From Blum Gallery to the Huntington, exciting new art exhibits are all over L.A.
It’s official. I started my Christmas movie marathon this week. Nothing rings in the holiday season better than a cheesy film, preferably made under the Hallmark Channel. Some of the ones at the top of my list include “Christmas With a View,” “Falling for Christmas” and “Dashing in December.” Where should I start this year? I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and here are the top events for the upcoming weekend recommended by the crew (sign up here for the newsletter):
1. ‘Simphiwe Ndzube: Chorus’
Blum, formerly Blum & Poe, recently opened three new solo exhibitions, including Simphiwe Ndzube’s “Chorus.” Ndzube’s paintings center around Black choral music traditions in South Africa — a pivotal tool of resistance during apartheid — to explore the concept of the voice. “Ndzube’s canvases often embody touches of the surreal: comic book color palettes, larger-than-life flora, and figures that can, at times, appear to dissolve into the landscape,” Times art and design columnist Carolina A. Miranda said of her recommendation. The exhibition runs until Dec. 16 and the free gallery in Mid-City is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found on Blum’s website.
2. ‘Shoot Portraits Not People’
This pop-up exhibition shares thought-provoking artwork that brings awareness to gun violence. Jason Siegel’s “Shoot Portraits Not People” depicts a series of anatomically correct weapon sculptures made out of recycled camera equipment, a reflection on their violence and the similarity in terminology between photography and firearms. Siegel partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety, donating 5% of the contributions made from each artwork purchase to the organization. The free pop-up in Hancock Park runs until Dec. 1 and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. More information can be found on the exhibition website.
IAMA Theatre Company is entering its “Sweet 16” season of world premieres with Isaac Gómez’s “Radical or, are you gonna miss me?” The play commissioned by the company tells the story of three women on the U.S.-Mexico border who simply want to be seen. “Radical” shares the political divides that exist within a Mexican American family and the complexities of trying to get along when the ones you love hurt you. The play by the LA Vanguardia artist opens with previews Saturday at Atwater Village Theatre and runs until Dec. 11. Tickets range from $25 to $40 and more details can be found on IAMA’s website.
4. ‘Betye Saar: Drifting Toward Twilight’
Get an intimate look into Betye Saar’s upbringing and career with “Drifting Toward Twilight,” an immersive exhibition at the Huntington in San Marino. The commissioned centerpiece of the exhibition is personal to Saar as someone who grew up visiting the Huntington with her mother and aunt. Saar — a trailblazer of the Assemblage movement — acknowledges the influence that nature has had in her career, immersing viewers even further into the outdoors with emulated twilight, mesmerizing blue hues and a canoe. “Drifting Toward Twilight” opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 30, 2025, at the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art. The Huntington is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday and tickets range from free to $29. More information can be found online.
5. ‘Broken Branches’
Lebanese American tenor Karim Sulayman joins Scottish guitarist Sean Shibe at the Nimoy in Westwood this weekend for “Broken Branches.” The two have each made a name for themselves in their respective genres, with Sulayman earning a Grammy Award for his debut album “Songs of Orpheus” and Shibe earning the 2022 Leonard Bernstein Award. The show mixes identity, styles and experiences with songs by Monteverdi, Britten, Fairuz and others. “Broken Branches” is at 7 p.m. Sunday and tickets cost $32. More information can be found on the Nimoy’s website.
Bonus round: ‘Bella’
Get an inside look at the life of Bella Lewitzky with an eponymous feature documentary hitting theaters soon. The prolific L.A.-based dancer, choreographer and arts activist joined Lester Horton’s dance company in 1934 and helped develop Horton Technique. She went on to create the Lewitzky Dance Company and even founded the dance program at the California Institute of the Arts, cementing her influence in the Southern California artistic landscape. As an activist, she is known for her battles for freedom of expression against the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990. You can see the documentary at Laemmle Royal Theatre in Santa Monica from Friday to Nov. 16. Tickets cost $16 and more details can be found online.
On My Mind
I started my month of exhibition openings at Hauser & Wirth West Hollywood to see Allison Katz’s “Westward Ho!” The show, her first solo exhibition with the gallery, offers a glimpse into her unique perspective. Katz paints realities that we don’t often pay attention to, including the details of a window and a skylight. In “The Balcony,” she paints the faux balcony outside the gallery space. Few may realize it is there unless they look up. Other works bring viewers into Katz’s skewed view of the world, from winding roads to a sheep jumping out of a cracked cement wall. A lot of the work is autobiographical, as some include images from her father’s magazines and the tadpoles she saw swimming in a pond during her residency in Somerset. “Westward Ho!” is on view until Jan. 5 and Hauser & Wirth West Hollywood is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found on the gallery’s website.
On Saturday, I visited Context Projects in Hyde Park for an artist talk with photographer Damien Carter, who goes by SlauCienega, and filmmaker Calmatic on the heels of the new gallery’s inaugural exhibition by Carter, “Also known as SlauCienega.” The show shares photography that encapsulates Carter’s perspective of Black L.A. “I shoot for myself,” Carter said during the artist talk. “I’m the only one I’m truly trying to please.” The result is a tightly woven narrative of an L.A. native. “Also known as SlauCienega” runs until Jan. 14 and more details can be found on Context Projects’ website.
Saturday night, I ventured to downtown L.A. to see “Castle in the Sky” at Oviatt Penthouse. The immersive theater piece invites you into a party with the Oviatt family, but when the mother (Cathy Cooper) of James Oviatt (Circus-Szalewski) comes to haunt him, the father of the Oviatt empire must take accountability for the demands he enforces on his family and friends. Audience members are invited to travel through the penthouse and witness different scenes as they occur throughout the home.
The writing by Anastasia Cerankosky entices audiences to uncover more secrets hidden behind each door. While it is impossible to catch every plot point, the slices you uncover keep you going. The experience was filled with such electric movements co-choreographed by Denna Thomsen and Tracy Phillips (the two also co-directed the show). In the bathroom, Joselito (Cameron Lopez) moved quickly, pulling powder off the shelf and hopping in and out of the closet with new items of clothing. In a flirtier scene, Mary Oviatt (Nicole Pacent), James’ wife, turns to her friend Vivienne Davis (Heather Renee Wake) for advice on how to turn men on.
The result is a comical and heartwarming dance that includes everything from how to pick up a fallen handkerchief to unconventional ways to make it to the bed. “Castle in the Sky” runs until Nov. 30 and tickets are $150. More information can be found on Eventbrite.
Go out speed round
Go out before it closes: South Coast Repertory’s production of “A Raisin in the Sun” is coming to a close Sunday. The show in conjunction with the theater’s American Icon Series is a classic by Lorraine Hansberry that follows a Chicago family’s struggle in how to use their father’s life insurance settlement. Tickets range from $29 to $105 and more information can be found on SCR’s website.
Go out for free: The Hollywood National Organization for Women presents the TransDiaries 2023, co-sponsored by the city of West Hollywood. The event includes a series of performances by trans and nonbinary individuals that foster understanding and community. Performances are free and take place at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and more details can be found on Eventbrite.
Go out and craft: Prepare for your upcoming celebrations with LACMA x Snapchat’s piñata making workshop presented in conjunction with “Monumental Perspectives,” a series that brings artists and technologists together to create augmented reality monuments across L.A. The free family workshop shares the process and history of piñata making. The event is from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Lincoln Park Recreation Center in Lincoln Heights and all materials will be provided. More details and RSVP info can be found on LACMA’s website.
Go out with the kids: Got a competitive little one? Test their gaming skills at Night Games, a family-friendly gaming experience presented by the Music Center and IndieCade. The immersive gameplay event on Jerry Moss Plaza in downtown L.A. includes both multiplayer and single-player activities for all to enjoy. The free event is from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and more details can be found on the Music Center’s website.
Go out on a date: Bring your tarot card readings to the stage with the Crow’s “Read the Room.” During the show, people and couples can volunteer to have their deepest questions answered with a professional tarot reading by Jovan Illa and hilariously interpreted by comedian Orion Levine. The show in Santa Monica is at 8 p.m. Friday and tickets cost $20. More details can be found on the Crow’s website.
Go out all day: Spend your day at the Leimert Park Village Book Fair. The event has been recognized as one of the top book fairs in L.A. and includes author interviews, panel discussions, writing workshops and books (of course). The free event is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and more details can be found on the book fair’s website.
Go out all weekend: The Vulture Festival, curated by Vulture’s editors, is packed with our favorite stars and creators — including Billy Porter, Andrea Jin, Adam Pally, Meg Stalter and more. From artist panels to DJ sets, the festival has something for everyone. Ticket costs depend on the event you choose to attend and more details on the Vulture Festival website.
Go out all week: This one is for the cinephiles. This year’s Hollywood Brazilian Film Festival brings together a series of films from different countries and in different languages into one cinematic feast. The festival even includes an FYC event compiling the Brazilian films eligible for consideration for the Oscars shortlist. The festival runs until Saturday and ticket prices depend on the selected screening. More information and the full program can be found on the festival’s website.
Go out and wander: Wander through L.A. for a re-creation of Rosemary Mayer’s “Connections” by the late artist’s estate. The site-specific work presented at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Promenade Terrace in Beverly Hills coincides with a multi-site exhibition titled “Noon Has No Shadows” which spreads across Marc Selwyn Fine Art and Hannah Hoffman Gallery. The works presented — some of which haven’t been exhibited since the time they were made — span various mediums that explore history, temporality and biography. More information can be found on the Wallis, Hannah Hoffman Gallery and Marc Selwyn Fine Art websites.
Go out and discover: Raj Tawney just released his debut memoir, “Colorful Palate: A Flavorful Journey Through a Mixed American Experience.” Learn more about the author and his struggles with identity as a young man born into an Indian, Puerto Rican and Italian American family at his book launch at Chevalier’s Books in Larchmont Village. The event at 6 p.m. Wednesday is free and more details can be found on Eventbrite.
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