Contemporary dance embodying abstract emotions, entomology metaphors for corporeal and spiritual evolution, a staged reading advocating for bodily autonomy, art film about the human consumerism complex, poetry about navigating Los Angeles, biography and personal memoir collide on the page, paintings about being reborn, art from rescued materials, a play about parenting in crisis, photographs and stories from Hunter S. Thompson’s private lair, art and design salon-style shopping in historic locations, further art and literature for Pride Month, and more.
Thursday, June 23
Be Here Now at LA Dance Project. Inspired by the avant-garde classicism of composer Andy Akiho’s recently released “Seven Pillars,” Benjamin Millepied created an abstract piece showcasing the company’s artists in a suite of about half a dozen solos, duets, trios, quad, and full company vignettes that illuminate the score in a polyglot motional language of ballet, jazz, urban, and interpretive relationships between sound and vision. With humor, grace, intensity, sex appeal, sweetness, grief, care, and conflict all on display, this pared-down preview of a traveling work doesn’t even yet incorporate the full costume, set, and tech production — but the intimacy of masterful control and illusion of spontaneity within its raw visual is so compelling tha you don’t even miss it. June 23rd’s performance is a benefit for the Ukraine/International Rescue Committee. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; Performances Tuesday-Friday through June 24; $30; ladanceproject.org.
Alex Stoddard: INSEX at Fahey/Klein Gallery. Exploring the parallels between metamorphosis in the natural world and human coming-of-age, these staged, highly stylized images, invite viewers into a colorfully dark world of budding sexuality — and bugs. 148 N. La Brea, Hollywood; Opening reception: Thursday, June 23, 7-9pm; On view through August 6; free; faheykleingallery.com.
Pouya Afshar: A Return to the Flesh, at Advocartsy. This exhibition includes new, old, recycled, and repurposed pieces that in some way contain flesh, skin, intestines, and other body parts. While making these pieces the artist was occupied with matters of race, specifically how the social construction of racial difference shapes emotion and cognition, marking and molding the body. 434 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood; Opening reception: June 23, 6-9pm; On view through July 16; free; advocartsy.com.
ROE at the Fountain Theater (Outdoor Stage). Part outdoor rally, part call to action, ROE is a “hyper-staged” reading of the explosive play that’s earned rave reviews across the country, as acclaimed writer Lisa Loomer reveals the real-life woman who became Jane Roe and the challenging years following the landmark Roe v. Wade decision — with urgent resonance for today’s headlines as the overturning of this precedent looms. 5060 Fountain Ave., E. Hollywood; Performances: June 23 – July 10; $20 (June 23-24 previews are pay what you can); fountaintheatre.com.
Friday, June 24
Mika Rottenberg at Hauser & Wirth. Rottenberg illustrates the absurdity of humanity’s rampant production, distribution, and consumption of objects by juxtaposing existing industry with her own, often unexpected, manufacturing systems. From pearl and food cultivation to the mass-production of wholesale plastic items sold in China, Rottenberg excavates the processes humans invent to create a sense of control. 901 E. 3rd St., downtown; On view June 23 – October 2; free; hauserwirth.com.
Summertime at Union Station. Metro Art Presents a live activation of the magical-realist, LA-loving and transit-centric film Summertime inside and curbside at historic Union Station, featuring poetry. performance, music, and more surrounding the screening. Conceived by filmmaker/director Carlos López Estrada in collaboration with young poets from the Get Lit: Words Ignite family, the film takes place over the course of an imagined summer day during a heatwave as the lives of 27 young Angelenos intersect to weave in and out of each other’s stories across the city. 800 N. Alameda, downtown; Friday, June 24, 6:30pm; free; unionstationla.com.
The Parents at Bespoke Plays. A staged reading of Phinneas Kiyomura’s latest work, directed by Michael Matthews, starring Kirsten Vangsness, June Carryl, Feodor Chin and John Colella. Loosely inspired by a school shooting that shocked the playwright’s high school, The Parents is a character-driven drama leavened with cutting comedy that explores the absurdity of America’s violently mad gun culture, asking hard questions with humor and pathos and then answering with love — because that’s what parents do. The Pico, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., West LA; Friday-Saturday, June 24-25, 8pm (and On Demand); $10-$25; bespokeplays.com.
Saturday, June 25
Noëmi Manser and Mahya Shamai: Breath Meets Body, at Sugar Press Art. The two artists’ bodies of work juxtapose grounded figures and airy floral displays, shrouded in an ethereal air. The result is a dreamstate, a world similar to our own, but with more levity, evoking emotion and awareness of the breath and the body. With playful interpretations of gravity, the show touches on the emotional, physical and liminal. 620 S. Main St., downtown; Opening reception: Saturday, June 25, 5-8pm; On view through July 16; free; sugarpressart.com.
Hikari Shimoda: Fight to Live in the Void, at Corey Helford Gallery. Sparkling and sweet, Shimoda’s work is at once enchanting and disarming, portraying a world where cuteness and horror coexist. Her portraits of children are full of countless possibilities, described by the artist as “where fantasy meets reality, past meets future, and life meets death, in a world that is yet to be reborn.” 571 S. Anderson St., downtown; Opening reception: Saturday, June 25, 7-10pm; On view through July 30; free; coreyhelfordgallery.com.
Chloe Sells: Drugs Before Dinner, Death Before Dishonor, at Show Gallery. Curated by Price Latimer, the first LA exhibition of Sells’ work features hand-painted photographs made during the years when Sells worked as a personal assistant for cultural legend Hunter S. Thompson (2003 until his death in 2005) — and was the only person he ever allowed to photograph his notorious den of literary brilliance and vice, Owl Farm in Colorado. Her show and book Hot Damn! combines these photographs Aspen landscapes and recollections of time spent with him. 1515 N. Gardner St., West Hollywood; Opening reception: June 25, 5-8pm; On view through August 4; free; show.gallery.
Heidi Duckler Dance presents Ebb & Flow: Chinatown at LA State Historic Park (Outdoor). A walk-around festival of dance, visual arts, music and spoken word in interdisciplinary, site-specific pieces throughout the north end of the park, this year’s edition has some quirky surprises, opportunities for interactivity, a lot of humor, powerful messages about the urgency of care and community, beautiful landscape vignettes and vistas, and helpful shade trees near every one of the nine stops on the performances route. Guides lead time-staggered groups throughout the afternoon, or choose your own course through the grounds along with unsuspecting park-goers in for a surprise.
Featuring choreographers and artists: Bib Bauer, Elena Brocade, Deborah Brockus, Taylor Donofrio, Darrel Friidom Dunn, Lydia Janbay, Nat Wilson, Sunrise Transparence, and Beartriz Vasquez; Ching Ching Wong with Rebecca Lee, Alejandro Perez, Gloria Anjona and Javier Arjona; and visual artist Elkpen’s stories about neighborhoods, natural history, science, and a new economy.
Arrive early and join the Audubon Society on a nature walk from 1:30–2:15pm, in an add-on when you reserve your (free) tickets. Speaking further to the Ebb & Flow series’ history of engaging with ecological issues, Stop the Gondola will have an informational booth at Ebb & Flow on Saturday, explaining their objections to a planned aerial gondola between Union Station and Dodger Stadium.
1245 N. Spring St., Chinatown; Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26, 3-5pm; free; heididuckler.org.
The Future is Queer at Bermudez Projects. The fourth installment of Bermudez Projects’ look into the future of art posits that even as America is finally beginning to open up to treating art by women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ on a par with the white male art world, there’s a lot of work left to do — and art is an essential force in that conversation. The Future Is Queer beings together artists from all spectrums, genres, and sub-cultures, blue chip to emerging, across paintings, prints, drawings, collage, installations, and films. 1225 Cypress Ave., Cypress Park; Opening reception: Saturday, June 25, 6-9pm; On view through July 23; free; bermudezprojects.com.
bardoLA presents Lita Albuquerque: Liquid Light at Kohn Gallery. A special pair of screenings, dialog, and celebration of Albuquerque‘s new film, the center of an exquisite sculptural installation currently on view as an official Collateral Event at La Biennale di Venezia. The second in a trilogy about a female astronaut from 400 years in the future returning to Earth to impart urgent warnings and wisdom, the half hour piece stars Albuquerque’s daughter Jasmine, an accomplished and charismatic dancer whom clothes and cameras love, and whose quality of movement is ideally suited to the role’s strength, curiosity, empathy, frustration, and joy. At one point Lita herself joins the on-camera cast in the role of the protagonist’s mother, and the extra current of emotion between them amplifies and deepens the non-verbal but clear narrative arc of this portion of the quest. Jasmine has encountered resistance, celestial misalignments, and a crisis of faith; her interactions with the exquisite landscapes and peoples of Bolivia give her back some hope.
The mirror-like majesty of the Salar de Uyuni salt flat is almost a character in the story in itself, it’s so implausibly lovely; the precious metal gold certainly is one. In fact it’s the aesthetic and spiritually activating elemental energy of gold which inspired the sculptural installation in which the film is being presented in Venice — flanked by gold, glass, water, honey. Surrounding the screenings, Lita and her team will discuss the meanings, processes, logistic and diverse iterations of this radiant masterpiece. 1227 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; Saturday, June 25, 5pm & 7pm; free; kohngallery.com.
Sunday, June 26
The Street & The Shop at NeueHouse Bradbury. Founded by LA-based writer and curator Michael Slenske, The Street & The Shop is a serial hybrid exhibition, pop-up, and artist-run market. The project provides a platform for dozens of contemporary artists to experiment with materials, scale, and commerciality while offering members of the local community direct access to the artists and their works. The new iteration returns to the iconic architecture of the Bradbury Building, a work of art in itself. 304 S. Broadway, downtown; Sunday, June 26, noon-6pm; $12 w/ rsvp; rsvp.neuehouse.com.
West Hollywood Pride Play Reading Festival (Virtual). The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights presents a production of original works by local playwrights and ALAP members — a collection of original one act plays and a single full length play selected by a panel of judges. The readings will be broadcast on the ALAP YouTube channel. Saturday-Sunday, June 25-26, 2-4pm; free; pride.weho.org.
Diverted Destruction 15: The Demolition Edition, at the Loft Liz’s. A beloved annual exhibition in which the artists create works using upcycled or repurposed items that would otherwise become landfill or waste. This year’s featured artists include Anna Stump, Ben Novak, Howard Lowenthal, Joseph Salerno and Sonja Schenk. Also featured in the gallery alcove will be a special “Demolition Installation” by curator Liz Gordon and artist Monique Birault. Opening reception: Sunday, June 26, noon-4pm; Assemblage workshops July 9 and August 20; free; theloftatlizs.com.
Monday, June 27
Ada Calhoun with Nicola Twilley at Skylight Books. Also a Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me (Grove Press) is the new memoir from author Ada Calhoun, tracing her fraught relationship with her father and their shared obsession with a great poet. When Calhoun stumbled upon old cassette tapes of interviews her father, celebrated art critic Peter Schjeldahl, had conducted for his never-completed biography of poet Frank O’Hara, she set out to finish the book her father had started 40 years earlier. The result is a groundbreaking and kaleidoscopic memoir that weaves compelling literary history with a moving, honest, and tender story of a complicated father-daughter bond. 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Monday, June 27, 7pm; free; skylightbooks.com.
Tuesday, June 28
Summer of Soul at the Hammer. Imagine Soul Train in a blender with Woodstock and you’ll have an idea of the glimmering gem that is Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). But the Oscar- and Grammy-winning documentary that became the movie of Summer 2021 is, as Gladys Knight says, about a lot more than music. Unearthed by drummer Ahmir Questlove Thompson (who serves as director) the concert-based movie celebrates the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a seemingly forgotten gathering that took place over six weekends in Mount Morris Park, New York. Packed with mind blowing performances from legends including Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Staple Singers, The 5th Dimension, Sly & the Family Stone and more, it’s a line-up that could hold its own against any music festival today. The performances are pure fire, but focused editing of news clips and personal stories by the artists and attendees of the fest elevates it beyond concert film and creates a new kind of cultural commentary; one of the most compelling you might ever experience. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Tuesday, June 28, 7:30pm; free; hammer.ucla.edu.