This week, a designer explains happiness in West Hollywood, a fact-blurring foreign correspondent's office opens in Highland Park and a single tear rolls down one cheek in Culver City.
5. High-tech domesticity
T. Kelly Mason's Typology of Glasses shows a line of casual-looking glassware painted against a baby blue background. The painting is inside a light box, backlit by gels and covered with glass. Above that glass, Mason has outlined his glassware in marker, so that the drawing begins to seem almost dimensional. This mix of high-tech and low recurs throughout his current show at Cherry and Martin gallery, and makes idiosyncratic domestic scenes flashy in a funny way. 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through April 27. (310) 559-0100, cherryandmartin.com.
4. What happiness looks like
Stefan Sagmeister designed the cover for Lou Reed's Set the Twilight Reeling album, which shows a sun shining out of where Reed's left eye should be; he also shredded, then reassembled a pair of jeans for a 2009 Levi's campaign. He's DIY in a high-profile way, a designer who's of that moment where indie became mainstream, and he's talked for years about making design more “personal.” Happiness has been his subject of late — he's co-directed a documentary called The Happy Film and gave a TED talk called Happiness by Design. He also has a traveling exhibition, “The Happy Show,” which opens at MOCA PDC this week. Sagmeister will give his “Design and Happiness” talk on opening night. 8687 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Tues., March 19, 7 p.m. (310) 289-5223, moca.org.
3. Your man in Los Angeles
When Wormold, the main man in Graham Greene's novel Our Man in Havana, starts spying for London from Cuba, his dispatches mix real information with imaginary. The dispatches that alt space Public Fiction will be sending out for the next month to other art spaces in Paris or elsewhere may mix fiction and fact just as liberally. Each dispatch will be produced by an artist and a writer. The artist for the first is colorful abstractionist Bernard Piffaretti; the writer is TBA, but dispatch No. 1 launches this weekend over cocktails. 749 Avenue 50, Highland Park; Sat., March 16, 6 p.m. Subsequent dispatches launch March 23 & 26, April 5, 12 & 21. publicfiction.org.
2. High-concept bird's nest
In the middle of Samuel Freeman Gallery's glass-walled, oddly shaped courtyard, Claude Stracensky Collins has installed a square, wooden column topped with a tinted glass box, filled with water, with a pine-needle bird's nest floating in it. The sculpture is part of “Black Rabbit, White Hole,” a group show of mostly monochromatic art curated by gallery director Amy Thoner. The show also includes Emilie Halpern's transfixing 2006 video For No One, playing on a small television monitor on the floor of the last room. In it, a single tear, so crisp and defined it looks like glass, rolls down the blurred cheek of a woman whose smeared mascara makes her eyes smoky. 2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through April 6. (310) 449-1479, samuelfreeman.com.
1. Staring contest
Will Benedict's painting Yellow Fever shows two yellow-tinted figures sitting at a shiny table staring each other down. One has her hand on the lid of a small, closed pot, and a black and white abstraction hangs between them in the background. In 1 800 Bad Drug, the same two figures sit opposite one another, only one has lifted the lid of the pot while the other stares down at it. The painting in the background now has a dash of red and heavier black marks in its left-hand corner. Part of “Purple Glass” at Overduin and Kite gallery, Benedict's paintings hang on the wall behind black ropes artist Erika Vogt angled down from the ceiling and attached to bottles and other shapes. Vogt's ropes are romantically punk, just like the shadowy, maroon-tinted photographed collages by Lucie Stahl hanging In the next room. 6693 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; through March 23. (323) 464-3600, overduinandkite.com.