Gorgeous avant-garde photographs of great performers, some of the world’s funniest women, eclectic painting, a new museum mural, painting-inspired dance at a museum, a stage play about turning the death of Walt Disney into a movie, photographs of Black joy, site-specific dance in an historic location, contemporary mapmakers, Leonard Cohen in Israel, an all-city NFT IRL takeover, and much more for your live and virtual arts calendar this week.
Thursday, March 24
Ruven Afanador: Great Performers at Fahey/Klein Gallery. Curated by Kathy Ryan, Director of Photography for the New York Times Magazine, this exhibition features portraits of the year’s most heralded performers from the pages of the publication’s Great Performers issue — Ruth Negga, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Kristen Stewart, Honor Swinton Byrne, Katia Pascariu, and Hidetoshi Nishijima. The photographs from this series are emblematic of Ruven’s timeless style and quiet drama, encapsulating the intimacy between performer and audience. 148 N. La Brea, Hollywood; Opening reception: Thursday, March 24, 7-9pm; On view through April 30; free; faheykleingallery.com.
Fraser MacDonald at CalTech Beyond the Book (Virtual). Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket is set in 1930s L.A. At a time when most folks thought that rockets were just toys, an earnest engineering student named Frank Malina enlists his friend Jack Parsons, a grandiose and occult-obsessed explosives enthusiast, to prove them wrong. Malina embarks on a journey that takes him from junk yards and desert lots to the heights of the military-industrial complex. Drawing on an astonishing array of untapped sources, including FBI documents and private archives, Escape From Earth tells the inspiring true story of Malina’s achievements — and the political fear that’s kept them hidden. Thursday, March 24, 5pm; free; events.caltech.edu.
Friday, March 25
Very Funny Ladies: Roz Chast, Amy Hwang, Emily Flake in Conversation with Liza Donnelly at 92Y (Virtual). Everyone reads The New Yorker for its cartoons. What some might not know is that the magazine has published cartoons drawn by women since the very first issue in 1925. Liza Donnelly explores these women in her new book, Very Funny Ladies (with foreword by David Remnick and Emma Allen) that celebrates the increase in gender, racial and ethnic diversity among cartoonists today at The New Yorker. Female cartoonists Roz Chast, Amy Hwang, Emily Flake will talk — and laugh — with Liza about their work and the importance of diversity in the field of humor. Friday, March 25, 4pm PT; $20; 92y.org.
Saturday, March 26
Derek Fordjour: Magic, Mystery & Legerdemain at David Kordansky Gallery. In his wide-ranging practice — which encompasses painting, sculpture, and performance — Derek Fordjour grapples with the many strata of artmaking on physical, conceptual, and straightforwardly human terms alike. The exhibition is a multisensory experience that comprises various elements and highlights the multidisciplinary nature of Fordjour’s work. It includes sculptures and paintings constructed using the artist’s signature collage technique; an architectural installation featuring a live performer at the gallery’s entryway; and a live magic show that will be staged daily. 5130 W. Edgewood Pl., Mid-city; On view March 26 – May 7; free; davidkordanskygallery.com.
Poussin Projected: A Screening of Contemporary Dance Films at the Getty Center. Three newly commissioned dance films by leading LA-based choreographers Chris Emile, Ana María Alvarez, and Micaela Taylor. Their dynamic works complement the exhibition Poussin and the Dance and respond to the French artist’s intricate depictions of dramatic scenes, richly colored textiles, enigmatic landscapes, and powerful bodies in motion that radiate celebration or despair. The screening is followed by a discussion and Q&A with choreographers Chris Emile and Ana María Alvarez, followed by reception with light bites and drinks. 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood; Saturday, March 26, 3pm; free; getty.edu.
Sandow Birk: Los Angeles and Her Surroundings at Track 16. Exploring the metropolis and her sprawl, glimpsing overlooked poignant moments of resilience, and staring aghast at the chosen hostility of our built environment, Birk’s 40 drawings update the sights that once attracted Americans to the burgeoning city. His treatment of traditional monuments and iconic buildings zeroes in on the flotsam that forms the fabric of life in Greater Los Angeles, pointing toward ominous forces that we barely fathom. Bendix Building, 1206 Maple Ave., downtown; Opening reception: Saturday, March 26, 6-9pm; On view through May 7; free; track16.com.
Lucas Hnath’s A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney at the Odyssey Theater. Magic. Joy. Happiness. Walt Disney’s creations have given us all of these feelings and more. Working Barn Productions presents the West Coast premiere of the ambitiously titled A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney — in fact a full stage production about a reading. In this fiercely funny, highly meta screenplay-within-a-play, the public persona of the self-made American folk hero, creator of “The Happiest Place on Earth,” is turned completely on its head. 2055 S. Sepulveda, West L.A.; Performances: weekends, March 26 – May 1; $30; odysseytheatre.com.
John Simmons: And then there’s love at Wilding Cran. Curated by celebrated artist Karon Davis, this exhibition showcases John Simmons’ photographs documenting Black love, community, and the importance of locating joy in our day-to-day lives. Since the mid-1960s, photographer John Simmons has traveled the country covering everything from Black Panther Party meetings and the 1968 Democratic National Convention, to snapshots of the everyday lives of the American people. The exhibition unites Simmons’ iconic photographs with selected collages as mediums for chronicling Black community, culture, and authenticity. Inspired by the legacy of pioneers such as Gordon Parks and Roy DeCarava, Simmons sets out to capture the challenges and complexities woven into the fabric of humanity. 1700 S. Santa Fe, downtown; March 26 – May 14; free; wildingcran.com.
Kukula: Métier de Rêve at KP Projects. “Métier de Rêve, or Dream Practice, is about creating from experiences that solely existed to me as an image,” writes Kukula, “which projected a fantasy of the mind and was rebirthed as a new form, my own art, making the dream into a physical object I could touch with every brushstroke. The language of the paint itself is the translator of those dreams. I believe that art is always about taking inspiration and influence from the outside and projecting it back…Nature, history, culture, and everything outside of you creates more art and invention. What makes humanity different from other creatures on this planet is the chain of knowledge embodied in innovative things that document and pass on that knowledge so that the next link can be forged and added.” 633 N. La Brea, Hollywood; Opening reception: Saturday, March 26, 6-9pm; On view through April 23; free; kpprojects.net.
Compton Arts Project Community Arts and Cultural Summit (Virtual). Mayor Emma Sharif and a host of Compton leaders will come together to host a series of multi-disciplinary art exhibits, activations, panels, and workshops that explore Compton’s impact on arts and culture. This year’s theme is Compton Activated: Centering Arts and Culture to energize the City, and the summit is produced by Sēpia Collective, an artist-run organization that centers Black artists. The Summit brings together Compton’s community stakeholders to discuss and plan around the arts and will feature artists, civic and business leaders, and elected officials who are committed to collaborating around the goals of the Compton Arts Project. Saturday, March 26, 11am; free w/ registration; cakecutterinstitute.org.
Sunday, March 27
homeLA at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena. A site-specific performance event and installation with dance artists Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener and interdisciplinary artist, Julie Tolentino at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, a forward-thinking spiritual community established in 1885. The church is home to a diverse community with bodies of various abilities, gender and sexual orientations, and racial and cultural heritages, and serves as the site for artistic inquiry by Mitchell, Riener, and Tolentino who will present work in response to notions of home as a long-standing progressive spiritual community through an interdisciplinary performance event for a roaming audience. 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena; Saturday-Sunday, March 26-27, 5pm; $35; homela.org.
Monday, March 28
Lorna Simpson & Naomi Beckwith in Conversation at the Ford Foundation (Virtual). Artist Lorna Simpson, who is among the best-known representatives of contemporary African-American visual culture, and Naomi Beckwith, Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, join Darren Walker for a conversation on Simpson’s inspiring journey and moving work on the occasion of the publication of her newly-updated monograph, Lorna Simpson: Revised & Expanded Edition (Phaidon). Monday, March 28, 2:30pm PT; free; ideasatfordlornasimpsonandnaomi.splashthat.com.
Tuesday, March 29
Matti Friedman: Who By Fire: Leonard Cohen in the Sinai at the Skirball. Dig into the incredible, never-before-told story of Leonard Cohen’s 1973 tour of Israel during the Yom Kippur War. In Who by Fire, Canadian-Israeli journalist Matti Friedman gives a riveting account of Cohen in the midst of bloodshed and war, moving around the front with a guitar and pick-up team of local musicians. For this dynamic evening of story and song, presented by Writers Bloc, Friedman will be joined in conversation by Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe. Folk musician gigi will perform covers of a few of Cohen’s greatest hits. A book signing follows the program, with books available for purchase. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Tuesday, March 29, 7:30pm; $20; skirball.org.
Wednesday, March 30
A Conversation with Contemporary Mapmakers at LACMA (Virtual). LACMA’s current exhibition Mixpantli: Contemporary Echoes presents the works of contemporary artists and mapmakers who take inspiration from the Indigenous cartographic traditions of the Americas, challenging existing narratives about place-making and belonging in both Mexico and Los Angeles. Alongside the exhibition, explore an array of powerful maps that visualize the history and presence of Indigenous communities in colonial and contemporary times with artists Sandy Rodriguez and Mariana Castillo Deball, leaders from the Indigenous women-led non-profit organization Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO), and GIS specialist Mariah Tso. Wednesday, March 30, noon; free; lacma.org.