Future and past feel like they're on a collision course this week — especially in William Leavitt's deceptively mundane drawings of suburbia gone awry and Dennis Hoekstra's and Noah Olmsted's ghostly, garish re-envisioning of the Pacific Design Center.
5. Modern-day mythmaker
Charles Garabedian didn't get the memo, or maybe he just tossed it out. While his peers veered further toward pared-down abstractions (Robert Irwin started making white acrylic discs) and hard-to-grasp conceptualism (Doug Huebler exhibited typewritten “explanations” of black-and-white snapshots), Garabedian dug deeper into mythic narrative: He painted biblical characters topless on TV screens or floodwaters sweeping through Culver City. Work from 1966-76, the first decade of the 89-year-old artist's still-going L.A. career, currently hangs at L.A. Louver, on the second floor. 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice; through May 12. (310) 822-4955, lalouver.com.
4. Crazy things made normal
William Leavitt's paintings look like he assembled his palettes from Home Depot paint chips, and his drawings look like movie-set versions of 1950s subdevelopments. The fact that roller coasters, futuristic tents and minimalist partitions intersect in his newest renderings, on view at Margo Leavin Gallery, somehow seems natural. You feel like you're looking at the picture of perfect normalcy, when actually you're on a flight of fancy. 812 N. Robertson Blvd., W. Hlywd.; through April 28. (310) 273-0603, margoleavingallery.com.
3. Barter night at Barney's Beanery
In 1969, Ed Kienholz turned his art into currency. He made watercolor paintings with prices — $1, $75, $1,000 — stenciled across them. Other paintings had the names of objects on them: “Nine Screwdrivers,” “A Timex,” “A 4-Wheel Drive Datsun Jeep.” Buyers had to pay whatever the painting “said” it was worth. A reprisal of Kienholz's “Barter Show” takes place this week at the late artist's haunt, Barney's Beanery. This time contemporary artists — including Anna Sew Hoy, Zoe Crosher and Justin Lowe — have made the work for barter. You can see it on view through Saturday, April 7, at 8126 Santa Monica Blvd., then bring the requisite items to Barney's on Tuesday to make a deal. 8447 Santa Monica Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues., April 10, 7-10 p.m.; free; reservation recommended, email email@example.com.
2. Lost in the Blue Whale
The first time they visited the galleries in the “Blue Whale” — the Pacific Design Center's big, blue main building — artists Dennis Hoekstra and Noah Olmsted got lost in the maze of showrooms. They say they ended up in some sort of storeroom. That inspired them to think: What if the Design Center, often almost empty, were essentially a huge warehouse for supposedly avant-garde stuff? In Annie Wharton's blue building gallery, the two artists constructed a poorly lit, dusty corridor of carefully placed tools, siding, mirrors and other design detritus. It leads to a back room where boxed-up would-be sculptures scatter the floor, canvases covered in Styrofoam hang in a corner, and the recorded voice of a psychotherapist guides anyone who's listening toward mental relaxation. 8687 Melrose Ave., Suite b275, W. Hlywd.; through May 4. (310) 903-9566, anniewhartonlosangeles.com.
1. It's complicated
Elad Lassry always manages to make his classy, sexy, sleekly framed images confusing. At David Kordansky's Gallery 2, Lassry has hung long lines of slightly different photos of the same person doing almost the same thing — a man shrugging by a fridge with ice, a man smirking by a fridge with ice — next to each other and installed a chest-high shelf with dips that line up with his photographs. In an adjoining room, where a line of charcoal drawings hang, he's cut a long, thin window into the wall, which perfectly frames the images on the opposite side. It's hard to look at anything without constantly thinking about the fact that you're looking. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Unit A; through May 26. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.