Jeremy Kidd's Times SquareEXPAND
Jeremy Kidd's Times Square
Courtesy of the Artist

The Best Free L.A. Art Parties This Week

This week’s edition of our art-party picks is all about music and photography. We’ve got two free nights of sonic artistry combined with art-centric soulfulness at unconventional venues — progressive cross-platform infiltrations representing new ways to experience the music of DJs and Broadway stars, integrated into mind-expanding experiences.

And at the same time, if it’s April it must be MOPLA — the annual Month of Photography Los Angeles juggernaut of snaps. The month-long citywide festival celebrating all things photography kicks off this week, launching an overflowing calendar of free exhibitions and events that officially gets going Thursday night and the magic hour lasts all month.

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First, the music.

Friday, April 3: Jeremy Sole-helmed compilation CD release party at Bergamot Station
KCRW’s Jeremy Sole is a major presence in Los Angeles music. His lifelong love of Chicago Blues, Jazz, Disco, Salsa and Soul has inspired his unique sound as both producer and DJ, and live performance. But his local, national, and global appearances (including headlining our own Artopia love-fest on April 30) drop more than deep grooves — he also seeks hard to honor the spiritual side of his upbringing with social consciousness and paths to knowledge. In that tradition, Sole produced the new compilation CD Between the Notes — a project of the Soulbridging peace community benefitting the David Lynch Foundation’s violence-prevention youth meditation programs. Sole will host and DJ tonight’s CD release party, alongside several live musical guests performing their works from the CD. And fittingly, esoteric philosopher William Meader introduces Soulbridging’s Spiritual Alchemy Workshop, which begins Saturday. Writers Boot Camp, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., April 3, 7-10 p.m.; free, rsvp at the website. (310) 998-1199, soulbridging.com.

Richard Shelton's City Prison Painting at Temporary Space LA
Richard Shelton's City Prison Painting at Temporary Space LA
Courtesy of the Artist

Saturday, April 4: Live music at Temporary Space LA

Theatre director David Galligan and Broadway soprano Lisa Vroman present Art: A Musical Mash-up — a pair of musical performances in the tradition of the salons of the roaring ‘20s, inspired by and site-specifically designed for the current installation of paintings and drawings by artist Richard Shelton.

The gallery itself is conceived as a new way of bringing audiences to the art world, and part of that is about interdisciplinary experiments — in technology and performance, music, literature, video — with even a naked poetry night coming up on May 16. Richard Shelton, the space's founder and inaugural test case (the first of a two-part survey of his 50-year painting, installation, and writing career is currently on view throughout the gallery), is thrilled to see his idea taking shape.

Shelton is committed to seeing this subversive idea through, saying, "Artists and writers don't take on institutions any more, they take on themselves. But the truth is, good art doesn't yield to our perception of it; it incorporates us into its universe. For an artist to succeed today there needs to be a certain amount of 'fuck you' in everything they create."

Temporary Space LA, 5522 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; Sat., April 4, 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.; free with rsvp at the website. (323) 297-8464, temporaryspacela.com

Richard Shelton's Russian Clip at Temporary Space LA
Richard Shelton's Russian Clip at Temporary Space LA
Courtesy of the Artist

MOPLA (Month of Photography Los Angeles)
There’s just no way to adequately summarize or even really mentally organize all that this year’s edition of MOPLA (Month of Photography Los Angeles) has to offer. It’s been growing steadily since it launched in 2009 (before Instagram, no less) as a way of bringing attention to  contemporary photography — and this year is, of course, the biggest one yet. Despite the risk of overexposing your eyeballs and overtaxing those precious 6-8 p.m. hours to the point of exhaustion, you should try to see as much of MOPLA as you can. Of course, there are several not-to-be-missed exhibitions that deserve extra attention, many of which are already open and closing soon — and still more of which have one-night-only and opening-reception events in these first two weeks of the most photogenic month of the year. Here are some highlights to get you started as you dive into the fray.

Lenny Kravitz, from "Flash" at Leica GalleryEXPAND
Lenny Kravitz, from "Flash" at Leica Gallery
Courtesy of Rizzoli Publishers

Ongoing shows not to be missed include (all free): Jeremy Kidd’s epic and slightly psychedelic urban vistas at Cypress College Art Gallery through April 16; Blake Little’s wet and wild honey-covered portraits at Kopeikin Gallery in Culver City through April 18; H. Lee’s weed biz photojournalism at Spot Photo Works in West Hollywood through April 28; and Lenny Kravitz (who has just released a new book of his original photos) at the Leica Store Gallery in West Hollywood through April 12 — with a closing party on Thursday, April 9, 6-8 p.m. (RSVP to info@leicagalleryla.com).
Stand-outs on the roster of photo-related openings this week (all free) include:

Thursday, April 2: The Stand-Ins at The Icon
An exhibition of portraits and still lifes capturing “the shot that comes before the shot.” Before the professional model, movie star, trained animal, or food stylist takes his or her place, the photographers use stand-ins to perfect the technical aspects of the picture. Curated by Amy Feitelberg, Los Angeles Magazine’s photo director, these images were taken in that indecisive moment when everything is perfect, but something is off — in a good way. The Icon, 5450 Wilshire Blvd.; Thu., April 2, 6-9 p.m., free. (323) 933-1666. iconla.com

Friday, April 3: One Shot: HOME at The Loft at Liz’s
One Shot features the very best entries in this annual, single-image, themed competition organized by MOPLA’s sister-partner, the Lucie Foundation. Home… asked artists to submit single frames answering the questions, “How does this word speak to you? Where does it take you? What does it show you? How does it make you feel? Where, or what, or whom, is home to you?” The Loft at Liz's, 453 S. La Brea Ave; Fri., April 3, 7-10 p.m.; free. (323) 939-4403, theloftatlizs.com.

Blake Little's MoxieEXPAND
Blake Little's Moxie
Courtesy of Kopeikin Gallery

Thursday, April 9: Month of Photo Los Angeles group show at Santa Monica Art Studios
The MOPLA Group Show is a submission-based exhibition organized around the theme of “Realities and Concepts.” The sprawling group show features a cross-section of emerging and established photographers working in a dazzling variety of styles. This exhibition is also organized by the Lucie Foundation and was curated by Meredith Marlay — and although it comes more than a week into the calendar, constitutes something of an official ribbon-cutting on the overall festivities. Santa Monica Art Studios, Arena 1 Gallery, 3026 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Thur., April 9, 6-9 p.m.; free. (310) 397-7449, santamonicaartstudios.com.

Saturday, April 11: Instagram Jam, SNAPSHOP! Fundraiser, and Photo District News + Rangefinder’s Emerging Photographer exhibition at Lot 613
Just like it sounds, Instagram Jam is an exuberant, populist group show embracing the chaos that #Insta represents. Though rooted in cyberspace, prints will be on sale with proceedings benefit Lucie Foundation’s youth workshop program, SNAPSHOP!. Concurrently at the same vast venue, PDN + Rangefinder present an exhibition of selections by the 11 artists — pros, amateurs, and students alike — who won featured spots in Emerging Photographer magazine’s winter 2014 issue. Lot 613, 613 Imperial St., downtown; Sat., April 11, 8 p.m.-12 a.m.; free. (323) 934-7777, lot613.com.

Sunday, April 12: HANK at Buckwild Gallery
Featuring works by a small but eclectic group of contemporary photographers, this eccentric exhibition collects photography inspired by the writings of Los Angeles native Charles Bukowski. That should be interesting. Who knows what Bukowski might have made of today’s photo-obsessed culture? What’s perhaps more curious is how these artists will interpret, illuminate, and transpose the author’s salty, gritty vision into pictures for our modern life. Buckwild Gallery, 12804 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista; Sun., April 12, 5-7 p.m.; free. (310) 398-0222, buckwildgallery.com.

For further information visit  facebook.com/MOPLA, and monthofphotography.com. And don’t forget to charge the battery in your phone — I mean, your camera — because if you aren’t a shutterbug yet, this just might inspire you to take off the lens cap. 

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