiences of our communities. Discussion programs in partnership with Zócalo illuminate the exhibition’s themes, and new voter registration is a priority as well. The programs also feature the Rise Up L.A. Oral Stories Project — an online archive of interviews with L.A. women over 65, whose stories and memories of being present and political in recent generations are a treasure trove of wisdom for today’s activists. nhm.org.
100 Years | 100 Women at the Park Avenue Armory. Taped live from New York but on the internet everywhere, the famous Park Avenue Armory recently unveiled its ambitious 19th Amendment project, 100 Years | 100 Women. In partnership with National Black Theatre and nine other multidisciplinary cultural institutions, 100 artists, activists, scholars, students, and community leaders were commissioned to create in response to the moment in history and its legacy for today. In case you missed the 100 Years | 100 Women Virtual Watch Party, hosted by Maya Wiley and dropping sneak peeks of commissioned works, as well as appearances by several of the participants, you can watch it here, and keep watching as the platform continues to grow. 100years100women.net.
Featured Artist Stephanie DeAngelis at Hotel Figueroa. The Hotel Fig is very proud of its history as a women’s-only hotel which since 1926 offered a safe space for ladies traveling alone. And they are equally proud of their featured artist program, which continues to prioritize platforming female voices. Their newest resident is Los Angeles-based illustrator and designer Stephanie DeAngelis, whose collection of images and objects was created specially for this Hotel Figueroa / Society6 collaboration. DeAngelis’ presentation is called, Reconnecting With Earth, While Reconnecting With Ourselves, and draws inspiration from “the current era of isolation and social distancing during one of the most consequential and tumultuous years in the American experience,” as well as a consciousness of the duty for everyone to do their part to work toward peace and justice. A portion of all proceeds will be donated to The Loveland Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to empowering Black women and girls.
Saturday, August 22
Okuda San Miguel: The New Digital Love at Corey Helford Gallery. Madrid-based artist Okuda San Miguel’s kaleidoscopic sense of plane and color collide and go boom in a new series of paintings, sculptures, and tapestry. Okuda loves a rainbow prism and a sharp tidy angle, but his Op-Art energy is not purely abstract; it interprets figures, creatures, and icons from the world of pop culture, creating entirely new worlds out of bits and pieces of this one. CHG hosts a virtual opening on Instagram Live (@CoreyHelfordGallery) on Saturday, August 22. Exhibition online, August 22 – September 26; coreyhelfordgallery.com.
Milan Tiff: Race in America at Open Mind Art Space. A window exhibition featuring a single, powerful work analyzing through pure optical impact the toxic masculinity of the American White male. As a Black American, Tiff says he “identifies with his peers in their constant struggle to exist and thrive in a society that demeans their worth and aims to silence their voices,” but also believes that the pandemic crisis and protest movements have brought real awareness to the intersectionality required for true solutions. The work is abstract, but is also a vessel for the explorations prompted by the artist’s thought exercise on these matters, and viewing it any time day or night in the gallery window might offer a chance for salient contemplation. We carry the imagery of current events in our minds already, what we might not have is a quiet moment to think them through. Open Mind Art Space, 11631 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; walk-up window is viewable 24/7, August 22 – September 5; openmindartspace.com.
Sunday, August 23
Inside Look: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Music Center Offstage. A special virtual presentation of the company’s masterpiece, Revelations, this video event includes an introduction by Music Center Spotlight Finalist Matthew Rushing, who is associate artistic director for the Ailey company, along with Ailey dancers performing the work. Besides the performance film, audiences will enjoy some BTS and even a bit of choreography as dancer and choreographer Hope Boykin “breaks down the moves.” Sunday, August 23, 2pm; streaming August 23, 2020 – September 30; musiccenter.org.
Kevin Hanley: In A Country Mile at LSH Colab. An absolutely ordinary social hall is decorated for a party, a birthday probably — balloons, ribbons, a DJ setup, even a smoke machine. There’s a disconcerting sense of both emptiness and promise, as the empty room is full of props, strange and familiar. The artist however addresses other, less emotional and more uncanny kinds of cognitive dissonances. The plain room is disguised, but not thoroughly. The degradations of the iPhone camera both impart and obscure crucial information about the space. Hanley’s special technique of printing on Plexiglas with the white ink omitted makes it so that the white of the wall behind the hung work both fills the gaps and expands them with diffused light. Everything and nothing is as it seems. LSH Colab, 778 N. Virgil Ave., Los Feliz; all day opening, Sunday, August 23; on view by appt through September 25. Tip: the CBD Boutique it shares space with is open daily noon-8pm; lshcolab.com.
Everyday is Sunday at UTA Artist Space online. This fantastic group show is curated by John Wolf, who is only human and who like everyone has been struggling with the soul-crushing weirdness of life since March, ameliorating feelings of loneliness and isolation and boredom as many of us have — through art. Through a process of interest, intuition and Instagram, Wolf writes of pulling the show together how “all these new friends virtually hug me with their works, forging laughter together in our mutually sequestered state. I will always remember the year when everyday was Sunday. Its memories gleefully hanging on my wall.” Featuring bold, boundary-blurring, portrait-based works by 25 artists from L.A. and all over. Online through August 28; utaartistspace.com.
Doug Wichert: The Isle of Dead Germans at Charlie James Gallery. The energy of this beguiling exhibition is not as dark as the title implies — or rather, its darkness is not of the variety you might expect. Making reference to a famous painting from art history by Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin (1827-1901) called The Isle of the Dead, Wichert’s obsession with this painting has prompted him to repaint it himself, almost every day, for the past decade. While Wichert departs perhaps from the original symbolism and mythology of the work, his own interpretive variations are infused with a newer narrative of exile and alienation, viewing the lonely, craggy island as a liminal place to which one might escape, but from which it may prove impossible to depart.
Despite the duration of this daily endeavour, each painting is remarkably, surprisingly different from the rest. Occasionally the island is rendered thickly, with warmth and even a certain lushness; at other times it is an ephemeral ghost of itself. From bright to shadowy, embellished, stripped down, quick and volatile, visceral, tactile, hopeless, paradisiacal, languid, frustrated, made by eye and from memory — the real subject here may in fact be the island of the artist’s mind. Charlie James Gallery, 969 Chung King Road, Chinatown; by appointment through August 29; cjamesgallery.com.