An exploration of shape and form in wood. A group show that looks at race and identity. And an exhibition devoted to exploring the historical and artistic legacy of an L.A. LGBT club from the early '80s. Plus, a festival of film by a well-known documentarian and short video lessons by an L.A. performance artist. Here are five shows to check this week:
Morgan MacLean, "Massing the Void," at the Landing. Raised among a community of boat-builders in Massachusetts, MacLean's sculptural pieces take their cue from the fine craftsmanship of traditional wood sailing vessels. In this series, which spans seven pieces and three years, he used a crushed cardboard box as a point of inspiration to make a series of abstracted sculptures that are as much about form as they are about space. Opens Saturday at 4 p.m. and runs through March 12. 5118 W. Jefferson Blvd., West Adams, Los Angeles, thelandinggallery.com.
Martine Syms, "Black Box," at Human Resources Los Angeles. An exhibition of 60 new short videos by the Los Angeles artist explores ideas about the rules of personal comportment, with each set up as a 30-second "lesson." It's a busy month for the artist, who recently performed at the Broad and is set to participate in the Hammer Museum's 2016 Made in L.A. Biennial. Opens Saturday and runs through Feb. 27. 410 Cottage Home St., Chinatown, Los Angeles, humanresourcesla.com.
"Skin," at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery. The work of three dozen contemporary artists — including figures such as Kara Walker, April Bey and Ken Gonzales-Day — examines issues related to race and identity in this new group show. Opens Sunday at 2 p.m. and runs through April 17. There will be a related "Un-panel Conversation" on the subject held on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, lamag.org.
"A Weekend With Lawrence Schiller: A Retrospective of Films and Photo Show," at Cinefamily. The Fairfax theater will show a number of movies by the documentary filmmaker, journalist and photographer, including "The American Dreamer," about actor Dennis Hopper, as well as "The Executioner's Song," his feature film based on the book by Norman Mailer. The theater will also exhibit a number of Schiller's photographs. Opens today with a screening of "The Man Who Skied Down Everest" at 7:30 p.m. and runs through Tuesday, when the festival concludes with a screening of "The American Dreamer." Schiller will be in attendance at this final screening. 611 N. Fairfax Ave., cinefamily.org.
"... Loss, Desire, Pleasure," at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at USC. For four years, the Los Angeles nightclub known by a word that can't be printed in this newspaper, served as rejoinder to the clean cut-world of West Hollywood gay bars — a gritty setting where dance, performance and activism were blurred into a single act, and where the human body served as statement and canvas, displaying piercings, tattoos and all kinds of other bod-mods. This exhibition tracks the club's historical legacy and connects it with contemporary artistic practices. Note: the related link contains NSFW images. Through March 19. 909 W. Adams Blvd., University Park, Los Angeles, one.usc.edu.
Kori Newkirk, at Roberts & Tilton. Known for creating sculptural pieces out of synthetic hair and pony beads, the Los Angeles-based artist is now taking on the idea of the circle in myriad ways, including a series of sculptures crafted from found bicycle wheels. Through Saturday. 5801 Washington Blvd., Culver City, robertsandtilton.com.
Rafaël Rozendaal, "Abstract Browsing," at Steve Turner. A series of Jacquard woven tapestries explores the architecture of the Internet, a subject that has long-fascinated this Dutch-born artist. He is also presenting a series of wall works inspired by haiku. Through Saturday. 6830 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, steveturner.la.
Steven Hull, "Never Again Sharpen Your Teeth on the Rope That Holds You Safely to Shore," at Rosamund Felsen Gallery. The Los Angeles artist, known for the dexterous ways in which he combines painting and sculpture to create theatrical installations, has put together a show inspired partly by seaside carnival, partly by an ocean voyage. The exhibition — his 11th at Rosamund Felsen — includes paintings, large-scale wood sculptures and oil paint transfers. Through Saturday. 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, rosamundfelsen.com.
"Various Small Fires (Working Documents)" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This worthwhile little show illuminates unusual bits of LACMA history, such as the plan to have a robot patrol the galleries or the time a dog worked as a security guard. Included in the mix is Ed Ruscha's working sketch for his infamous mid-'60s canvas "The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire." If you are at the museum, do not miss. (And be sure to ask for directions. It's hard to find.) Through Sunday. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
"Minoru Ohira: Iki and Yabo," at Offramp Gallery. "Iki" in Japanese means chic; "yabo," unrefined. In this exhibition, the Japanese sculptor examines the fine line between the two concepts in a series of largely wooden sculptures that evoke and deconstruct elements of architecture. Through Sunday. 1702 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, offrampgallery.com.
Victor Hugo Zayas, at the Museum of Latin American Art. Gritty abstractions the color of charcoal, acid and steel capture the industrial innards of Los Angeles. Zayas, a painter who maintains a studio on the banks of the L.A. River, will have a survey of more than 40 works on view at the museum — works that chart the evolution of the city's industrial landscape. Through Sunday. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, molaa.org.
Toba Khedoori, at Regen Projects. In her fourth show at the gallery, the L.A.-based artist, known for her detailed renderings of plants, architecture and other objects, takes to canvas as well. Her pieces reveal aching detail that, at moments, teeters into abstraction — creating images that are more than mere representation. Through Feb. 13. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, regenprojects.com.
"Customizing Language," at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Organized by guest curators Idurre Alonso and Selene Preciado, this group show gathers artists from the Americas to look at the ways in which language often reflects political reality. Featuring the work of figures such as Marco Ramírez ERRE, Regina José Galindo and Mely Barragán (whom I wrote about as part of the Tijuana art series in October). Through Feb. 14. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, welcometolace.org.
Stas Orlovski, "Skazka," at Young Projects Gallery. The L.A.-based Orlovski is known for his haunting stop-motion animations that employ bits of vintage children's books and Victorian drawings. This work, which features a soundtrack by experimental audio artist Steve Roden, is inspired by 19th century magic-lantern performances and includes a stage-set and larger-than-life projections onto silhouettes. Through Feb. 15. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Space B230, West Hollywood, youngprojectsgallery.com.
Edmund de Waal, "Ten Thousand Things," at Gagosian Gallery. Both an artist and an acclaimed novelist, de Waal is a figure whose passion for words feeds his art and vice versa. For his first solo exhibition in L.A., he is presenting arrangements of objects — including the ceramics he makes — inspired by music, poetry and the architecture of Rudolph Schindler. Through Feb. 18. 456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, gagosian.com.
Sadie Barnette, "Superfecta," at Charlie James Gallery. In a series of multimedia works — from photography to meticulously rendered drawings — the artist looks at the culture of horse racing, touching on issues of fantasy, escapism and chance. Through Feb. 20. 969 Chung King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles, cjamesgallery.com.
George Porcari, "Greetings From LA: 24 Frames and 50 Years," at Haphazard. Since the '60s, artist George Porcari has been photographing Los Angeles — from the street to the beach. In this exhibition, he uses those images to make large-scale photo collages set around a blank space — or void — that shapes the tone of the images above and below. Through Feb. 20. 1542 Sawtelle Blvd., Sawtelle, Los Angeles, haphazard.co.
Marcia Hafif, "Glaze Paintings and Works on Paper From the 1970s," at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. Throughout her career, Hafif has been obsessed with color: the colors of the Pacific Ocean or Roman architecture — hues that she reproduces in paintings and installations that serve as meditations on the subtleties of tone. In her first solo show at Selwyn, the artist is showing some of the early works — graphite drawings and glaze paintings — that helped shape her practice. Through Feb. 20. 9953 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, marcselwynfineart.com.
"Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows" at the Getty Center. Showcasing several bodies of work by the Japanese photographer, this exhibition includes her moving images of objects and clothing that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Each image captures deeply personal details such as patches, mends and stains, all evidence of the full lives once inhabited by these garments. Also on view will be a small exhibition of contemporary Japanese photographers. Through Feb. 21. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
"Punk Povera," at Wuho Gallery. This group exhibition gathers painting, drawing and sculpture from L.A. and Mexico City inspired by a pair of cultural movements: Arte Povera, the Italian art movement that focused on the use of simple materials, and punk, the musical and fashion movement that favored grit over excess. Through Feb. 21. 6518 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, wuho.architecture.woodbury.edu.
"The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams," at the Skirball Cultural Center. Adams' powerful black-and-white images from Manzanar during World War II protested what he described as the "enforced exodus" of American citizens: Japanese Americans who were forcefully detained for the course of the war. It's a stirring view of life for Japanese Americans during a dark period in American history. Through Feb. 21. 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood, skirball.org.
Diana Thater, "The Sympathetic Imagination," at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Los Angeles-based video artist is widely known for groundbreaking video installations that incorporate the architecture of a space while exploring a range of natural phenomena: from the underwater lives of dolphins to the ways in which bees communicate. For the show at LACMA, she is showing works shot in Claude Monet's garden in Giverny, France, and at the Galtaji Temple in Jaipur, India. Through Feb. 21. 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
"Noah Davis: Imitation of Wealth" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Grand Avenue. In 2013, Davis re-created a series of works by famous artists and put them on display at the Underground Museum, his alternative art space in Arlington Heights. The idea was to display works of high cultural value in an unlikely setting. Now, the Museum of Contemporary Art has re-created the installation — a work made more poignant by the artist's recent death. (The piece is viewable free of charge through the windows of a storefront space adjacent to the museum.) Through Feb. 22. 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown, moca.org.
John Outterbridge, "Rag Man," at Art + Practice. The renowned Los Angeles assemblage artist is showing works produced mainly over the last decade and a half from scavenged materials such as twigs, bones and hair. Works from the recent series "Rag and Bone Idiom" evoke talismans and healing rituals. Through Feb. 27. 4339 Leimert Blvd., Leimert Park, artandpractice.org.
Marianne Vitale, at Venus. A sculptor known for her weighty pieces is having her West Coast debut show with a pair of installations that will feature 60 tons of steel railroad track and a series of nearly 100 11-foot white pine timbers. Through Feb. 27. 601 S. Anderson St., Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, venusovermanhattan.com.
"R. Luke DuBois: Now" and "Sandow Birk: American Qur'an," at the Orange County Museum of Art. OCMA opens a pair of new shows: one by the New York-based DuBois, an artist who often employs data to create unique visualizations, and the L.A.-based Birk, who has spent nine years transcribing and illustrating every verse of the Koran in a uniquely American way. Through Feb. 28. 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, ocma.net.
John K., "Women," at Farago. Little is known about the North Dakota-born, L.A.-based photographer who for years took erotically-charged photos, transparencies and 8mm films of women — both clothed and nude. These go well beyond the average nudie picture taken by some hobbyist. The artist (whose surname was Kayser) had an inspired eye when it came to tone and light, not to mention composition. Through March 5. 224 W. Eighth St., downtown Los Angeles, farrago.xyz.
"Mark Dutcher: The Time Machine" at Jason Vass. This new downtown art gallery is kicking off with a show of works by the L.A. abstractionist. The exhibition will feature his "Time Machine" series as well a painting inspired by the poetry of American wordsmith Hart Crane. Through March 5. 1452 E. Sixth St., downtown Los Angeles, jasonvass.com.
"Rain Room," at the L.A. County Museum of Art. It was universally panned by the critics when it appeared at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (New York Magazine critic Jerry Saltz described it as "the worst single work of art that I saw all this year ... a high-tech amusement-park ride.") And my colleague Christopher Knight labeled it "brainless amusement" in his review of the experience. But who cares when you can take the world's most awesome selfie inside it and share it with the world on Instagram? Through March 6. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
"Derek Fordjour: Eight Paintings" and "Yashua Klos: How to Hide in the Wind," at Papillion. A pair of new shows at Papillion explore the black figure in unique ways. In a series of new paintings, Fordjour places arrangements of figures against patterned and other carnivalesque backgrounds. Klos, in the meantime, creates elaborate collages that find ways of integrating faces and heads into architectonic elements that appear to float in space. Through March 6. 4336 Degnan Blvd., Leimert Park, Los Angeles, papillionart.com.
"Dansaekhwa and Minimalism," at Blum & Poe. A survey of some 35 works pairs pieces by key American minimalists (Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Agnes Martin) with important works from Korea's Dansaekhwa movement, whose artists (figures such as Lee Ufan and Kwon Young-woo) were renowned for creating monochrome works in imaginative and textural ways. A truly meditative show. Through March 12. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
"Ron Jude: Lago," at Gallery Luisotti. In his fourth solo show at the gallery, Jude explores the landscape of the Salton Sea, the famously polluted body of water, near which the photographer spent some of the formative years of his childhood. Through March 12. Bergamot Station, 2525 S. Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, galleryluisotti.com.
"Disguise: Masks and Global African Art," at the Fowler Museum. This exhibition looks at the art of disguise through the work of a dozen contemporary African and African American artists — touching on everything from elaborate masks to the illusionist camouflage of the digital sphere. Expect to see work by artists such as Zina Saro-Wiwa, Jacolby Satterwhite and Brendan Fernandes. Through March 13. UCLA, north campus, Westwood, fowler.ucla.edu.
"Siren" at Five Car Garage. A group show of 10 artists who hail primarily from the Los Angeles area looks at works that employ or reference sound. This includes works of video and a pair of "sound baths" that provide sound healing. (The sound baths require advance RSVP and an admission of $30.) Five Car Garage is located in the garage of a private home; address and other details are provided with an RSVP. Through March 18. Santa Monica, emmagrayhq.com.
"Frank Gehry," at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Featuring more than 200 drawings and 65 models, as well as countless photographs and video, this retrospective looks at the life and career of one of L.A.'s most celebrated architects. Totally worth it just to see the original design for downtown's Disney Hall. (Glad they went for the option that was built.) Through March 20. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
Christian Eckart, "post-post," at Wilding Cran. The Canadian-born, Houston-based artist's first solo show in Los Angeles features a series of new abstract paintings as well as a curious sculpture titled "The Absurd Vehicle," a seemingly enticing objet whose many wheels and impractical body look as if they would simply send a rider scurrying in circles. Through March 26. 939 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, wildingcran.com.
Evan Holloway at David Kordanksy Gallery. Holloway, a Los Angeles artist, is known for making curious arrangements out of seemingly simple materials: Geometric pieces of tree branches turn out to be cast bronze, while spherical shapes studded with spent batteries nod to spiky Nkondi nail fetish sculpture. Through Mar. 26. 5130 W. Edgewood Pl., Mid-City, Los Angeles, davidkordanksygallery.com.
"Erwin Wurm: One-Minute Sculptures" at the MAK Center. The Austrian sculptor brings a wry approach to the form with pieces that can only be completed by the viewer — which means standing on a pedestal with a pink plush doll on your head or sitting inside a white plinth turned on its side. It's all a tribute to the absurd nature of the monuments men make to themselves. Go with friends for maximum enjoyment. Through March 27. Schindler House, 835 N. Kings Road, West Hollywood, makcenter.org.
"In Focus: Daguerreotypes," at the Getty Museum. A selection of some of the museum's 2,000 daguerreotypes go on view alongside daguerreotypes from the collection of singer-songwriter Graham Nash, a prominent collector of this early type of photography. Through March 30. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
"Robert Cremean: The Beds of Procrustes" and "The Seven Deadly Sins," at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. The California artist is known for cool, diagrammatic pieces that employ the human figure in ways that riff on bigger questions of art, myth, faith and sacrifice. For his show in Pasadena, one installation examines the legend of Procrustes, the Greek mythological bandit who would torture people in various ways in order to force them to fit onto an iron bed, while another uses human figures to interpret each of the deadly sins. Through April 3. 490 E. Union St., Pasadena, pmcaonline.org.
Lita Albuquerque, "20/20: Accelerando," at the USC Fisher Museum of Art. In an exhibition that melds film, sound and performance, Albuquerque tells the story of a 25th century female astronaut who lands on Earth in the year 6,000 BC. The piece is drawn from a text that Albuquerque has been working on since 2003, re-imagined in the museum as an impressionistic environment that, among other things, features original music by film and theater composer Robbie C. Williamson. Through April 10. 823 W. Exposition Blvd., Exposition Park, Los Angeles, fisher.usc.edu.
"Rebecca Campbell and Samantha Fields: Dreams of Another Time" at the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach. A two-person show looks at the works of two important Los Angeles-based artists: Campbell, known for her meticulous portraits composed out of broad lines, and Fields, who uses old-fashioned paint to create the sensations of digital blurring. In the permanent collection galleries, the museum will also be displaying a number of prints by renowned painter Wayne Thiebaud. Through April 10. CSULB, 1250 N. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, web.csulb.edu/uam.
"Hard Edged: Geometrical Abstraction and Beyond," at the California African American Museum. A new exhibition features the work of 46 artists — from emerging figures to well-established names — working in the arena of geometric abstraction. This includes works by fresh voices and standard-bearers, including well-known figures such as Rashid Johnson, Senga Nengudi, David Hammons and Tim Washington. Through April 24. 600 State Drive, Exposition Park, caamuseum.org.
Alice Könitz, "Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA)," at Occidental College. This is a work of sculpture that also serves as a micro exhibition hall. The space was established in Könitz's backyard in 2012 but will be on view at Occidental College for the course of the academic year. The inaugural exhibition features work by L.A. artist Alice Clements. Through spring 2016. In front of Weingart Hall at Occidental College, 1600 Campus Road, Eagle Rock, oxy.edu.
"Catherine Opie: 700 Nimes Road" at MOCA Pacific Design Center. For six months in 2011, Los Angeles photographer Catherine Opie documented the Bel-Air estate of Elizabeth Taylor — the clothes, the photographs, the jewelry, the little bits of personal ephemera that make a house a home. Now she is showing the series, one that chronicles a life of wealth and fame, at the Museum of Contemporary Art's West Hollywood space. Through May 8. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, moca.org.
"Popol Vuh: Watercolors of Diego Rivera," at the Bowers Museum. The "Popol Vuh" is a nearly 500-year-old Mayan text, written in Quiché, that recounts that culture's creation myths. This sacred text inspired a series of watercolors by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, an artist who was preoccupied with indigenous themes. Now 17 of these paintings, on loan from a museum in Mexico, are on view at the Bowers. Through May 29. 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, bowers.org.
Alex Israel, at the Huntington. In 2012, the San Marino library and museum unveiled the first of its contemporary interventions with low-key works by Ricky Swallow and Lesley Vance. Now the museum is getting bolder, with a series of installations by painter Alex Israel, whose pop-inspired canvases and objects touch on topics such as celebrity, glamour and power. Through July 11. 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, huntington.org.
"Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Works of Africa," at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For one of its long-term installations, the museum has gathered works of video or film by contemporary African artists that explore the body and the looping nature of time. This includes pieces by figures such as Yinka Shonibare, Sammy Baloji, Berni Searle, Moatax Nasr and Theo Eshetu. Through Jan. 2, 2017. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
"Islamic Art Now" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Contemporary works from LACMA's permanent collection by 20 artists who live in or have roots in the Middle East look at questions of society, gender and identity. Runs indefinitely. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.