This week, a river made of wood planks runs through a museum and an artist turns severed feet into amusing mascots.
5. Like a chicken with its head cut off
"He journeyed from France to the crappy land of online UFO videos and single-highhandedly raised the bar on realism," said Captain Disillusion when he featured the artist Barzolff on the AOL children's web series he hosts. Right now at Here Is Elsewhere Gallery, you can sit on a couch and watch the fake, hyped UFO video Barzolff made in 2009. But the more gripping and unnerving animations in the show are Barzolff's chicken feet, figures with five wiggling toes in place of their heads and torso, which run around on skinny little legs. They get run over by a tank in one video and feature in another that plays in a kitschy shrine Barzolff built. 8687 Melrose Ave., #B222; through Aug. 2. email@example.com, hereiselsewhere.com.
4. Smooth saboteur
Only a few of the paintings in New York-based Sergej Jensen's first exhibition at Regen Projects have paint on them. The others are stained or sewn-together collections of fabric, sometimes with little tears revealing layers of material beneath. They vary significantly in size, too, and the effect of all this is far more deliberate and delicate than reckless or dramatic, which is precisely why it works. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd.; through May 11. (310) 276-5424, regenprojects.com.
3. Let there be many lights
British curator Matthew Higgs, who's good at leveling playing fields, organized Richard Telles Fine Art's new show, "Illuminations." It's full of artist-made lamps, so its title couldn't be more apt. But the effect isn't as obvious as it sounds. Artist Amy Yao's lit-up half-pipes sit on the floor, like little sausages, a resemblance Yao emphasizes by arranging photos of sausage links on the base of one of her lamps. Josef Strau's lamp, which has its shade on upside down, is attached to an iPod mini and speakers that play a deep-voiced, monotone narrative: "The street was hot and I walked on the side without shadows." 7380 Beverly Blvd.; through Aug. 10. (323) 965-5578, tellesfineart.com.
2. Maternal instincts
Palagea Vlassova, an illiterate widow with a factory-worker son, is shy and cautious at the start of playwright Bertolt Brecht's 1932 production, The Mother. But soon, after her son's petitions for worker's rights get him arrested, she's learning to read, passing out political pamphlets and saying shockingly Marxist things like, "You don't need to pray to God any more when there are storms in the sky, but you do have to be insured." My Barbarian -- the three-person troupe that makes money matters, over-intellectualism and political unrest their material for half-lighthearted free-association performance art -- has their own take on Brecht's The Mother. It debuts the day their solo exhibition opens at Susan Vielmetter Projects. 6006 Washington Blvd.; Sat., July 13, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.
1. Time lopes along
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Chris Johanson's exhibition at MOCA's Pacific Design Center satellite is called "Within the River of Time Is My Mind." Painted blue 2-by-4s with little wave marks on them run along the wall and ceiling from the downstairs galleries to upstairs, in one continuous line like a river. But this isn't an attempt at big-deal romanticism, just a casual sentimentality that Johanson's folksy, loosely pictorial paintings echo. One, called Looking at Time Through Art With You the Viewer, shows a series of moons on a dark background. Each moon refers to a time that's happened, happening or coming: "Today," "Tomorrow," "The Next Day," "That Next Day." 8687 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; through Sept. 22. (310) 289-5223, moca.org.