This week, artists stage a festival in Joshua Tree and a painter turns historical figures into funny present-day phantoms.

5. The puppetmaster

Joel Kyack, whose paintings and sculptures often double as games and strange contraptions, and who staged freeway puppet shows for stalled commuters in 2010, has a new body of work. It debuts in Chinatown for a single night before being shipped overseas. 410 Cottage Home St.; Fri., Aug. 30, 2-10 p.m. (213) 290-4752;

4. Desert party

Artists-organizers Jesse Benson and Steven Bankhead have assembled a lineup of artists that's sort of thrilling — maker of mundane fantasies Hannah Greely, socially curious video artist D'Ette Nogle, scholar-writer-DJ Jan Tumlir — for their annual Labor Day extravaganza. Held on Shangri La Lane in Joshua Tree and called “Burrito Deluxe,” like The Flying Burrito Brothers' album, the event starts with performances on Friday night and ends with “libations” at the nearby Pioneertown bar and barbecue joint, Pappy and Harriet's. 1030 Shangri La Lane, Joshua Tree; free, donations accepted. Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

3. Lots of small black holes

Camilo Restrepo's small show in the upstairs room at Steve Turner Contemporary is called “This Is a Wound, Not Just the Drawing of a Hole,” and there are wounds everywhere in Restrepo's drawings. His pink, big-nosed, spindly-limbed characters have black holes in their sides or chests. Two have a black cloud that looks like a hole coming out of their mouths. Because his figures are small and cartoonlike, and the drawings are on unframed paper, and Valentine's Day colors abound, Restrepo puts whimsy and darkness on a collision course. 6026 Wilshire Blvd.; through Sept. 1. (323) 931-3721,

2. Australian history redux

In “Ruin Upon Ruin,” Ben White's current show at Monte Vista Projects, black vinyl captions/titles adhere to the wall below each paintings. These explain, in pithy, factual-sounding language, what the images depict. Ned Kelly Heals the Sick With his Shadow, one is titled, and above it you see the Australian folk hero, whom Heath Ledger played in the 2006 movie, marching forward. His rifle is outstretched and he wears his signature metal mask. His shadow, more a ray of light, shines across three men from biblical times, healing them as St. Peter's shadow purportedly did. But all this happens in front of what looks like a freshly built multiplex, and a menacing Air Force plane flies above. All White's paintings are like this: part cheeky, part psychedelic, precisely executed historical mash-ups. 5442 Monte Vista St.; through Sept. 1, Sat. & Sun. 12-5 p.m. and by appointment; montevistaprojects.

1. Soothecore beside a wooden river

Within the River of My Mind, Chris Johanson's nonchalant but sincerely meditative painting show at MOCA's Pacific Design Center satellite, features mundane scenes depicted in black, gray and rainbow colors and a river made of blue-painted wood runs all the way through. It will be the setting for Quiet Night of Performance, an L.A. version of the soothecore Quiet Music Festival of Portland. Mike Donovan, Chelsea Rector, AV Linton and others will make low-key, low-volume sounds. 8687 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Fri. Aug. 30, 6 p.m. (310) 289-5223,

See also:

Why VHS Wasn't So Bad After All

See Art While Waiting for the Bus

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