Even as things fully open up, there are plenty of online artist talks, poetry readings, digital spaces and avant-garde films for the still virtually-minded, as well as the anticipated explosion of in-person art and design events and the comeback of opening receptions. Celebrating densely verdant paintings, politically charged abstracts of 2020, a career survey for a giant of Queer art, and fancy high-end pianos by appointment, here are some brilliant L.A. art engagements for your weekend.
Thursday, June 17
Poetry Reading at David Kordansky Gallery (Virtual). On the occasion of the group exhibition The Beatitudes of Malibu — which brings together artists whose paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and poems respond to, depict, question, or are inspired by landscapes of all kinds — and its accompanying poetry booklet, the gallery presents a virtual reading with poets Tongo Eisen-Martin (also reading Bob Kaufman), Gabriela Jauregui, Ann Lauterbach, and Cedar Sigo. Thursday, June 17, 5pm; free; davidkordanskygallery.com.
Rewind: A collective screening series by Paul Pescador at Feminist Center for Creative Work (Virtual). Emerging from this time, we reflect on our own roles and responsibilities to one another and ourselves. Rewind postulates questions about relationship to the self as an entrypoint to considering familial dynamics, gender constructs, political histories, social injustices, and one’s ennui. From humor to Hollywood, videos produced both before and during the pandemic seek to develop self-examination as a fundamental practice of being. The series streams through June 30; $8/day or $22/series; artist/curator Q&As on Thursdays, June 17 & 24, 7pm; womenscenterforcreativework.com.
Active Voice Part 3: Home Studio, Teaching Art, and Learning During the Pandemic, at the Armory (Virtual). John Ziqiang Wu’s exhibition Art Making opened at the Armory on February 9, 2020, just a few weeks before L.A. County’s stay at home order went into effect. Join the artist and the Armory’s Heber Rodriguez, who organized Wu’s exhibition, as they discuss the artist’s practice and reflect on the collapsing of domestic, artistic, and educational space, a theme explored in the exhibition that became ever more relevant after the COVID quarantine. Thursday, June 17, 7:30pm; free; armoryarts.org.
Friday, June 18
Sarah Ann Weber: Strong Blossoming Thing Forever at Anat Ebgi. Presenting an overgrown landscape both fertile and putrefied, Strong Blossoming Thing Forever comprises large-scale paintings on panel and works on paper emerging from a year of biological, political, personal and collective turmoil. Rather than replicating the surface details of our environment, Weber’s marvelous evocations of nature concern themselves with the spiritual essence of the world, decentralizing the figure, while treating landscape as something of a fairy tale character in itself. 2660 S. La Cienega, Culver City; opening reception: Friday, June 18, 5-8pm; on view through July 31; free; anatebgi.com.
One Object at a Time at A+D Museum (Virtual). This VR experience is based on a collection of digital objects submitted by selected architects and designers, and uses the designed exhibition space not just as a platform to showcase these objects, but instead as an environment that builds itself out of these objects. The pieces will be brought together, one at a time, digitally curated, scaled, positioned, and reimagined as part of a bigger whole online at aplusd.org as an interactive web-based experience, and on the Sansar platform. June 18 – September 17, online; free; aplusd.org.
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation (VOD). The brilliant work, personal struggles, and cultural impact of iconic American writers Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams are placed in dialogue in this innovative dual-portrait documentary. Filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland collages a wealth of archival material, including dishy talk show appearances with Dick Cavett and David Frost, with clips from some of the duo’s most memorable movie adaptations: A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Glass Menagerie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and In Cold Blood. Featuring vibrant voiceover work by actors Jim Parsons (Capote) and Zachary Quinto (Williams), the film is dripping with wit and wisdom. It is a celebration of both men’s fearless candor and often tumultuous friendship that honors how their identity as gay Southerners informed their timeless artistic achievements and relationships with family, colleagues, confidants, and – most significantly – each other. Streaming from June 18; kinolorber.com.
Crown Jewel collection West Coast tour at Steinway & Sons. An exclusive series of Steinways encased in particularly fine wood veneers, this will be the first time all of these new woods will be on public exhibition. “The Crown Jewel Collection is one of the most visually stunning groups of Steinways to be launched in recent decades,” said Gavin English, Co-President, Steinway & Sons Americas. “These are show-stopping statement pianos. The woods are globally sourced and must be seen in person to be fully appreciated.” Sounds luxurious! Make your appointment and bring along a friend who knows how to play. Steinway Piano Gallery Beverly Hills; on view by appointment, June 18 – 27; steinwaylosangeles.com.
Saturday, June 19
Low Rise, Mid Rise, High Rise: Housing in L.A. Today, an Exhibition + Conversation with Frances Anderton at Helms Bakery. While life slowed down for many Angelenos, the L.A. cityscape did not stay still. For the past year, architects and builders have been busy, working on designs to address L.A.’s biggest need: Housing. More than 30 design teams will display Low Rise dwellings from ADUs to four-story multifamily dwellings; Mid Rise affordable and market rate housing on transit corridors; High Rise towers for downtown, Hollywood and the Miracle Mile. The show is organized and hosted by Frances Anderton and Stephen Phillips. 8745 Washington Blvd., Culver City; opening: Saturday, June 19, 1-5pm; on view through July 1; free; helmsbakerydistrict.com.
Shadi Yousefian: Transformation at Advocartsy. The gallery inaugurates its second location with a solo exhibition of works by Yousefian that surveys a diverse array of new works from ongoing series that directly confront cultural identity and the immigrant experience. Expanding upon her previous work, these never-before-exhibited pieces draw on reservoirs of personal experience to explore the fluid, often abstract concept of collective consciousness and universal identity. 434 N. La Cienega, WeHo; opening weekend: Saturday, June 19, 4-8pm & Sunday, June 20, 1-5pm; on view through July 17; free; advocartsy.com.
Lee Quiñones: Black and Blue, at Charlie James Gallery. The exhibition takes its name from the show’s centerpiece painting that focuses on our collective witness to the murder of George Floyd, and in a subliminal way reminds us of the continual silencing of black and brown voices across generation and geography. The Black and Blue piece in particular makes clear reference to mobile phone technology and to the gravitational pull of social media that we all use in some shape or form every day of our lives. 969 Chung King Road, Chinatown; opening reception: Saturday, June 19, 6-9pm; on view through July 24; free; cjamesgallery.com.
Luke Wooden: Desert Stories. Desert Stories will display 19 rare cactuses planted in fine pottery, carefully curated by the photographer Luke Wooden, as an evocative embodied environment in which to exhibit a suite of 16 photographic prints showcasing the artist’s journey through the desert. “I wanted to find plants that were unique and grown in especially harsh environments,” says Wooden. “All of these forces of nature slowly shape the cacti, like sculptures created by the weather herself.” The pop-up creates a unique visual exploration of desert landscapes, plants and people. Bergamot Station, 2421 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; opening reception: Saturday, June 19, 6-10pm; on view through July 15; free; desertstories.co.
Sunday, June 20
ICA LA Summer Exhibitions Open House. Queer Communion: Ron Athey, Curated by Amelia Jones; and Kenneth Tam: Silent Spikes, organized by Sophia Marisa Lucas, Assistant Curator, Queens Museum. Queer Communion is a historical survey of Athey’s internationally influential body of work, tracing the development of his artistic practice outside of institutions in the music (post-punk and goth), literature, and self-publishing scenes of the 1980s before he gained an international profile and wider exposure in the 1990s, where his work was a lightning rod within the “culture wars.” It also establishes his creative trajectory and lifework through the lens of the queer communities and networks that Athey has engaged and helped form. The exhibition comprises videos, costumes and props from performances, photographs from the artist’s extensive archive, press clippings, and other assorted ephemera, providing a discursive view of Athey’s diverse oeuvre interweaving music, literature, performance, film, politics, opera, religion, and theater.
Silent Spikes is the first solo institutional presentation of Brooklyn-based artist Kenneth Tam in Los Angeles. Silent Spikes, a two-channel video, recently commissioned by the Queens Museum, New York, explores archetypical expectations of masculinity in relation to the intersections of gender, economics, and race. Tam reflects upon the underrecognized connection between the histories of Westward expansion and Chinese immigration in the U.S. and considers how Asian men have been marginalized against the standards of the “All-American” iconic trope of the cowboy, despite the fundamental contributions of Chinese laborers to the building of the American West, specifically the treacherous western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad between 1863 and 1869. 1717 E. 7th St., downtown; Sunday, June 20, noon-5pm; free; timed entry tickets required; theicala.org.