Your Concise Los Angeles Art Guide for Spring 2019

David Bradley, “Hopi Maidens” (2012), mixed media on panel, 40 x 30 in. (Museum Purchase, Museum of Indian Art and Culture)

This year, Hyperallergic put together its first Los Angeles print art guide. For those of you in LA, you can look out for copies in galleries, museums, and nonprofit art spaces around the city. We have also put together this online version so that you can access it from your devices at any time.

To stay up-to-date on our growing local coverage, we encourage you to sign up for our weekly Los Angeles newsletter, which compiles our various West Coast contributions from a wonderful team of writers. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy learning about these eclectic exhibitions and events taking place in the Los Angeles area over the next few months.

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When: Open through May 25
Where: The Box (805 Traction Avenue, Arts District, Los Angeles)

The undersung Barbara T. Smith is an influential feminist performance artist from Southern California who began her work in the late 1960s. This exhibition looks at a 1990s performance she did with her partner at the time, the scientist Dr. Roy Walford, in which she took on the role of Odysseus and he the role of Penelope. This is just one of her many imaginative projects that critiques the patriarchy, and the show will be an excellent opportunity to revisit Smith’s legacy.  

Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, “The graduating class of Sawtelle School, June 1904,” The Liberator, vol. 6, no. 2, reproduction (image courtesy Edmonds Family Collection | Los Angeles Public Library Special Collections)

When: Open through September 8
Where: California AfricanAmerican Museum (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)

In 1900, Jeffrey Lewis Edmonds, a former enslaved African, founded The Liberator, a newspaper that documented and advocated for the emerging Black population in Los Angeles. With Edmonds at the helm, the publication reported news, denounced racial injustices, and portrayed Los Angeles as a city of hope for African Americans. Prompted by the LA Public Library’s recent digitization of The Liberator, the California African American Museum displays the newspaper’s archives, alongside rare ephemera and photographs, chronicling the evolution of Black Los Angeles.

When: Open through September 14
Where: Art + Practice (3401 West 43rd Place, Leimert Park, Los Angeles)

In the wake of the 1965 Watts Uprising in Los Angeles, a group of Black diasporic students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television as part of the University’s Ethno-Communications Initiative. They began producing experimental and documentary video work about the Black diasporic experience, and soon became known as the Los Angeles School of Filmmakers or the LA Rebellion. In Time is Running Out of Time, Art + Practice places the group’s radical 1970s short films in dialogue with recent work by the contemporary video artists they’ve influenced.

When: Open through December 31
Where: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (6522 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

LACE, which was founded as a grassroots artists space in downtown Los Angeles over four decades ago, continues to be an important venue for emerging artists and performers from around the world. Its historic role in shaping and supporting LA’s art scene was recognized last year when the Getty Research Institute announced that it was acquiring LACE’s massive archives, including correspondence, exhibition material, video tapes, and other ephemera. Although it contains “less than 1% of 1% of 1% of the actual archive,” an ongoing floor-to-ceiling installation at LACE gives viewers a good sense of the organization’s significance, and the importance of documenting its history.

Sandra de la Loza, “Brothers” (2003), C-print, 20 x 20 inches, framed (image courtesy the artist)

When: Open through May 12
Where: Armory Center for the Arts (145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena)

In Mi Casa Es Su Casa, Los Angeles-based artist Sandra de la Loza presents subtly surreal, doctored historic photographs of her own Mexican-American family. Bodies and faces in the photographs are obscured and replaced with ghostly silhouettes; they prompt meditations on lost heritages, the fragility of memory, and the malleability of identity.

When: Open through May 17
Where: One National Gay & Lesbian Archives (909 West Adams Boulevard, University Park, Los Angeles)

In 1975 and 1976, photographer Greg Day took hundreds of pictures of notorious performance artist Stephen Varble (1946–1984), who wore costumes made from garbage as he regaled New York City pedestrians and gallery-goers with his guerilla “Gutter Art” shows. Performing as various characters, including Marie Debris, Varble played with nonbinary gender identities long before the term “genderqueer” was coined. ONE presents a selection of Day’s photographs of Varble’s trash couture performances, including his famous “Chemical Bank Protest” stunt, in which he donned breasts made from condoms filled with cow’s blood.

Oscar Gustaf Rejlander, “Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist” (about 1860), albumen silver print, image (arched): 7 x 4 7/8 in. (the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

When: Open through June 9
Where: Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Dr, Brentwood, Los Angeles)

Since he died in near poverty in 1875, Oscar Gustave Rejlander has become known as “the father of art photography.” The flamboyant Swedish-born Victorian Brit collaborated with Charles Darwin; influenced the work of Julia Margaret Cameron and Lewis Carroll; and conducted pioneering experiments in combination printing. In the first major retrospective on Rejlander, the Getty Center showcases nearly 150 dazzling works, ranging from photo illustrations for Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals to a charmingly odd “Portrait of a Young, Chubby Girl Dressed Like a Picture of Her Great-Grandmother.”

Zina Saro-Wiwa, “Precious Eats Boli and Fish with Oil Bean,” video still from the series Table Manners: Season 2 (2019), eight digital videos (image courtesy the artist)

When: Open through July 28
Where: Fowler Museum at UCLA (308 Charles E Young Dr N, Westwood, Los Angeles)

At the Fowler Museum, three contemporary African video artists explore the realities of postcolonialism in their respective countries. Kudzanai Chiurai’s We Live in Silence (2017) is a series of tableaux vivants reflecting on Zimbabwe’s complicated relationships to American politics, Christian biblical stories, and African history; Zina Saro-Wiwa’s Table Manners (2014–19) depicts eight people on eight screens eating homemade Nigerian meals, offering commentary on the effect of Big Oil on Nigeria’s agriculture; and Mikhael Subotzky’s video installation WYE (2016), filmed on a nature preserve, follows three characters navigating post-Apartheid South Africa.

Kwame Brathwaite, Photo shoot at a public school for one of the AJASS-associated modeling groups that emulated the Grandassa Models and began to embrace natural hairstyles. (Harlem, ca.1966) (image courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles)

When: Open through September 1  
Where: Skirball Cultural Center (2701 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Brentwood, Los Angeles)

During the second Harlem Renaissance of the late 1950s and 60s, Kwame Braithwaite helped popularize the “Black is Beautiful” movement by taking vibrant photographs of African Americans with natural hair and clothes that honored their African roots. As a cofounder of Grandassa Models, a modeling agency for Black women, and the African Jazz Art Society and Studios, Braithwaite used art, music, and fashion as tools for social change. In the first exhibition devoted to this underrecognized figure, the Skirball Cultural Center presents an eclectic selection of work, ranging from striking behind-the-scenes portraits of Miles Davis and Max Roach to garments from Grandassa’s fashion shows.

When: Open through May 12 and September 1
Where: Museum of Latin American Art (628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, California)

Printmaking has a long history throughout Latin America, and these two exhibitions highlight the collaborative spirit embodied in the creation of multiples and publications. La Huella Múltiple was founded in 1996 by artists Sandra Ramos, Belkis Ayón, Abel Barroso, and Ibrahim Miranda with the goal of showcasing the best prints produced by contemporary Cuban artists. MOLAA’s exhibition contains 54 works that present an expansive vision of printmaking. Gráfica América pulls back to survey the broad range of graphic works created by Latinx and Latin American print shops and publishing houses, from the US, Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Barbara Jones-Hogu, “Unite (First State)” (1969), screenprint (© Barbara Jones-Hogu)

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983  

When: Open through September 1
Where: The Broad (221 South Grand Ave, Downtown, Los Angeles)

Spanning an especially volatile and culturally fertile period in American — and especially African American — history, Soul of a Nation gathers work from multiple centers of artistic production across the country, presenting a rich and varied cross section of Black art. From Barkley Hendricks’s dignified portraits to Frank Bowling’s luminous abstractions and the funk-infused imagery of Chicago’s AfriCOBRA collective, Soul of a Nation illustrates the disparate aesthetic routes that African American artists pursued in the service of empowerment and protest. The Los Angeles iteration of the exhibition, which traveled from the Brooklyn Museum, places special emphasis on the contributions of Angeleno artists, including Betye Saar, Melvin Edwards, John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy, and Charles White.

Allen Ruppersberg, “The Singing Posters: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl by Allen Ruppersberg (Parts I-III)” (2003/2005) (detail), commercially printed letterpress posters (image courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York; photo courtesy Skirball Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles; photo by Robert Wedemeyer)

When: Open through May 12 
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd, Westwood, Los Angeles)

Allen Ruppersberg’s influence on contemporary art can’t be overestimated, as he pioneered strategies from installation and conceptual art, to appropriation and text-based art, beginning in the late ’60s. His current retrospective at the Hammer — his first in the US in three decades — includes representative works from across his oeuvre, characterized by his intellectual curiosity and very dry sense of humor. These include plates of rocks, pine cones, and other inedible items served to diners at “Al’s Cafe” (1969), and “The Singing Posters” (2003/05), a phonetic reproduction of Allen Ginsberg’s seminal beat poem “Howl,” printed on dozens of brightly colored broadsheets at the now-defunct Colby Poster Printing Co., a one-time staple of vernacular Los Angeles imagery.

Charles White, “Sojourner Truth and Booker T. Washington (Study for Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America)” (1943), pencil on illustration board. 37 × 27 1/2 in. (collection of the Newark Museum, purchase 1944 Sophronia Anderson Bequest Fund, © The Charles White Archives, photo courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York)

When & Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles), through June 9; Charles White Elementary School (2401 Wilshire Boulevard, Westlake, Los Angeles ), through September 15; California African American Museum (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles), through August 25

With the deft hand of a master draftsman, Charles White captured the breadth of the African American experience, depicting everyday life, historical scenes, and images of Black empowerment. LACMA’s retrospective of White’s work features 100 drawings, prints, and paintings, tracing his path from his birthplace of Chicago to New York and finally Los Angeles. Two additional exhibitions will give further context to his legacy: Organized by LACMA and held at the Charles White Elementary School where he taught, Life Model: Charles White and His Students will explore his role as an educator, while Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary at the California African American Museum features contemporary artists whose work resonates with White’s.

David Bradley, “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” (2005), acrylic on canvas, 60 x 76 in. (gift of Richard E. Nelson, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian)

When: Open through January 5, 2020
Where: The Autry Museum of the American West (4700 Western Heritage Way, Griffith Park, Los Angeles)

Born to a mother of Chippewa heritage before being adopted by a non-Native family, David Bradley has a unique perspective as both an insider and stranger in two worlds. His artwork reflects this complex identity, drawing on Pop Art, Santa Fe–style painting of the 1930s and ’40s, and Renaissance Art, among other sources. The Autry’s retrospective spans his four-decade career, showcasing the biting satirical humor beneath his vibrant and bold vistas into Native American life.

When: Open through April 27 
Where: Various Small Fires (812 N. Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Hovering between history and memory, Diedrick Brackens’s weavings were a highlight of last year’s Made in LA biennial at the Hammer Museum. Fusing African, European, and American textile traditions, he uses this labor-intensive medium to depict narrative scenes that capture the complexity of African American identity. Unholy ghosts, his current solo show at Various Small Fires, offers a more robust presentation of his evocative and poignant tapestries.

Fred Wilson, “Black Is Beautiful,” Iznik tiles, 281.5 cm x 583.6 cm x 1 cm, installation view (© Fred Wilson, photo by Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery)

When: Open through April 27 
Where: Maccarone (300 South Mission Road, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles)

Since his influential 1992 exhibition Mining the Museum at the Maryland Historical Society, Fred Wilson has explored the way that history is constructed, interrogating how institutions and individuals canonize some narratives while erasing others. For his first solo gallery exhibition in Los Angeles, Wilson delves into the history of the black diaspora in Istanbul. With a nod to the creative period that African American author James Baldwin spent in Istanbul, Wilson delves into the city’s material culture to reveal an Afro Turk legacy that — as in the US — bears the marks of slavery in its past.

When: Open through April 27 
Where: Commonwealth and Council (3006 West 7th Street, Suite 220, Koreatown, Los Angeles)

Cayetano Ferrer’s contribution to the Frieze Art Fair’s recent Los Angeles debut featured neon signs from a prop shop, which he assembled into a Hollywood concrete poem flashing “Sin–Passion–Charity–Vicious.” His solo show at Commonwealth and Council similarly explores the fabric of Los Angeles. Utilizing wood, marble, plastic, and even gelatin, Ferrer’s constructions take the form of large-scale architectural models and interventions into the physical structure of the gallery’s exposed ceiling.

Christina Quarles, “Can Yew Feel? Tha Days Are Gettin’ Shorter” (2018), acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 x 1 inches (© Christina Quarles, Courtesy Regen Projects, Los Angeles)

When: Open through May 9
Where: Regen Projects (6750 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Christina Quarles, who was raised in Los Angeles, has recently been included in some major contemporary art exhibitions, including the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA biennial and the New Museum’s Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon. This is Quarles’s first solo exhibition with Regen Projects since she joined its roster last year. It will feature her signature drawings and paintings, in which elongated, broken-up bodies occupy surreal landscapes and domestic settings.

When: Open through May 12
Where: Craft Contemporary (5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)

In her first major solo museum exhibition, El Salvador-born artist Beatriz Cortez imagines a multicultural commune housed in a retro-futuristic space station. A reflection on joy and survival in the face of environmental catastrophe, this elaborately constructed installation features geodesic domes made from salvaged car hoods — a reference to the architecture of post-war utopian communities — and a garden of plants native to the Americas. Cortez says her work “imagine[s] joy, especially shared joy, as a way to resist capitalism.”

York Chang, “Shredded” (2016), inkjet print on Japanese kozo paper, 34 x 72 in. (image courtesy the artist)

When: Open through July 20
Where: Vincent Price Art Museum (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park)

York Chang critically and playfully blends historical events with fiction in his multimedia work. From taking on the personas of other major artists to writing in the voice of Jorge Luis Borges, Chang likes to mess with our expectations. For this show, he is building an immersive environment that will question the spectacle of media and propaganda.

Fritzia Irízar, Research image for Fritzia Irizar: CaCO3 (2019), digital photo (image courtesy the artist, © Fritzia Irízar)

When: Open through September 1
Where: OCMA Expand (South Coast Plaza Village, 1661 West Sunflower Avenue, Santa Ana)

The Orange County Museum of Art is currently presenting the work of six artists from around the Pacific Rim at its interim exhibition space (before moving into its new Thomas Mayne-designed building in 2021). Among those exhibiting is Mexican artist Fritzia Irízar, who explores the history of precious goods in relation to labor, trade, and natural resources. Her solo show at OCMA focuses on the pearl and the history of its cultivation in Mexico and Japan, even reinterpreting the legend of Cleopatra, who drank a pearl after dissolving it in vinegar to trump the extravagant gourmandism of her lover Antony.

With contributions by Carey Dunne, Matt Stromberg, and Elisa Wouk Almino.

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