This week, artist Jim Shaw pops up in two places, a TV phenomenon loosely inspires an exhibition and a playwright known for breaking the fourth wall breaks it before finishing his new play.
5. Be like an ant
“Just be like an ant carry something this way, carry something back,” says filmmaker Mike Plante's uncle Paul in the film Be Like an Ant. Plante made the film for and about his uncle, who bought a trailer to live in with his family after moving back from Vietnam and then began building it out, and kept building for 20 years, until it turned into a free-form house with more than 100 windows and a shape entirely its own. This film and others by Plante screen at the Armory Center for the Arts this weekend. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; Sat., Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.; (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.
4. Bondage art
Nancy Grossman started drawing and sculpting her leather-bound figures years before Quentin Tarantino made Pulp Fiction, but, still, they all resemble Tarantino's gimp: forever faceless, stoic though vulnerable, all signs of personality covered up by the leather, buckles and straps. A few of her “heads” from the 1960s, porcelain busts with perfectly black leather masks stretched tightly over everything but their nostrils, stand on pedestals at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. Drawings like #11, of a man with a long, defiant collarbone and stained blue paper over his face, hang on the walls. 6222 Wilshire Blvd.; through Dec. 22. (323) 933-9911, marcselwynfineart.com.
3. Comic book nightmares
In the early 1990s, artist Jim Shaw began drawing his dreams the morning after. His Dream Drawings usually look sort of like pages out of a graphic novel and show at least five things happening at once. In I Dreamed I Was Attacked by Dogs, Shaw's lecturing at a podium, then in jail, then staring intently at a man in a tie while a stream of eyes flow out the back of his head. Then he's in a cemetery, pulling himself up over a cement wall while dogs yip below him. A series of Shaw's recorded dreams hang on the third floor of LACMA's Broad Contemporary building, against a sparkly dark blue wall. 5905 Wilshire Blvd; through Feb. 24. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org.
2. Destructive impulses
Playwright and performer Asher Hartman debuted a play early this year in which God and Jesus worked at Circuit City. It was immersive — you had to follow the actors through the set, and sometimes found yourself in the middle of the action — and included unexpected bursts of passion, like God seducing Jesus in the breakroom. Now, Hartman is working on a play about a man whose “creative and destructive impulses” are affecting his friendships. Hartman, who's good at staying down-to-earth when explaining the weird trajectories of his ideas, will talk about his work-in-progress this week as part of “Language of the Land” at LACE, a new series curated by Brian Getnick in which artists invite audiences into their process. 6522 Hollywood Blvd.; Wed., Dec. 12, 7 p.m.; $10. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org.
1. As seen on TV
Marc-Olivier Wahler did title “LOST (in L.A.),” his group exhibition of French and L.A. artists at Barnsdall Park, after the television show Lost but not because it was necessarily a good show. He chose the title more because the way in which the show dragged viewers into a fantasy world, tried to collapse time and space, and then ultimately ended up a disappointment seemed to resonate a lot with artists he spoke with. The best art in the exhibition, on view at Barnsdall Park, wanders just far enough into the ether of imagination that it leaves you confused. One of the kitschy religious illustrations in Jim Shaw's Didactic Art installations shows a grown-up Jesus staring reverently down at his baby self, while the staff in his hand looks like it's pierced through the baby's torso. Camille Henrot's video King Kong Addition meshes the original 1933 film King Kong with the 1976 and 2005 versions. It's like watching a fantasy of a fantasy. 4800 Hollywood Blvd.; through Jan. 27. (323) 660-4254, flaxfoundation.org.