A bi-coastal hybrid literature festival, artist talks reckoning with institutional narratives and the meaning of America, long-awaited dance performances, an opera about the violence of injustice, paintings about history, language and living in-between, comedy at the Ace, public art in Inglewood, music in a mansion, and more.
Thursday, May 12
O-Launch Exhibition Weekend at Otis College of Art & Design (Live & Virtual). O-Launch is a weekend of programs that showcase the school’s talented graduating students. Highlights include the campus-wide Annual Exhibition and legendary Fashion Show, the world-famous Toy Department’s alums party, student ceramics sale, and the commencement celebration. 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester (plus off-site and virtual); Thursday May 12 – Sunday, May 15; free; otis.edu.
PEN America World Voices Literary Festival (Live & Virtual). A celebration of international literature happening live and in-person in both NYC and LA, with four days featuring more than 80 writers from 25 countries in moving performances, lively debates that delve into the most pressing issues of our time, and intimate conversations that awaken us to the quiet beauty and power of literature. Livestreams daily May 11-14; In-person events: Somali British writer Warsan Shire and poet Morgan Parker on Thursday, May 12 at CAAM; Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard in a walking lecture among the trees with poets Amy Gerstler and Kinsale Drake on Saturday, May 14 at the Huntington; for more information & tickets visit: worldvoices.pen.org.
Friday, May 13
Artist Talk: Gala Porras-Kim at the Getty Center (Live & Virtual). Porras-Kim discusses her 2020-22 Getty Research Institute residency. Her works explore the afterlives of objects held in museum collections, and the ways they are subject to institutional paradigms of classification, conservation, and display. To address how museological frameworks obscure the ongoing spiritual life of objects, Porras-Kim offers speculative interventions into how stewardship is enacted. 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood; Friday, May 13, noon; also livestreaming on zoom; free; getty.edu.
BRECHT at LA Dance Project. An evening-length solo created and performed by Bret Easterling. Danced amidst a field of microphones, collaborator Maxwell Transue constructs the work’s score in real time, using only the sounds captured during the performance. Seated in the round, the audience intimately experiences the work’s extremely physical and unpredictable nature. 2245 E. Washington Blvd., downtown; Friday May 13 – Sunday, May 15, 8pm; $25; ladanceproject.org.
Pacific Opera Project presents I Can’t Breathe, at El Portal Theater. Written by Brandon J. Gibson and Leslie Burrs, the powerful contemporary work I Can’t Breathe was inspired in the wake of repeated instances of fatal police brutality perpetrated against African Americans. The show tells the stories of six individuals from different walks of life, each forever changed by innocent interactions with law enforcement gone wrong. 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood; Friday, May 13, 8pm; Saturday, May 14, 6pm; Sunday, May 15, 3pm; $20-$60; pacificoperaproject.com.
Saturday, May 14
Jesse Mockrin: Reliquary, and Tahnee Lonsdale: True Romance, at Night Gallery. Mockrin is known for her virtuoso oil paintings that destabilize art historical tropes and dominant representations of gender, power, and sexuality. She looks to iconic paintings from the Renaissance, Baroque, and Dutch Golden Age to forge her own masterful works. Lonsdale’s compositions evolve and ethereal subjects multiply through the layering of oil paint in a technique similar to the application of colored pencil on paper. 2276 E. 16th St., downtown; Opening: Saturday, May 14; On view through June 18; free; nightgallery.ca.
Antonio Adriano Puleo: Una Cosa È Una Cosa, at Lowell Ryan Projects. Stained glass, paintings, and paper-based works explore conceptions of time, language and abstraction. A personal index of abstract shapes that Puleo has been working with for over ten years serves as an organizational basis for exploring how different histories, cultures, situations, and collective experiences have defined and continue to mold how we experience image, language, shape and form. 4619 Washington Blvd., West Adams; Opening: Saturday, May 14, 4-7pm; On view through June 25; free; lowellryanprojects.com.
Saj Issa: I Was Out Partying While You Were Home Making Prayers, at Le Maximum. Issa creates works of striking poignancy that subtly reorient our cultural and aesthetic expectations. Drawing on her experience growing up between Palestine and the American Midwest, the artist merges Eastern and Western influences across painting, sculpture, ceramics, and other mediums. Her everyday places and objects are charged with significance, summoning a world of migration, erasure, and perseverance. 2525 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; Opening: Saturday, May 14, 6-8pm; On view through June 19; free; lemaximumvenice.com.
Scot Sothern: Generations at These Days. An exhibition pairing artist and writer Scot Sothern’s earliest personal photographs, Family Tree, 1975-80, with his most recent body of work, Identity, both of which explore time, change, and the multi-directional evolution of America. Family Tree’s vintage Cibachrome pictures and stories will be published as a limited edition book; his newest project exploring time and vast change from as far back as the American Civil War is infused with comparisons to the current American civil discord. 118 Winston St., downtown; Opening reception: Saturday, May 14, 6-9pm; On view through June 11; free; thesedaysla.com.
Tig Notaro: Hello Again at the Theater at the ACE Hotel. Tig Notaro is an Emmy and Grammy nominated stand-up comedian, writer, radio contributor, and actor as well as a favorite on numerous talk shows. Rolling Stone named her one of the “50 best stand-up comics of all time.” Notaro currently appears in Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” and “Star Trek: Discovery”; she wrote and starred in the groundbreaking TV show “One Mississippi” and hosts an advice podcast, Don’t Ask Tig. Tonight her new show and record release tour hits Los Angeles. 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Saturday. May 14, 7pm; $39-$63; acehotel.com.
Getty 25 Arts Festival: Inglewood (Outdoor). A series of ten free, outdoor community art festivals across Los Angeles this summer in celebration of the Getty Center’s 25th anniversary kicks off this week. In partnership with the LA Phil’s Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), the opening weekend highlights arts and culture in the city of Inglewood. City Hall’s front lawn, Grevillea Art Park, and the Beckmen YOLA Center all host interactive workshops and performances for all ages with local musicians, local artisans and visual artists, and an immersive digital experience of Getty collections, plus giveaways, photo booths, and food vendors. Inglewood City Hall, 1 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood; Saturday-Sunday, May 14-15, 11am-6pm; free; getty.edu.
Sunday, May 15
Santa Monica Auctions (Outdoor). For decades this operation has been the go-to for collectors on both sides of the sell/buy equation. Berman knows everybody and everybody knows him, and his deep contacts consistently result in surprise masterpieces and unique offerings with compelling provenance from an eclectic range of names, styles, and mediums from vintage photography to modern street art, Pop and Chicano, Cool School, and rare editions. Even if you’re not in the market, these auctions frequently become parties as the day wears on. Bergamot Station Arts Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Sunday, May 15, 1pm; free; smauctions.com.
Artist Talk: Shirin Neshat at the Getty Villa (Live & Virtual). For Neshat, art has always been a tool to frame her personal identity in parallel with socio-political, religious, and historical narratives. Shirin’s practice has evolved from her nomadic and political circumstances as an Iranian living in the West, engaging conceptual and visual strategies that reveal the duality of her existence. In this presentation, Neshat explores the influences she takes from Islamic and Persian art and architecture both ancient and contemporary, and shares her latest work Land of Dreams, an immigrant’s perspective on America, her adoptive country. 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades; Sunday, May 15, 4pm; free; getty.edu.
Rosanna Gamson Worldwide: Quartets at Brockus Project Studios. Gamson’s ongoing project of choreographing eight quartets with different casts of dancers, set to the eight movements of Olivier Messiaen’s chamber piece “Quartet for the End of Time,” continues with this WIP showing. The current leg of this project is a quartet commissioned by Mexico City’s prestigious dance company, Contradanza, that was arranged in 2021, but pandemic-postponed to creation in a March 2022 residency in March ahead of an August 2022 performance. Tonight’s performance includes a conversation with the artists. Brewery Art Colony, 618-B Moulton Ave., downtown; Sunday, May 15, 5;30pm; free; rgww.org.
Music in the Mansion at Greystone. Now in its 28th year, Music in the Mansion celebrates extraordinary jazz and classical music-making in the historic and spectacular setting of the iconic Greystone Mansion. This boutique series showcases the best of emerging talent from around the world in an afternoon featuring multiple international and award-winning artists, performing throughout the stories indoor and outdoor spaces at Greystone. Each concert is in a different location at Greystone — the courtyard (outdoors), the mansion living room, and the newly restored theater. 905 Loma Vista Dr., Beverly Hills; Sunday, May 15, 2-5pm; $8-$25; beverlyhills.org.
The Lawless Land book-signing at Te’Kila. The first in a fast-paced Templar Knight adventure series from the sibling duo of New York Times-bestselling author Boyd Morrison and Getty Center art historian with a salient focus on Medieval narratives Beth Morrison. Canterbury, 1351. Ex-communicated knight Gerard Fox is a battle-hardened warrior whose ancestral home was unjustly taken from him. Now, he roams across the known world of Europe looking for work as a man-at-arms. Equipped with only his Damascus-steel sword and war bow, Fox takes out tyrannical and dishonorable men in a land still blighted by the Black Death. 13817 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; Sunday, May 15, 5-7pm; free; twitter.com/BethMorrisonPhD.
Wednesday, May 18
A Live Reading by Alain Mabanckou at the Fowler Museum. Celebrated Congolese novelist and UCLA Professor of Literature, Alain Mabanckou is best known for his writing depicting the experience of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora in France. Mabanckou will read an original piece inspired by the work on view in Gosette Lubondo: Imaginary Trip. Prior to his presentation, join an exhibition walk-through with curator Erica P. Jones; then enjoy the reading and reception in the courtyard. The live reading will be hosted in French, with French and English printed copies available. 308 Charles E. Young Dr., Westwood; Wednesday, May 18, 6pm; free; fowler.ucla.edu.