From an art collection dedicated to "sex kittens" to a retro arcade experience to the start of Oktoberfest and an evening of trans poetry, here are the 13 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
Choreographers Rayven Armijo and Paola Escobar each head their own companies but join forces to cross urban borderlines for Dual Perspective. An alumna of the respected Grandeza Mexicana Mexican Folk Ballet and veteran of season four of So You Think You Can Dance, Armijo brings an eclectic background in ballet, contemporary and folkloric dance to her urban folklórico troupe Cuerva. By contrast, Colombian choreographer Escobar and her Borderline Movements draw on elements of flamenco, African and Latin American dance. The choreographers and their dancers tackle issues of appropriating Latin American and Hispanic cultural traditions as well as exploring current social and political issues. There'll be lots of provocative and topical elements combined in this one collaborative dance concert. Highways Performance Space, 1651 18th St., Santa Monica; Fri.-Sat., Sept. 21-22, 8:30 p.m.; $20. highwaysperformance.org. —Ann Haskins
Besides the expansive exhibition spaces and the socially conscious art and books storefront, the Underground Museum's Purple Garden is a serene and lightly surreal courtyard with topiaries and benches — and a big lovely outdoor screen, where they regularly show salient movies from the pop to the political. Tonight's edition of Purple Garden Cinema, however, takes a bit of a turn back toward video art, with a rare screening of artist Martine Syms' Incense Sweaters & Ice. Syms' work at the intersection of cinema vérité, social media, cultural critique and installation art has been hailed at galleries and museums, but this short feature comes closer to a familiar movie structure, following two main characters through a Slacker-like series of vignettes that both tell and muddle their story. The Underground Museum, 3508 W. Washington Blvd., West Adams; Fri., Sept. 21, 8 p.m.; free. (323) 989-9925, theunderground-museum.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Felines in Space
"Astrokitty Space World" is a new collection of art by Kellesimone Waits. It's being exhibited at West Hollywood's Laser Kitten, which is largely a coincidence, although there are, in fact, lasers in many of Waits' paintings and found-image works. As well as cats, bunnies, rainbows and a cast of sexy, edgy female-model versions of "sex kittens." Waits' special gift is for a fusion of mixed mediums that includes appropriated photographs and eye-popping, brightly colored and textured abstract motifs that suggest light beams and a kind of disco-futurism. The works are cheeky, provocative and adorable, and below their sassy surfaces is a deeper level in which tropes of beauty, silliness, pop art and agency tussle to take the lead. Laser Kitten, 7600 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; Sat., Sept. 22, 7-10 p.m.; free. (916) 591-3606, instagram.com/laserkitten. —Shana Nys Dambrot
As anyone who has ever attended a chamber-music concert inside Union Station can attest, the art deco/Mission Revival landmark isn't the best place to hear live music — with all the commuters converging and departing, it's like a train station in there. But the downtown transportation hub's ticket concourse should be a fine setting for the nonstop clanging bells and other metallic noisemaking that will occur at Retrocade Experience, a two-day celebration that features more than 40 vintage pinball and arcade games such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. In addition to a daily Pac-Man tournament, players can rest their fingers and wrists between games in the Arcade Lounge. Union Station, 800 N. Alameda St., downtown; Sat., Sept. 22, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 23, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; free, $5 to enter the Pac-Man tournament. (213) 683-6897, unionstationla.com/happenings/union-station-s-retrocade-experience. —Falling James
FOOD & DRINK
It's time to embrace autumn and some of its iconic beverage rituals (no, not the annual release of pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks) at Oktoberfest. The five-week celebration at Wirtshaus in Fairfax and Rasselbock in Long Beach will start with the tapping of a ceremonial keg at each location. Order an entree and you'll get to drink for free from these kegs — at least while supplies last. There will be stein-holding and costume contests every weekend, so dust off the lederhosen and dirndls. Fridays and Saturdays will feature live traditional German music. Also, feel free to skip the babysitter and bring the kids to Rasselbock's "family Sundays." Wirthaus, 345 N. La Brea Ave., Fairfax; Rasselbock, 4020 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach; Sat., Sept. 22- Sat., Oct. 27; free. (323) 931-9291, wirtshausla.com; (562) 912-4949, rasselbocklb.com. —Avery Bissett
Hop Over to This Art Walk
The Frogtown neighborhood of Elysian Valley north of downtown is one of those not-secret secrets that pepper the Greater L.A. area. Its proximity to a stretch of the Los Angeles River and its unique jumble of warehouse architecture, residential blocks and local niche businesses has long attracted an eclectic and eccentric mix of industrial and creative characters. Every two years, they stage an increasingly epic Frogtown Artwalk, in which the public is invited to discover the fun side of Frogtown at dozens of pop-up galleries, artist studios, musical performances and art installations along the river. Something like 50 visual artists and makers will stage indoor and outdoor works, including a new Leo Limon L.A. River Cats mural facing the riverside bike path, which he will leave as stencils so the public can help complete them during the event. Evolve Project L.A., 1921 Blake Ave., Elysian Valley; Sat., Sept. 22, 4-10 p.m.; free. frogtownarts.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Pulling Back the Curtain
If you're a fan of Schitt's Creek, being called a Schitthead would be seen as a compliment. The Canadian sitcom (which airs on POP TV and Netflix) follows the riches-to-rags story of the Rose family — parents Johnny and Moira (SCTV comedy legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) and their spoiled children, David and Alexis (Levy's son Daniel and Annie Murphy) — who, after suffering financial ruin, permanently move into a motel in a small town they bought as a joke, called Schitt's Creek. It's filled with quirky locals, including the mayor-with-the-mullet, Roland Schitt (Chris Elliott). If you're curious about the just-announced fifth season, Live Nation hosts Schitt's Creek: Up Close & Personal with co-creators Dan and Eugene Levy and other cast members, who'll screen clips, tell behind-the-scenes stories and answer questions. Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Sun., Sept. 23, 7 p.m.; $32.50-$128.50. (213) 623-3233, acehotel.com/calendar/losangeles/live-nation-presents-schitts-creek. —Siran Babayan
Craziness and richness intensify with the publication of this, the final installment in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, as Kevin Kwan unveils Rich People Problems (Anchor, $16.95), a book that dares to reveal the shameful shamelessness and the vicious avariciousness of a Singaporean clan descending into power-hungry madness at the very edge of the deathbed of the family's grandmother. The entire Shang-Young brood converges on her home in hopes of inheriting her sprawling 64-acre Tyersall Park estate — ripping away the veneer of their genteel lives, finally showing us the base and squalling horrors that constantly writhe just beneath the surface. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Mon., Sept. 24, 7 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com/event/kevin-kwan-discusses-and-signs-rich-people-problems. —David Cotner
Telling the Trans Truth
"There's nothing Hollywood-glamorous about writing a poem," trans poet Ryka Aoki writes in the forward to her 2015 collection, Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. "It's clumsy stumbling most of the time, with generous helpings of self-importance and self-pity. But ... the poem must contain truth. If I'm being evasive, or lying, even unconsciously, the poem reacts." In just a few curt lines, Aoki evokes the murder of yet another trans person: "With another November,/the names of trans people/change color and fall/Mispronounced, sainted/ceded to anonymous candles." At this evening's Red Hen Press reading, Aoki is part of a bill stacked with intriguing local writers including Brittany Ackerman, Bradley Bazzle, Cai Emmons and Tammy Lynne Stoner. Annenberg Community Beach House, 415 Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica; Tue., Sept. 25, 6:30 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (310) 458-4904, annenbergbeachhouse.com. —Falling James
Celebrating African-American Art
Can't Stop Won't Stop is a public party featuring music, food trucks and a roster of half a dozen overlapping art shows with staggered start and end dates, converging this fall at the start of the new gallery season and academic year. An operatic, site-specific, text-based work by Gary Simmons called Fade to Black employs his trademark chalkboard-style painting, and is composed of the titles of African-American films across some 440 square feet of lobby walls (through Dec. 31). Nina Chanel Abney's "Royal Flush" (through Jan. 20) surveys a decade of her current event– and pop culture–infused paintings, drawings and collage. New York–based Robert Pruitt's "Devotion" (through Feb. 17) presents a memoir of religiosity through the lens of portrait drawings and evocative audio component. Through March 3, "The Notion of Family" takes a look at African-American history through the intimate, archetypal imagery and iconography of domestic life. And also through early next year, a further pair of historical exhibitions examine the untold story of California's struggle with the issue of slavery in the mid–19th century, and impactfully document Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's 1963 Los Angeles Freedom Rally. California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; Wed., Sept. 26, 7-9 p.m.; free. (213) 744-7432, caamuseum.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
L.A. Philharmonic is beginning the yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary in several stages, including a massive street party, music festival and CicLAvia event on Sunday, Sept. 30, and the debut of a major new work by Andrew Norman at the official opening night of the new season at Disney Hall on Thursday, Oct. 4. But before all that begins, music director Gustavo Dudamel revels in the music of such Golden State composers as Frank Zappa, John Adams and Jerry Goldsmith — as well as the world premiere of Julia Adolphe's Underneath the Sheen — at California Soul, a gala that will include other Cali-centric songs performed by such guests as British soul singer Corinne Bailey Rae and Coldplay's Chris Martin. Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Thu., Sept. 27, 7 p.m.; $104-$320. (323) 850-2000, laphil.com. —Falling James
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, half of whom are Mexican. Director Micah Fink put a face on several such undocumented Mexicans in his 2016 PBS documentary, Beyond Borders: Undocumented Mexican-Americans. Fink interviewed parents and their children in states like New York and Alabama as they lived double lives, simultaneously working hard to pursue the American Dream while fearing the consequences of their undocumented status — as well as immigrants who were deported. Among them is Julissa Arce, who, despite being undocumented, worked as an executive at Goldman Sachs and later became an activist and author of two books. (She's developing a Fox series based on her life, produced by actress America Ferrera.) LA Plaza de Cultura y Arte hosts a screening of the film and a panel discussion, moderated by UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment's Citlalli Chávez-Nava, with Carlos Amador and Marisol Granillo Arce. LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main St., downtown; Thu., Sept. 27, 7-9 p.m.; free. (888) 488-8083, lapca.org. —Siran Babayan
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Ode to the Auto
In Africa, Europe and Asia, many of history's greatest artists worked to design and beautify temples, churches and other spiritual centers. In the United States, our finest painters, sculptors, illustrators and animators have focused their talents on customizing and celebrating this country's primary place, and object, of worship — the automobile. There was a time when such auto-erotic fixations — as well as comic books and imagery of skateboarding and surfing — were considered merely lowbrow, but the group show "Auto-Didactic: The Juxtapoz School" reaffirms the connections between Kustom Kulture and contemporary art via work by Robert Williams, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, Mark Ryden, Sara Ray, Chaz Bojorquez, Ron English, Shag, Laurie Lipton, Robert Crumb, Anthony Ausgang, Patricia Piccinini and Gary Panter. Petersen Automotive Museum, 6060 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Thu., Sept. 27, 7 p.m.; $30 & $60. (323) 930-2277, petersen.org. —Falling James