Resurrection is a theme this week. Artist Scott Benzel brings back Sharon Tate as a faux Maoist and Rob Sullivan revives local ghosts.
5. Nuclear wasteland art
When nuclear plants and uranium mills close, the leftover radioactive waste has to go somewhere. Scattered across the rural west are Uranium Disposal Cells, strange, angular, futuristic fields. They interrupt desert sand and some look like they belong in a Ridley Scott film. Fantastic black-and-white photographs of these cells are on view right now in Culver City, at the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI). 9331 Venice Blvd. (310) 839-5722, clui.org.
4. Haunted L.A.
William Edward Hickman called himself “the Fox” in a 1927 ransom note he sent to his former employer, L.A. banker Perry Parker. Hickman had kidnapped Parker's 12-year-old daughter, Marion, and wanted $1,500 for her return. But when Parker delivered the money, Marion had already been killed and dismembered, her organs found around the city. Geographer, performer and poet Rob Sullivan will tell the Fox's story at Machine Project this weekend when he talks about L.A.'s obscure and infamous “Haunted Geographies.” 1200-D N. Alvarado St., Echo Park; June 30, 8 p.m.; free. (213) 483-8761, machineproject.org.
3. Garden genius
In 1968, Patricia Johanson painted red, yellow and blue stripes on planks of wood, then lined up the planks on abandoned railroad tracks so they extended as far as the eye could see. People loved her tricolored stripes, so House & Garden asked Johanson to design gardens for the magazine in 1969. She proposed turning sewage facilities into public parks and other such ambitious ideas, and the magazine rejected all her plans. These plans and a charming documentary about her appear in MOCA's “Ends of the Earth,” a show that feels like a textbook in 3-D but one definitely worth skimming. 52 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; through Sept. 3. (213) 626-6222, moca.org
2. Faux Maoist electronica
Mao Tse-tung's little red book of communism is “the most influential volume in the world,” wrote the editors of Esquire in 1967. “It is also extremely dull.” So they enlisted Sharon Tate, about to appear in Valley of the Dolls and not yet known as Charles Manson's victim, as a “visual aid.” In the photo shoot, she wore a wet T-shirt, designer boots and leather dress and held a rifle and handgun. Maoist aphorisms printed in the corners of the photos said things like, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” When artist Scott Benzel stages his performance (Threnody) A Beginner's Guide to Mao Tse-tung at the Hammer on Thursday, dancers will dress like Tate did in that Vietnam-era shoot. They'll maneuver between two looping reel-to-reel tape machines that will play electronic music. A live string ensemble will improvise in the background. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwd.; Thurs., June 28, 7:30 p.m. (310) 443-7000; hammer.ucla.edu.
1. Steel life
“You know what chi is? Itʼs life force,” says steel worker Jefferson Mack in Restoration Hardware's 616-page 2011 source book. “My challenge is how do I get as much chi as possible into the material?” Artist Zak Kitnick quotes Mack in the press release for “Steel Life,” the show he curated at Michael Benevento gallery. The show includes only work made of steel — some that references industrial history, some that revels in steel's more ornamental uses. Charlotte Posenenske's square tube reaches from floor to ceiling like a chimney to nowhere. The steel chair Wade Guyton bent and re-formed is now a gangly, shiny abstraction probably brimming with chi. 7578 Sunset Blvd.; through July 30. (323) 874-6400, beneventolosangeles.com.