This week, an opera singer gone brilliantly rogue performs downtown, a celebrated curator who's something of a crusader visits the Miracle Mile and more group shows round out the list.
5. The curator who keeps going and going
Hans Ulrich Obrist makes “being a curator like a spiritual vocation,” says poet Eileen Myles, who worked with him in the '90s. Obrist, who started out by curating a show in his kitchen, now directs London's Serpentine Gallery and has been near the top of ArtReview's “Power 100” list for the past few years. His sustained influence has a lot to do with his ability to say a lot and still sound smart and seemingly be everywhere at once. This week, he's here, talking to L.A. artist John Baldessari at LACMA and, at ForYourArt, to inventor Danny Hillis, who co-engineered the Clock of the Long Now, which should keep time for the next 10,000 years. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Sun., July 29, 3 p.m. (323) 857-6010, lacma.org. 6020 Wilshire Blvd.; Mon., 7 p.m. foryourart.com.
4. Uncomfortable Spandex
Pamela Rosenkranz's painting Avoid Contact (dim glow) is a mess of pink paint in the center of a big rectangle of tan Spandex. The pink looks kind of like gum that's been run over, and it pulls at the edges of the stretchy fabric in an uncomfortable but fascinating way. Avoid Contact hangs at Thomas Duncan gallery, along with a self-portrait of photographer Roe Ethridge in a sea captain's hat, Sean Kennedy's blue-purple stand-alone security grille and a poster of a hanging telephone receivers that Nina Beier has pasted onto a brand-new bus bench. The show feels like summer in a city — muggy frustration interrupted by well-timed cool breezes. 6109 Melrose Ave., through Sept. 8. (310) 494-1177, thomasduncangallery.com.
3. Warhol's muse meets Warhol's would-be assassin
Each year, REDCAT hosts a festival of new performance work. The 2012 fest starts Thursday and lasts three weeks. This first week, performance artist and classical opera singer Juliana Snapper, who once sung upside down until she couldn't sing anymore, will perform experimental composer Pauline Ontiveros' To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of Their Desperation. Ontiveros wrote the piece in the 1960s, after Monroe, whom Andy Warhol idolized, killed herself and after Solanas, whom Warhol ignored, tried to kill Warhol. Puppeteer Susan Simpson and the collective Poor Dog Group perform each night as well.631 W. Second St., dwntwn.; July 26-28, 8:30 p.m., $18. (213) 237-2800, redcat.org.
2. Ghoul on horseback
Frederic Remington's 1903 bronze sculpture The Mountain Man was weird to begin with — a trapper in a fur cap riding a horse that looked about to catapult into a ravine. Nathan Mabry's Remington remake is far weirder. It's bronze, too, but seven times bigger than the original and the trapper wears a ghoulish Halloween mask with pointy ears and fangs, its mouth wide open. Mabry's sculpture is in the Cherry and Martin group show “Bush of Ghosts.” 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., through August. (310) 559-0100, cherryandmartin.com.
1. Criminal activity
In 1973, artist Ana Mendieta poured animal blood on the stoop and sidewalk of her Iowa City apartment and filmed from a car as people walked by, stopping, staring, sidestepping or passing blindly by. The three-minute film is in an upstairs gallery at Blum & Poe in the show artists Julian Hoeber and Alix Lambert curated about what constitutes crime. Called “No Person May Carry a Fish Into a Bar,” it's gripping before you've even gotten to the galleries. Outside on the sidewalk is a shrine by artist Robert Buck; inside, there's Gregory Green's Biblebomb with explosives embedded in the book of Genesis, and Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz-Starus's searing photograph of hooded protesters. 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., through Aug. 25. (310) 836-2062, blumandpoe.com.