The November/December gallery scene looks like it might be pretty exciting this year, starting with a surprising collaboration and crowd-pleasing paintings in Culver City.
5. Surviving the O.C.
James Luna showed up at a gallery around 1972 in plain clothes carrying a suitcase of “Indian” paraphernalia, then proceeded to “transition” into a Native American stereotype. Luna, who grew up in Orange County, moved out to the La Jolla Indian reservation around the time Denise Uyehara's Asian-American family arrived in the O.C. Together, in Survival Skills in a Suburban Landscape at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the two will re-create Luna's '70s performance, commiserating over their shared suburban upbringing and journey to becoming artists. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Thurs., Nov. 10, 7-10 p.m.; $5 donation. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org.
4. '70s Sunshine
It's tucked back behind LACMA's Art of the Americas building and easy to miss, but Maria Nordman's Filmroom: Smoke, a pair of videos the artist made on the edge of the Pacific in the 1970s, is worth seeking out. Projected side by side in a room that allows only two visitors in at a time, the videos show a wild-haired man smoking in an overstuffed chair set on the sand right next to a big, craggy rock. A woman joins him later and intense sun makes the black-and-white footage mostly white, and transfixing. 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; through Jan. 22, (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
3. Making a Living While Making a Movement
Dale and Alonzo Davis were 21 and 25, activists and early actors in L.A.'s Black Arts Movement, when they opened Brockman Gallery near Leimart Park. It was 1967 and the area had recently been transformed by white flight. The brothers exhibited fellow black artists and cultivated a base of collectors, an effort Alonzo will discuss with collectors and curators at the Hammer Museum panel “Taste and Style Just Aren't Enough.” 10899 Wilshire Blvd.; Wed., Nov. 15, 7 p.m.; free. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.
2. Crowd-Pleasing Portraitist
Seen online, Chuck Close's larger-than-life portraits look as if they belong in a class with mathematical surrealist M.C. Escher or psychedelic spiritualist Alex Gray — popular geniuses who make shtick look advanced. But in person and up close, the painter's marks are actually crude, loose and idiosyncratic. Try standing just a few inches from the canvas, where each square of paint resembles a colorful Kandinsky homage, then back up slowly to see it all come together to make convincingly accurate portraits. Blum & Poe, 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd.; opening reception Thurs. Nov. 10, 7-10 p.m.; through Dec. 22. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.
1. Unexpected Collaboration
Richard Hawkins makes melancholic, literary, pop-imbued collage while Aaron Curry makes slapdash, hipster-modern sculpture. I'd never thought of the two together, but they're the duo behind David Kordansky Gallery's current “Confabulation.” The decision to cover all the gallery walls with cardboard panels the colors of a neon marker set is a bit too Disney Channel, but the individual pieces hanging on those oversaturated walls are a perfect mix of carefree and precious. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Unit A; through Dec. 10. (310) 558-3030, davidkordanskygallery.com.