This week, an army of minimalist sculptures emits the sent of Pine Sol, a composer uses dry ice to make music and MOCA PDC becomes an arcade.
5. Climate controlled concert
The Quartz Cantabile is an instrument powered by heat. Flames send hot air through tubes of various lengths and sizes, which come out the other end as loud, clear sounds. Another instrument, the dry ice chimes, is played by touching cubes of dry ice to suspended brass chimes, then letting the carbon dioxide from the ice turn to gas and put the brass in motion. Composers Todd Lerew and Liam Mooney will play these two strange instruments at Machine Project this weekend. 1200-D N. Alvarado; Sun., Nov. 18, 8 p.m. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.org.
4. Reading nooks
Concord Space, the artist-run complex in Cypress Park, doesn't use a stage when it hosts its ENTER>text readings. Guests wander around and find the artists and writers who are reading. They could be in galleries, bedrooms, on the sidewalk. Artist Stephen Van Dyck, who has written dirges for dead malls, and Michael Molitch-Hou, who runs The Reality Institute (it's out to determine what's real and what's not), are among this weekend's readers. 1010 N. San Fernando Rd., Sat., Nov. 17, 8 p.m. (818) 649-0189, concordspace.com.
3. Jasper Johns' journey
Michael Crichton, who wrote Jurassic Park, also wrote about the legendary artist Jasper Johns. He recalls driving the artist to someplace in New York. Neither knew exactly how to get there. “I'll know it when I see it,” Johns said, staying calm while Crichton became agitated. They crossed the Washington Bridge and Johns said, “Turn right here, and we'll figure out the rest later.” They did. Johns, now 82, has a new show of paintings, sculptures and prints at Matthew Marks' two new L.A. galleries — the paintings and sculptures are in the N. Orange Street space and the prints are in the Santa Monica Blvd. space you can reach through the alley. It's the prints, like Shrinky Dink 4, with a line of caricatured sea creatures at the bottom, that convince you Johns is still headed somewhere worth going. 1062 N. Orange Grove Ave.; through Jan. 5. (323) 654-1830, matthewmarks.com.
2. Video art arcade
“Welcome to the New Dark Age,” says a sinister little monster who looks like a swamp-colored cloud with feet. His multicolored doppelgangers bop up and down behind him, all of them projected on the wall of MOCA PDC's upstairs gallery. There, artist Ben Jones has installed projectors facing four different directions. It's hard not to get in the way of the light, and cast your shadow across a psychedelic sunset or against the morphing image of an alien. But despite the every-which-way activity, the whole show feels precise, like an arcade full of games playing out perfectly without the help of players. 8687 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd; through Feb. 24. (310) 289-5223, moca.org.
1. Stuffed animal solar system
The Lion King came out in 1994, three years after Mike Kelley first exhibited his 23-part sculpture Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites and five years before he stopped adding to it. If you look up at the only mostly orange “satellite,” a big ball of stuffed animals suspended in air, you'll see a small Simba, stuffed in amidst tigers and Garfield toys. Simba still looks new and clean. Some of the other animals are dirty, clearly used, and probably from thrift stores. But at Perry Rubenstein Gallery — the first U.S. space to exhibit this work — they're in a privileged position. They're grouped into twelve balls and hung around the 800-pound monster of colored fur in the middle. Ten smooth, spaceship-like “deodorizers” Kelley made out of lacquered fiberglass hang on all four sides, emitting a pine sol smell every few minutes from small, perfect holes near their bottoms. 1215 N. Highland Ave.; through Dec. 15. (310) 395-1001, perryrubenstein.com.