Our list this week includes not just a video with someone dressed in a penis costume but also Ellsworth Kelly, a hidden Koreatown gallery and the ubiquitous Judy Chicago.
5. Making money sing
CamLab, the two-person troupe Anna Mayer and Jemima Wyman, wants art to be social, spontaneous and sensual, preferably all at once. They've staged two performances at MOCA since 2012 began, one of which involved rainbow pajamas and a bedroom installed in front of Rothko paintings. Their third and final performance is Thursday. Called Two in the Bush, it will include “instrumentalizing” money, so that currency actually produces sound, plus handcrafted costumes and a set by supersincere Highland Park band Hotel La Rut. 250 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; Thurs., March 1, 7-10 p.m. (213) 626-6222, moca.org/party/camlab/.
4. Judy Chicago, master craftswoman
Because Judy Chicago changed her name from Judy Gerowitz as a gesture of feminist empowerment and made a concerted effort to turn the word cunt into something celebratory, it's easy to forget that before (and after) she became an activist powerhouse, she was a masterful craftsperson. Her show at Nye+Brown, of work she made in the late 1960s and early 1970s, shows this mastery through precise colored-pencil renderings, glossy acrylic domes and funnily abstract game sets built in the mid-'60s. 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.; through March 31. (310) 559-5215, nyeplusbrown.com.
3. Painting as a game of chance
Ellsworth Kelly began painting abstractly, thanks to French schoolchildren. The American artist had been living and teaching in Paris when he dreamed one night that he and his students climbed onto scaffolding to paint large squares on a wall. Soon after, he began making his grids, painting and cutting out colored squares and arranging them based on games of chance he'd invented for himself. Some grids hang in LACMA's “Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings” show right now. So do other smart, fun color convergences from the 60-plus-year career of an artist still excited by the way red pops when painted over blue. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; through April 22. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
2. Urban archeology
Commonwealth & Council is hard to find, but when you finally walk into its small, beautifully sunlit gallery, you'll see tangled power cords and tall buildings through the big windows in the background and Margaret Honda's sculptures delicately laid out on the floor like leftovers from an urban archaeological dig. A cylinder made of clothes Honda wore in the '80s winds up the wall and out a cracked window, foam cutouts fill a corner and casts in the center of the room look like bricks that managed somehow to melt and ooze. 3006 W. Seventh St., #220, Koreatown; through March 10. (213) 703-9077, commonwealthandcouncil.com.
1. The penis body suit movie
Artist Stanya Kahn's hypnotizing 2010 video It's Cool, I'm Good made loneliness manageable without minimizing its pain. Now she's asking how bad it really is to want and not have. You can still feel good, can't you? The title of her new show at Susan Vielmetter starts as a bad joke: “A Cave Walks into a Bar…” And more bad jokes spill out so pithily and perfectly in Kahn's new work that they feel almost profound. In her film Lookin' Good, Feelin' Good, she walks through the city wearing a foam penis body suit, waving at guys in barbershops, stopping at Wienerschnitzel, then telling jokes to children: “How do you fix a broken tomato?” “With a hammer?” asks a timid, baffled boy. “With tomato paste,” says Kahn. “What are you?” a little girl asks. “We haven't figured that out yet,” Kahn replies. 6006 Washington Blvd.; through March 30. (310) 837-2117, vielmetter.com.