Run, don’t crawl to this exhibit full of ceramic bugs

Alake Shilling's ceramic mushroom.
Alake Shilling, “A Pair of Fun Guys (1),” 2023. Ceramic 18x20x20 in.
(Evan Bedford / Alake Shilling and Jeffrey Deitch, Los Angeles)

Instead of going to Coachella this weekend, I trekked all over L.A. — from Marni’s summer collection pre-launch to the Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala. I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and here are the top events for this upcoming weekend recommended by the crew (sign up here for the newsletter):

Weekly Countdown

1. ‘Alake Shilling: A Bug’s Life’
Inspired by the 1998 Pixar animated movie of the same name, this new ceramic sculpture exhibit at Jeffrey Deitch in Hollywood is a more fantastical interpretation of the children’s pic. Alake Shilling’sA Bug’s Life” depicts snails, ladybugs, worms, bumblebees, rabbits, butterflies, frogs and mushrooms with a wide range of emotions, like loneliness and anxiety. Shilling’s “Buggy Ball” was part of the Frieze art fair in February in collaboration with the Los Angeles Football Club. If you didn’t get a chance to check out her work then, this is the time. The free exhibition launches Saturday, and the gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found on Jeffrey Deitch’s website.

Dennis Jarvis holds a marker.
Dennis Jarvis
(Gallery 208 )

2. ‘Hot Batch’ and ‘Swell’
Surf the ocean without stepping in the water with these new exhibitions. Manhattan Beach Art Center’sSwell” and Gallery 208’sHot Batch” will celebrate surf culture. These free exhibitions, recommended by The Times’ Deborah Vankin, offer a look at the art scene away from central L.A. and closer to the sand and sea. The exhibitions open Friday 5 to 7 p.m. at Manhattan Beach Art Center and 7 to 10 p.m. at Gallery 208, creating the opportunity for a mini art crawl. Details can be found on Gallery 208’s website.

Corbett Tuck sits on the floor and Janet Greaves sits on the arm of a chair.
Corbett Tuck and Janet Greaves in “The Thin Place.”
(OddDog Pictures)

3. ‘The Thin Place’
This haunting play features a character who can speak to the dead and another who wishes to. Echo Theater Company’s production of “The Thin Place” by Obie winner Lucas Hnath follows Hilda, who seeks to connect with a loved one who has died. Linda has access to “the thin place” that lives between the real world and the afterlife. It’s a show “exploring the boundary between psychology and parapsychology,” The Times’ Charles McNulty said. “The Thin Place” has been extended to May 1 with performances from Friday to Monday. Tickets to the show at Atwater Village Theatre cost $34 and can be found on Echo Theater’s website.

A poster of a man with a rose in his mouth.
“A Little Night Music” is playing at Pasadena Playhouse as part of its Sondheim Celebration.
(Pasadena Playhouse)

4. ‘A Little Night Music’
Pasadena Playhouse’s Sondheim Celebration continues with “A Little Night Music.” This musical follows Desiree Armfeldt, a renowned actress whose life on the road is disrupted by a chance encounter with an old flame. The musical by the late composer and lyricist won six Tony Awards for its original 1973 Broadway production, including best musical. The show opens Tuesday and closes May 28 in Pasadena, which McNulty has recently dubbed the city with “the best theater in L.A. right now.” Tickets range from $44 to $157 and can be purchased on Pasadena Playhouse’s website.

Three women wearing gowns and crowns with smeared eye makeup.
American Contemporary Ballet’s “Homecoming.”
(Frank Ockenfels)

5. ‘Homecoming’
American Contemporary Ballet’s series of immersive productions continues this weekend with “Homecoming.” The dance company stages a high school celebration with cheerleaders, a drill team, marching band and homecoming queen (of course). But the night wouldn’t be complete without some drama. Head to the company’s downtown L.A. skyscraper-set performance space and see who gets crowned queen. The show opens Friday and runs through May 6. Tickets range from $50 to $110 and can be found on ACB’s website.

Bonus round: ‘World of Barbie’

The interior of the Barbie Interstellar Airways shuttle.
“World of Barbie” in Los Angeles.
(Vito Amati / Kilburn Live)

Live your Barbie Dreamhouse fantasy with this interactive exhibition at Santa Monica Place by the pier. The immersive experience creates a life-size dollhouse that includes a full-size camper van and a salon. Other exciting features are a Barbie Interstellar Airways shuttle, a music studio, gift shop and gallery of Barbie’s historical dolls and accessories spanning six decades. This exhibition comes just as the trailer for Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” offers a look into the upcoming film. Tickets to “World of Barbie” range from $25 to $55 and the experience runs until June 30. More details can be found on Fever.

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 who make plans based on the commute, and it also can be filtered by event type and price.

Insights: Your mini guide to the Festival of Books

Festival of Books 2023
(The Times)

The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is filled with can’t-miss panels, readings, conversations and performances Saturday and Sunday at USC. The star-studded lineup of speakers includes Meghan Trainor, Laura Dern and Stacey Abrams. There’s a lot of ground to cover so here are a few highlights to get you started:

  • Screening of “The Last Thing He Told Me”: If you’re a fan of TV adaptations of books, this session is the best place to start Saturday. There will be a screening of the Apple TV+ series from 10 to 10:45 a.m. at Ray Stark Family Theatre at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
  • Trainor in conversation with Angel Jennings: The “Mother” singer will be chatting with The Times’ assistant managing editor for culture and talent about her book “Dear Future Mama” on the L.A. Times Main Stage from 10:30 to 11:10 a.m. Saturday.
  • Frog and Toad” musical performance: Apple TV+ presents a special peek into the upcoming animated adaptation of Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad.” The event from 11:45 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. Saturday includes a performance of the theme song by singer-songwriter Robert Francis.
  • A reading of sisters Idina and Cara Mentzel’s children’s book “Loud Mouse” from 2 to 2:25 p.m. Sunday on the Children’s Stage.

This is only a handful of the exciting things planned for the weekend event. For the full lineup, check out the event page and a dissection of the events in this article. Admission to the festival is free, with the occasional reservation fee for specific big-ticket events. Details on tickets, parking and more can be found on the festival’s about page.


Go out speed round

A pair of hands holding dirt projected on a prism.
“Underland” at PRJCTLA.
(David Baine)

Go out before it closes: Metabolic Studios exhibition “Underland” at PRJCTLA is coming to a close Saturday. The exhibit at the downtown L.A. gallery explores the history of the L.A. River. It pulls from Metabolic Studio‘s discoveries from a project called “Bending the River.” After piercing the concrete floor of the L.A. River to lay pipes that redirect river flow for their larger project, they found life growing underneath the concrete. You can take a dive into the discoveries at PRJCTLA, which is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Further details can be found on the gallery’s website.

Go out and learn/craft: The Braille Institute Los Angeles Center in East Hollywood will be holding an open house for blind and visually impaired people to explore its reimagined library. The event, which coincides with library month, invites people to learn about library technology and explore an L.A. cityscape sensory wall and mural. The free event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Be sure to register for the open house by Wednesday on the Braille Institute’s website.

Projections of characters from "Avatar: The Way of Water."
“The Art of Avatar: The Way of Water - An Immersive Experience” at Lighthouse Artspace Los Angeles.

Go out for free: Take a trip to Pandora with Disney’s exhibition “Avatar: The Way of Water Immersive Experience.” The show at Lighthouse ArtSpace in Hollywood will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the technology that brought its Oscar-winning visual effects to life. The immersive experience will also display props and costumes used in the film. The free event is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Details can be found on the event page.

Go out with the kids: The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills presents the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences tour production of “Acoustic Rooster’s Barnyard Boogie: Starring Indigo Blume.” This show brings author Kwame Alexander’s characters from “Acoustic Rooster” and “Indigo Blume” to life. The musical adaptation tells a story of fear, bravery and believing in yourself. Tickets are $10 to $15. The shows are at 2 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday. The Sunday show is also followed by a post-show talkback and book signing. More information can be found on the Wallis’ website.


Go out all day: The Music Center’s 44th Very Special Arts Festival is from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The festival takes place at Jerry Moss Plaza in downtown L.A. and offers art workshops, dance performances and a magic show. The free event is open to people of all ages and abilities. More details can be found on the Music Center’s website.

Embroidery thread and glass beads.
Taylor Kibby, “Double Skin 1,” 2023. Porcelain, embroidery thread, glass beads, 45x29x3 in.
(Jeff McLane)

Go out on a date: Stroll Garden in Fairfax presents Taylor Kibby’s debut solo exhibition “There Are Things I’d Rather Whisper,” offering the perfect art gallery date to get to know each other better. The show includes sculptures that explore change and how we grow from transitional periods. The exhibition is on view until May 15 and the free gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Details on the exhibition can be found on Stroll Garden’s website.

Go out and wander: Warner Bros. is celebrating its centennial with a new exhibit titled “100 Years of Warner Bros.,” documenting its history of filmmaking, from “Casablanca” to “Abbott Elementary.” The exhibition is at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour welcome center and can be seen without a ticket to the tour. But if you’d like to tour and wander through the studio, tickets can be found on its website and cost $57 for SoCal residents until May 27.

Go out and celebrate Earth Day: Palm Grove Social in Mid-City is hosting an Earth Day Market with eco-conscious vendors offering freshly baked bread, vintage clothing, skincare, handmade accessories and more. The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and details can be found on Palm Grove Social’s Instagram and event page.

More from the crew here

Get your adrenaline pumping this weekend on the 8 best California rivers for whitewater rafting.

Between summer and graduation season, plenty of friends and family will be coming to town. Here are 22 essential L.A. spots for every tourist.


I just got a new plant for my place, but one just isn’t enough. This guide on the 12 can’t-miss nurseries for people who love SoCal’s fragrant native plants will be a great help.

Got a work lunch to schedule? Try one of these 14 restaurants that are bringing the workday lunch back to L.A.

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