September’s here. School‘s in and we’re all back from the Hamptons or the Riviera, or wherever the hell it is the art world goes for the summer, and there‘s no less than 40 openings scheduled for this weekend. This slew of receptions, packed with art stars and uncurdled first-year graduate students, freely imbibing and dressed to the nines, will provide a forum for galleries to square off and upstage one another and hopefully set powerhouse standards for the coming season. Always having to be different, Regen Projects (629 N. Almont Drive) is blowing off the carefully synchronized West Hollywood gallery openings Saturday for a Friday-night reception for new work by reclusive pop-literary scribbler Raymond Pettibon from 6 to 8.

Saturday’s openings cluster roughly around three centers — Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, the 6150 WilshireW. Hollywood axis and Chinatown. Common sense would suggest staking out one neighborhood and working it, but I recommend an inland pilgrimage. Many of the Bergamot openings are starting at 5 p.m., a full hour ahead of the Mid-Wilshire spaces, so it‘s the logical starting point. (For an even earlier start, check out the “California Paintings 1910–1940” reception at Loyola Marymount’s Laband Gallery from 3 to 5.) Bergamot highlights include L.A. icon Billy Al Bengston‘s first local show in ages, at Rosamund Felsen Gallery; Canadian photographer Roy Arden at Patrick Painter; Austrian conceptualist collective GRAM at Patricia Faure; an installation of large-scale ink drawings by Kiki Smith at Shoshana Wayne; and the Yerba Buena Center–organized epic “Surf Trip” at Track 16.

Swing by Herbert Hamak’s opening at Christopher Grimes as you leave for Mid-Wilshire, then head immediately for Alicia Beach‘s opening at Susanne Vielmetter L.A. Projects (5363 Wilshire Blvd.), for a compare-and-contrast exercise in blurry striped rectangular wall sculpturepaintings. Got it? Okay, double back to the 6150 galleries, where splotch-tracer Ingrid Calame’s drawings are on view at Karyn Lovegrove, frantic cartoon-painter and ex–pencil sharpener Chris Finley‘s new works open at ACME, and other shows open at Roberts & Tilton, Daniel Weinberg Gallery, and Works On Paper between 6 and 8. In the old POST Wilshire space next door, Chicagoprojectroom opens its doors with a group show of local and European artists.

Heading north, swing by Richard Telles (7380 Beverly Blvd.), to see Titanica sculptor E Chen’s latest, No Strategy, a modular sculptural installation that the artist will periodically rearrange throughout the run of the exhibit; down the street, Stephen Cohen Gallery presents the lyrical surrealist photos of Edmund Teske from 7 till 9. Over a dozen West Hollywood galleries centered around Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards are hosting simultaneous openings between 5 and 9, including Sandeep Mukherjee‘s “Redolence” show at Margo Leavin (812 N. Robertson Blvd.), an “Homage to Stanley Boxer” at the Remba Gallery (462 N. Robertson Blvd.), and neo-classical holdover David Ligare’s peculiar paintings at Koplin Gallery (464 N. Robertson Blvd.).

For extra efficiency, jump onto the Hollywood Freeway and head for Chinatown. Acuna-Hansen Gallery (427 Bernard St.) is opening a show of Brad Spence‘s living plants, painted and decorated with “bio-friendly” media. L.A.’s best young video-installation artist, Jessica Bronson, kicks off a season of simultaneous shows at Goldman Tevis (932 Chung King Road) with small infinite, made from overhead footage of the L.A. aqueduct. INMO (971 Chung King Road) persuades Culver City architect Eric Owen “This bit of molding counts as One Percent for Art” Moss to put his money where his mouth is in “Recollecting Forward: 10 Years and the New City.” No word on the other Chinatown galleries (including a brand-new Chung King Road tenant, Diannepruess Gallery), but there‘s bound to be something unexpected, as well as word on the street about the swingingest after-parties. But first, take your designated driver to Hop Louie for a well-earned Tsing Tao.

For more information, see Art in Calendar.

LA Weekly