An incognito art sale, a famous faces photography show, an ode to the simple majesty of the step-stool, intuitive female-forward textile sculptures, poetry-based movement arts on film, sketch comedy about free love in ‘69, surreal fantasy landscape painting, site-specific sound art in the park, John Waters, David Sedaris, Googie architecture and more for your arts calendar.
Thursday, May 5
INCOGNITO/PRECOGNITO at ICA LA & Vielmetter Los Angeles (Live & Virtual). A beloved tradition, INCOGNITO is unique among museum fundraisers. Nearly 400 established and emerging artists contribute 12×12 inch original works in any medium of their choosing. All works $500, and the artists remain anonymous, their identities only revealed after the purchase, as guests are encouraged to follow their hearts and trust their instincts. For the second time, INCOGNITO has been reimagined as a virtual event, a live broadcast hosted by comedian, actor, director, cartoonist, and musician Demetri Martin. For those who would like to view the artworks in person and prepare in advance for the online sale, PRECOGNITO is a cocktail reception and preview on Thursday. PRECOGNITO at Vielmetter Los Angeles, 1700 S. Santa Fe, downtown; Thursday, May 5, 7-9pm; INCOGNITO livestream, Saturday, May 7, 5-8pm; $150-$500; theicala.org.
Janette Beckman: Rebels at Fahey/Klein Gallery. An exhibition of works by British photographer Janette Beckman, covering four decades of photography speaking to her significance in the world of art, photojournalism, music, fashion, and popular culture. Beckman has spent decades creating iconic images of larger-than-life rebels in music, fashion, and beyond. What gives her photographs their arresting flair is the unrehearsed and raw nature of each image — not unlike the spontaneous wildness of the 1970’s and 1980’s subcultures themselves. 148 N. La Brea, Hollywood; Opening reception: Thursday, May 5, 7-9pm; On view through June 18; free; faheykleingallery.com.
Experience 51: TIME at El Segundo Museum of Art. This unique project by artist and production designer Rick Carter is an immersive collage that contemplates the concept of time. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, and collages by Carter along with photographs, movie memorabilia, props and process materials. TIME envelops visitors in floor-to-ceiling layered imagery that includes a diverse group of eight LA-based artists who were invited to collaborate on the installation. The result is a kaleidoscopic experience that merges iconic imagery and objects with graffiti, patterned textiles, paintings, and more. 208 Main St., El Segundo; On view May 5 – September 17; free; esmoa.org.
STOOLS from the JF Chen Collection at Marta and JF Chen C-Project. A multi-site exhibition of historic furniture works distributed between Marta’s Echo Park gallery and the C–Project space of Joel Chen’s legendary showroom in Hollywood, STOOLS is a celebration of the innovative and varied craftsmanship and manufacture of these versatile, everyday objects. Stools are highly-functional, commonly portable devices that deftly navigate the worlds of work and rest while accenting the spaces they inhabit, calling attention to their Vitruvian embodiment of stability, utility, and beauty. Chen’s collection comprises countless examples, a curated selection of 120-plus of which are on view. JF Chen, 830 N. Highland, Hollywood; Marta, 1545 W. Sunset, Echo park; Opening receptions: Thursday, May 5, 6-9pm; On view through June 18; free; marta.la.
Friday, May 6
Carmen Mardónez: Pinky Promise at Arts at Blue Roof. Mardónez combines freestyle embroidery and three-dimensional fabric sculptures and installations. “Using bed sheets and pillows,” she writes, “I seek to connect with these radically intimate spaces that have witnessed the embodied repression, byproduct of centuries of indoctrination, that we as women have experienced through history. But even more importantly, they are the space of our wildest dreams, utopias of liberation and sisterhood. This exhibition is a statement: anyone can become an artist, at any age and no matter their background. Traditional women’s work, such as hand embroidery, can and should be valued as art. Hand embroidery can become massive and monumental. Art is a promise: there will be sisterhood, there will be a future on this planet.” 7329 S. Broadway, South L.A.; Opening reception: Friday, May 6, 6-9pm; On view through May 27; free; artsatblueroof.org.
An Evening with Simone Forti at MOCA Geffen. Featuring historical pieces alongside recent projects, the program looks to draw attention to the breadth of Forti’s practice which spans six decades and incorporates movement, video, writing, music, drawing, and sculpture. Works made from 1974 through 2022 highlight Forti’s continued and evolving commitment to the body, improvisation, and her relationship to animal movement and the natural world. Forti has recently focused on poetry as a means of processing the impact of isolation and physical limitations; the program includes the first public performance of Forti’s most recent poem, Another Pretty Autumn. 152 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; Friday, May 6, 6:30pm; free w/rsvp; moca.org.
Groundlings of ‘69 at Groundlings. A new comedy show from the hilarious minds of Groundlings promises a groovy night of far-out, hilarious sketch comedy from the main company, recalling the heady (and sometimes embarrassing) days of peace and love that seem so far away lately. Directed by Lisa Schurga and featuring Josh Duvendeck, Allison Dunbar, Ryan Gaul, Patty Guggenheim, Chris Kleckner, Laird Macintosh, Jessica Pohly, Emily Pendergast, Annie Sertich and Greg Worswick. 7307 Melrose Ave., WeHo; Performances Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30pm, beginning May 6; $20-$25; groundlings.com.
Saturday, May 7
Genevieve Gaignard in conversation with Roxane Gay at Vielmetter Los Angeles. In her current exhibition Strange Fruit, Gaignard opens a door to haunting nostalgia of America’s relationship to racial violence. The title, borrowed from Billie Holiday’s iconic song, interfaces a range of unapologetic commentary on the American psyche, simulating its inseparable tie to the horrors visited upon black people. This work emerges against history’s recent spate of calls for racial justice and draws attention to this country’s racial progress—or lack thereof. Strange Fruit asks: Do you only want to see what you believe? The exhibition closes Saturday with a conversation between the artist and author Roxane Gay, followed by a closing reception. 1700 S. Santa Fe, downtown; Saturday, May 7, 5:30pm; free; vielmetter.com.
Greg CRAOLA Simkins: Go Outside at KP Projects. From whimsical places like Narnia and Wonderland, to graffiti on stone walls in back alleys, disparate influences come together in an intricate storm of kaleidoscopic colors and mythical landscapes. Despite their eclectic styles, a reverence for graffiti aesthetics, fairytales, and formal painting all unify the work in Simkins’ newest exhibition. His painting surfaces are meticulously layered using various mediums including acrylic, spray paint, and watercolor, while introducing large scale hand embellished giclees on aluminum for the first time. 633 N. La Brea, Hollywood; Opening reception: Saturday, May 7, 6-9pm; kpprojects.net.
Heidi Rodewald: A Lifesaving Manual at CAP UCLA (Virtual). Sampling words and phrases from Red Cross publications of the last century and composing them into an audiovisual meditation on aid, safety and care, Rodewald’s multi-layered music for guitar, bass, piano, trumpet, woodwinds, strings and drums elegantly fuses her pop and rock sensibilities. With direction and visual composition by Josh Higgason and vocals by David Driver, Rodewald and Stew, and enveloped in a filmic score of diagrams, text and day-to-day encounters, A Lifesaving Manual contemplates how we might care for ourselves, each other and our world in these uncertain times. Saturday, May 7, 6pm; free; cap.ucla.edu.
Don’t Give Me Flowers and Hely Omar Gonzalez: Workhorse at Praz Delavallade. A group exhibition curated by Nancy Meyer examines the artists’ perspectives on status and female identity through symbols of beauty, value and privilege. Brought together in dialogue about the constructs in which we live, the exhibition postulates the tendencies towards objectification, social motives, and the balance between intrapersonal and interpersonal perceptions. Michael Slenske curates Gonzalez’s two-year painting study focusing on the labor, humanity, and socio-political currency behind the Toyota Hi-Lux mini truck, from local leisure pursuits to international rebel insurgencies. 6150 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; Opening: Saturday, May 7, 6-8pm; On view through June 1; free; praz-delavallade.com.
Sandra Chevrier: Cages and the Shadow of Colors, and Troy Lovegates: Would, at Thinkspace Projects. In new solo shows from two Canadian artists, Sandra Chevrier’s drawing parallels between the assumed invulnerability of the superhero and the impossible demands placed upon the contemporary individual. Chevrier creates literal and metaphoric masks combining comic book imagery with found and imagined sources. Troy Lovegates, formerly known as Other, brings his knowledge of street art and working with found objects to his first collection of intricate, hand-carved wooden sculptures full of personality. 4217 W. Jefferson Blvd., West Adams; Opening: Saturday, May 7, 6-10pm; On view through May 28; free; thinkspaceprojects.com.
Jimena Sarno: Score for Here at LA State Historic Park (Outdoor). Clockshop presents a site-specific sonic experience using modified field recordings and samples composed through geolocation in a graphic score based on the park’s blueprint. The sound will seamlessly change as visitors walk across pathways, wander under specific trees, climb on top of boulders, and traverse the hills and valleys of the landscape. The piece invites Los Angeles State Historic Park visitors to compose sound in real time as they navigate the park, and will be available through a free downloadable phone app. 1245 N. Spring St., Chinatown; Opening: Saturday, May 7, 3-5pm; Available through August 31; free; clockshop.org.
Sunday, May 8
David Sedaris and CAP UCLA Poetry Bureau at Royce Hall. Sedaris makes his long-awaited return to Royce Hall. The skill with which he slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness has made him one of America’s preeminent humor writers. In honor of writers and storytellers, the Poetry Bureau will be in operation on the Royce Terrace before Sedaris’ show, with a poet at each typewriter. Fill out a short questionnaire and get a custom poem! Or take a seat at our outdoor stage and catch amazing student performers reading their original pieces. 340 Royce Hall, Westwood; Sunday, May 8; Poetry Bureau on the Terrace from 5:30pm, free; Sedaris at 7pm, $39-$109; cap.ucla.edu.
Monday, May 9
Mara Fortes: Inner Space: miniature epics at REDCAT (Live & Virtual). Featuring an array of techniques from collage to animation, time-lapse, and meticulous sound design attuned to the rustle of motile life forms, this selection of short works navigates the vast expanse of inner worlds untethered from a human scale. Embedded in each thrilling endoscopic exploration lies the artists’ distinct awareness of how scientific conventions, myth, film, and genre mediate our “natural” habitats: from sentient architectures of mineral and plant forms, operatic dramas of bodily processes, and remote murmurs of interstellar traffic to mental emanations that bloom into surreal creations. 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; Monday, May 9, 8:30pm; $12/$10 virtual; redcat.org.
Tuesday, May 10
Skylight Books & Library Foundation of LA present John Waters with Ginger Minj at Aratani Theater. Liarmouth (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is a hilariously filthy tale of sex, crime, and family dysfunction from the brilliantly twisted mind of the legendary John Waters. Marsha Sprinkle: Suitcase thief. Scammer. Master of disguise. Dogs and children hate her. Her own family wants her dead. She’s smart, she’s desperate, she’s disturbed, and she’s on the run with a big chip on her shoulder. They call her “Liarmouth” — until one insane man makes her tell the truth. John Waters’s first novel is a perfectly perverted “feel-bad romance.” 244 San Pedro St., Little Tokyo; Tuesday, May 10, 7pm; $31 (includes a copy of the book); skylightbooks.com.
Wednesday, May 11
Frederick Hammersley: Out of the Blue, Sculpture, Ed Moses: Grids at L.A. Louver. A survey of Hammersley’s work from 1945 through the mid-1980s, the exhibition includes a wide range of mediums — painting, drawing, collage, printmaking and photography — with a focus on hard-edge and organic abstraction. Drawn from six private collections, many of the works are being shown publicly for the first time. An exhibition of materialist, “embodied abstraction” sculpture by 14 of the most prominent artists of the last century. A group of Moses’ muscular yet frayed abstractions referencing the architecture of the grid and subverting the impulse for compositional law and order. 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice; On view May 11 – July 15; free; lalouver.com.
Michael Murphy and Alan Hess: Googie Modern at Skylight Books. Googie Modern: Architectural Drawings of Armet Davis Newlove (Angel City Press) highlights the never-before-seen architectural drawings of the trio dubbed the fathers of Googie. Beloved by architectural historians, enthusiasts, and casual passers-by, their atomic-age coffee shops, diners, and restaurants are iconic in Southern California. Text by renowned architectural historian Alan Hess places Armet Davis Newlove and Googie architecture atop the highest echelon of mid-century modern design and architectural history. Author/designer Michael Murphy brings the work to life, showcasing the fabulous drawings as important mid-century artwork. 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Wednesday, May 11, 7pm; free; skylightbooks.com.