Michael E. Smith's Untitled (2015)
Michael E. Smith's Untitled (2015)
Courtesy of the artist and Michael Benevento. Copyright Jeff Mclane.

5 Free Art Shows You Should See in L.A. This Week

Waterfalls make appearances this week, in a story an artist tells and in a cartoonish installation in West Adams. Also, more paintings and more chains are being added to an already labyrinthine installation downtown.

5. Giving power to pennies 
“EBB,” Jory Rabinovitz’s installation at Martos Gallery, is an absurdist’s version of a wishing well, one in which all the parts are rearranged. The copper spouts, pipes and discs were made from melted pennies, so the pennies become structural. And funny chlorine-blue fabric tubes fall to the floor from spouts on the wall. It’s a cartoonish version of water, though there’s real water too, pooling in a blue-green brick well and coming from a copper tube that reaches through the ceiling to catch rainwater. 3315 W Washington Blvd., West Adams; through March 14. info@martosgallery.commartosgallery.com

4. King of the yard
The throne that artist John Zane Zappas built in a grassless Happy Valley side yard is gray, more lumpy than elegant, and welcoming and big enough for five or so people to sit on. It’s one of three NuStachus (or New Statues) Zappas installed at Outside Gallery, a new project by Insert Blanc Press, and it’s pleasant to imagine a whole family sitting on the throne and snacking and chatting, maybe as the sun sets. 2806½ Lincoln Park Ave., Happy Valley; through April 5 by appointment only. insertpress@gmail.com, insertblancpress.net

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3. Living on the edge
In the pleasantly spare exhibition up now at Meliksetian | Briggs, artist Bas Jan Ader appears on a vintage television screen, reading a Reader’s Digest story about a boy who fell over Niagara Falls and survived. The artist — who would disappear three years later, in 1975, during a transatlantic journey he took as part of his In Search of the Miraculous project — is straight-faced and serious. He is also serious when he holds a tea party in Griffith Park, underneath a “house” that’s really a box held up by a stick. When the house falls down over him and he disappears, the performance, and the video of it, ends. It’s genuinely charming, like a Charlie Chaplin routine, but also foreboding, which is Ader’s lasting legacy. You always read his work knowing he'd risk his life for an idea. 313 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax.; through Feb. 28. (323) 828-4731, meliksetianbriggs.com

2. Is he building it or tearing it down?
The newsprint publication stacked in the front room of Parker Ito’s ongoing, still-growing exhibition in a warehouse around the block from his gallery, Chateau Shatto, has a faded photo of roses on its cover. The word “Revenge,” also faded, is typed across the photo, and you could see Ito’s over-full, bright exhibition as a kind of wide-open revenge fantasy. He’s getting back at who knows what — California’s sunniness? Consumerism? People who want art to be elite? Industriousness as a good in itself? Hyper-real and less real paintings hang from the rafters, held up by colored chains. Other chains hang alone and unfinished work is on the floor, as are pairs of brand new shoes. There are holes in walls, and you’re not sure whether the urge to construct or destruct is winning. 1317 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; through April 30. (213) 973-5327, chateaushatto.com

1. Haunted by a minimalist
The two headlights Ed Brown projected onto the back wall of Michael Benevento Gallery’s darkened main room look like eyes at first. The stuffed black gloves Michael E. Smith attached to a metal bar installed high across the hallway look as if they must belong to some predatory animal. But even though Smith's BMX bike frame with the perfectly clean drinking glass protruding from it slightly resembles a crossbow, it’s the most gentle object in the room. It’s satisfying to be taken on such a strange ride so efficiently, by so few smartly placed objects (the installation Smith and Brown did in Benevento's project space down the street is just as efficient, but louder). 7578 Sunset Blvd., W. Hlywd.; through March 14. (323) 874-6400, beneventolosangeles.com

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