With openings in just about every corner of the city, the art industry is going bananas this week as the fall season gets underway. This means social practice in Santa Monica, video about film failures in Westwood, textiles in Mid-City and Chicano art in East L.A. There's also assemblage, abstraction, photography and oodles of performance. Stock up on energy drinks, because there is A LOT going on:
"Citizen Culture: Artists and Architects Shape Policy," at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. In an era in which anything can be art, there can be art in the act of protest (and vice versa). This exhibition gathers the work of well-known social practice artists such as Tania Bruguera and Suzanne Lacy, whose work is as much about shaping discussions about public policy as it is about creating an aesthetic experience. Opening reception Friday, 7:30 p.m. Runs through Dec. 13. 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, smmoa.org.
Roberto Chavez and the False University, at the Vincent Price Museum of Art. A pioneer in the Chicano art movement, Chavez's human figures, all rendered in broad, confident brush strokes, convey sadness, longing and minds lost in thought. But there is also great humor in works such as "The Group Shoe," from 1962, which portrays the artist sitting alongside three colleagues, all admiring a single brown shoe — a fitting symbol of the limited spoils available to Mexican American painters in that era. Opening reception Saturday at 4 p.m. Runs through Dec. 6. East Los Angeles College, 1301 Cesar Chavez Ave., Monterey Park, vincentpriceartmuseum.org.
"Clare Graham & MorYork: The Answer Is Yes," and "New Directions: A Juried of Exhibition of Contemporary Textiles," at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. A pair of new shows lands at L.A.'s Craft & Folk Art Museum, including the detritus sculptures of Clare Graham (whose elaborate pieces are crafted out of everything from bottle caps to Scrabble tiles), as well as a group show of contemporary textiles that features weavings like you've never seen (think: indigenous-style prints embedded with QR codes and plaster figures wrapped in bright, colored thread). Opens Sunday. Both exhibits run through Jan. 4. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, cafam.org.
"Hammer Projects: Mario Garcia Torres," at the Hammer Museum. For decades, the name "Alan Smithee" has been employed by Hollywood directors who don't want their actual name to run on a bad or butchered film. Garcia Torres plays with this concept by creating a one-act monologue for the fictional Smithee, exploring the struggles of a figure whose very name embodies professional failure. The whole thing, read by an actor, is presented as a work of video. Opens Saturday. Runs through Jan. 4. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
Rashid Johnson, "Islands," at David Kordanksy. A two-part show featuring sculpture and wild wall hangings, Johnson's show takes as its point of inspiration Richard Wright's novel "Native Son." This includes a pyramid-like structure that serves as a metaphoric cage, as well as jagged shelf sculptures dotted with objects like books, plants and other bits of sculpture. This looks like it's going to be pretty terrific — all of it taking place at Kordanksy's new Mid-Wilshire digs. Opens Saturday. Runs through Oct. 29 at Kordansky's new location, 5130 W. Edgewood Pl., Mid-Wilshire, davidkordanskygallery.com.
Eddie Martinez, "Nomader," at Kohn Gallery. In his first solo show in Los Angeles, the New York-based Martinez will present a series of very contemporary canvases that also manage to riff on the history of painting, with nods to the cartoonish figures of Philip Guston and the wild gestural strokes of the Abstract Expressionists. The show will also include abstract sculptures. Opening reception Friday, 6 p.m. Runs through Oct. 25. 1227 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, kohngallery.com.
"Zachary Drucker & Rhys Ernst: Post / Relationship / X," at Luis de Jesus. This spring, Drucker and Ernst made a splash at the Whitney Biennial with a series of photographs that chronicled their relationship as it recorded their journey into other genders (Drucker from male to female; Ernst from female to male). The photographs shown at the Biennial, full of ebullience and raw energy, will be shown in the gallery, alongside more recent works that reference a more sober period in the wake of their romantic — though not professional — split. Opening reception Saturday, 6 p.m. Runs through Nov. 1. 2685 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, luisdejesus.com.
"From All Sides: Tansaekhwa on Abstraction," at Blum & Poe. For its fall debut, the venerable Culver City space presents a survey of Korean monochramatic painting from the 1960s to the '80s. Don't expect smooth and tranquil surfaces, however. The Tansaekhwa artists were often aggressive with their materials, soaking canvases in paint and ripping paper. What may look quiet has many deeper layers. Opening reception Saturday at 6 p.m. Runs through Nov. 8. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
"Frederick Hammersley: Organizcs and Cut-Ups, 1963-65," at L.A. Louver. Hammersley, who died in 2009, was a SoCal painter known for a long-running career as an abstract artist. The current show at L.A. Louver focuses on works from the 1960s, specifically his "cut-ups" — completed abstract works featuring colorful organic shapes that he would chop up and rearrange in a grid. Opening reception Friday at 6 p.m. Runs through Oct. 18. 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice, lalouver.com.
Sandow Birk, "American Qur'an," at Koplin del Rio. Inspired by his travels to Muslim countries, Birk has set about to illuminate Islam's holiest text, a project that he has spent roughly a decade working on. This includes a direct transcription of an English version of the Qur'an (done in graffiti-style lettering) illustrated with images taken from American daily life. He's been showing the project in stages since 2009 at Koplin del Rio and inspired spirited discussions; he explains the project for himself here.) For those who think that the tenets of Islam may have little relevance to life in the West, this is the sort of project that shows quite the opposite. Opening reception Saturday at 4 p.m. Runs through Oct. 17. 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, koplindelrio.com.
Lily Simonson, "On Ice," at CB1 Gallery. At a time when everything is melting, it seems like a good time to look at art about ice: literally, the landscape of the poles. Simonson spent more than a month in Antarctica last year, on an expedition with the National Science Foundation. This exhibition gathers her paintings from that journey, landscapes that record the dramatic forms of McMurdo Dry Valleys, one of the coldest and driest places in the world. Opening reception Sunday at 5 p.m. Runs through Oct. 26. 207 W. 5th St., downtown Los Angeles, cb1gallery.com.
"Step and Repeat," at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). There is a lot of performance going on in L.A. this month and good deal of it will be taking place at MOCA's Little Tokyo space throughout September. Every Saturday, the museum presents a different series of live happenings that will incorporate everything from poetry and live DJs to performance art and live music. This weekend begins with readings by Vanessa Place and Rae Armantrout, music by SFV Acid, P. Morris and Dynasty Handbag, and the futuristic performance art stylings of Jacolby Satterwhite, among others. Saturdays through Oct. 4; kicks off this Saturday at 6 p.m. MOCA Geffen, 152 N. Central Ave., downtown Los Angeles, moca.org.
"Live Arts Exchange/LAX," at Bootleg Theater. And, because too much performance is never enough: this week also sees the launch of the LAX performance festival, featuring theater, dance, performance art and music. I'm especially excited about seeing taisha paggett, who will be one of three dancers in Meg Wolfe's "New Faithful Disco," and "Actress Fury," a dance-play about what it means to be a woman. Starts Thursday with a launch party at 7 p.m. Performances of "New Faithful Disco" are Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday at 8 p.m. "Actress Fury" performances are Saturday at 4 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 8 p.m. Bootleg Theater, 2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. liveartsexchange.org and bootlegtheater.org.