In honor of L.A. Weekly's Best of L.A. Arts issue, we've compiled a special compendium of the finest Angeleno creatives have to offer (Spoiler: It's a lot.), as well as a sprinkling of other less arty events. So whether it's a cosmic pod full of starlight or a robot-heavy exhibit, album cover-inspired art or a private dinner party interspersed with eclectic and immersive performances, or an event where you get to tell artists to "pass the aux" and a rolling ode to the avocado, here are the 16 best things to do in Los Angeles this week!
Journey to the End of the World
Lately we're spoiled for choice when it comes to independent gallery shows, but there is something especially alluring about a tiny outlier and long-standing community favorite that opens its doors only a few times a year. McGinty's Gallery at the End of the World presents "Anatomy of a Group Show" — featuring 36 artists and held in tandem with its second annual Altadena Invitational Film Festival and Community Social. Formerly the Underground Arts Society (2002-2010), the gallery has long been a community-focused space bringing both known artists and new talent into the fold. This year, "Anatomy" came together "in a free-form manner," says owner Ben McGinty, referencing both artist selection and installation. "Our goal is to bring artists together, showing their works in a manner reflecting the salons of the past." Look for special works by Jirayr Zorthian and Gifford Myers as well as short films by a number of participating artists. McGinty's Gallery at the End of the World, 869 E. Mariposa St., Altadena; Fri., Aug. 3, 5-10 p.m.; exhibit runs thru Sept. 28; free. (626) 794-4477, facebook.com/mcgintysgallery. —Beige Luciano-Adams
At some point the humble avocado become ... too much. But strip away all the hipsters and the fad of putting avocado in everything, and the fact remains that avocados are pretty awesome. Guaclandia's L.A. stop is the perfect opportunity to appreciate one of the best applications of this fruit. The star of this unique — and, let's be honest, very Southern California — exhibit is an avocado-themed school bus. Plus there will be a giant "avocado" ball pit and an avocado chair to sit in. And, of course, there will be guacamole samples. International Surf Festival, Manhattan Beach Pier; Fri.-Sat., Aug. 3-4, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 5, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. eatwholly.com/guaclandia/. —Avery Bissett
To Infinity and Beyond!
For two glorious, intense minutes, visitors to Darren Sarkin's "Infinity Pod" at Radiant Space immerse themselves in a cozy structure that's only big enough for one or two at a time, but also as big as the universe. The installation is a complex program of light and mirrors (and an automatic camera so you don't have to waste precious time on selfies) that pulses fractal starlight through the space and your brain, symbolizing the cosmic potential for beauty and happiness in life and in Los Angeles. Outside the pod, the gallery displays Sarkin's sculptural "forest fire" works, in which fire-scarred timber is symbolically revivified. Visits to the gallery are free, the pod is experienced in two-minute visits at $5, and a series of special ticketed events inside the installation includes three sound baths in August and a slate of eclectic musical performances throughout the run of the show, all culminating in feminist night on Sept. 21. Radiant Space, 1444 N. Sierra Bonita Ave., Hollywood; Sat.-Sun., Aug. 4-5, noon-3 p.m.; runs thru Sept. 22; $5. (323) 522-4496; radiantspacela.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
As a sculptor, painter, illustrator, animator and toymaker who bridges the worlds of commercial art and fine art, Dave Pressler has long debunked the myth that creating art is the exclusive domain of elitists and intellectual purists. The L.A. artist and Chicago native was a high school dropout who never attended art school, and yet he's had a productive, wide-ranging career that includes co-creating the Nickelodeon animated series Robot and Monster, serving as art director for Netflix's Boss Baby: Back in Business and creating the DreamWorks TV stop-motion animated series How to Do Everything With Garrick and Marvin. Pressler's primary obsession has been robots, and fanciful, inventive robotic figures populate "Idea to Object," his new, career-spanning retrospective that's part of the group exhibition "The Robot Show." Museum of Art & History, 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster; opening reception: Sat., Aug. 4, 2-6 p.m.; runs thru Sept. 30; free. (661) 723-6250, lancastermoah.org. —Falling James
Guiding Angelenos Toward Citizenship
Dust off your fancy duds, come with an appetite and get ready to stick it to the Orange Man at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. at this year's Plate by Plate. For this benefit, 100 percent of net proceeds go to the Mentored Path to Citizenship program of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of OCA — Asian Pacific American Advocates. This invaluable program provides L.A. residents with a $680 grant to defray the cost (currently $725) of applying for naturalization. It also offers legal assistance to those navigating the months-long process. Attendees will partake in a sumptuous tasting experience with the best L.A. restaurants have to offer: Hinoki & the Bird, Broken Spanish and B Sweet Dessert Bar are among the more than 25 participating eateries. There will be plenty of beverages as well as a silent auction, photo booth and afterparty. Spring for a VIP ticket and you'll receive early admission to the event, access to even more culinary wonders from Rossoblu and Walter and Margarita Manzke (République, Petty Cash) and a gift bag. Event is formal/cocktail attire and 21 and up. City Market Social House, 1145 S. San Pedro St., downtown; Sat., Aug. 4, 6-10 p.m.; $150-$250, group rates available. platebyplate.org/la. —Avery Bissett
All About Album Covers
Though the music industry is ever-changing, album covers have always been considered great examples of art. For the last two years, Gabba Gallery has hosted "Cratedigger," a group show with artists whose 12-by-12-inch pieces riff on album covers by either real or imagined bands or artists, including David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Prince, Led Zeppelin and The Sex Pistols. "Remix: The Art of Music" revisits the marriage between the two and features more than 60 artists, among them Shepard Fairey, Mickey Avalon, Incubus singer Brandon Boyd and Val Kilmer, whose paintings and sculpture were the subject of a pop-up show at the gallery last year. Curated by Jason Ostro and Elena Jacobson, half of the exhibit displays more works designed to look like LPs, while the other features mixed-media art inspired by music in general. The opening reception features DJ Jonathan Williams, and a portion of the proceeds benefit Adopt the Arts, a nonprofit co-founded by Abby Berman and former Guns N' Roses drummer Matt Sorum that funds art programs in public schools. Gabba Gallery, 3126 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; Sat., Aug. 4, 7-11 p.m.; runs thru Aug. 25; free. (323) 604-4186, gabbagallery.com. —Siran Babayan
Your Own Private Dinner Party
There's a proliferation of interdisciplinary, collaborative arts collectives these days, each one unique in its scope and avenues of investigation. Art, fashion, design, comedy, music, architecture, performance, film, new media — at Highland Park's Creative Arts Incubator, you'll find it all. But one thing that sets this multidisciplinary campus apart is its embrace of cuisine as a powerful creative method for community-building, place-making and cultural expression. That's right, they like to cook. For this weekend's special occasion, performance artist Peter Kalisch has organized an eclectic array of colleagues who will enact immersive and participatory performance pieces, loosely organized around the topic of privacy, over the course of a dinner party. The event is free and dinner is provided, but an RSVP is essential and your generous tips go entirely to the artists and performers. Collective Arts Incubator, 1200 N. Avenue 54, Highland Park; Sat., Aug. 4, 7 p.m.; free, donations encouraged. (323) 682-0540, collectiveartsincubator.com. —Shana Nys Dambrot
For the Children
Be charitable as you embrace your inner foodie at Stu and the Kids fundraiser. The charity has been providing scholarships for Hill Tribe children in Thailand for almost a decade, to the tune of half a million dollars so far. The evening will include a cocktail and wine bar, Thai beers, water infusions from Herb + Orchard and, to really get you in the right frame of mind, a fresh coconut bar. There will be a silent auction with many a fine prize: vacations, tickets to the finale of Survivor's 37th season, dinner for eight at the Wolfgang Puck Test Kitchen and a dinner at Weiser Farms curated by chef Neal Fraser. Vibiana, 214 S. Main St., downtown; Sun., Aug. 5, 4-8 p.m.; $25-$225. eventbrite.com/e/stu-and-the-kids-los-angeles-fundraiser-2018-tickets-45941763050?aff=erelexpmlt. —Avery Bissett
It sounds like one of those late-night salon party questions: If you could have a dinner party and your favorite artists would deejay it.... But it's not a pipe dream, it's really SASSAS (the Society for the Activation of Social Space Through Art and Sound) and the 28th edition of its Listening Party series, wherein the city's most interesting artists share their time and their playlists at an intimate, four-hour dinner party. For No. 28, SASSAS guests gather at the West Adams home of artist Analia Saban, while artists Neha Choksi (whose large-scale installation is currently featured in "Made in L.A." at the Hammer Museum) and Todd Gray (whose smart and beautiful exhibition of sculptural paintings is on view at Meliksetian | Briggs Gallery, and whose own background includes an epic early career in music photography) share their favorite songs and talk about whatever is on their minds and yours. Address provided with ticket purchase; Sun., Aug. 5, 4-8 p.m.; $50-$175. (323) 960-5723, sassas.org. —Shana Nys Dambrot
FOOD & DRINK
Everyone's Favorite Meal
Instead of spending your lazy Sunday morning scrounging up whatever is at hand in your meagerly stocked fridge, brunch upon the finest the professionals have to offer at BrunchCon. Admission includes an open mimosa and bloody mary bar plus a bite from all of the 30-plus vendors. There will be merch and lawn games, including giant Jenga, corn hole and mimosa pong (which will presumably be a more sophisticated affair than normal beer pong). The Reef, 1933 S. Broadway St., Historic South-Central; Sun., Aug. 5, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; $71.21-$92.21. brunchcon.com. —Avery Bissett
Give 'em the Business
Anybody can be an insult comedian. It's the easiest form of comedy, taking Don Rickles–style pot shots at people based on their race, gender, sexual orientation and/or nationality. The real trick, though, is to still be funny while simultaneously demonstrating tolerance and compassion for people who don't look or act exactly like you. They may be loath to admit it, but the disparate hosts — which include Chris Garcia, Anna Seregina and Bucky Sinister — of free weekly series The Business L.A. have heart, whether it's Megan Koester shining a light on sexual abuse by more famous comedians or Sean Keane sharing disarming secrets about his relatives. Booker Samantha Varela is the unseen mastermind behind the curtain who "keeps everything together for the rest of us, who are basically skittish cats," Sinister says. This week's guest stars are Frankie Quinones, Mitra Jouhari, JC Coccoli, Sean Jordan and Rob Christensen. Little Joy, 1477 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; Mon., Aug. 6, 9 p.m.; free. (213) 250-3417, facebook.com/TheBusinessLA/. —Falling James
By the Deep Blue Sea
An argument could be made that the Santa Monica Pier is always a carnival of performance art and public spectacle. But the way the crew of downtown's Think Tank Gallery does the pier, it's a whole other and far more surreal matter. Rather than compete with the natural beauty of the ocean or the colorful ocean of humanity, Think Tank has carved "out a small-scale pop-up amphitheater at the far end of the pier," and every Tuesday and Wednesday at magic hour, "Sea-Saw" presents free performance art in a series of dreamy, interdisciplinary projects inviting you to contemplate the edge of the continent and your position relative to the expanse of the far horizon. With sculptural set-pieces, esoteric musings on the light and darkness of human existence, confessional strangers, and mythology augmented by project-mapping, "Sea-Saw" might be the most California thing to happen all summer. Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica; Tue.-Wed., 6 p.m.; runs thru Aug. 29; free. (310) 458-8901, santamonicapier.org/seasaw. —Shana Nys Dambrot
Get a Whiff of This
Open Sessions in the Olfactory is a rare chance to create your own signature scent that will signal when you're coming long before you actually step foot in a room. Perfumer Chris Rusak leads you through the process of blending five materials to figure out your very own secret scent formula. You'll also bring home those materials and a petite vial of your odoriferous magnificence — and, because long-term scent memory is virtually unassailable, once your new scent interacts with your body's natural fragrance, you'll have something uniquely and innately yours on your hands, as well as on your pulse points. The Institute for Art and Olfaction, 932 Chung King Road, Chinatown; Wed., Aug. 8, 5 p.m.; $45/$10 for returning students. (213) 616-1744, artandolfaction.com. —David Cotner
As L.A. Louver's rotating summer show draws to a close, the Venice gallery celebrates with a party and screening of its short film series — offering a glimpse of artists at work in their studios, insight into their creative processes and a complement to "Evolver," the dynamic group exhibition on display until Aug. 17. Produced in conjunction with Rogue Wave Projects, which has since 2001 shone a light on artists living and working in Los Angeles, tonight's films feature Matthew Brandt, Gajin Fujita, Ben Jackel, Laura Krifka, Heather Gwen Martin, Kim Schoenstadt and Matt Wedel. Come for the informal courtyard screening, stay to peruse the multimedia group show featuring over 100 works by more than 60 artists, which since opening in June has "spontaneously" evolved through numerous iterations, with movements announced in real time on social media. L.A. Louver, 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice; Wed., Aug. 8, 6-9 p.m.; free, RSVP required (firstname.lastname@example.org). (310) 822-4955, facebook.com/events/654971434839726. —Beige Luciano-Adams
Despite their politics and reputation, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Oprah Winfrey are some of the richest and most powerful women in the world right now. But exactly how influential are they compared with female leaders of the past? Hosted by Zócalo Public Square, Did Women Ever Rule the World? looks at notable women from history and how their achievements are relevant today. Among these women are the Hapsburg Empire's Maria Theresa, Britain's Queen Victoria, West African warrior Queen Aminatu, China's Empress Wu, Egypt's Hatshepsut and one of the most famous female rulers in history, Cleopatra. British TV historian Bettany Hughes moderates this discussion, which includes Kara Cooney, author of The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt, and Joyce Tyldesley, author of Cleopatra: The Last Queen of Egypt. The Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood; Wed., Aug. 8, 7 p.m.; free, RSVP required. (310) 400-7300, zocalopublicsquare.org/event/women-ever-rule-world/. —Siran Babayan
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Smell the ocean air and feel the warmth, and you'd swear you were actually in the Mediterranean. Take your sensory immersion one step further with today's Tea by the Sea, a selection of food mirroring the Mediterranean diet — the herbs and fruits of which come from the gardens of the Getty Villa itself. After tea and sandwiches, you'll traipse around the Villa, guided by docents and turned on to things like "Plato in L.A.," a group show in which locals such as Raymond Pettibon and Paul McCarthy use the Platonic ideal of still contemplation to fuel their art for the exhibition. Getty Villa, 17985 Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacific Palisades; Thu., Aug. 9, 1 p.m.; $39. (310) 440-7300, getty.edu/visit/cal/events/ev_34.html. —David Cotner