Installations by Sadie Barnette at two museums, an innovative Bill T. Jones dance documentary, several ambitious and thematic summer gallery group exhibitions, bilingual poetry, a new Sanford Biggers show and conversation at CAAM, and weirdly but also perfectly, not one but two appearances by legendary progressive journalist the late Studs Terkel — in spirit in a new virtual serial production at the Actors’ Gang and in a remastered 1979 Orson Welles documentary project.
Thursday, July 22
Sadie Barnette: Legacy & Legend, at the Benton Museum of Art & Pitzer College Art Galleries. A partnership between The Benton and Pitzer, Barnette will exhibit a major new body of work that expands upon themes the artist has explored in her earlier project, Dear 1968,…, focused on the 500-page surveillance dossier amassed by the FBI on the artist’s father. Rodney Barnette founded the Compton chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 and also opened the first Black-owned gay bar in San Francisco, and much of Barnette’s work springs from her examination of this file. A further installation features Barnette’s signature reimagining of domestic spaces as futuristic, other-worldly locations of liberation and restoration. On view by appointment at both Claremont venues through December 19; free; pomona.edu; pitzer.edu.
We Live On at The Actors’ Gang (Virtual). In 1970, Studs Terkel interviewed businessmen, auto workers, farmers, hobos, striptease artists, repo men, seamstresses and labor leaders and asked them what it was like to live through the Great Depression. Their words of survival have a direct link to the challenges we face today. About a year ago, on the 50th anniversary of Terkel’s Hard Times, and faced with the inability to assemble in their theater, The Actors’ Gang started working via zoom to adapt the work. The production explores 30 different stories – a mix of narratives documented by Terkel and original stories from the family history of TAG cast members – of courage and determination, a testimony of what it takes to survive unprecedented times, which are now presented over three different performances. The three parts debut and recur in alternating series beginning with previews on Thursday, July 22 at 7pm and continuing through September 4; pay what you can; theactorsgang.com.
Friday, July 23
Gordon Cheung: Transfer of Power, at C Project. London-based Gordon Cheung’s debut exhibition in L.A. shows works from the past 10 years, presented by Coates & Scarry in partnership with International Chinese Fine Arts Council. The exhibition features elaborate combinations of painted lion dancers, bull riders, AR Bitcoin showers, digitally distorted landscapes, megacities composed of sand and spray paint, and ornate traditional Chinese window frames built from financial newspapers. Complex amalgamations of traditional forms and technologically advanced systems collide to interrogate the forces behind global financial crises, the rise and fall of Superpowers, the movement of global capital, and investment in cryptocurrency. 830 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; opening reception: Friday, July 23, 6:30-9:30pm; on view through August 14; a full schedule of talks, poster releases, and dimsum can be found here: icfac.org/icfactransferofpower; free; gordoncheung.com.
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters (Virtual and in theaters). A new documentary brings to life the creative process that culminated in choreographer-dancer-director Bill T. Jones’s 1989 tour de force ballet D-Man in the Waters, one of the most important works of art to come out of the AIDS crisis. As a group of young dancers in the present re-interpret the work, they deepen their understanding of its power – exploring what is at stake in their own personal lives in order to commit and perform it successfully. Through an extraordinary collage of interviews, archival material, and uniquely powerful cinematography, this lyrical documentary uses the story of this iconic dance to illustrate the power of art and the triumph of the human spirit. Opens Friday, July 23 at Laemmle Theatres both Virtual and In-Person; laemmle.com.
Saturday, July 24
Sum of the Parts at CMay Gallery. A group exhibition featuring eleven Los Angeles-based artists and one artist from Italy who create work in various assemblage and/or collage techniques. Each artist in the show features works that are created from multiple elements that are “assembled” to create a singular artwork. In some cases, the works are created from disparate elements collected by the artists creating a new singular art piece. In other works, the artists specifically created individual elements from scratch with the idea of combining them into a unique singular artwork. 5828 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile; on view by appointment July 24 – September 3; free; cmaygallery.com.
Crossroads, Crossing, and Convergence at Tufenkian Fine Arts. A group exhibition featuring a selection of first-generation immigrant female artists who, though varied in their approaches, are united under a shared identity of multiple cultural experiences. In a world filled with a variety of unfamiliar thoughts, practices, racial, economic, social, and political divides; these artists are connected by a common thread of acceptance and tolerance. The nine artists are women of diverse backgrounds and styles, making history while ensuring that the vital pulse of L.A.’s art scene continues to beat in an ever-changing society. 216 S. Louise St., Glendale; on view July 21 – August 21; Opening reception: Saturday, July 24, 2-6pm; free; tufenkianfinearts.com.
Sunday, July 25
Two New Exhibitions at PRJCTLA. Downtown’s newest curatorial project’s second round of exhibitions features in Galleries 1 & 2, A Delicate Touch, a group show with the work of James Buss, Steve DeGroodt, Shirley Tse, and Jae Hwa Yoo. In Gallery 3, curator Carl Berg brings together sculpture by David McDonald and Carter Potter. 1452 E. Sixth St., downtown; opening reception: Sunday, July 25, 2-6pm; on view by appointment through August 28; free; instagram.com/prjctla.
Bi-Lingering: Voices with mother tongues (Virtual). Bi-Lingering explores the power of language and the duality of existing between cultures, an extension of Olfatmanesh and Samizay’s ongoing collaborative project Woven, which uses their experiences as women of Iranian and Afghan heritage to look at the way cultural expectations and the effects of war transcend borders. The project represents that in-between space where one belongs to two (or more) languages and cultures. This afternoon the artists will host a conversation with fellow Bi-Lingerers and read participants’ submitted letters, share stories, reflect on what it means to be a Bi-Lingerer, and present a poetry reading by Sahar Muradi. Side Street Projects, Sunday, July 25, 2-4pm; free; bilingering.com.
Tuesday, July 27
Orson Welles Narrates The New Deal For Artists (Virtual/DVD). With the failure of President Hoover’s policies, punctuated by the stock market crash on October 24, 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, the decade that began with the dream of endless progress and prosperity came to an end with millions unemployed. In 1932 the newly elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the New Deal to put America back to work. The Works Project Administration (WPA) and Farm Security Administration (FSA) were formed to carry out this plan, and among other things, paid artists to chronicle, document, inspire and help rebuild the nation. Narrated by Orson Welles, this restored and re-issued 1979 film also features a Who’s Who of 20th-century luminaries including Studs Terkel, John Houseman, Arthur Rothstein, Howard Da Silva, James Brooks, Nelson Algren and more. Released on DVD today, the film is also available to watch at Laemmle’s Virtual Cinema (corinthfilms.com).
Wednesday, July 28
In Conversation: Sanford Biggers, Andrea Andersson, and Sergio Bessa at CAAM. For more than two decades, L.A. native Sanford Biggers has been developing a singular body of work that is deeply informed by African American history and traditions. In Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch — which also opens today at the museum — nearly 50 of the artist’s quilt-based works seamlessly weave together references to contemporary art, urban culture, sacred geometry, and more. Celebrate the opening of the exhibition at this in-person conversation featuring curators Andrea Andersson, Founding Director and Chief Curator, Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought, and Sergio Bessa, former Director of Curatorial and Education Programs, Bronx Museum, as they discuss process, language, and migration with Sanford Biggers. 600 State Drive, Exposition Park; Wednesday, July 28, 6:30-8:30; free; masks required; caamuseum.org.