This week, two artists exhibit paintings on roller blinds in Hollywood and the soon-to-be-demolished Sixth Street Bridge plays a key part of a one-night opera about downtown aspirations and gentrification.
Headpiece for secret-sharing
In 1977, designer Victor Papanek co-wrote a book called How Things Don’t Work. He argued that many of the appliances and gadgets meant to make life easier don’t actually work that well, and proposed DIY alternatives. The current exhibition at the Armory is full of artist’s interpretations of his thinking. There’s a collapsible table that doubles as wall art by the duo CamLab, a group exercise kit by Robby Herbst and a two-person headpiece by Liz Nurenberg that’s meant to facilitate secret-sharing. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; through Sept. 6. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.
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The thing about being a girl
One of artist Lucretia X’s drawings has two frames side by side. On the right, a sexy blonde surrounded by too many outfits says that the thing about being a girl is that it takes longer to dress: “There are so many decisions.” On the left, a girl in a towel with head in hands has a different message: It takes longer to dress because “you think you look ugly in everything.” Lucretia, a key player in L.A.’s early Riot Grrrl scene, in part inspired Vega Darling’s new 50-minute documentary, Lost Grrrls: Riot Grrrl in Los Angeles. Darling will participate in a discussion about art and rebelliousness after the film screens at the alt-dance space Pieter. 420 W. Avenue 33, Lincoln Heights; Mon., Aug. 24, 8 p.m; $5. womenscenterforcreativework.com.
There’s a haphazard casualness to artists Margaret Lee and Emily Sunblad’s show at Hannah Hoffman Gallery, “You Can Teach an Old Zebra New Tricks.” The artists, based in New York, made all the work in the show together. They made their simple paintings of windows by applying paint directly to white roller blinds (“You can roll your view up or down,” says the press release). Half a zebra can be seen through one red-trimmed window, and “Zebra chairs,” made of raffia, canvas and wood, sit on the gallery floor. Wandering through the show is sort of like watching a children’s play that’s charmingly staged but doesn’t have much of a plot. 1010 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; through Sept. 12. (323) 450-9106, hannahhoffmangallery.com.
Before it all blows up
Halfway through the second season of True Detective, a downtown building right in front of the Sixth Street Bridge blows up. Artist Susan Silton saw this scene while taking a break from working on the libretto she was writing, about the changing downtown landscape. The building erupting in flames was the building her studio has been in for years, where she and artist-opera singer Juliana Snapper be staging their libretto. The building was just sold, artists are being forced out and the Sixth Street Bridge is about to be demolished. So, this weekend, performers will stand in Silton’s studio windows singing from a score that references gentrification, money grubbing and big dreams. Audiences will watch from the bridge. During a sound test a few weeks ago, bikers and drivers stopped to listen. Sixth Street Bridge, facing north, downtown; Sat., Aug. 22, 8 & 10 p.m. (626) 689-3214, facebook.com/events/530753487090663/.
Four women, visible only from the waist up, are turning in a circle and all talking at once in artist Doa Aly’s four-minute video, Hysterical Choir of the Frightened. The words the women say come from recent newspaper reports on protests in Cairo and from Marquis de Sade’s novel about a good young girl continuously thrust into perverse situations. So the film feels eerie and militant. It plays in the dark “video” room at the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive. The artworks in this exhibition, curated by Suzy Halajian and about the ways artists dig into “source material,” are scattered among shelves or books. Copies of a lyrical essay by Amsterdam writer Janine Armin sit on top of a filing cabinet — visitors can take a copy home. In it, Armin reflects on numerology, the blue moon and boring meetings while explaining her decision to be a weak person on purpose. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; through Sept. 26. (213) 935-0740, lacarchive.com.