A show that switches up day and night. Another that features paintings inspired by a lost paradise. And objects that fuse different currents in American history. Plus: Peter Saul’s early works, Simone Leigh’s historical talk and considering Mary Shelley’s monster. Here are eight shows and events to check out in the coming week:
Sam Durant, “Build Therefore Your Own World,” at Blum & Poe. With a title drawn from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, this exhibition of new works by the L.A. artist takes elements inspired by the transcendentalists (Emerson, Henry David Thoreau) and remixes them with objects drawn from the lives of African and African American thinkers. This might consist of a 3-D rendering of Emerson’s writing chair mashed up with poet Phyllis Wheatley’s desk, or the walking stick of Jack Garrison (once enslaved) with Thoreau’s pencil — poignant objects that tell the intersecting tales of American history. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through Feb. 18. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
Karl Haendel, “By and By,” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. In his third solo show at the gallery, Haendel explores the power of the heroic in portraiture — playing with issues of masculinity, power and gender in a series of works that depict everything from powerful men to teenage girls riding rodeo to a monumental portrait of Hillary Clinton (his largest drawing to date). Also on view will be a new video, “J.,” an intimate filmic portrait of a convicted sex offender. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through Feb. 11. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, vielmetter.com.
Merion Estes, “Lost Horizons” and “Cooling Trend,” and Emily Davis Adams, “Somewhere Between,” at CB1 Gallery. From 2007 to 2011, painter Merion Estes produced a series of works on paper inspired by vanishing natural landscapes and the 1937 Frank Capra film “Lost Horizon,” about the hidden mountain paradise Shangri-La. She will be showing these works, along with a work that draws its intense color palette from our ever warming climate. Also on view at CB1 will be an exhibition of new works by Emily Davis Adams: A series of paintings inspired by constructions made from paper and other materials that toy with how the viewer perceives color and light. Opens Saturday at 4 p.m. and runs through Feb. 19. 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, cb1gallery.com.
“In Real Life: 100 Days of Film and Performance,” at the Hammer Museum. This 4½-month program is bringing a series of screenings, performances, film and video to the museum during a remodel. This weekend, New York-based artist Simone Leigh, who helped organize an indelible performance of Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter at the New Museum in New York City last year, will be heading up a couple of events at the museum. This includes a screening of several video works on Saturday at 3 p.m. (immediately followed by a DJ performance), as well as a discussion between Leigh and scholar Rizvana Bradley about black radical political, literary and artistic traditions on Sunday at 3 p.m. Through Jan. 25. Check the schedule for events and times. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles, hammer.ucla.edu.
“Straight Outta Bushwick,” at Chimento Contemporary. Organized by Patricia Hamilton, who used to run New York’s Hamilton Gallery of Contemporary Art, this exhibition brings together a selection of works by artists from the Schweitzer/David Gallery in Brooklyn, from a neighborhood that has been a hotbed of arts activity for just over six years. Featured will be works by Farrell Brickhouse, Daniel John Gadd, Brenda Goodman, Dana James and C. Michael Norton. Opens Saturday at 5 p.m. and runs through Feb. 4. 622 S. Anderson St., No. 105, Boyle Heights, chimentocontemporary.com.
“The Ecstasy of Mary Shelley,” at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Part of LACE’s Emerging Curators program, this exhibition, organized by Virginia Broersma, Nick Brown and Kio Griffith, takes Shelley’s seminal “Frankenstein” as a point of inspiration for a group show that dwells in “ecstatic highs and monstrous lows” as related to issues of performance and the body. This includes works by Cassils, Annie Lapin, Candice Lin and Gala Porras-Kim. Through Feb. 12. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, welcometolace.org.
“Rediscovering Genius: The Works of Edward S. Curtis,” at the Depart Foundation. Curator Bruce Kapson has brought together a rare selection of important, historical works by the legendary photographer, known for chronicling North American Indian cultures during the early days of the 20th century, most famously in his expansive volume, “The North American Indian.” This includes original photography, as well as the artist’s little-seen and never published proofs and photogravure printing plates. Through Saturday. 9105 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, departfoundation.com.
Jay DeFeo, “Paintings on Paper, 1986-1987,” at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. Over a four-decade career, the Bay Area-based artist was known for a diverse range of stark abstract works that included paintings, collages and monumental wall sculpture. This show at Selwyn gathers drawings from her “Samurai” series, paintings on heavy paper that were influenced by the artist’s 1985 trip to Japan, as well as an exhibition of Japanese helmets. Through Saturday. 9953 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, marcselwynfineart.com.
“S/Election,” at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery.Because too much election is never enough, the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery has a broad group show that examines issues of citizenship, identity, immigration and criminal justice. The show includes work by such socially and politically minded artists such as Jennifer Moon, Charles Gaines, Olga Koumoundouros and Rubén Ortiz-Torres. Through Sunday, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, lamag.org.
“The Drawing Show,” at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum. An exhibition gathers drawings by architects who use the medium as an exploratory tool in their design practices. This includes images that channel everything from geometric abstraction to the weirdly biomorphic. Architects featured include figures such as Pritzker Prize-winner Thom Mayne, as well as Kyle Miller, Anthony Morey and Bryan Cantley. Through Sunday. 900 E. Fourth St., downtown Los Angeles, aplusd.org.
Michael Lift, “Sidereal Lift,” at Craig Krull Gallery. In his latest solo exhibition, the artist explores the Southern California landscape from above — featuring a series of prints that capture L.A. in ways that are geometric and a bit magical. Also on view will be Pamela Kendall Schiffer’s images of Yellowstone and Jeff Brouws’ stereoscopic images of an old copper mining pit in Montana. Through Jan. 14. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., B-3, Santa Monica, craigkrullygallery.com.
Doug Aitken, “Electric Earth,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The L.A. artist’s first North American museum survey features an array of collage, photographic and video installation works from throughout his career — including the cinematic “Song 1,” from 2012, screening on a massive circular screen, and “Electric Earth,” the 1999 video installation that earned him the International Prize at the Venice Biennale. Through Jan. 15. Geffen Contemporary, 152 N. Central Ave., downtown Los Angeles, moca.org.
“Truc Anh: Vacuphilia,” at Varola. The first exhibition by the Vietnamese-French artist features paintings and installations that feature bodies and body parts inhabiting an abstracted world of black and white. Through Jan. 20. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Ste. B256, West Hollywood, helenvarola.com.
Beatriz Cortez, “Nomad World,” at the Vincent Price Art Museum.The L.A.-based artist and cultural critic has transformed the gallery space at the museum into an arcade that picks apart global capitalism. A fortune-telling booth, a pinball machine and a jukebox have been pulled apart and put back together, in ways that grapple with issues such as migration, economics and identity. Through Jan. 28. East Los Angeles College, 1301 Cesar Chavez Ave., Monterey Park, vincentpriceartmuseum.org.
“Virgin of Guadalupe: Images in Colonial Mexico,” at the Bowers Museum. This exhibition looks at the extraordinary impact of the Virgin of Guadalupe on Mexican culture, history and iconography through more than 60 artworks, including objects from the virgin’s basilica in Mexico City, as well as a sacred reliquary that contains a portion of the garment worn by Juan Diego, the indigenous peasant who first saw the virgin in an apparition. Through Jan. 29. 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, bowers.org
Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón, at the Fowler Museum. The Cuban visual artist was known for powerful pieces inspired by the visual iconography of the founding myths of Abakúa, an Afro-Cuban fraternal society. Over her short life (she died at age 32 in 1999), she produced a voluminous number of prints and collages in shades of black and white that convey scenes that are both magical and enigmatic. Through Feb. 12. UCLA, 308 Charles Young Drive North, Westwood, Los Angeles, fowler.ucla.edu.
“Ease of Fiction,” at the California African American Museum. The museum has launched a new slate of shows. This includes “Ease of Fiction,” a group exhibition that features work by four African artists exploring the fine line between the invented and the real and the debut museum exhibition of Los Angeles artist Genevieve Gagnard, whose photographs question notions of blackness and whiteness. There is also a beguiling room-sized installation by Hank Willis Thomas that recasts the symbols of the Confederate flag in the colors of black nationalism — and projects them in tune with a soundtrack of spoken-word audio (a piece that Times art critic Christopher Knight describes as “enthralling.”) Through Feb. 19. 600 State Dr., Exposition Park, Los Angeles, caamuseum.org.
Toba Khedoori, at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This is the first major museum survey of the L.A.-based artist, known for her painstaking draftsmanship and enigmatic drawings and paintings. Her works often feature architectural elements, landscape, smoke and flame in ways that play with negative space and toy with meaning. Through March 19. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
“Non Fiction,” at the Underground Museum. An emotionally charged exhibition curated by the late Noah Davis in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles brings together works that explore issues of race and violence. This includes important works from MOCA’s permanent collection by artists such as Robert Gober, Kara Walker, Henry Taylor and David Hammons. Through March. 3508 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights, Los Angeles, theunderground-museum.org.
“Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media,” at the Getty Center. An exhibition that couldn’t be timelier: Curator Arpad Kovcs has put together a show that looks at the ways in which artists have turned bucolic magazine images and fragments of news programming into sharp political statements against events such as the Vietnam War and the so-called war on terror. The show features work by Martha Rosler, Alfredo Jaar, Catherine Opie and Robert Heinecken. Through April 20. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
“Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time,” at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This exhibition compares the artistic trajectories of two of the 20th century’s most towering Modernists: Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera. This covers the period from the 1920s to the ’50s as they explored Cubism, classical forms and ancient cultures in innovative ways. The shows features 150 paintings, etchings and watercolors. Through May 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Loris Gréaud, “Sculpt,” at the L.A. County Museum of Art. The entire theater has been taken over by the European artist for a film that screens to only one person at a time. The nonlinear picture follows “a man about whom we know very little, who seems to be constantly developing the concept of what experiencing beauty, thought, or obsession can be,” according the write-up. Times critic Christopher Knight describes it as “pretentious and uninvolving.” A good hate-watch, maybe? On view through a yet to be determined date. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.