Are we feeling festive yet? Or are we still trying to wrap business up before we start wrapping presents? Lean into it with The Nutcracker, A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol and multiple artisanal shopping parties. Or check in and out with gallery conversations, social perspective examinations, cinematic fashions, hip hop history in book and choir, storybooks behaving badly, everyday surrealism in paint, performative literature, the private lives of architects.
Thursday, November 30
Helen Chung in conversation with Ezrha Jean Black at Track 16 Gallery. Don’t Forget to Remind Me to Forget includes paintings on both canvas and paper from an ongoing series begun in 2019. While the finished works bear little resemblance to the kinds of word and text paintings familiar in contemporary art, letters and words seem to disentangle themselves from the abstractionist gestural field, complicating the composition with what Chung sees as “apologies to herself” in the wake of a delayed diagnosis of ADHD in late 2018. The exhibition is on view through December 16, but tonight the artist speaks more deeply about the relationship of cognition to composition. Bendix Building, 1206 Maple Ave., downtown; Thursday, November 30, 7pm; free; track16.com.
Symposium: Past/Future Present: Body Politics Justice in Xicanx Art at The Cheech. Organized by the curators of Xican-a.o.x Body, this symposium explores networks of affectivity, collectivity, and new forms of existence that have expanded the social, cultural, traditional, and political ways of Xicanx life. Programs will consider how solidarity and sense of belonging highlight beauty and ingenuity as well as countering and resisting state and gender violence, militarized deportation, structural inequality, marginalization, racism, classism, and stereotyping. Further discussions address how this has led to the systematic erasure of the contributions of Xicanx artists—such as their participation in the history of Pop Art, which encompasses unique expressions that incorporate popular and street culture, the critique of consumer culture, and political critique. 3581 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside; Thursday, November 30, 10:45am-6pm; free; riversideartmuseum.org.
Friday, December 1
Los Angeles Ballet’s The Nutcracker. LAB’s The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition in Los Angeles, perfect for celebrating the season with family and friends. Set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, this production is set in 1912 L.A., with hints and vibes of Southern California like a Spanish style home, calla lilies, bougainvillea, the snowy forests of the Sierras, the archways of Venice Beach, and a moonlit view of the Pacific. The Nutcracker appears in theaters throughout LA County, including the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Royce Hall at UCLA, Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Performances December 1-26; various dates and locations; losangelesballet.org.
A Christmas Carol at A Noise Within. ANW’s delightfully festive and inspirational annual performance of A Christmas Carol is the timeless story of redemption filled to the brim with music and merriment, the perfect burst of boundless good cheer for the season and beyond. More than a play, A Christmas Carol is a spectacular holiday experience including special snacks, pre-show crafts, and photo ops before the show in the theater’s decorated lobby and after the show with the cast. 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena; Performances December 1-24; $25-$85 with some pay-what-you-can dates; anoisewithin.org.
Poor Things Costume Exhibition at ASU FIDM. Brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist, a young woman (Emma Stone) runs off with a lawyer on a whirlwind adventure across the continents. Free from the prejudices of her times, she grows steadfast in her purpose to stand for equality and liberation. Obviously, this requires a treasure trove of insane clothes—much of which is on exhibit downtown this week, in advance of the film’s release. 919 S. Grand Ave., downtown; On view weekdays, December 1-15; free; asufidm.asu.edu.
Tonality: Just Me at Pico Union Project. A concert that goes beyond melodies and harmonies to stand up against injustice and shine a spotlight on the challenges faced by the transgender and non-binary communities. Through heartfelt performances and thought-provoking compositions, the choir unravels individual stories, shedding light on personal journeys and experiences in the face of adversity. This concert isn’t just about music; it’s about creating a safe haven to gather, learn, empathize, and ultimately take action. 1153 Valencia St., Pico Union; Friday, December 1 and Sunday, December 3, 7pm; $35; ourtonality.org.
Saturday, December 2
Eileen Wolf Echikson: Here Sometimes at General Projects. Echikson’s work weaves threads of memory, seamlessly blending past and present in a playful restoration and mending of imagery from the artist’s world. The work serves up a rollercoaster of emotions, like a slide projector advancing from image to image: humor, horror, rage, and fashion collide and are threaded together into ever-oscillating feelings. Echikson’s illustrations are featured in Being Work, a forthcoming book from Insert Press, edited by Dorothy Dubrule, in a collection of essays by dance and theater artists that describe the labor of performance within visual arts contexts. 3609 Pomona St., Lincoln Heights; Opening reception: Saturday, December 2, 7-10pm; On view through January 14; free; insertblancpress.net.
José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros: Demystify at La Luz de Jesus. Through the darkly humorous appropriation and manipulation of classic cartoons and pop-cultural icons, the artist is able to subvert the clean-cut hetero-normative fairytale structures from which his characters are plucked. Whether it be two princesses kissing, or a beloved fairytale prince participating in illicit drug activity, Rodolfo’s compositions highlight the unrealistically sanitized perfection that these characters stand for. By tossing these squeaky-clean figures into socially disobedient vignettes, the artist asks why we are shocked by a more realistic reflection of contemporary reality. 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Feliz; Opening reception: Saturday, December 2, 4-8pm; On view through December 31; free; laluzdejesus.com.
MAK Center Winter Architecture Tour. The latest edition of MAK’s beloved Los Angeles architectural gems guided tour features the private homes of three acclaimed contemporary architects: Thom Mayne, Charles Ward, and Clive Wilkinson. From the construction of a private canyon to the design of a spiritual retreat, the houses by these Los Angeles-based architects provide examples of domestic experiments and creative freedom unfolding within the very personal settings of their own homelife and family. Saturday, December 2, 11am-4pm; Culver City and other locations with rsvp; $150; makcenter.org.
The Upcycled Self: An Evening with Black Thought from The Roots at USC Visions + Voices. Tariq Trotter—better known as Black Thought—is the platinum-selling, Grammy-winning co-founder of The Roots, and one of the most exhilaratingly skillful and profound rappers the culture has ever produced. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop and Trotter’s brand-new book, The Upcycled Self: A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are (November 2023), Trotter will discuss his life and work in an intimate conversation with Jason King, Dean of the USC Thornton School of Music. Book signing to follow. Books will be available for purchase at the event. Bovard Auditorium, 3551 Trousdale Pkwy., downtown; Saturday, December 2, 7pm; free; visionsandvoices.usc.edu.
Holiday Marketplace at Craft Contemporary. The museum’s festive annual shopping weekend showcasing 20+ local artisans and designers. This year’s event will feature jewelry, ceramics, vintage and contemporary textiles, craft supplies, homewares, and more. Find a unique gift for everyone on your list and enjoy drinks, music, compelling current museum exhibitions, and creative workshop activities—all while shopping a curated selection of one-of-a-kind craft and design treasures by LA-based makers. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, 11am-5pm; free w/ museum admission, $9 (Sundays are pay-what-you-can); craftcontemporary.org.
The Street & The Shop at Tin Flats. A curated, elegantly hectic marketplace of hip objects and small works by independent artists and designers. Set up like an artisan market with the energy of a gallery-style group show and an aesthetic to match, this party-size art fair is an emporium of fucked up ceramics, experimental decor, pocket-size paintings, small-batch and eco-conscious flair, style vibes, and also a DJ party. 1989 Blake Ave., Frogtown; Saturday-Sunday, December 2-3, noon-5pm; free; instagram.com/thestreetandtheshopla.
The Post-It Show at Giant Robot. Every year, the art gets more exciting and the lines outside get longer at this gifting-season tradition. Over 400 eclectic artists create mini masterpieces on the famous square office pads, ranging in styles and mediums but working miracles in a few square inches. Curated by Giant Robot’s Eric Nakamura, the roster includes superstars and newcomers. Its 19th edition opens this weekend. GR2, 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., West L.A.; Preview: Saturday, December 2, 11:30am-1pm, shopping opens at 2pm; Second batch drop and toy drive, Saturday, December 9; free; instagram.com/giantrobotstore.
Sunday, December 3
Climate Conversations: Urban Ecologies at MOCA Grand. This series seeks to create a space for collective learning and dialogue, providing a platform for engaging with pressing topics, fostering awareness, and inspiring action around the diverse facets of climate, culture, and environmental justice. Attendees of Urban Ecologies will engage in two thought-provoking sessions. Session One: Beyond Awareness: Mobilizing Cities for Climate Change looks at the role that urban areas play in the magnification and mitigation of the climate crisis. Session Two: Resilience and Resistance: Developing Communities of Care focuses on systems of support and dialogue through activism, environmental justice, and artistic practice. 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown: Sunday, December 3, noon-5:30pm; free w/rsvp; moca.org.
Arthur Tress: Water’s Edge at the Getty Center. The world premier of an immersive journey into the life and unique vision of acclaimed photographer Arthur Tress, filmed over four years across California, this documentary delves deep into Tress’s creative process as well as his philosophical reflections on aging, relationships, and legacy. The film’s non-linear narrative, set against the backdrop of Tress’s peculiar, often surrealistic imagery, lets audiences perceive the world through the artist’s distinctive lens and invites them into his intimate universe, from photoshoot adventures and trespasses to contemplative moments during the solitude of the pandemic. 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood; Sunday, December 3, 2pm; free w/ rsvp; getty.edu.
Monday, December 4
Anuradha Vikram: Use Me at Your Own Risk: Visions from the Darkest Timeline book release at Human Resources Los Angeles. Vikram’s book is set in 2046, a near future where both automation and climate collapse are more advanced. Use Me at Your Own Risk (X Artists’ Books) confronts the ethical challenges inherent in our unprecedented shift to automation, setting a vivid, character-driven stage for imagined futures from New Delhi to L.A. Described by Vikram as an activist art project, this speculative novel asks us to question our role in the destruction of our environment, the impact of automation on society, and heightened inequity across class, race, and gender. Followed by a conversation about the book as it relates to queer literature and history, and a live DJ set. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Monday, December 4, 7pm; free; h-r.la.
Tuesday, December 5
A Christmas Story, The Musical at the Ahmanson Theatre. The songwriting team behind Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land brings the classic 1983 movie to hilarious life on stage. Set in 1940s Indiana, a young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams, an official Red Ryder® toy BB gun. An infamous leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a maniacal department store Santa, and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the distractions that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas wish. 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Performances December 5-31; $40-$169; centertheatregroup.org.
Wednesday, December 6
Autopsicografia Reading Night at Wonzimer. An interdisciplinary reading night by Brazilian artist Amanda Maciel Antunes, the work’s centerpiece is a table with four chairs where guests are invited to sit, and read from their works in text…such as poetry, letters, transgressions and confessions. The table is covered with a handmade woven cloth that serves as an on-going embroidered poem by Antunes and guests. In her practice, she’s often concerned with anthropological texts and poetry in translation, reflecting on the selective nature of memory, language and cultural heritage. The work proposes many possible interpretations and the concept that language at first, lives primarily as a sound to be understood, and only then followed by meaning. 341-B S. Avenue 17, downtown; Wednesday, December 6, 8pm; free; wonzimer.com,
David Serrano: Made in Mérida at Artbug Gallery. Serrano is a surrealist artist, born in Mexicali, who after living in L.A. for decades, moved to Mérida—a city and region known for its stunning nature and aesthetic beauty, grounded in its rich cultural history influenced by the Mayan and Spanish presence. In this new life, Serrano’s work is mediated by the luminosity and texture enlivening ordinary events—in their beauty and suggestive magic. This reception culminates the gallery’s 2023 exhibitions, and as such doubles as a de facto holiday party. 2441 Hunter St., downtown; Closing reception: Wednesday December 6, 4-7pm; free; instagram.com/artbugallery.
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