Art installations in the desert and collaborative graffiti in sketchbooks, self-guided audio theater in the park, a classical music-centered film about glamorous and infamous Russians, live-stream theater for the dream of a better DTLA, gallery exhibitions infused with surrealism, community and a quest for beauty, and a citywide initiative healing our psyches through art.
Thursday, May 13
Zahrah Alghamdi & Xaviera Simmons in Conversation at Desert X. Alghamdi and Simmons talk with Steven Biller, Editor-in-Chief of Palm Springs Life Magazine about their creative practice, freedom of expression, relationship to the natural world, teaching, and how they address histories and traditions in their projects for Desert X — which closes this weekend at its several locations in the Palm Springs region. With installations that resonate across borders and cultures, these artists’ phenomenological and sensual inquiries convey calls for communication and action. Video released on Thursday, May 13; online; free; desertx.org.
Kaffe Fassett & Erin Lee Gafill: Color Duets. 26 Letter Press presents a new book of artwork by Kaffe Fassett & Erin Lee Gafill celebrating a twelve-year creative collaboration in still life painting. The book focuses in particular on the paired still lifes that have resulted from over 12 years of annual retreats, during which London-based textile designer Kaffe returns to his roots in Big Sur, California, to paint alongside Erin. The project reflects on the contemplative experience of sharing a studio and focusing the artist’s eye on simple objects. May 13 – October 10 at Monterey Museum of Art; colorduets.com.
Friday, May 14
L.A. Graffiti Black Book: David Brafman in Conversation with Stefano Bloch & Big Sleeps at Skylight Books. A few years ago, the Getty Research Institute invited 150 artists to consider the idea of a citywide graffiti black book. During visits to the Getty Center, the artists viewed rare books related to calligraphy and letterforms, and instantly recognized connections to their own practices, particularly a liber amicorum (book of friends) — a form of autograph book popular in the 17th century passed from hand to hand to be filled with signatures, poetry, and coats of arms. Inspired by this meeting of minds across centuries, the artists recreated the form and bound it together into an exquisite artists’ book. Friday, May 14, 6:30pm; free; skylightbooks.com.
Los Angeles Poverty Department: The New Compassionate Downtown. LAPD’s newest production (a project by MOCA for the We Rise initiative) dares to imagine alternative marketing that draws people to DTLA who value the wisdom and compassionate practice exemplified by Skid Row residents and workers. The performance is set at a meeting of The New Compassionate Downtown, a diverse group of people living and working in all parts of Downtown who embrace building a community of compassion. Work on the performance began pre-pandemic and explores themes that have gained resonance in the past year. The performance will be staged at the Geffen Contemporary’s outdoor plaza and live streamed on YouTube. Friday-Saturday, May 14-15, 8pm; free; online; lapovertydept.org.
Saturday, May 15
Tomoo Gokita: Fresh at Blum & Poe. Whether working in grayscale or in color, Gokita’s paintings have long been characterized by their psychologically charged subject matter: uncanny portraits, disquieting still lifes, and dream-like abstractions. In his recent paintings, Gokita no longer refers to figures and forms that emerge directly from his imagination. More ethereal and amorphous than before, Gokita’s supernatural figures are at once angelic and demonic, reminiscent of androids, aliens, and other undefinable chimeras. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; on view by appointment May 15 – June 26; free; blumandpoe.com.
Intergalactix: against isolation/contra el aislamiento at LACE. Intergalactix: against isolation/contra el aislamiento is an exhibition that brings together artworks examining the violence that is generated from physical and conceptual borders and severe immigration policies. With this perspective, the exhibition presents a counterpart intended to establish a platform of exchange and dialogue among artists, poets, activists, curators and writers from different areas and practices. The exhibition focuses on both the southern border between Mexico and Central America and the northern border between Mexico and the U.S. and features commissioned work by The Fire Theory, Tanya Aguiñiga, Cog•nate Collective, and a collaboration between Beatriz Cortez, Kaqjay Moloj and FIEBRE Ediciones. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; on view by appointment May 15 – August 14; free; welcometolace.org.
Beauty Redeemed: The History and Celebration of African American Spirituals with Ruth Naomi Floyd at Bridge Projects. In conjunction with their current exhibition — Otherwise/Revival — the gallery presents a live, in-person, lecture/performance on the historical roots and musical language of African American Spirituals, which are the roots of American music. Birthed in oppression and resistance, this lecture presents an in-depth look at the lyric, composition, rhythmic pattern, and the dual spiritual and social-political message in African American Spirituals. 6820 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; Saturday, May 15, 5:30-7pm; free; bridgeprojects.com.
Dinosaur Ball (Virtual) at the Natural History Museum. This year’s Dinosaur Ball will honor one of the most inspiring voices of our generation, Jared M. Diamond, Pulitzer prize-winning author and Professor of Geography at UCLA. This year’s fundraiser features a live conversation with Diamond focused on his research and expeditions, role as a science communicator, and some of the awe-inspiring specimens he has contributed to NHM’s collections. The evening also sees the premiere of a new interactive exhibition unveiling Gnatalie, a recently excavated green Sauropod, which will be installed by summer 2023. Saturday, May 15, 6-8pm; tickets from $100/$69 for new members; nhm.org.
Ted Hearne: Dorothea at CAP UCLA. The latest project from composer, singer, bandleader and two-time Grammy nominated recording artist Ted Hearne, Dorothea is a kaleidoscopic, lushly explosive post-pop song cycle embodying the viscerally tender, pathos riddled, darkly funny poems of Dorothea Lasky with synth beats, rhapsodic textures and the heavenly vocals of “Los Angeles based polymath” electronic musician Eliza Bagg aka Lisel. Dorothea creates a new space, outside the classical concert hall, outside the dance hall, into the wild of our own beating hearts. This live video premiere, created with videographer Carole Kim and creative consultant Daniel Fish, features the work and process of visual artist Rachel Perry. Saturday, May 15, 7pm; free; cap.ucla.edu.
Rogue Artists Ensemble: Love Note. A free, interactive, solo audio expedition of your heart, taking place in Plummer Park, where audiences activate sonic narrative experiences at eight unique stops. Using only your cell phone and headphones, you’ll discover and listen to stories compiled about romance, compassion and connection, leading to a secret phone line, where your own love story will become part of the archive. Love Note is a collaborative creation exploring the transcendence of love beyond identity, boundaries, and definitions. Bring your smartphone and headsets to Plummer Park, WeHo; free; daily during posted park hours May 15 – June 30; rogueartists.org/lovenote.
Sunday, May 16
Streaming Film Pick: Nicholas, Anna & Sergei at the Wallis. Taking place as a memory play in the house in which the Russian Rachmaninoff died in Beverly Hills, Hershey Feldman’s film is the story of a very strange meeting between Rachmaninoff and Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed to be the sole surviving member of the Romanov Dynasty, the Princess Anastasia. Featuring Rachmaninoff’s most beloved melodies and music, the world premiere livestream (beamed in from Florence, Italy) and subsequent on-demand viewing comes with special guests in conversation and also an intriguing Russian cooking-at-home/kitchen tutorial package for VIP ticket holders. Sunday, May 16, 5pm – Sunday May 23; $55-110 per household; thewallis.org.
We Rise/Art Rise. Art Rise is a series of 18 outdoor art installations and 3 special projects in 14 locations, created for the current WE RISE mental health initiative and in collaboration with museums, cultural institutions and artists. Each work in the series uses the power of art toward collective wellbeing, health and connectedness. Taking place across five neighborhoods (Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, Leimert Park, South Central) and intended to be experienced as a whole, the installations and scheduled events are designed to be COVID-safe with socially-distanced viewing, and are easily accessible by foot, car or Metro. Explore outdoor art installations by 35+ artists and art collectives that foster discourse and healing. On display May 7-31 from sunrise to sunset, except where noted; free; whywerise.la/art-rise.