This week, an experimental opera mimics a TED Talk and a sculptor who's been at it since the 1950s debuts impressively hip work.
5. Letting things get weird
Kitchen Steve, performance artist Geo Wyeth's creation, wears goggle-like sunglasses, with a long braid coming off the top of his head and a very long stuffed prosthetic penis sticking out of his trench coat. He moves like a zombie and speaks like a robot, though there's nothing robotic about his emotional range. Sometimes, he plays the piano and sings. Always, he tweaks electronic sound equipment as he moves around his blue-lit sets, full of hanging white sheets. If you go to see Kitchen Steve at Human Resources this week, you should expect a little dysfunction, discomfort and confusion, and let yourself ride his weird waves. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Fri., Sept. 27. (213) 290-4752, humanresourcesla.com.
4. Things to do with broken windows
Ivan Morley's A True Tale paintings were painted onto cracked glass, then peeled off and affixed to aluminum, but it might not matter much whether you know this or not. You'll still get that sense of a shattered surface when you looked at them, and the twisty shapes and colors that vaguely follow the fissures still would evoke psychedelic stained glass. Two True Tale works appear in Morley's current show at Richard Telles. 7380 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax; through Oct. 12. (323) 965-5578, tellesfineart.com.
3. Hip and historical
From the late 1950s through the '70s, John Mason made monuments that sometimes riffed on the prehistoric, like his 1957 ceramic Vertical Spear form. Or sometimes he made pop products seem prehistoric, like the 1959 ceramic Blue Wall, which looks like petrified blue jeans spread across a wall. The ceramic totems in his current show at David Kordansky, made between 1997 and 2002 and worth seeing from every side, feel hipper and smoother than anything he's made before. There's the angular gold star and the one that resembles a blown-up drill bit, things a kid inspired by Mason might make. But it's better that it's Mason updating himself. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City; through Oct. 26. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.
2. Sensitive systems
“Ragpicker,” artist Steve Roden's new show at Susanne Vielmetter Projects, includes a fantastic suite of smallish drawings. They're in the second gallery, on the westernmost wall. Some are long, some square; they're all surreal and precious-feeling despite the fact that their shapes are systematic. The one dominated by the symmetrical, pea-green diamond has another delicate, rectangular graphite drawing attached to its center and baby-blue triangles fading out as their tips reach toward the drawing's four corners. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City; through Oct. 19. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.
1. A real invented icon
Paul Abacus lectures persuasively — he's got that inspirational speaker's sense for inflection, pauses in the right places, drops his voice to soothing levels, then crescendos into his blockbuster points: “This is not a 99 Cent Store. This is not a carton of milk. You do not get this opportunity every day!” He's been proposing that all national borders be abolished, among other things, and was profiled in Southwest's inflight magazine and featured at Sundance, presented as if he were a real “visionary” and “cult icon.” Maybe he is really visionary, but he's also a character in ABACUS, a performance that's part dance, part talk and all psychological experiment. Jan Lars and his Early Morning Opera company created it, and they'll reprise it at Bootleg Theater. 2200 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; Sept. 27-28, Oct. 1-3, 7 p.m.; Sept. 29, 4 p.m. (213) 389-3856, liveartsexchange.org
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