This week, one artist makes paintings that smear and explode while another makes an ancient monument look lively and a third installs a Dutch living room in a storefront.
5. The better to hear you with
Elana Mann, who has spent the last few years thinking about how to make listening and hearing more active than passive, built three outdoor acoustic sculptures that look loosely like horns. They will be part of “Listening as (a) Movement,” on view for the next two months at Sidestreet Projects, an art space run out of a bus that's typically parked in a vacant Pasadena lot. This week, composer Allison Johnson uses Mann's sculpture to perform Decay/Decode, an ensemble piece that also involves Morse code and sign language. It sounds strange and a little elusive, but it probably won't feel that way. Mann's good at making big ideas welcoming. 730 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Fri., March 8, 6-10 p.m. (323) 225-0911, sidestreet.org.
2. City street country living
Carter and Citizen's Culver City gallery currently has a tiled fireplace against its far wall. Artist Petra Schindler, who works mostly from her family's farm in Holland, installed the fireplace and painted the tiles in shades of maroon, depicting rams and sheep and a quiet country house. Small blankets of sheep's wool rest on two hand-carved chairs; Schindler arranged beeswax candles she made by hand in a wrought iron chandelier that hangs down in the middle of the room. It's the shock of stepping off a street of relatively bland, recently renovated storefronts and into this soft, old-fashioned scene that makes this show work so well. 2648 La Cienega Ave.; through March 16. (213) 359-2504, carterandcitizen.com.
3. Making history move
You enter Henry Taylor's current exhibition at Blum and Poe through a brown door with frosted glass window in it. The window has “Principal” written across it in black letters. In the middle of the room you find a rectangle of dirt that looks freshly plowed. A formal dinner table sits on top of it and a chandelier hangs down from the ceiling. You'll go through two other doors, one marked “Detention” and the other “Probation,” high school-like references to the institutional limits that have haunted African Americans. But it's not the props, dirt and doors that make Taylor's show compelling. It's the colorful, personality-rich acrylic paintings that feel like they were made in the moment and pull you swiftly through recent U.S. history. A woman in a white, Depression-era dress looks suspiciously outward in one painting. A man wears what could be a prison jumpsuit from the '90s in another. A roughly rendered blue mark above his head resembles a halo, but he doesn't seem to know he become a slapdash saint. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through March 30. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
2. A spotlight for Stonehenge's kid brother
Sometime in the middle of the 5th century, Catigern, son of a British warlord, died while fighting the Saxons, brutal enemies of Britain at the time. His tomb, a collection of three lumpy boulders with one resting across the other two, is surrounded by a fence in the county of Kent. Called Kit's Coty, the tomb features in a painting by British artist Billy Childish, currently on view at International Art Objects. In the painting, the elegant, thin-railed fence squeezes closer to the rocks then the real-life fence does. The loosely rendered snow on the ground looks like it's dripping up instead of down, and the stones lean into each other like they're casually resting. Most other paintings in Childish's show, like the homage to Charles Bukowski depicting a reclining man and anxious dog, or the portrait of naturalist Aldo Leopold holding a fish, do this, too: Give obscure historical moments quirky lives of their own. 6086 Comey Ave.; indefinitely. (323) 965-2264, international.la.
1. The man who loved paint too much
“It seems like you love [paint] more than anybody I know,” Dennis Szakacs, the Orange County Museum of Art's director, said to artist Richard Jackson a few years ago. “I buy more of it than anybody I know!” Jackson replied. Szakacs has curated a Jackson retrospective at OCMA, “Ain't Painting a Pain.” You'll begin seeing not-subtle evidence of Jackson's excessive love as soon as you drive up. The first work is outside: Bad Dog, a 28-foot-tall black dog standing out front with its leg lifted and a splash of yellow paint sliding down the museum's side. Then inside there's one of Jackson's painting mazes — he made his first circa 1970 — an abstract painting you can walk inside, trampling over bright acrylic while you squeeze through a narrow hallway with paint-covered panels on either side. 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach; through May 5. (949) 759-1122, ocma.net.