Car-free L.A. art-hopping and this week’s best events

An abstract work of art includes a dripping tree and an orange blob with an eyeball, all on a light pink background.
Victor Estrada’s “Lil’ Smiley” (1995).
(Michael Underwood / From Victor Estrada)

Welcome back to L.A. Goes Out. I don’t know about you, but I’m stuffed after taking part in so many friendsgivings. I definitely had too much food, but I could never have too much art. Here are the top picks for art-going and other SoCal events this upcoming weekend:

Weekly countdown

A sculptural artwork on a pedestal and an assemblage piece hung on a blank white wall are spotlighted in a gallery.
Victor Estrada’s “Honey Bunny,” left, and “Fear” in the ArtCenter exhibition “Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican.”
(Juan Posada / ArtCenter College of Design)

1. “Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican”
This Los Angeles-born artist returns to the spotlight with an ArtCenter College of Design exhibition in Pasadena that collects drawings, paintings and a recent sculpture from his 30-year-plus career. “Imagine if Paul McCarthy had been reared on ‘Teen Angel’ — oozing forms that evoke the body and its many functions,” Times art and design columnist Carolina A. Miranda says of “Victor Estrada: Purple Mexican.” His work combines 1980s Los Angeles, the South Bay punk rock scene and Chicano art, music and politics. Estrada was part of the groundbreaking 1992 exhibition “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s” at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Dive into Estrada’s incredible work at the Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery on ArtCenter’s South Campus. The gallery is open for free from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Reservations are recommended and details are available on ArtCenter’s website.

A woman in glasses leans her arm on the shoulder of a bearded man as they pose for a picture against a concrete wall.
Sean and Sara Watkins.
(Jacob Boll)

2. “Watkins Family Hour Christmas”
Jam along to some bluegrass tunes with a variety show led by the Grammy-winning brother-and-sister duo Sean and Sara Watkins. The “Family Hour” began at the Largo nightclub, and this year comes to the Soraya in Northridge with a holiday edition that includes Nikka Costa, Margaret Glaspy, Gaby Moreno, John C. Reilly, Mike Viola and Willie Watson. Still on the fence? Let me persuade you with the help of the Soraya’s Spotify playlist sampler for the evening titled “Watkins Family Hour Christmas.” The event takes place at the Great Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday and tickets range from $36 to $86. Details can be found on the Soraya’s website.

Two men onstage against a purple backdrop. One sits on a bed reading a newspaper.
Anthony Foux, left, and Jason Downs in Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter” at Pacific Resident Theatre.
(Myrna Gawryn)

3. “Albee/Pinter”
Double this, double that. What about a double theater feature? “Albee/Pinter” at Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice puts Edward Albee’s “Fam and Yam” alongside Harold Pinter’s “The Dumb Waiter.” The two one-acts are early works from revolutionary playwrights who are “part of the Theater of the Absurd but are too uniquely themselves to fall in lockstep with any movement,” Times theater critic Charles McNulty told me. If you’re interested in getting a better understanding of these prolific writers’ voices, you won’t want to miss it. The show runs until Dec. 17 and tickets range from $25 to $45. Show times and other information can be found on Pacific Resident Theatre’s website.

4. Visual AIDS, “Being & Belonging”
Annual World AIDS Day, dedicated to supporting those living with HIV and a commemoration of those who have died from AIDS-related illness, is Thursday. MOCA and the Studio Museum in Harlem are partnering with the art organization Visual AIDS to screen “Being & Belonging” at MOCA Grand at 4 p.m. Saturday. The program will present seven short videos, centered on under-told HIV and AIDS narratives, premiering at more than 100 museums and arts organizations. After the screening, filmmakers Clifford Prince King and Davina “Dee” Conner — both with work in “Being & Belonging” — will join Blake Paskal of Visual AIDS for a discussion. The program is free, but RSVP is suggested. Details can be found on MOCA’s website.

Beneath spotlights, water appears to cascade down a wall in a darkened room.
An installation view of “Agua,” 2021, video projection with audio.
(Ruben Diaz / Laband Art Gallery)

5. “Luciana Abait: On the Verge” performance
Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University is combining artistic mediums for a special dance performance Thursday in the middle of one of its exhibits. Kelvin Bank, a student at LMU, will join Bernard Brown, an assistant professor of dance, for a movement meditation in the “Luciana Abait: On the Verge” exhibition. The performance will happen intermittently between 5 and 7 p.m., so you can catch the performance while you look at works in the show. Abait’s survey includes painting, photography, sculpture, video installation and augmented reality created since 2017 on the theme of global climate catastrophe. Details on the free performance can be found on LMU’s website.

Bonus round: ‘Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation’

Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet puppets stand next to one another.
A scene from “Disney’s Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation.”
(Rockefeller Productions)

Oh, bother. How could I not include this one? Join Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore and more at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The family production includes music from the Grammy-winning duo Sherman Brothers and from A.A. Milne. Venture through the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh and friends, all portrayed through life-size puppetry. The show runs until Dec. 30, and tickets range from $35 to $99. Learn more about the show from Rockefeller Productions on the Center Theatre Group’s website.

Your L.A. weekend, all mapped out

For a more comprehensive roundup of exhibitions, concerts, screenings, festivals and other events, check out Matt Cooper’s “Culture Guide.” The mapped list is a go-to for those of you who make plans based on drive time, and it also can be filtered by type of event and by price. Matt updates it regularly, so check it out.

On my mind

Two women sit on a sofa facing each other while a man in the background looks on
John Lavelle, left, Isabella Feliciana and Andria Kozica in “Smile” at the Atwater Village Theatre.
(Jeff Lorch)

Last week I went to see “Smile” by Melissa Jane Osborne, staged by IAMA Theatre Company at Atwater Village Theatre. The show follows the companionship built between Rachel (Isabella Feliciana), a 17-year-old high schooler, and Helen (Andria Kozica), her former guidance counselor who sees something more in Rachel.

The show felt overly ambitious, with a script that sought to cover multiple social issues and direction that sent characters around the set in awkward patterns, making the world of the play difficult to follow. But the outstanding performances kept audience members on the edge of their seats.

A young man and woman in jeans and sneakers sit onstage on a set of steps.
Ronit Kathuria and Isabella Feliciana in “Smile” at the Atwater Village Theatre.
(Jeff Lorch)

Feliciana balanced her character’s fears of sexuality with the youthful intrigue of a crush. As she sat next to Helen, sharing her concerns about school and sexual advances from boys, an honest and vulnerable connection came through, revealing her fears of what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society. We could feel what it’s like to be told to smile even at boys with the wrong intentions. Her guard falls and her vulnerability comes in a new form: the desire to be wanted. She code-switches from an inner-city girl to a studious prep school kid in Philadelphia’s Main Line trying to connect with — and wanting to be kissed by — Joey (Ronit Kathuria). In their scenes, Latino kids are thinking about the future while trying to keep up a chill persona.

“Smile” is a coming-of-age story that brings light to the realities of a girl trying to navigate adulthood and simply do the right thing. Catch “Smile” before it closes Dec. 5. Tickets cost $35 and can be purchased on IAMA’s website.


I spent about six years in Los Angeles relying on public transportation, specifically the Metro bus and rail. As I traversed the city, I discovered quite a few art galleries and museums along the way. For an easy, car-free art day in L.A., I’ve compiled the top Metro lines that give you access to as many museums and galleries as possible. Here’s where you should start:

  • 720 or 20 bus on Wilshire Boulevard from DTLA to Santa Monica: Museums and galleries off these lines include Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Hammer Museum, TAG Gallery, Shatto Gallery, Downtown Art Center Gallery, These Days and Gloria Delson Contemporary Arts.
  • 212 bus down South La Brea Avenue, from Hollywood to Hawthorne: Museums and galleries include David Kordansky, Lorin, Control, Fahey/Klein, Launch La, Jeffrey Deitch, Moskowitz Bayse and the Landing.
  • 35 bus on Washington Boulevard from DTLA to Fairfax Avenue: Galleries off this line include Park View/Paul Soto, SEIS and OCHI Projects. The line also ends on Fairfax, just a few blocks down from South La Cienega Boulevard, where galleries like Blum & Poe, Von Lintel and Philip Martin are located.
  • 4 bus on Santa Monica Boulevard from DTLA to Santa Monica: Galleries off this line include UTA Artist Space, M+B Doheny, Louis Stern Fine Arts, Matthew Marks, Nino Mier and Regen Projects. The bus also will bring you to MOCA and the Broad.
  • Bonus: Take the 18 bus all the way east and get off on South Alameda Street where the Arts District is full of galleries.

Go-out speed round

A work of art depicts snowmen in a slightly surreal, toy-filled wintry landscape.
“Everything I Ever Was” by Brandi Milne.
(Corey Helford Gallery)

Go out before it closes: Southern California native Brandi Milne has a solo exhibition at Corey Helford Gallery in downtown L.A. that closes Saturday. Her pop-surrealist work is a whimsical peek into the inner child that pulls tender and somber feelings out of cartoon characters. The show is free and open from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Additional viewing hours are by appointment Tuesday and Wednesday.

Go out for free: The performance space Highways reopens its doors for “We Scream Your Name,” a free live event for World AIDS Day that features blessings, community and performance. The event runs from noon to 10 p.m. Thursday, so check out the lineup on its website to register and plan.

Go out and learn: If you’re looking to do something chill Friday night, check out LACMA’s art night! This week, you’ll learn how to create a flag book. In conjunction with the exhibition “Objects of Desire: Photography and the Language of Desire,” artist Debra Disman will teach you how to fold an accordion spine, design flag pages and create a piece of art when opened. Tickets to the 6 to 9 p.m. class cost $65 and can be purchased on LACMA’s website.

Go out with the kids: It may not be the Halloween season any longer, but “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is the hybrid holiday film to get you into the spirit. Take the kids out to the Hammer Museum in Westwood for a free screening of the Tim Burton film at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Two horned characters flank a person singing, with arms spread, onstage.
Elizabeth Ho, left, Emily Lambert and Mia-Carina Mollicone in “Chriskirkpatrickmas: A Boy Band Christmas Musical.”
(Matt Kamimura)

Go out on a date: Go back in time to 2009 for this holiday musical mashup that lives at the intersection of “A Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and ‘NSync. That’s right, “Chriskirkpatrickmas” is a boy band holiday musical by Valen Shore, with book and lyrics co-written by Alison Zatta, led by none other than Chris Kirkpatrick of ‘NSync. It ain’t no lie, baby buy buy buy those tickets on the musical’s website. The show opens Thursday at the Actors Company in West Hollywood and tickets cost $45.

Go out all day: End the week with a wine day! Venture north this Saturday for the Ventura Winter Wine Walk & Holiday Street Fair. The event runs from noon to 8 p.m. and features live entertainment, food vendors and drink (of course) from wineries and breweries in Ventura’s downtown. Tickets range from $20 to $139 and can be purchased online.

Go out and wander: Burn off those holiday feasts with a roll or stroll through South L.A. courtesy of CicLAvia on Sunday. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., open streets from Expo Park to Watts will create a 7.25-mile car-free route for you to bike, walk, run or roll through neighborhood museums and art. Times arts writer Deborah Vankin reminded me of the free event, whose route includes the museums of Exposition Park and comes within a mile of Watts Towers. Details are on the CicLAvia website.

Go out and sing: Fa la la! Warm up those pipes for a holiday sing-along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Walt Disney Concert Hall will be full of your holiday favorites on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., making for a fine family get-together. Tickets range from $36 to $94 and can be found on the L.A. Phil website.

More from the crew here

Need a place to let go after dealing with those difficult relatives over the holidays? Here are the top spots in L.A. to scream into the void.

Grab a drink! Here are the 15 best L.A. places to test your smarts in bar trivia.

If you have time to kill during your holiday vacations, here are 26 ways to volunteer during the holidays in Los Angeles.

While you’re in Ventura for the wine walk, make use of this guide to 17 thrift shops for your next day trip to bargain-loving Ventura.

I’m all ears!

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Follow our feed of recommendations and itineraries on Instagram and Twitter, and if you have recs of your own, send them to