This week, an office worker becomes a psycho killer, and an artist's film revisits 1990s Highland Park.
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If you’ve never seen a Cindy Sherman survey, perhaps you’ll be overwhelmed by how much of her there is in the recently opened Broad exhibition. The artist, who has been using herself as her subject since the 1970s, poses as a film noir heroine, a B-movie murder victim, a mean-looking Victorian queen, an over-tanned Brentwood housewife. But among the show’s highlights are the few works in which the artist doesn’t appear. Office Killer, the feature-length film she made in 1997, plays on a loop in a back gallery. It features Molly Ringwald as a disgruntled employee at a struggling magazine and Carol Kane as an antisocial, mousy editor who goes on a killing spree. The film wasn't likely to win any Oscars, but it’s eerie, seductively campy and perfect. 221 S. Grand Ave., downtown; through Oct. 2. (213) 232-6200, thebroad.org.
It’s easy to fall into a trance when walking through the Agnes Martin retrospective at LACMA. The works are precise and meditative but not necessarily peaceful. The galleries are partly lit by natural light, so sunset has a softening effect. Martin, who moved from New York to New Mexico and stayed there until her death in 2004 (she “disappeared into the desert,” the story often goes), is known for destroying the paintings that weren’t quite right, and for being a sometimes-difficult loner. Her works are mostly seen one at a time, hung alongside other minimal, controlled art made in the 1960s or '70s. In this context, she seems aligned with the trend. At LACMA, where her art fills a whole floor, she becomes her own thing entirely: neurotic and idiosyncratic yet sagelike. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; through Sept. 11. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
Artist Susan Mogul filmed her home neighborhood of Highland Park in the early 1990s, when it really was still working-class. She talked to the UPS guy, an ex-boxer and men who ran the Shell station, filming in a home-movie style and poking fun at herself as she went along. She'll screen this short, called Everyday Echo Street: A Summer Diary, at the Echo Park Film Center this week, along with other intentionally feminist films. One, The Artist and Her Mother, is a work in progress for which Mogul enlisted a number of female L.A. artists to talk about their mothers. Mother issues have long been a theme in Mogul's work. Years ago, the artist — whose sense of humor courses through her work — filmed herself eating Corn Nuts, an unladylike snack, while talking about shopping with her mother. 1200 N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; Thu., July 14, 8 p.m.; $5 donation. (213) 484 - 8846, echoparkfilmcenter.org.
Over-the-top jacket design
Jonathan Johnson meant to go to art school but ended up instead working in a jewelry factory in Pforzheim, Germany. He’s since become a jewelry maker fascinated by the culture of adornment, especially its extreme, flamboyant manifestations. He’s collaborated with actress-dominatrix Snow Mercy and the Tom of Finland estate, where beefcake culture is always esteemed, to make jewelry-enhanced jackets. Artist-musician Karim Shuquem makes “Rebellion Jackets,” borrowing from punk aesthetics and using imagery from jailhouse suicides. The two will make music and wear their art for a one-night performance at LAST Projects called EXCESSstential Style 2.0. 6546 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., July 8, 7 p.m. (323) 356-4225.
Taking celebs to task
Artist-writer Brian Kim Stefans, who sometimes projects his poetry onto walls so that it surrounds his audience, wrote a searing open letter to The New Yorker last year, right after the magazine published a problematic profile of poet Kenneth Goldsmith (who had just read the police-murdered Michael Brown’s autopsy report as if it were poetry). Stefans unflinchingly called out the racism of the arts-and-letters world. His open letter to actress Kristen Stewart, who had been dabbling in poetry herself, was a little less harsh. He recommended she try not to “litter your poems with decadent sex and booze stories,” as that's been done by Hollywood types before. Stefans will speak at MOCA this weekend. 152 N. Central Ave., downtown; Sun., July 10, 3 p.m. (213) 621-1741, moca.org.