A history of the avant-garde in Orange County, an installation that takes a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. as a point of inspiration, sound as heard by deaf ears and an L.A. freeway in mirrors. The art season is starting to get rolling and it's busy, busy, busy. Here's what's going down in the Southland this week:
"The Avant-Garde Collection," at the Orange County Museum of Art. This survey exhibition — featuring roughly 100 objects from the museum's permanent collection — examines the art and artists that broke ranks to do something innovative. The show begins with a 1920s painting by Stanton MacDonald-Wright, an American artist who helped invent a movement called Synchromism. From there, the show travels through 20th century movements including Cubism, Pop, Abstract-Expressionism and Light and Space to the interdisciplinary work that has become so prominent in the new millennnium. The show will include painting by Ed Ruscha, Llyn Foulkes and Jay DeFeo, video by the pioneering Nam June Paik, photography by figures such as Catherine Opie and installation (expect to get a rare peek at a sprawling toy battle scene first crafted by Chris Burden in 1981). Opens Sunday. Runs through Jan. 4. 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, ocma.net.
Edgar Arceneaux, "A Book and a Medal: Disentanglement Equals Homogenous Abstractions" and Ryan Mosley, "Band of None," at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. This esteemed Culver City space kicks off the art season with two shows. The first: a collection of paintings from British artist Ryan Mosley, known for his saturated depictions of slightly surreal performers and troubadors. The second show is an installation by the L.A.-based Arceneaux, who explores ideas articulated by Martin Luther King Jr. in his last major speech, in opposition to the Vietnam War. The show will including a screening of Arceneaux's feature-length film, "A Time to Break Silence." Opening reception Saturday, 6 p.m. Runs through Oct. 18. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, vielmetter.com.
Doug Aitken, "Still Life," at Regen Projects. In his fourth solo exhibition at the Regen, Aitken continues to reimagine aspects of the man-made environment with sculptures that employ photography, sound and light. This includes an aerial view of the L.A. freeway system, eternally reflected in a pair of mirrors (sounds like the 10 at rush hour to me), and a fountain that combines water and audio effects to create a hallucinatory listening experience. Opening reception Saturday, 6 p.m. Runs through Oct. 11. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, regenprojects.com.
Holly Roberts, "Cabezas y Caballos," and James Griffith, "From the Infinite to the Particular: La Brea Tar Paintings," at Craig Krull Gallery. Over in Santa Monica, Craig Krull gets rolling with a pair of parallel solo shows that explore natural elements. Roberts does it through her imagery: collages of horses, birds, tree-studded landscapes and the occasional human that inhabits them. Griffith gets a little more literal with his materials, employing tar from the La Brea Tar Pits to create a series of works that depict a variety of animal life, from fawns to pelicans. Opening reception Saturday, 5 p.m. Runs through Oct. 11. 2525 Michigan Ave., Building B-3, Santa Monica, craigkrullgallery.com.
Torey Thornton, "Some Narrow Sleeping, at OHWOW Gallery. Crude, abstracted figures inhabit the surreal monochromatic landscapes of this New York-based artist. Thornton is a painter who likes to mix his materials: from spray to acrylic to chalk and Sharpie. Some works contain elements of collage; others are rendered on slatted panels, giving flat colors a visceral texture. This is his first solo show in Los Angeles. Opening reception Saturday, 7 p.m. Runs through Oct. 18. 937 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, oh-wow.com.
Alex Becerra, at LTD Los Angeles. Becerra is a painter who likes to play with flesh. His paintings feature gnarled thighs, squishy hips and the rumpled hindquarters of a squatting body — all of which he renders thickly with paint. There is also a still life of a green recliner, which takes on the guise of a series of alien protuberances. Becerra is young but his show looks promising. Opening reception Friday, 7 p.m. Runs through Oct. 11. 7561 Sunset Blvd., No. 103, Hollywood, ltdlosangeles.com.
"Bearing Witness: Embroidery as History in Post-Apartheid South Africa," "Textiles of Timor: Islands in the Woven Sea," and "Yards of Style: African Prints Cloths of Ghana," at the Fowler Museum. A trio of exhibitions at UCLA's Fowler looks at all things textile, from everyday contemporary cloth in Ghana imprinted with images of cellphones and Nelson Mandela, to the work of the Mapula Embroidery Project in South Africa, which chronicled daily life using thread. "Bearing Witness" and "Textiles of Timor" open Sunday and run through Dec. 7 and Jan. 4 respectively. "Yards of Style" runs through Dec. 14. UCLA's North Campus, 308 Charles E. Young Drive N., Westwood, fowler.ucla.edu.
"LOUD silence," at Grand Central Art Center. A new exhibition at this prominent downtown Santa Ana space plays with the notion of sound and silence as heard through the ears of deaf artists. The show includes work by four artists — Shary Boyle, Christine Sun Kim, Darrin Martin, and Alison O'Daniel — who all experience sound in unique ways. Opens Saturday with artist talk at 6 p.m. and reception at 7 p.m. Runs through Dec. 6. 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, grandcentralartcenter.com.