Mystical, immersive, interactive and above all, experimental — call this the weird-in-a-good-way edition of your Best Free Art Parties in L.A. for the start of the end of summer. We’ve got Disney princes getting married (to each other, mind you) and adopting babies in Los Feliz. We’ve got experimental performance artist indie rockers putting you in their next video inside an art installation in a garage in Santa Monica. We’ve got the streets of Chinatown being overrun with Hollywood-riffing performance artists for a whole day and night. We’ve got downtown hipsters getting all transcendental in the mainstream underground gallery scene. We’ve got a Venice legend saying goodbye to the studio he’s occupied for decades. Oh, and we are making avant-garde fruit jelly in Pasadena. It’s gonna be a weird couple of weeks. In a good way.
Friday, August 7: J.A.W. Cooper and Jose Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros at La Luz de Jesus.
La Luz de Jesus opens two exhibits on fairy tales, folklore and fables — the stuff of dreams, nightmares, innocence and adventure. Whether sparkly Disney or somber Grimm, the idea is to socialize youngsters using societal norms and give them psychological tools to deal with thorny experiences like death and loss, or sex and love. It’s a good plan — unless you happen to be suspicious of normative orthodoxies. J.A.W. Cooper offers finely rendered, darkly romantic visions of the violence and strange magic of the natural world. Jose Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros turns the Magic Kingdom on its head with his hilarious, expertly mimicked images depicting two Disney princes adopting a baby, Pinocchio doing a bong rip and Snow White posting skanky selfies on Tinder all making an excellent case for being weird.
La Luz de Jesus, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Fri., August 7, 8-11 p.m.; free. (323) 666-7667, laluzdejesus.com.
Saturday, August 8: Drunk Old Ladies live album recording party at Project Gallery.
D.O.L. is a self-described “experimental music performance group” made up of two musicians and two screenwriters, and in truth it can be hard to tell where the rock band ends and the performance art begins. There are singles, albums, and truly excellent videos. There are props and costumes (sometimes) and collaborators. There are characters and stories and plot twists. What there isn’t are boundaries. They’ve recently been busy transforming Project Gallery into a full-on visual environment taking all this into account in anticipation of tonight’s live album recording party — a raucous and rollicking free-form take on the live album concept in which the audience will become the stars of the multimedia freak show that is their second album. DJ sets and adult beverages provided.
Project Gallery, 1625 17th St., Santa Monica.; Sat., August 8, 8 – 10 p.m.; free. (213) 453-9214. projectgallery.com.
Saturday, August 8: Into the Wild: A Visionary Themed Art Show at the Hive Gallery & Studios.
The Hive Gallery is famous (infamous?) for its monthly themed group shows and lively, loyal crowds. With an average of like 30 artists on the curated exhibitions’ dockets, and dozens more who keep studios on the premises, the Saturday opening receptions and Downtown Art Walk Second Thursday nights can be, let’s say, overstimulating. But this month’s aptly named “Into the Wild” is one not to miss. “Visionary Art” according to Wikipedia, is less about a particular visual style, and more about intention: “art that purports to transcend the physical world and portray a wider vision of awareness including spiritual or mystical themes.” That can be anything and everything — which is about what to expect. Of particular interest are the featured artists who put up small solo shows within the space and context — especially Johnie Thornton, a self-taught painter whose combination of hard-edge geometry and supple, classical portraiture is suitably sexy, trippy, and mysterious.
The Hive Gallery and Studios, 729 S. Spring St., downtown; Sat., August 8, 8 – 11 p.m.; $5 suggested donation. (213) 955-9051. hivegallery.com.
Saturday, August 15: Perform Chinatown 2015: RUSH HOUR.
Chinatown is a special place. Its exotic vernacular architecture looks like a movie set — in part because they used pieces of actual movie sets to build it, and in part because many movie shoots left various art-department traces behind. Its most recent incarnation as a site of visual art and design galleries is concentrated on Chung King Road — the eccentrically photogenic walk-street tucked behind the Hill Street 110 north onramp. Already home to a dozen or so contemporary culture venues, this is also the hub of this year’s edition of Perform Chinatown — an all-day festival of offbeat performance art, interactive installations and happenings. The 2015 edition features some 40 individual pieces that are organized around the theme of RUSH HOUR — explained by curator Molly Jo Shea as a conceptual take on a quasi-iconic local mural that reads: "A best seller movie by Jackie Chan RUSH HOUR was shot here," and which graces the street’s Foo Chow restaurant. “A couple of years ago,” Shea remembers, “they shot that Ryan Gosling movie Gangster Squad here and Chinatown was further set-dressed to look more Chinatown-y with a variety of cheap Hollywood props. This also meant painting over Foo Chow's sign. After they completed the movie, the production company repainted the sign in the same confusing, poetic grammar as if nothing happened. No one seemed to notice. This year Perform Chinatown is inspired by elements of this sign. What is a fake? How do we identify ourselves? What is our relationship to Hollywood?” Local galleries and artists might be more excited about this than the more, er, conservative shopkeepers and residents, but as Good Luck Gallery’s Paige Wery notes, “Molly Shea is herself part of the thriving performance art scene in L.A. and I’m thrilled she curated this year’s event. Having the opportunity to see 40-plus performance artists, all in one day, in one location, doing site-specific work, is a rare thing that I’m very much looking forward to.”
Chung King Road, Chinatown; Saturday, August 15, 1-10 p.m.; free. (213) 625-0935. PerformChinatown.com.
Sunday, August 16: Fallen Fruit Public Fruit Jam in Pasadena
Fallen Fruit is an artistic collaboration between David Burns and Austin Young, whose many activities in and around Los Angeles and internationally use strategies of visual and performance art to bring awareness to issues of food justice and the ready, legal availability of fresh produce often growing on public lands and free for the taking. One of their most popular programs is Public Fruit Jams — big free gatherings where they essentially teach people how to make their own artisanal preserves in the guise of big messy parties. Participants are invited to contribute home-grown or picked public fruit, with communal supplies augmented by Whole Foods and local farmers. Being artists, Fallen Fruit encourages “experimental” jams, like basil guava or lemon pepper and even banana jalapeno — as well as creative label designing and sharing with strangers.
One Colorado Courtyard, 41 Hugus Alley, Pasadena; Sunday, August 16, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; free. (626) 564-1066. fallenfruit.org.
Sunday, August 16: William Attaway’s final public art show in Venice.
Painter, sculptor, muralist, and ceramic wunderkind William Attaway moved into his legendarily bohemian Venice studio in 1979. And after this Sunday, he’s moving out. Actually, it’s pretty impressive that he managed to survive the rising real estate and gentrification tide this long — but it’s still very much the end of an era. It is tempting to meditate on the emblematic irony that always everywhere sees artists enacting progress and beauty that attracts people to areas only to see those very artists priced out of the communities they helped forged. For his part, Attaway’s art is woven in the fabric of Venice, from his tile sculpture by the Venice Boardwalk to his perennial Venice Art Walk popularity. The artist himself is trying to take a more enlightened, sanguine approach, and in that spirit throws this bittersweet farewell party he’s calling “Letting in the Light” — showcasing the paintings in his final Venice series, “Light,” created as a way to turn losing the studio space he’s had for 35 years into a symbolic form of transition and new beginnings for his life as an artist.
334 Sunset Ave., Venice; Sunday, August 16, 4 – 7 p.m.; free. (310) 795-9160. etcartgallery.com.