This week, there's a pithy, pink Ron English billboard on Temple, a tongue-in-cheek guide to L.A.'s Chinatown and human-scale dioramas being made on-site in Hollywood.
5. Fundraising for friends
For her 1999 video We Got Moves You Ain't Even Heard of, Erica Cho gave herself a black eye so that she would look just like Daniel did in The Karate Kid. Also like Daniel, she had to take off her sunglasses at her mother's prodding and reveal her failure to defend herself like a man. Masculinity and its baggage have been themes in Cho's work for years, but In the trailer for Cho's newest video, Golden, Golden, this theme plays out in a different way: A rooster crows as if it's a cross between a creature from The Land Before Time and a dance-music track. Golden, Golden is still in progress, and Human Resources will hold a fundraiser for it this weekend, where work by artists whom Cho has influenced or been influenced by will screen — an ideal, organic model for making sure art gets made. 410 Cottage Home St.; Fri., Aug. 17, 7 p.m.; $5. (213) 290-4752; humanresourcesla.com.
4. Eccentric camouflage
Gina Osterloh's figures almost fade into the background. This sounds subtle, but it's not. Her backgrounds, 3-D sets she makes herself, might be filled with polka dots or crinkled, pastel-colored streamers. She bases her figures, usually mannequins or cardboard cutouts, on real people, poses them distinctively, then camouflages them so that they blend into their environments. Usually her final product is a photograph, but Osterloh has relocated her studio to LACE's main gallery, so you can watch her sets and figures change as she composes and refines them. 6522 Hollywood Blvd.; through Sept. 30. (323) 957-1777, welcometolace.org.
3. Drawing to the Aliens 2 soundtrack
David Askevold moved to California because artist Bas Jan Ader decided to sail the Atlantic alone as part of a project he called In Search of the Miraculous. When Ader failed to return, Askevold moved from Canada in 1975 to fill in as professor of art at UC Irvine. Askevold taught at CalArts, too and, as his student Tony Oursler remembers, he gave assignments that read like poems. Years later, Oursler and Askevold started emailing such poetic assignments to each other. Wrote Askevold, “start at 12 am, friday 13th, draw with eyes closed while listening to the movie sound track (Aliens 2)…” The results of these assignments became a grid of video clips called Two Beasts, the last work Askevold made. It's on view now, in the Askevold retrospective at the Armory Center for the Arts. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; through Sept. 15. (626) 792-5101, armoryarts.org.
2. High hipsters at Hop Louie
Audrey Chan's video Chinatown Abecedario, illustrated like a children's book, gives one Chinatown truth or cliche for each letter of the alphabet. For “G,” galleries are the gateway to gentrification. For “H,” hipsters get high outside of the bar Hop Louie. For “W,” Wal-Mart moves in to lower wages in the neighborhood. Then the video repeats, in Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin, though, of course, the fact that it's based on the ABCs means English still dominates its structure. Chan's piece is part of “(de) Constructing Chinatown” at the Chinese American Museum, along with work by other contemporary artists trying to understand how the kitsch, the upstart art spaces and the strange history feed into what Chinatown is now. 425 N. Los Angeles St.; through Nov. 4. (213) 485-8567, camla.org.
1. Not a clone
On West Temple Street, right past Robinson in Historic Filipinotown and right above an empty lot, there's a new billboard with a sappy pink background. Five identical plastic rabbits, each with three blank eyes and two noses, stand across it and centered, yellow text reads, “You Are Not a Clone.” It looks like an ad at first, because it's sleek and bright, but when you realize it's not, you feel like you're in on something fun and free. 3300 block of West Temple Street; through August. lalaarts.com.