Continuing the tradition of cosmic coincidence that is the Free Art Party Blog curatorial M.O., for about a fortnight between June 5th and June 14th, the Los Angeles art world zeitgeist focuses on illuminating the brave alternative voices that have historically flourished here in SoCal, and who these days are bolder and brighter than ever. A new gallery exhibition explores the private studio work of the city’s splashiest public art muralists, and a pioneering punk rock icon explores her subversive visual side. A whole cluster of free arts programming lights up West Hollywood from the PDC to the galleries of La Cienega and La Brea and beyond — all in celebration of the Pride Month, LGBTQ Arts Festival and WeHo@30: Art AIDS WeHo juggernaut of history and fabulosity.
Friday, June 5: MOCA and designLAb at the Pacific Design Center
The vigorous art gallery programming at the PDC — under the aegis of designLAb — opens a dozen new exhibitions for the summer season, especially VAROLA Gallery’s “Hot & Tasty: New Work by Allen Tombello,” an installation that transforms aesthetically null items like fast food boxes into architectural, sculptural abstractions both gorgeous and ironical; “Christoph Draeger: Destroyin’ L.A.” at Young Projects Gallery, bringing together the Swiss video artist’s most celebrated works of epic video-based storytelling for his first U.S. exhibition; the grand opening of new gallery space 4AM Gallery featuring brand new work from hometown street expressionist Gregory Siff; and “Danny Minnick: Break the Walls” at Boite Noire Gallery, combining an aggressively beautiful AbEx painting style with the rigors of street and skate culture. On view will be the actual walls from his DTLA art studio as well as original abstract color works created there. MOCA’s Pacific Design Center annex will also be open — celebrating the opening of “Tongues Untied,” a selection of works from MOCA's permanent collection by John Boskovich, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and others, presented in the context of the landmark film by poet, activist and artist Marlon Riggs, exploring what it means to be black and gay in America. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood. Fri., June 5, galleries 5-9:30 p.m., MOCA 6-8 p.m.; free. (310) 657-0800, pacificdesigncenter.com/designLAb.
Saturday, June 6: L.A. Muralists: In Their Studios II at Couturier Gallery
Murals are a familiar part of the Los Angeles landscape and are experiencing a major moment right now. As ubiquitous on our streets as these works are, however, the public rarely gets to see what the artists create in the privacy of their studios. “L.A. Muralist: In Their Studios II” revisits a 1990 Couturier Gallery exhibition of such personal works, bringing those original artists back and inviting some of the many they influenced to join them. Artists include Christina Angelina, David Botello, Pablo Cristi, Wayne Healy, Judithe Hernández, Alex “Defer” Kizu, Augustine Kofie, Lydia Emily, Kent Twitchell, John Valadez and Richard Wyatt — and 10 percent of sales benefit the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. Couturier Gallery, 166 N. La Brea Ave., West Hollywood; Sat., June 6, 6-8 p.m.; free. (323) 933-5557, couturiergallery.com.
Saturday, June 6: Exene Cervenka at Sloan Projects
“The Dust of Sunlight: Exene Cervenka: Journals & Collages 1974-2015” is this iconic punk queen’s first gallery exhibition in almost a decade. Known for her pioneering work and the enduring influence of X — the seminal L.A. band she fronted, in a role she periodically reprises — Cervenka is also an accomplished and prolific writer and visual artist. Her wild style and profound thinking have combined in the publication of two books and countless journals and colorful, difficult, mesmerizing works of mixed media assemblage, collage, drawing and painting. Kristine McKenna has curated a major exhibition exploring this history and debuting selected works from her current series in progress, The Singularity — an inquiry into the merging of man and machine that the artist feels is occurring at an alarming rate. Sloan Projects, Bergamot Station Art Center, 2525 Michigan Ave., #B5, Santa Monica. Sat., June 6, 5-8 p.m.; free. (424) 744-8265, sloanprojects.com.
Saturday, June 6th: FEMO, Queer L.A. at Wallspace
“FEMO, Queer L.A.” is a sequel to 2014’s Queer Biennial I, with a renewed focus on L.A.-based artists who use performance and installation as an integral part of their practices. Ben Cuevas, Ruben Esparza (who also curated both exhibitions), Jeffrey Hutchison, Amy Von Harrington, and Daphne Von Rey all, as Esparaza says, “explore a contemporary sense of polysexual, existential questioning of the here and now. As curator, it is my hope that I can help these artists sharpen the focus of their vision, and facilitate, champion and document their efforts. The title FEMO came about as a word exercise. I asked each artist to provide 16 terms that describe their art or their current state of being. I chose the most prevalent responses to create an acronym, FEMO, which stands for Fiber, Enthralling, Meditation and Overcoming.” Works include fiber art, photography, sculpture, video and live performance. Wallspace L.A., 607 N. La Brea Ave., West Hollywood. Sat., June 6, 7 p.m.-12 a.m.; free. (323) 930-0471, wallspacela.com.
Friday, June 12: Out There at Gallery 825
Gallery 825’s annual celebration of all things out is a highlight of Pride Month in this arts-loving neighborhood, and its cocktail party is always a bit raucous. This year, many of the “Out There“ artists and organizers have observed that what was once quite a political event with an understandable focus on important issues has expanded to be inclusive of any heartfelt celebration of the artistic spirit — without ever losing sight of the reasons to celebrate how far the Pride and equality movements have come. Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825, 825 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood; Fri., June 12, 6-9 p.m.; free. (310) 652-8272, laaa.org.
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