Live and VR performance art, classic sugar plum fairy ballet, audio theater spoofing the Founders, artisan local shopping in Chinatown, art about urban legends, art about the feminist moment, carols in the park, Spike Lee in conversation, a healing solstice sound bath, and photographing locked down neighbors.
Thursday, December 16
Nao Bustamante: Wooden People at REDCAT (Live & Virtual). Artist Nao Bustamante’s latest work layers ancient myths onto the melodrama of the telenovela, while grappling with ideas of queer existence, love, and a connection to the cosmos. An episodic 360 virtual reality (VR) film series that was filmed at REDCAT, where the theater takes on a metaphorical role in the central narrative, Bustamante brings together luminaries of the Los Angeles performance art world in live works on the stage and in the REDCAT lobby, where the audience will be able to experience an immersive extended trailer via VR headset one hour before and after the performance. 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; Thursday-Saturday, December 16-18; 8:30pm; $25; Virtual: Saturday, December 18; 8:30pm; $15; redcat.org.
Franklinland at L.A. Theater Works (Audio). This comic romp through the American Revolution puts the spotlight on the relationship between William Franklin and his brilliant, domineering and wildly egomaniacal father Ben. As Ben Franklin plants the seeds of a new republic, King George III appoints William Royal Governor of New Jersey — a change in affairs that creates a family rift of revolutionary proportions. Franklinland is written by Lloyd Suh, directed by Anna Lyse Erikson, stars Gregory Harrison, and Larry Powell, and is part of LATW’s Relativity Series of science-themed plays. Premieres for download on December 16; $20; latw.org.
Friday, December 17
The Nutcracker at Long Beach Ballet. The Long Beach Ballet continues its annual holiday tradition for the 39th year, and as always, the internationally beloved production features special guest performances and additional surprises — like a full symphony orchestra, a flying sleigh, a real live horse, on-stage pyrotechnics, and a cast of over 200. Former Disney designers Elliot Hessayon and Scott Schaffer created the scenery, Australian artist Adrian Clark designed the costumes, and renowned magician Franz Harary created the special effects. No idea whose horse it is. Terrace Theater, Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach; Friday, December 17, 7:30 pm; Saturday, December 18, 2pm & 7:30 pm; Sunday, December 19, 1pm & 6pm; $34-$115; longbeachnutcracker.com.
Treasure Party Holiday Edition at Cakeland. A treasure (aka shopping) party with specials, goodies, and giveaways from independently owned small businesses in L.A.’s Chinatown. Visit boutique shops and cafes, and enjoy Cakeland Gallery’s The Beauty War, a dark-meets-light immersive art experience with newly added and enhanced features. Besides special half-off admission, there’ll be treats and giveaways — and the whole neighborhood will be filled with free, one-of-a kind, hidden gems from hyperlocal businesses and eateries like the Angry Egret Dinette, Chunky Paper, Flouring LA, Heaven’s Market, Pearl River Deli, Sesame LA, Steep LA, Thank You Coffee, Tomorrow Today. Cakeland.LA, 936 Mei Ling Way, Chinatown; Saturday, December 18, 4-8pm; $10; cakeland.la.
Saturday, December 18
Urban Whispers at Make Room Los Angeles. Urban legends are the tools used to make sense of the intense, absurd reality of city living. In Urban Whispers, artists from a variety of urban environments explore visual interpretations of urban myth as it applies to their practice. From hyper-urban scenes to delicate, pastoral fantasies, the show shines a light on the ways in which we process living in a completely fabricated — and completely human — environment. Collectively, these stories we tell are also our love letters to cities we inhabit. A two-chapter group exhibition (the first phase opens at WOAW’s Queen’s Road Central in Hong Kong on December 16), the second phase opens closer to home, at Make Room’s Melrose Avenue location, along with an artists’ Christmas Market in the gallery’s courtyard. The L.A. chapter features work by a variety of artists working in cities around the world, including Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, Miami, and San Francisco. 5119 Melrose Ave., East Hollywood; Opening reception & market: Saturday, December 18, 2-6pm; exhibition on view through January 8; free; makeroom.la.
Herstory: Through The Feminine Lens at Building Bridges Art Exchange. Thirteen artists explore a range of topics, including gender identity and sexuality, women’s rights, and female-led movements around the world that have triggered much-needed social and cultural changes. The exhibition focuses on the visual feminine perspective, ‘herstories’ told photographically, establishing a very intimate and personal photographic discussion of their particular worldviews. Topics concerning gender roles, identity, finding a sense of self and place within nature, performance, tableaus, and transformation are considered, as some of the artists seek to employ a conceptual or experimental approach, including performance and video, while others have opted for a more traditional photographic approach. Bergamot Station Art Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Opening reception: Saturday, December 18, noon-6pm; on view through February 12; free; buildingbridgesartexchange.org.
Beyond Baroque presents Alison Saar and Myriam J.A. Chancy in conversation at L.A. Louver. A special in-person reading and conversation featuring artist Alison Saar and author Myriam J.A. Chancy, in conjunction with the exhibition curated by Saar for L.A. Louver, SeenUNseen, the program will support FOKAL’s Haitian earthquake relief efforts. Chancy will read from her new novel, What Storm, What Thunder, recently included on “Best of 2021” lists by Kirkus, Amazon, the Chicago and New York Public Libraries, and NPR. The reading will be followed by a discussion between Chancy and Saar. Guests will also have the opportunity to view SeenUNseen, which brings together ten artists whose work channels and reveals the intangible energies that infuse our world. 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice; Saturday, December 18, 4-7pm; $25-$50; beyondbaroque.org.
Sunday, December 19
Spike Lee at Book Soup. Book Soup presents Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Lee in conversation with filmmaker Ernest R. Dickerson, celebrating the launch of the filmmaker’s new book, SPIKE — a lavish visual celebration of Spike’s life and career to date, features storytelling by Lee and includes hundreds of never-before-seen photographs by David Lee, Spike’s official on-set photographer. In opening his archives, Lee provided behind‐the‐scenes material from the making of his iconic films, documentaries, TV shows, and music videos. Colburn School, Zipper Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Sunday, December 19, 4pm; $59-$68 (includes a copy of the book, which Spike will sign at the event); booksoup.com.
Monday, December 20
L.A. Master Chorale’s Carols on the Plaza (Outdoor). A free evening of outdoor caroling to celebrate the season. Grant Gershon and Jenny Wong will lead you in singing easy-to-follow favorites like Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and the soaring elegance of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. They’ll even provide the sheet music, just bring your holiday spirit and please consider wearing your ugliest Christmas sweater, because Instagram needs that and the nights have been chilly lately. Jerry Moss Plaza at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., downtown; Monday, December 20; 6pm; free; lamasterchorale.org.
Tuesday, December 21
Rainbow Light Transmission: Solstice Innerplane Journey, Energetic & Sound Healing with Michele Meiche and Grace Oh at Soul Playground (Virtual). For this Winter Solstice, the Innerplane Journey and Sound Healing session releases energetic blockages and assists in integrating a higher frequency. As your chakras become more stimulated and this higher vibrational light energy is anchored, this creates a clearing process which allows more spiritual light to be infused in the body, releasing stagnant energy caused by conditioned response patterns and opening you up to the higher frequency. Tuesday, December 21, 6-7:30pm; $55; union.fit.
Brendan Lott: Looking In and Looking Out at Walter Maciel Gallery. Staying home day and night with a desire to remain creative during the quarantine, Lott began shooting photographs from his DTLA loft of the residential building across the street. He became entranced with peeking into the private lives of others during the pandemic, capturing their behavior and activities in candid moments. “This is street photography when no one is in the streets,” Lott says of the show, and the new book containing the full series. “This is Robert Frank’s The Americans when America is stuck at home. This is Walker Evans’ subway portraits when no one has anywhere to go.” These images are not portraits and he avoids showing complete faces; Lott acknowledges they are problematic since the subjects don’t know they are being observed. They are moments in life, titled only with the date and time — and taken in a season of great uncertainty and fear, when we all felt we were safer at home. 2642 S. La Cienega, Culver City; On view through December 23; free; waltermacielgallery.com.
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