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It’s Earth Day this Thursday, but honestly if we as a species are going to make it, we kind of need to think of every day as Earth Day now. To help, here are some films and even puppetry about recycled materials, along with conversations on community wellness, a new site-specific dance film shot at Union Station, films about and inspired by art and artists, and a slate of must-see exhibitions that reframe unconventional materials and sublime architecture to explore the collective consciousness.

Benjamin Von Wong at the Fowler

Thursday, April 22

The Art of Trash with Benjamin Von Wong at the Fowler. In honor of Earth Day, the Fowler is proud to co-present a special program with Rogue Agency that celebrates the work of photographer, installation artist, and environmental activist Benjamin Von Wong. Benjamin’s images, which regularly go “viral,” combine everyday recycled objects with shocking statistics, generating over 100 million views and inspiring action on such urgent concerns as ocean plastics, electronic waste, and fashion pollution. Join the Fowler for a conversation about intersections of sustainability and art, how crises can catalyze growth, and how one can measure the impact of art and activism. Thursday, April 22, 11am-noon; free; fowler.ucla.edu.

Karen Mack and Nicole Rademacher at the Armory

Conversation: Wellness at Home & In the Community at the Armory. In this climate of fear, loss, grief, and general lack of resources, many artists, arts organizations, and community organizers have pivoted to address the needs of communities through resource distribution, self-care and mental health practice education, and healing centered engagement. Join Karen Mack, founder and Executive Director of LA Commons, and Nicole Rademacher, artist and founder of Acogedor, for a conversation with the Armory’s Heber Rodriguez as we discuss the effects and responses to isolation, social distancing, and the pandemic on our communities and us as individuals. Thursday, April 22, 6pm; free; armoryarts.org.

Robin Frohardt’s The Plastic Bag Store at CAP UCLA

Film: Robin Frohardt’s Plastic Bag Store at CAP UCLA. Created by Brooklyn-based artist, puppet designer and director Robin Frohardt, The Plastic Bag Store was conceived as an immersive installation and puppet-theater piece designed to take place in a storefront retail space. Plastic Bag Store: The Film transforms the installation into a dynamic series of stories that traverse ancient history, the present day and a future dystopia. The Plastic Bag Store employs inventive puppetry, humor, craft and a critical lens to explore how the hordes of plastic waste might be misinterpreted by future generations. Thursday, April 22, 7pm; free; cap.ucla.edu.

BAGGAGE at Metro Arts

Dance Film: Baggage at Metro Arts. A theatrical dance film that was developed onsite at Union Station during a two-week residency by Carlon and Wand. The film opens with the Philippine proverb, A person who does not remember where they came from will never reach their destination. Using his personal family story, Carlon uses dance to recall the story of other travelers who have passed through the station. Vintage suitcases come to life through dance and sound, including voice messages from Carlon’s mother. Oral history from the Re/Collecting Project Archive at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which retraces stories of Filipino immigrants. The film highlights how the arts are essential to telling meaningful stories in shared public spaces. Thursday, April 22, 7pm; free; metro.net.

Albert Oehlen’s studio, Ispaster, Spain, 2020 (Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery. Photo by Esther Freund)

Albert Oehlen at Gagosian. Oehlen uses abstract, figurative, and collaged elements to disrupt the histories and conventions of modern painting. By adding improvised components, he unearths ever-new possibilities for the genre. While championing self-consciously amateurish “bad” painting, Oehlen continues to infuse expressive gesture with Surrealist attitude, openly disparaging the quest for reliable form and stable meaning. Tramonto Spaventoso comprises the second part of his version of the Rothko Chapel in Houston as well as other new paintings. By appointment April 22 – June 5; free; gagosian.com.

Bahar Sabzevari at the Lodge

My Very Favourite Things at The Lodge. Curated by Narges Haziampour, this eclectic group exhibition reacts to how, over the last year, many of us have been quite stationary and confined to our homes — and how we may see the home or the  spaces we reside in as substitute vessels for the soul. The architecture protects and nourishes us, the  interior objects distinguish and identify us. We signal our interior selves in their furnishings, and in response, Hamzianpour’s curation creates an intimate environment within the gallery. The works of these 21 Iranian and Iranian-American artists from multiple artistic disciplines invite the viewer to stay and perhaps explore in an  unorthodox fashion. By appointment April 22 – May 22; free; thelodge.la.

John Van Hamersveld

Friday, April 23

Film: John Van Hamersveld Crazy World Ain’t It at LACMA. A screening of John Van Hamersveld Crazy World Ain’t It (11 min.) and a post-screening conversation with directors Christopher Sibley, Dave Tourjé, and the artist John Van Hamersveld, moderated by artist and filmmaker Heather Flores. This short documentary peers into the kaleidoscopic career of the artist behind many iconic pop-culture images of surf, music, and cinema. It discovers the inspiration John Van Hamersveld has indelibly provided artists and innovators worldwide. Friday, April 23, noon; free with rsvp; lacma.org.

Elevator Repair Service at REDCAT

Performance: Elevator Repair Service: Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge (In progress) at REDCAT. In 1965, James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr. were invited to The Cambridge University Union to debate the resolution “The American Dream is at the Expense of The American Negro.” New York’s provocative and award-winning theater ensemble Elevator Repair Service (ERS) returns to REDCAT to re-create their profoundly relevant confrontation in this work-in-progress showing of Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge. As a more intimate and personal counterpoint to the debate, the final scene features a brief, imagined reunion between Baldwin and his close friend and confidante Lorraine Hansberry, who died only weeks before the debate. Friday-Saturday, April 23-24, 8:30pm and Sunday, April 25, 3pm; $15; redcat.org.

Lygia Pape. Bola com Rodas, 2000 (Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth. Photo Fredrik Nilson Studio)

Saturday, April 24

Lygia Pape at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. Lygia Pape. Tupinambá is the first solo exhibition in Los Angeles dedicated to Brazilian artist Lygia Pape whose wholly original language favors the primacy of the viewer’s sensorial experience and its role in everyday life. Organized with Projeto Lygia Pape and Olivier Renaud-Clément, this exhibition presents works from the artist’s deeply Brazilian Tupinambá series to a North American audience for the first time. Distinctive in their use of artificial red feathers, these commanding and rarely seen works illuminate Pape’s sense of connection to Brazil’s indigenous populations and certain characteristics of their history. Stand-by line begins Saturday, April 24 at 11am, no reservation required; on view through August 1; free; hauserwirth.com.

Julie Mehretu, Congress Courtesy of The Broad)

Film: Promises: Through Congress at the Broad. Promises: Through Congress is a collaboration between Julie Mehretu, electronic music composer Floating Points aka Sam Shepherd, and filmmaker Trevor Tweeten. This 46-minute film features Mehretu’s expansive painting Congress (2003) and Promises (Luaka Bop, 2021), the acclaimed album from Floating Points and jazz titan Pharoah Sanders featuring the London Symphony Orchestra. Filmed on location at The Broad, this world premiere screening of Promises: Through Congress is introduced by Julie Mehretu. Mehretu’s painting Congress is in the Broad collection and will be on view in a new exhibition when the museum reopens in May 2021. Saturday, April 24, noon; free; thebroad.org

Federico Solmi, The Bacchanalian Ones, 2021. Virtual Reality Experience for Oculus Quest 2 (Courtesy of Luis De Jesus Los Angeles)

Federico Solmi at Luis De Jesus. Luis De Jesus Los Angeles inaugurates in spacious new DTLA gallery with a multipronged exhibition of new work in video-paintings, paintings, drawings, and virtual reality by the always epic Federico Solmi. The Bacchanalian Ones is the newest chapter in the artist’s ongoing exploration into the archetypal myths and ideologies that makeup the American social imaginary. Combining the latest virtual reality technology, video game engines, 3D printing and digital animation software along with the more traditional media of drawing and painting, Solmi has created his own version of commedia dell’arte that reflects on the moralizing, judgmental social airs and graces of our times. New gallery location: 1110 S. Mateo, downtown; by appointment April 24 – June 19; free; luisdejesus.com.

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