View of Shahryar Nashat's “Prosthetic Everyday”EXPAND
View of Shahryar Nashat's “Prosthetic Everyday”
Photo by Brica Wilcox. Courtesy of the artist and 356 S. Mission Road,

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

This week, a knee is the protagonist in a downtown exhibition and artists organize a meeting in Pasadena about making Skid Row self-sustaining. 

For almost a year, artist Dale Davis has been working on digitizing and organizing the archive for the Brockman Gallery, which he and his brother Alonzo Davis ran in Leimert Park from 1967 into the 1980s. Meant to give high-quality shows to minority artists who were too often overlooked by other art institutions, the gallery hosted an impressive array of exhibits by artists such as John Outterbridge and Noah Purifoy (who has a fantastic solo show at LACMA). The current exhibition at Art + Practice features ephemera from the archive, including photos of figures such as former mayor Tom Bradley visiting the gallery and gorgeous invitations to a show by now-iconic Betye Saar. It’s thrilling to see this under-recognized history so beautifully preserved. 4339 Leimert Blvd., Leimert Park; through Aug. 29. (323) 337-6887,

Revisit paradise
Twenty years ago, in 1995, the then-young, L.A.-based Project X Foundation hosted an event at Occidental College’s Remsen Bird Hillside Theater. Artist Marnie Weber’s costumed collaborators were there (including a woman dressed as a sunflower). Choreographer Anita Pace performed, too. It was called “Program for Paradise” and photographs of the event are poetically utopian. Project X is redoing the event this week in the same place, with different performers, among them artist-dancer Sarah Petersen and artist-musicians Lucky Dragons. 1600 Campus Road, Eagle Rock; Wed., July 29, 7-9 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 982-0279,

Sustain Skid Row
The Los Angeles Poverty Department, an arts organization that explores Skid Row–related issues, is hosting a charette, a typically intense meeting where people get together to push a project through to completion. The project the LAPD wants to push through is a particularly ambitious one: to carve out sustainable cultural and business spaces on Skid Row. They’ll host their charette at the Armory Center in Pasadena, and attendees will include Skid Row residents, city officials, artists and designers. Anyone can come. Debate is likely to be heated, as it has been at past LAPD meetings, because it’s not easy to find solutions that acknowledge Skid Row realities while fighting the stigmas. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; Sat., July 25, 2-4 p.m. (626) 792-5101,

A.L. Steiner's Untitled (Melissa with lipstick) (2007)EXPAND
A.L. Steiner's Untitled (Melissa with lipstick) (2007)
Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe.

About a knee
Sit on the marbled benches installed in 356 Mission’s main gallery and you’ll be facing a film that mostly features a knee. The film, the centerpiece of Shahryar Nashat’s exhibition “Prosthetic Everyday,” shows a man wandering around what looks like a museum with one leg of his blue pants rolled up. Sometimes the knee rolls around marble flooring. Occasionally you see X-ray footage of a knee in a brace. Then, on a much smaller screen on a far wall, a man with a bare, scarred knee pulls his sock on again and again. It’s mostly the fixation on a single limb that makes the work compelling: You start to romanticize the knee’s utilitarian roughness. 356 S. Mission Road, Boyle Heights; through Aug. 2. (323) 609-3162,

Patriarchy is a pyramid scheme
At A.L. Steiner’s show at Blum & Poe, you can request to look through an archive of photos taken sometime between 1995 and now. The archive will be pulled out of a filing cabinet at the center of the room and then you can sit on a bench and pore over photos: snapshots of a trip the artist took to Turkey almost 20 years ago, or snapshots organized under the title “Patriarchy Is a Pyramid Scheme.” But the best photos are the ones on the wall, also personal — a friend eating in a pool, another posing defiantly in the desert — but printed big so that the casualness of Steiner’s archive becomes muscular. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; through Aug. 22. (310) 836-2062,

Editor's note: A photo that was previously in this post was taken down at the request of the gallery, as it included a work that is no longer a part of the exhibit in question.

Catherine Wagley on Twitter

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