Lex Brown's pillow, A Different Bag I, installed as part of "American Survey Part I"
Lex Brown's pillow, A Different Bag I, installed as part of "American Survey Part I"
Courtesy Papilion Gallery

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

This week, there's a conversation about power lines along the L.A. River, cedar totems on Santa Fe, and a pillow painting of gossiping serpents in Leimert Park.

5. Bring a book and stay a while
The upstairs gallery of 356 Mission, in the space above Ooga Booga bookstore, is much more intimate than its bigger, concrete-floored exhibition spaces. There’s a bed up there, a couch, a closet, two lamps and big multipaned windows looking out on industrial downtown. Artist Katy Fischer’s whimsical exhibition “Finders, Keepers, Losers and Weepers” is installed there now. Small ceramic artifacts are laid out on tables, and dyed fabric shapes hang from the ceiling, including a sky-blue fabric ladder. The work seems meant to set the mood, so that you can linger for a while, maybe sit reading on the couch as late afternoon light streams in. 356 S. Mission, downtown; through April 25. (323) 609-3162, 356mission.com

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4. Audio tour of a state-owned lot
Artist Rosten Woo has developed a narrative tour of the Bowtie Parcel, that post-industrial lot along the L.A. River that the state has owned for 12 years and kept off-limits until Clockshop started using it as an outdoor project space a year ago. Woo’s project debuts this Sunday, and visitors can pick up pamphlets or download an audio guide that leads them through the parcel while discussing pollution or the politics of landscape design. Scholar Dan Wuebben will be there to talk about the visual effects power lines have on the way we experience landscapes. 2800 Casitas Ave., Glassell Park; Sun., April 19, 4 p.m.-sunset. (323) 522-6014, clockshop.org

3. Making mundane objects sexy
Walking through Sarah Conaway’s “Empty Vessel” at the Box is kind of like clicking through street style photos from Fashion Week in Milan or Paris — you know everything looks too perfectly styled and tailored to be natural, but you still want to believe that the world could be so casually tasteful. Conaway’s photographs of antique vessels, bowls or fabric are sometimes black-and-white, sometimes quietly colored, and they depict mundane objects with an impressive, vintage-y smoothness. Fabric [Ascetics], the muted image of two pieces of mound-shaped felt that hangs in the back hallway, is especially seductive. 805 Traction Ave., downtown; through May 2. (213) 625-1747, theboxla.com

2. Consciousness raising 
“American Survey Part I,” on view at Papillion Gallery in Leimert Village, seems excitingly ambitious based on its title alone, more so when you read the consciousness-raising questions its press release poses, among them: “How do we raise the vibrational frequencies of a culture by educating the psyche?” The show itself is colorful and sometimes comic in the way it grapples with history and identity. Brooklyn-based artist-activist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh has painted the words “Women are not seeking your validation” in black capital letters below the windows on the façade. L.A.-based artist Lex Brown’s floppy painted pillow depicts two snakes dishing about skin color in the Garden of Eden: “You’re so BROWN that I barely noticed how fat you are.” “Don’t tell Eve, but I’ve been tanning with Adam.” 4336 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park; through May 17. (310) 987-7318, papillionart.com

1. Gnawed wood and corn cobs made of bronze
Berlin-based David Adamo’s totems, made from blocks of cedar, look as if they’ve been gnawed on, or hacked at, by someone who’s fascinated by the weird, rough ways in which wood grains pull apart. The totems, arranged in Ibid. Projects’ downtown space, have cast-bronze replicas of orange peels and mostly eaten corn cobs arranged around them, and there's a multicolored, mosaiclike pattern of painted wood chips on the floor. But these elements feel almost too careful and contrived in comparison with the tall cedar forms, which are at once cheeky, primal and regal. 675 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown; through May 30. (323) 395 8914, ibidprojects.com.  

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