From an after-hours tour of the one-of-a-kind La Brea Tar Pits to a moonlit exploration of gender identity, inaugural festivals for pizza and rare beers, summer movie nights, and a housewarming party for a local lending library, here are the 16 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
The bituminous goo filling La Brea Tar Pits has been bubbling out of the ground for tens of thousands of years, and it's likely not going anywhere anytime soon, so what place could be better to wallow in deep thoughts about the eternal mysteries that surround us (and well up under us) than at Late Night Fridays at the La Brea Tar Pits? The museum's curators have a curious idea of what the phrase "late night" means, though, as the summerlong, weekly soirees run from only 5 to 8 p.m. But after the museum closes, stick around for behind-the-scenes tours and witness morbidly fascinating excavations of bits of bones and matter from extinct mammals and the occasional human, along with screenings of 3-D films such as Werner Herzog's solemnly reverential documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams. La Brea Tar Pits & Museum, 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Fri., July 28, 5-8 p.m.; free-$10. (213) 763-3499, tarpits.org. —Falling James
Beading transcended the hippie aesthetic long ago, and the Pasadena Bead & Design Show offers something for everyone. Open to the public, the event offers artisans and wholesalers showcasing beautiful beads made from glass, crystal, clay, wood, ceramic — really anything you can imagine, and much of it beyond what you might find downtown or at local craft stores. Art, clothing, hats, scarves, hand-tooled leather, upcycled clothing, new and vintage baubles, gemstones, textiles and much more will be available as well. There's also an instruction component, with workshops for all skill levels and projects including clay work, wire work, hand knotting, chainmail, crystal setting, enameling, hand knotting and more. Hilton Pasadena, 168 Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; Thu.-Sun., July 26-29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; $8 in advance, $10 at door. beadanddesign.com/shows/pasadena.php. —Lina Lecaro
A Revolutionary Body of Work
The second installment of the three-week New Original Works Festival at REDCAT centers on performance art and modern dance works that alternately trace how movement interacts with militant music, invokes issues of queer and feminine identity, and adapts to technology to reimagine the human body. Choreographer Milka Djordjevich symmetrically aligns the limbs of a group of women dancers within composer Chris Peck's martial, percussive score in Corps. Three performance artists engage in "an experimental collage of actions and movements" in Sebastian Hernandez's Hypanthium. Media artist KyungHwa Lee constructs an "architecture of the body" by using virtual reality and 3-D printing to envision an ideal physical form in Malleable Bodies: Flusser, Plasticity and the Corset. REDCAT, 631 W. Second St., downtown; Thu.-Sat., July 26-28, 8:30 p.m.; $20. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org. —Falling James
FOOD & DRINK
Be a part of hoppy history and kick off the inaugural Los Angeles Rare and Wild Beer Fest. Whether you're into IPAs, stouts and porters, or saisons and goses (or all of the above!), you'll be able to explore more than 120 beers from more than 30 breweries to explore. If that sum sounds daunting, fear not, food trucks — Pinch of Flavor, Roll'n Lobster and Vchos, to name a few — will be on-site to help soak up the booze and keep you running (or at least stumbling along slowly). Leave the little ones at home, as toddlers or infants won't be admitted. Ride-sharing is recommended (parking is $20, $10 in advance), or if you know someone with nothing better to do than be your personal chauffeur, designated driver tickets are $20 at the door. Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Sat., July 28, 7-10 p.m.; $55, $70 VIP (enter 6 p.m.). larareandwildbeerfest.com. —Avery Bissett
FOOD & DRINK
Grab a Slice — or an Entire Pie
Pizza comes from Italy, or originally Greece, if you want to make that argument, but it's the most popular comfort food in America. Happy, sad, stressed, hungover — we never say no to a slice. The first California Pizza Festival will feature pizzaiolos from 20 local, national and Italian restaurants, each serving their version of the savory pie, whether it's authentic Italian, New York or healthy. Among them are Naples' L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele and Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, the world's oldest pizzeria (founded in 1783), in addition to Tony's Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco, whose owner Tony Gemignani is a 12-time World Pizza Champion. The festival also includes beer and wine, live music, cookbook signings and pizza-making demonstrations by both the United States Pizza Team and Italian "pizza acrobat" Danilo Pagano showing you his tossing and spinning tricks. It's all-you-can-eat, so rest assured you'll leave well-fed and sleepy-eyed. Los Angeles Center Studios, 450 S. Bixel St., Westlake; Sat., July 28, noon-8 p.m.; $45, $89 VIP, $20 children, under 3 free. (213) 534-3000, calipizzafestival.com. —Siran Babayan
Intersectionality by Moonlight
As our conventional public arenas for social discourse descend further into hyper-real horror, consider the green things sprouting from the cracks. A full moon "genders promenade" engaging artists, activists and the public in an exploratory dialogue, Ain't I a Womxn features local performance art illuminati leading a midsummer bacchanal that promises both revolution and entertainment: audio tunnels, vogueing, group scream, feminist PSAs, free ephemera, food trucks and a moonlit, engaged celebration of intersectionality. It's all backed by Freewaves, the L.A. nonprofit that has been fucking up media in the best way since 1989. Bring a flashlight, learn to see. The whole thing will be folded into an online book for the group's ongoing public art series, "Dis... Miss." More than 20 independent artists, 10 art groups and community orgs, with funding and support from local government (sometimes they get it right), will participate. L.A. State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St., Elysian Park; Sat., July 28, 8-11 p.m.; free. freewaves.org. —Beige Luciano-Adams
Summer means outdoor movie nights. So get your lawn chair and get ready for teenage love, copious usage of hair products and harmless street racing down the iconic L.A. River at Street Food Cinema: Grease 40th Anniversary. You won't need to worry about stale popcorn and flat soda with the likes of Belly Bombz's Korean fusion and Korean-inspired bar fare, Churro Boss' custom churros that you can top with Oreos, condensed milk or whatever your heart desires, and other vegetarian and non-vegetarian food trucks. Get there early to enjoy music courtesy of The Roaries. Jamie Donnelly, who played Jan in the film, also will be on hand. Eagle Rock Recreation Center, 1100 Eagle Vista Drive, Eagle Rock; Sat., July 28, 5:30-11 p.m. (movie starts at 8:30); $14-$19, $6-$11 kids, 5 and under free in advance; $17-$22, $6-$11 children, 5 and under free at the door. streetfoodcinema.com/grease-la. —Avery Bissett
Reality or Fiction?
In the practice of photography, the lines between documentary and tableaux, the candid and the staged, have always been a bit blurry. A sense of truth pervades photographic images, part of the persistent idea that what is depicted is "real" despite the ubiquitousness of the contrary. A certain kind of photographer is inspired by the nuances of the reality-fiction limbo, and that potential for self-expression inside that liminal place in which everything is both found and made, existing and imagined, ambivalent yet chosen. Contemporary artist Genevieve Gaignard puts this into play through her persona-based self-portraiture. This afternoon she activates the current exhibition "Real Worlds: Brassaï, Arbus, Goldin" with a conversation on how these topics played out in those iconic artists' work. MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sun., July 29, 3 p.m.; free with museum admission ($15). (213) 621-1741, moca.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Pursuit of Knowledge
Is there really a more valuable commodity (especially in these times) than knowledge? Do your part in obtaining a little more of it and becoming a better person at the Libros Schmibros House Warming Party. To celebrate its new home across the street from the old one, there will be cookies, refreshments and, as always, free books; sign up for a free membership and get a book to keep, and for this event returning members get one, too. Father Greg Boyle of the always kick-ass Homeboy Industries will be blessing the space, and attendees will be the first to get the scoop on Libros Schmibros' upcoming movie nights. Libros Schmibros, 103 N. Boyle Ave., Boyle Heights; Sun., July 29, noon-6 p.m.; free. librosschmibros.com. —Avery Bissett
Bring Your Walking Shoes
While visiting Brazil and Chile, choreographer Heidi Duckler discovered Brazilian Clarice Lispector's short stories, three of which inspired the choreographer's latest site-specific event, A Bela e a Fera Salon: An Evening of 3 Clarice Lispector Short Stories in Dance. As with many Heidi Duckler Dance performances, each story unfolds in a different space, with the audience moving about. (Comfortable shoes are a must.) Set in an arched hallway, Such Gentleness finds dancer Raymond Ejiofor on an illuminated Plexiglas and steel light table. The title work, A Bela e a Fera, which translates to Beauty and the Beast, takes the audience to the rooftop with dancer Tess Hewlett. Back indoors, a short film captures the collaboration with Duckler and fabric artist Mimi Haddon inspired by Lispector's The Sound of Footsteps before the evening concludes with drinks, supper and a preview of Duckler's next Lispector-inspired endeavor, The Chandelier. Original music is by M83's Joe Berry, with narration by Paula Rebelo. Bendix Building, 1206 Maple Ave., Ste. 1100B, downtown; Sun., July 29, 7 p.m.; $60. abelaeafera.eventbrite.com. —Ann Haskins
FOOD & DRINK
What do tiki culture and Star Wars nerd-dom have in common you ask? Escape, that's what. Whether you dream of zooming through the galaxy in a spaceship or lounging on a breezy tropical island, it's about doing something different and forgetting the drudgery of the 9-to-5 grind. Plus loving both of these cultures means dressing up! Fun! Still, fans of tiki tend to lean toward '60s stylings such as the Barbarella look, while Star Wars is very '70s. The regulars at Star Wars Tiki Brunch will surely make the meld work, though, and after a few cocktails, who really cares anyway? On-theme specials such as the Bantha Milk Punch, Dark Side Piña Colada and Shyriiwook Sour will be served as this intergalactic, rum-guzzler gathering strikes back for summer. Stormtroopers from the Southern California Garrison will be present, DJs including Justin Garrison, Personify, Vickki Acuna and Robot Heart perform live, and food will be provided by East Los Musubi and Presley's Pantry. Hosted by Ray Bowen, who will slay you with his lightsaber if you're not dressed in tiki attire. Resident, 428 S. Hewitt St., downtown; Sun., July 29, noon; free (21+). residentdtla.com. -Lina Lecaro
Setting an Example
"As California goes, so goes the nation," an old adage says. The essence of this homily is change — and to crystallize that thought eloquently, author Manuel Pastor discusses his timely screed State of Resistance: What California's Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Mean for America's Future ($27, the New Press). Where once the state seemed poised for a future more like the one in the film Escape From L.A., now it's forging ahead with brave new developments in tackling everything from climate change (remember smog alerts?) to low-wage work (remember $5.25 an hour?) to prison overcrowding (remember the escape from Alcatraz?). Vroman's Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Mon., July 30, 7 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320, vromansbookstore.com/event/manuel-pastor-discusses-and-signs-state-resistance. —David Cotner
Bold and Beautiful in the Bowl
Summer's here, and the time is right for some darkly engrossing, bold and inevitably beautiful music by Igor Stravinsky and Edward Elgar. After guest conductor Matthias Pintscher guides the L.A. Philharmonic through the sweetly lyrical and relatively formal passages of Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite (1922), violinist Nathan Cole stretches out and carves his way along the more adventurous and moodily grand contours of the Russian composer's only Violin Concerto (1931). The concert culminates with the more traditionally stirring melodies of British composer Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood Hills; Tue., July 31, 8 p.m.; $1-$158. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com. —Falling James
Think, McFly! Think!
Beat the heat as you watch Marty McFly and Doc Brown rend the very fabric of time and space itself and avoid Oedipal awkwardness with Back to the Future at Sweet Rose Creamery. Before the screening on the back patio, guests can play games and conquer the challenge of picking a flavor or flavors of ice cream to try. Stick to the classics like vanilla and chocolate or, if you're feeling adventurous, try the summer corn ice cream. Sweet Rose Creamery, 4377 Tujunga Ave., Studio City; Wed., Aug. 1, 8:30-10:30 p.m.; free. sweetrosecreamery.com. —Avery Bissett
One Person's Trash...
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If she weren't such a gifted visual artist, you might mistake Shinique Smith for a hoarder. That's because her painting and sculptural installation practice involves a constant hobby of collecting and saving the clothing, personal effects, self-cannibalized studio art, photographs and other non-garbage debris of human existence. She then reformulates these masses of raw material into richly detailed, colorful, poetically abstract and surreal works of art. Poignant on a personal level, garnering empathy for the fleeting nature of life in a what-we-leave-behind sort of way, the works also speak to societal inequities of wealth, consumption and disposability. Like soft-sculpture archeology, her constructed layers, bundles and arrays are available for a plurality of interpretation. In conjunction with her current solo exhibition at CAAM, "Refuge," is on view through Sept. 9, Smith is interviewed by Hamza Walker, esteemed curator and director of LAXART. Because there's a lot to unpack here. California African American Museum, 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; Thu., Aug. 2, 7-9 p.m.; free with RSVP. (213) 744-2084, caamuseum.org/programs/current/in-conversation-shinique-smith-and-hamza-walker. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Reveling in Excess
Motoko Honda uses every inch of the piano, whether she's rumbling up and down the keys with a jazzy aplomb or dissecting its prepared strings and other innards with a surgical, experimental curiosity. Motoko Honda's Simple Excesses might initially seem like a traditional jazz combo, as the Oakland pianist interacts with drummer Jordan Glenn, woodwinds player Cory Wright and bassist Miles Wick. But the ensemble are just as likely to burrow into knotty, noisy and unpredictable new-music spaces as they are to take flight with unfettered jazzy improvisation. Poet William Blake could have been thinking of Honda and crew when he wrote, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Thu., Aug. 2, 8 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu. —Falling James