This week, an artist deconstructs the pom-pom, two holes get cut in gallery walls and an exhibition suggests the wrong man took the blame for murder 83 years ago.
5. Wallflower whirlpool
Jen Stark cut a hole the shape of a water lily into the northernmost wall of Martha Otero gallery, then built up layer upon layer of carefully colored paper, each cut in the same plantlike shape but each smaller than the last. The result is a twisting vortex of color that gets narrower and narrower and finally disappears. The best works in Stark's current show are similar: powerful, precise, dimensional and mostly made of paper. 820 N. Fairfax Ave.; through Nov. 10. (323) 951-1068, marthaotero.com.
4. Cheerleaders and pot healers
J. Casey Doyle is covered in shiny pom-pom hairs that hang down past his knees at the beginning of his video I Am My Own Cheerleader. He stands on AstroTurf in front of an empty arena and frantically picks them off, until there's a pom-pom pile at his feet. In Ralph Dorey's video Pot Healers, two people "heal" pots broken by a conniving cat, gluing pieces together while their conversation goes off on trippy tangents. Both videos screen at the Armory Center for the Arts this weekend, along with nine other short videos about mundane things taken to strange extremes. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; Fri., Oct. 26, (626) 792-5101, miascreen.com.
3. George Lucas, our best living artist
Camille Paglia, the dissident feminist who wrote the iconic book Sexual Personae and has sparred with Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Susan Sontag and so many others, has taken on art history. Her new book, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars, does just what its title suggests: takes readers from ancient art through to George Lucas, whose art she reveres. "People are immersed in visual clutter right now, coming from the computer screen, the iPhone," she said on NPR. "I think we've lost the ability to just gaze in stillness at great images." She'll talk about great images and why they matter at the Skirball this week, an event organized by Zocalo Public Square. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.; Thurs., Oct. 25, 7 p.m. (310) 440-4500, zocalopublicsquare.org.
2. Terrorist peephole
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The first room of artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu's installation in the Hammer's plaza-level gallery is dimly lit and mostly empty. But there's an eye-level, roughly cut hole in the back wall, and if you go up close, you'll find yourself staring into the pasty eye of someone else. The weekend security guard says that even visitors who aren't surprised when they see the eye jump back when they turn the corner into the narrow second room. There, a bearded Taliban soldier as tall as Bin Laden (6' 5") bends over, eye to the wall. Maybe it sounds too obvious and indelicate: scaring people by sculpting a terrorist. But there's something affecting about getting that close to such a detailed, carefully made, life-size rendering of someone so villainized and, for most of us, so distant. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd.; through Jan. 6. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
1. L.A. horror story
Kerry Tribe's new exhibition at 1301 PE is a 40-minute commitment and worth whatever time you can spare. For the fast-paced, 10-minute video that plays downstairs, Tribe has spliced together footage of films shot at L.A.'s Greystone Mansion -- Spider-Man, There Will Be Blood and Rules of Engagement. The lines all come quickly. "I'm not going to stack the deck against this guy," says Guy Pearce. "He's been murdered, sir," says James Franco. In the video upstairs, the dialogue is exactly the same, but this time, it's spoken by costumed actors in a period drama Tribe herself shot at the Greystone Mansion. A young detective says both Pearce's and Franco's lines, but the man he doesn't want to stack the deck against is Hugh Plunkett, accused in reality of killing his boss, oil-industry heir Ned Doheny Jr., then shooting himself at the mansion in 1929. The half-hour film has almost as much injustice and intrigue as Polanski's Chinatown. By the end, you're sure of Plunkett's innocence but also sure he'll never be vindicated. 6150 Wilshire Blvd.; through Nov. 10. (323) 938-5822, 1301pe.com.