A preview of Plaza de la Raza's Day of the Dead benefit
A preview of Plaza de la Raza's Day of the Dead benefit

4 Great Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week

From a Day of the Dead fest to a citywide Islamic arts project to a book about Wonder Woman, this week brings a host of quirky events to L.A. — and they're all free.

Art of the Revolutions
The L.A./Islam Arts Initiative is already under way at dozens of venues across the city, from the gorgeous Doris Duke’s Shangri-La and accompanying contemporary Islamic art group show at Barnsdall, to foodie events, workshops, screenings and concerts — with programming continuing through December. Its goal is not only to educate new audiences about the rich eclecticism and high-stakes urgency of understanding historic and contemporary Islamic arts but also to articulate and strengthen the shared bonds and common goals of an international coterie of artist-led resistances to oppression and injustice. Among the most salient of its offerings is this weekend’s pop-up exhibition and workshop in Chinatown, as Medina hosts Histories Absolved: Revolutionary Cuban Poster Art and the Muslim International — a survey show of political graphics linking the struggles of Cuban and Muslim cultural revolutionaries — along with a hands-on workshop by the Self-Help Graphics Barrio Mobile Arts Studio, an organization that knows a little something about fomenting cultural justice through art itself. As with the entire initiative, the Medina event hopes not only to educate but also to inspire creativity and engagement on your own terms. Medina, 977 1/2 Chung King Road, Chinatown; Sat., Nov. 8, 6-10 p.m.; free. laislamarts.org—Shana Nys Dambrot

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The Wake
Did you sleep through Halloween? Or conversely, party so hard that you feel as if you need to make up for your debauchery with some culture? Well, good news: Another huge, fun and culturally rich All Soul’s Day event is coming up: the Día de los Muertos celebration at Plaza de la Raza. El Velorio, translated literally to “the wake,” is Plaza’s yearly Day of the Dead benefit bash, and it’s going to be huge. Los Angeles’ historic Eastside community center will be jam-packed with ladies and gents adorned with skillfully applied calavera makeup, thanks to 15 on-site makeup artists, and running over with visual splendor, with a fine arts exhibition hosting works by more than 60 local contemporary artists. If the strands of marigolds and platters of sugar skulls vibrate off their altars, you can blame the musical talent — spinners DJ Jeremy Sole, Sloepoke and Herick Hell, and El Conjunto Nueva Ola, one of L.A. Weekly’s “Best Live Band” semi-finalists earlier this year. Cumbia musicians originally from Mexico City, the band will be performing in lucha libre masks on the main stage. Wear one yourself, and they may bring you up to dance with them — no guarantees, though. Plaza de la Raza, 3540 N. Mission Road, Lincoln Heights; Sat., Nov. 8, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; $20, children 5 and younger free. (323) 223-2475, elvelorio.com—Rena Kosnett

Vive La Comique-Con!
A literary collaboration that has encouraged and organized many salient programs over the years, Vis-a-Vis brings French and American authors together on both continents to discover and discuss what separates and binds together our arts and letters communities. Now the 2014 edition brings these storied stories together for a proper love affair between authors and artists of the comics and illustrated-novel craze exploding in both countries. From TinTin to Persepolis, from Tank Girl to Snowpiercer, not only are the books themselves being translated and collected trans-Atlantic, but also fancy studio productions for cinema and television, especially animated ones, are deepening and furthering the exchange even more. Join the French Consulate and the Nerdist ambassadors for a full afternoon of panels, presentations, demos and new releases covering the history, promise and challenges of this lively cross-cultural exchange. Meltdown Comics, 7522 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Sun., Nov. 9, 2 p.m.; free. (323) 851-7223, holdmyticket.com/event/185921.
—Shana Nys Dambrot

The Golden Lasso
William Moulton Marston is not a household name, but maybe he should be. Born in 1893, he earned a doctorate in psychology from Harvard, helped invent the polygraph and authored more than a half-dozen books. But for all of that, his greatest legacy is the invention of Princess Diana of Themyscira, better known as Wonder Woman, one of DC Comics’ most enduring yet underexploited characters. Both the creator and the creation have long been shrouded in mystery, but New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has dug deep into the largely untold history, as well as the superhero’s role as a feminist icon in male-dominated comic book culture in The Secret History of Wonder Woman. Who knew? Kinky sex is part of the plot. Lepore will share her intriguing discoveries and maybe also the logistics of maintaining an invisible airplane with KPCC’s Alex Cohen. Mark Taper Auditorium, Los Angeles Central Library, 630 W. 5th St., dwntwn.; Wed., Nov. 12, 7:15 p.m.; free. (213) 228-7025, lfla.org—Sean J. O’Connell

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