This week, artists rein in their destructive impulses, and poultry from a farm in Paris, Calif., participates in an art installation in Little Tokyo.
5. Sermon illustrations
Edward Hicks tried being a minister early in the 1800s, before he began painting The Peaceable Kingdom, his famous scene of wild animals mingling contentedly with cherubic people while William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, negotiates a treaty with the Lenape tribe in the background. But "even though he couldn't preach his way out of a paper bag," Hicks discovered he could paint, said Reverend Scott Colglazier of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles three weeks ago. Colglazier has based each sermon he's given in December on an artwork. The sermons, of course, have a Christian, moral bent (you can make the world more broken or more whole, Colglazier said when talking about Peaceable Kingdom -- which do you choose?), but they also take a down-to-earth, speculative approach to art interpretation. (Would Penn have favored a nuclear arms treaty with Iran? Colglazier believes so.) The last in the series focuses on a folksy painting by He Qi, a Chinese artist who lives in Minnesota and has shown at several seminaries and divinity schools. 540 S. Commonwealth Ave., Wilshire Center; Sun., Dec. 29, 11 a.m. fccla.org
4. Functionally damaged
Rocker Pete Townshend had been reading artist Gustav Metzger's writings on auto-destructive art, or art that disintegrates or implodes on its own, around the time he started The Who. He has credited Metzger with his decision to destroy an expensive guitar and once told an interviewer, "The Who would have been the first punk band except that we had a hit." Artist Keith Rocka Knittel includes this quote on a tasteful red-and-white newsprint leaflet, which he framed, attached to a half-painted board and stood up on a redwood stump. This assemblage, called Hocked Rickenbacker, is part of "Building on Ruins," a show Knittel organized with Nicolas Grenier and Etienne Zack at Cirrus Gallery. Most work in the show sublimates a destructive impulse and comes off as relatively well-adjusted but self-conscious about it. 542 S. Alameda St., dwntwn.; through (213) 680-3473, cirrusgallery.com.
3. From A to Z
Artist Nicolau Vergueiro has been working on his Abecedarium, a way of writing the alphabet, turning letters into characters and subjects for his paintings. His Eclectic F Wall with Parentheses Draping is the first work you see in the current show at Commonwealth and Council. A boxy pink and gray version of the letter F repeats again and again on a print that's underneath glass and inside a pink frame. Gray latex drapes over the frame and metal charms stick out of the latex, forming what look like parentheses. This show also includes systematic, often grid-based sculptures and paintings by Mark Flores. Both artists' work could be called charmingly obsessive. 3006 W. Seventh St., through Jan. 4. (213) 703-9077, commonwealthandcouncil.com.
2. Turkeys and televisions
If you sign a release form, you can walk through the chainlink gate into the cage that currently takes up most of The Box's main gallery. Once inside, you'll be navigating dresses and desks and about 35 vintage TV sets, some broadcasting fuzz, some partly dismembered, all covered with wood shavings. Six turkeys, two of them males with full black-and-white feathers and blue and red heads, will navigate with you (they are well cared for, the press release specifies). German artist Wolf Vostell (1932-1998) did this same installation at the LAICA gallery in L.A. in 1980, using turkeys because his show coincided with the Thanksgiving holiday. The Box opened its version around Thanksgiving too, and given how much the TV sets have aged, this restaging must seem more apocalyptic and eerie, though the turkeys don't seem too concerned. 805 Traction Ave., dwntwn. (213) 625-1747, theboxla.com.
1. Bashful about undressing
There's a loosely rendered bed in the background of an India ink drawing from 1796 by Spanish Romantic Francisco de Goya. In the foreground, a woman who's looking down and almost smirking has her hands on her waist. She might or might not be about to untie her sash. The man leaning close to her ear, wearing a white scarf and long, striped coat, seems deep in a Don Juan act. Goya, who always handled his materials with such expert looseness, titled this lovely little work She Is Bashful About Undressing. It's part of the Norton Simon's current Goya showcase. 411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; through March 3. (626) 449-6840, nortonsimon.org.
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