An open house at the city’s largest gallery complex, powerful conversations with authors and activists, contemporary dance in person and live from across the globe, allegorical portrait painting and digital interventions, a Shakespeare play ripped from the headlines, more Shakespeare but this time an opera, play dates of Medieval times, a showcase of trans filmmakers, a free kite festival in the park, something called a scent rave, and before there were immersive experiences there were classic panorama paintings.
Thursday, May 11
PEN America presents Earthly Delights: History, Race, and Environmental Consciousness at CAAM. Award-winning poet Camille T. Dungy explores how gardening can be emblematic of family, history, race, nation, and power in her new book, SOIL: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden. Dungy will read and discuss the interconnections between literature, environmental action, history, and culture with Leah Thomas, author and founder of the non-profit Intersectional Environmentalist, a platform and resource hub that advocates, educates, and promotes inclusivity and accessibility within environmental education and movements. 600 State Dr., Expo Park; Thursday, May 11, 7pm; free; caamuseum.org.
Friday, May 12
Blue13 Dance Company at the Wallis. Blue13 is an American dance ensemble living at the intersection of diaspora and disruption. Led by Achinta S. McDaniel, the company employs a powerful spectrum of joy and resistance through rhythm, “Bollywood,” and raw emotional expression. Blue13’s work rejects monolithic representations of both Indianness and contemporaneity, revealing complexities intrinsic to South Asian and intersectional identities. The program includes the world premier of Restless autumn. restless spring. 9390 N. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills; Friday-Saturday, May 12-13, 7:30pm; $29-$79; thewallis.org.
Cosmogony at the Music Center. Shown in real time on LED screens on Jerry Moss Plaza, dancers perform an original contemporary work remotely from Geneva, Switzerland—6,000 miles away from DTLA. The dancers outfitted with motion capture suits are digitally altered to become avatars for the high-tech performance. Throughout the 30-minute experience, the dancers will be revealed in human form on-screen intermittently to give audiences a behind-the-scenes glimpse of them dancing from their Geneva studio. 135 N. Grand Ave, downtown; May 12, June 3, 10 & 17, 7pm; free; musiccenter.org.
Delfin Finley: Coalescence at David Kordansky Gallery. Finley explores ideas of representation in painting, posing questions not only about who gets represented, but also about how and at what scale. The figures featured in Finley’s paintings, typically friends, family, or the artist himself, exhibit a photo-realist quality, a mark of the artist’s skillful depiction of highlights, depth of color, and shadow that hearkens back to the Old Masters. In Coalescence, the artist exhibits a portrait series that has developed over the course of several years in an effort to distill and illustrate the weighted experience of Black and Brown people in the United States. 5130 W. Edgewood Pl., Midcity; Opening reception: Friday, May 12, 6-8pm; On view through June 16; free; davidkordanskygallery.com.
Antoni Hervás: the awakening at Human Resources. This project by Barcelona-based artist Antoni Hervás, is curated by Clara López Menéndez and accompanied by a 3-month residency at the Tom of Finland Foundation. Hervás is interested in the origins of “leather culture” aesthetics and performative codes of queer/gay life—especially how the drawings and life of Tom of Finland intersected in the dissemination of this aesthetic worldwide, while hiding in plain sight among pop culture tropes like the cowboy, the biker, men in uniform, utilizing an exalted form of high masculinity as drag and cover. In addition Hervás also dove into L.A.’s contemporary underground queer culture, and is partly a celebration of gay clubs and bars as spaces of refuge. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown; Opening Reception: Friday, May 12th, 7-10pm; On view through June 4; free; h-r.la.
Theatre Dybbuk: The Merchant of Venice (Annotated), or In Sooth I Know Not Why I Am So Sad at FCCLA. Shakespeare likely wrote The Merchant of Venice between 1596-98, only a few years after a plague had temporarily closed London’s theaters. The anxieties associated with the period’s societal pressures can perhaps be seen in Merchant in its portrayal of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender. Bringing together elements of Merchant with news from the 21st century, the production takes a kaleidoscopic view of the ways in which members of a society displace their fears on the “other” during times of upheaval. In addition, the work is infused with adaptations of traditional English Christian melodies played on the chapel’s pipe organ. First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, 540 S. Commonwealth Ave., Koreatown; Performances May 12-21; $30-$35; theatredybbuk.org.
Saturday, May 13
Bergamot Station Arts Center Open House. Over 20 contemporary galleries and creative culture venues host special artist talks, walk-throughs, and of course tons of openings and several closing receptions featuring photography, painting, sculpture, installation, design, and more at the city’s favorite outdoor art destination. Plus drinks, comedy shows, food trucks, and special live performances by the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra and Afro-Cuban Ensemble. Parking is free, but consider taking the Metro to what was once a working trainyard afterall. 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Saturday, May 13, 10am-8pm; free; bergamotstation.com.
Verdi’s Otello at LA Opera. Hailed as the pinnacle of the Italian operatic repertoire, Verdi’s transformation of the original Shakespeare play is a powerful drama of uncontrolled human emotion at its most extreme. Otello’s a beloved leader, a distinguished military commander and a devoted husband. But when an envious subordinate introduces the notion—just the slightest whispered hint—that Otello’s wife Desdemona might possibly be unfaithful, it’s enough to send him into a downward spiral of fury and murder. Live at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, performances May 13-June 4. Live outdoor broadcasts at Santa Monica Pier and CalState Dominguez Hills; Saturday, May 13, 7:30pm; free; laopera.org.
Clockshop’s 3rd Annual Community & Unity People’s Kite Festival at LA State Historic Park. This family-friendly cultural festival brings together diverse communities through the art of kites and a day of joyful connection in public green space. Go fly a kite, learn techniques from Kite Masters, and enjoy a “gallery in the sky.” Each year Clockshop commissions an artist to design unique kites that will be unveiled at the event. This year’s artist, Misa Chhan, explores natural dyes, cyanotype processes, and traditional fibers as a way to engage with and learn from both cultural history and the natural world. 1245 N. Spring St., Chinatown; Saturday, May 13, 2-6pm; free; clockshop.org.
PEN America presents Reza Aslan and Franklin Leonard at ALOUD. In our polarized climate in the U.S. and amidst the movement for human rights in Iran, writers and journalists have been increasingly targeted by waves of online harassment for their work and writing. From the missives of QAnon to the rise of hate speech on Twitter, our political context is building a perfect storm of intimidation with ever-shifting targets. Join best-selling author and scholar Reza Aslan and PEN America Trustee and Black List founder Franklin Leonard for a conversation about our divisive political landscape in the United States and around the world and its insidious impact on writers, scholars, and creators. Central Library, 630 W. 5th St., downtown; Saturday, May 13, 2pm; free; lfla.org.
Grand Views: The Immersive World of Panoramas at Forest Lawn Museum. Produced in collaboration with the Velaslavasay Panorama, the exhibition explores the history of panoramic paintings, an immersive, large-scale artistic format popularized in the 18th and 19th centuries. It will feature an array of artworks and artifacts spanning the late 18th century to the present, including never-before-displayed preparatory paintings, 19th-century prints and posters, a painted movie backdrop, and more. In addition, Forest Lawn will launch a new documentary-style audio visual program on Jan Styka’s famous on-site 195-foot Crucifixion. 1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale; Opening reception: Saturday, May 13, 5-7pm; On view through September 10; free; forestlawn.com.
TheatreWorkers Projects presents Unmasked at A Noise Within. An interactive piece written and performed by 11 members from the Cal State LA Project Rebound community, the play’s script includes poetic and prose explorations of the human need to wear psychological and emotional masks, and the liberating feeling that is experienced when those masks are removed. Immediately following the performance, audience members will be invited to draw their own masks and share their discoveries during the Second Act discussion with the actors and creative team. 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena; Saturday, May 13, 4pm & 7pm; $5-$15; anoisewithin.org.
Sunday, May 14
Scent Rave: New Variations on Scent, Art, and Community at MOCA Geffen. Olfactory artist and perfumer Maxwell Williams of UFO Parfums addresses the intersection of experimental handmade perfumery, contemporary art, and dance music. Organized in conjunction with Scent Week Los Angeles, this program is a continuation of Williams’s ongoing project to create spaces that integrate smell, discussion, and dance. DJ set by Brian Piñeyro aka DJ Python, a pop-up shop, a panel discussion moderated by Williams with Saskia Wilson-Brown, founder of the Institute for Art and Olfaction; Andreas Keller, founder of Olfactory Art Keller; and Hyungi Park, artist and incense maker. 152 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; Sunday, May 14, 3pm; free w/ rsvp; moca.org.
Monday, May 15
The Industry Artistic Director Cooperative in conversation with Ethan Philbrick at JANM. Cellist, artist, and writer Ethan Philbrick joins Co-Artistic Directors Ash Fure, Malik Gaines, and Yuval Sharon for a night of conversation and performance about the politics of collaboration. Organized around a collective investigation of three keywords—opera, cooperation, and inoperativity—the conversation will traverse questions of music, working, and unworking. Performances from the three co-artistic directors’ ongoing projects will be interspersed throughout the night, featuring Lindsay Patterson Abdou and Lucy Yates. Tateuchi Democracy Forum, 111 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; Monday, May 15, 7:30pm; free; instagram.com/industryopera.
Tuesday, May 16
Play and Pastimes in the Middle Ages at the Getty Center. Discover the lighter side of life in the Middle Ages through the surprising and engaging world of medieval games and leisure. The exhibition features dynamic images of play and explores the role of entertainment in the Middle Ages. Manuscript images capture the complex contests and pastimes that medieval people enjoyed, ranging from a light-hearted game of chess to the dangerous sport of jousting. Then as now, play was thoroughly woven into the fabric of society at every level. 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood; On view May 16 – August 6; free; getty.edu.
Films by Angelo Madsen Minax, Nyala Moon at REDCAT (Live & Virtual). Artist and filmmaker Zackary Drucker curates an evening of films by trans directors Angelo Madsen Minax and Nyala Moon. In North By Current, filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown after the death of his young niece in a visual rumination on the understated relationships between mothers and children, truths and myths, losses and gains. Nyala Moon’s short film How Not to Date While Trans, a break-the-fourth-wall, dark comedy that follows the dating life of a Black trans woman and the problematic men she meets along the way. Online and 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; 8:30pm; $12; redcat.org.
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