A turn of the calendar page, a new year begins with a host of inquisitive, declarative, purpose-driven arts offerings: a community-building anti-racist group show, a reimagining of a rare classical opera, an appreciation of an iconic film composer, paintings about spiritual feminism, paintings about getting back to normal pre-cataclysm lives, hand-made films, dynamic international voices in painting and ceramics, big art parties, intimate art historical conversations, and a metaversal look at the biology of wetware.
Thursday, January 5
Our Art L.A. at Angel City Brewery. A direct response to the systemic racism experienced not only in broad systems, but within the art business and community specifically, curator Ree Magaña assembles a group of emerging black and brown artists local to the L.A. metropolitan area. The purpose of the Our Art L.A. exhibition is not only the featured artworks, but the creation of community with like-minded, non-white identifying artists, as well as uplifting underrepresented artists in increasing their exposure to art-lovers, collectors, and curators. 216 S. Alameda, downtown; Opening reception: Thursday, January 5, 6-9pm; On view through January 29; free; artsharela.org.
Friday, January 6
Lebbeus Woods: Ecologies: 1984-1990 at Friedman Benda. Woods was a visionary architect, theorist, educator, poet, and master draftsman; it is his extraordinary drawings that are fundamental to his sweeping and radical vision of what architecture could be. Central to that vision was an indomitable quest to discover how architecture could be instrumental to individuals, “teach us how to live,” impact communities, and create new types of inhabitable space within emerging urban constructs. Curated by Jennifer Olshin, the exhibition brings together an impressive corpus of Woods’ drawings, focusing on three building projects created between 1984-1990. 8260 Marmont Ln., West Hollywood; Opening reception: Friday, January 6, 5-7pm; On view through February 4; free; friedmanbenda.com.
Ercole Su’l Termondonte at Pacific Opera Project. The U.S. premiere of a rare Vivaldi opera based on the ninth Labor of Hercules, wherein Hercules is tasked with capturing the sword of Antiope, the queen of the Amazons. Vivaldi’s 16th opera was written in 1723 and premiered in Rome, during the Pope’s ban on women in opera. POP has a cast of tenors, countertenors, mezzos and sopranos — as intended — performing these roles with a period orchestra in a built-out and originally styled baroque opera house. The Highland Park Ebell Club, 131 S. Avenue 57; Performances Fri-Sat, Jan 6-21; $20-$45/single tickets; $100-$320 group box seating & wine; pacificoperaproject.com.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me at American Cinematheque. A prequel to the cult TV series, the film follows Agent Dale Cooper as he investigates a murder in the final days of the infamous Laura Palmer’s life. In this small town, teens trade drugs and soap opera one-liners while a phantasmagoric serial killer is on the loose. Featuring a beloved score from the late lamented composer Angelo Badalamenti — the screening is part of a series dedicated to his iconic, soulful collaborations with Lynch. Los Feliz 3, 1822 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Friday-Saturday, January 6-7, 10pm; $8-$13; americancinematheque.com.
Saturday, January 7
Amy Bennett: Open Season at Richard Heller Gallery. About her new paintings — gestural and empathetic, charming, and ever so slightly menacing views of quasi-pastoral lifestyles and landscapes — the artist writes, “These paintings were created while attempting to return to “life as usual” amidst an atmosphere of political chaos, heightened vigilance against an invisible enemy, coping with our bodies’ response to a mysterious sickness and, for a mind-numbing number, the grief of loss. It was also a period marked by an altered sense of home life and a reassessment of relationships and use of time. Hopefully the paintings touch on these themes with a sense of humor and optimism.” Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica; Opening: Saturday, January 7, 3-5pm; On view through February 11; free; richardhellergallery.com.
Sydney Walters: “Reverence” in quotes at Elephant Art Space. Convinced that feminism is, in part, a theological project, Sydney Walters’ work explores the relationship between gender and piety. By mining historical images, myths and stories, she uncovers a catalog of religious symbols which she then inverts and reassigns new meaning to disrupt patriarchal constructs. 3325 Division St., Mt. Washington; Opening reception: Saturday, January 7, 7-10pm; On view through January 28; free; elephantartspace.com.
RYOL, Shinnosuke Hariya, Michael Polakowski, and Abi Castillo at Thinkspace Projects. RYOL’s new body of work, Caught in the Art, fills the space with paintings that showcase how light has become the essential medium, in a new series of experimental oil paintings. Hariya presents Power Up, a new series of 14 graphite drawings highlighting his favorite robots from the movies and television. Polakowski’s Anywhere & Here is a series of paintings depicting a shifting cast of characters grappling with reality while dreaming of potential futures. Abi Castillo’s Allergic Party showcases 30 new ceramic works that preserve the essence of her sense of identity as a sweet, animated natural being. 4207 W. Jefferson Blvd., West Adams; Opening: Saturday, January 7, 6-10pm; On view through January 28; free; thinkspaceprojects.com.
Sunday, January 8
Hand Made: Recent Films by Dicky Bahto at L.A. Film Forum. Artist, curator, and educator Dicky Bahto is widely known for his extensive practice in photography, film, installation, performance, and his numerous collaborations with luminaries of experimental music. His varied and complex engagement with moving image and photographic media is steeped in a deeply felt humanity and empathy, manifesting through his inspired photographic eye and frequently direct interaction with and appreciation of the material vitality of film and cinema. This program of his work includes pieces made in collaboration with musicians Sarah Davachi and Raum (Liz Harris + Jefre Cantu-Ledesma), and concludes with a new expanded cinema collaboration with Tashi Wada. 2220 Arts + Archives, 2220 W. Beverly Blvd., Echo Park; Sunday, January 8, 7:30pm; $12; lafilmforum.org.
Kristy M. Chan at The Cabin. For the past month, London-based Hong Kong artist Kristy M. Chan worked on her latest abstract paintings at the La Brea Studio Artist Residency in Los Angeles. Her paintings are abstractions that exaggerate, overact, and overblow minute events into vast topographies. In Molehill Mountaineer, every puddle is an ocean, every breeze is a storm — and every molehill is a mountain. Private residence at Melrose & Highland, Hollywood; call (323) 559-2346 to rsvp for exact address; Reception: Sunday, January 8, 2-5pm; On view through January 31; free; instagram.com/dannyfirst.
Monday, January 9
Jerry Saltz with Irwin Miller at Live Talks L.A. (In-person & Virtual. In Art Is Life, renowned art critic and Twitter provocateur Jerry Saltz offers a survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points — from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today — Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture. Art Is Life offers Saltz’s eye-opening appraisals of trailblazers and visionaries; celebrates landmarks; writes searchingly about disturbing events; and shares stories of his own haunted childhood, his time as a “failed artist,” and his art history epiphanies. New Roads School, 3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica; Monday, January 9, 8pm, $20-$48/with signed book; Streaming Sunday, January 15, 3pm, $40 (includes signed book); livetalksla.org.
Tuesday, January 10
Hùng Viet Nguyen at Casa Romantica. Nguyen was born in Vietnam and studied Biology at Science University in Saigon before settling in the U.S. and transitioning to working as an illustrator, graphic artist, and designer. He developed his artistry skills independently, studying traditional Eastern and Western forms, media, and techniques to evolve a complex, labor-intensive style of richly textured oil paint. While aspects of Nguyen’s work suggest the influence of traditional art forms including woodblock prints, Oriental scroll paintings, ceramic art, mosaic, and stained glass, his ultimate expression asserts a contemporary sensibility that values unity within a deeply personal hybrid vision. 415 Avenida Granada, San Clemente; Opening: Tuesday, January 10, 6-8pm; On view through March 5; free; casaromantica.org.
Wednesday, January 11
Wise Children’s Wuthering Heights at The Wallis. In a production shot through with music, dance, passion, and hope, Emma Rice (Brief Encounter, Tristan & Yseult) transforms Emily Brontë’s masterpiece into an intoxicating story of revenge for our time. Rescued from the Liverpool docks as a child, Heathcliff is taken to live at Wuthering Heights, where he finds a kindred spirit in Catherine, and a fierce love ignites. When they are forced apart, a brutal chain of events is unleashed. A National Theatre, Wise Children, Bristol Old Vic and York Theatre Royal co-production, in association with Berkeley Repertory Theatre. 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Performances January 11-22; $29-$105; thewallis.org.
LIFELIKE at EPOCH (Virtual). Exploring the work of artists logging biological, genetic, and behavioral information on a digital ledger, invoking a conversation about how to take back body sovereignty in Web3, the work of seven artists is offered inside a virtual representation of BIOSPHERE 2 — a failed 20th-century experiment in self-sustaining post-ecological collapse living. These artists are interested in what it will mean, and how it will feel, to have a body in a future where wetware (living tissue) serves as a foundation for technology, where medical implants monitor our hearts and minds, and where decisions are made by programs none of us fully understand. Activists and leaders around the globe are demanding legislation to encode equitable human rights for all bodies, which must evolve and keep pace with the technology they use. The artists in LIFELIKE bring a creative lens to the conversation. Through February 10; free; epoch.gallery.
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