New Year's weekend will be generally quiet as far as openings go — though the museums will all be doing their thing, with some terrific shows ongoing. But the art world gets cooking again early next week with the opening of a film festival at the Hammer Museum and a show at LACE that examines the political power of language.
Happy New Year to you all! Stay warm and safe and full of art!
"The Contenders" screening series at the Hammer Museum. The Hammer is once again partnering with New York's Museum of Modern Art for a film series that looks at the most innovative and influential films made in the last 12 months. The screenings often include conversations with the director and actors and are very worthwhile if you are an aficionado of cinema or simply film-curious. Kicks off Jan. 6 with a screening of Cary Fukunaga's "Beasts of No Nation" at 7:30 p.m., followed Jan. 7 by a screening of Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight" at 7:30 p.m. For the full list, visit hammer.ucla.edu/contenders2015. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
"Customizing Language," at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Organized by guest curators Idurre Alonso and Selene Preciado, this group show gathers artists from the U.S. and America 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). Opens Wednesday at 7 p.m. and runs through Feb. 14. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, welcometolace.org.
Ramiro Gomez, "Cut-Outs," at Charlie James Gallery. L.A. artist Ramiro Gomez is known for creating collaged paintings that riff on the often invisible Mexican working-class presence that grooms and maintains luxurious manses in places like Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. Now he is showing a room-sized cardboard installation, which he created as part of a residency in Michigan, that takes this idea to a larger scale. Through Sunday. 969 Chung King Road, Chinatown, cjamesgallery.com.
"Paperworks" at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. A variety of works by 15 artists — including sculpture and collage — are made entirely out of cut paper. This includes Lecia Dole-Recio's painted mosaics, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia's woven-paper abstractions, Soo Kim's reconfigured photographic landscapes and Susan Sironi's carved-up books. Expect to see paper in ways you might not have expected. Through Monday. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, cafam.org.
Jayme Odgers, "Where Am I Today? Self Portraits," at Offramp Gallery. When Los Angeles artist Odgers was faced with a life-threatening illness, he took to canvas and paper to create a series of self-portraits that are remarkable for the mordant way in which they reflect on issues of life and death. Through Monday. 1702 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, offrampgallery.com.
Aaron Smith, "In the Snuggery of Airs and Graces," at Gregorio Escalante, in collaboration with Sloan Fine Arts. Smith's latest paintings were inspired by vintage photographic portraits of men from the Victorian/Edwardian era — images full of stiffness and formality. Smith renders these thickly, often in acid tones, imbuing these antique representations with a more contemporary energy. Through Monday. 978 Chung King Road, Chinatown, gregorioescalante.com.
"Fiberlicious," at the Municipal Art Gallery. Sixteen contemporary artists explore and expand the possibilities of fiber art, including wild sculptures woven together from paper, rope and cardboard. Included in the mix are figures such as Tanya Aguiñiga, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, Wendy B. Osher and Ann Weber. Through Monday. 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, lamag.org.
"A Primitive Future," at Subliminal Projects. Half a dozen contemporary artists, including AJ Fosik and Frohawk Two Feathers, address the dark issues of contemporary civilization in a show where form harks back to the past in the shape of handmade wooden sculptures, riotous paintings and handmade quilts. Through Wednesday. 1331 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, subliminalprojects.com.
Brian Bress, "A Toyota's Toyota," at the Desmond. Los Angeles Nomadic Division has organized a site-specific show at the old Desmond's Department Store on Wilshire that occupies a space within the store as well as the windows. Bress's installations include a large-scale video piece titled "NOON" that plays with text, pattern and camouflage. Through Wednesday, 5514 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, nomadicdivision.org.
JEFF&GORDON, "Not at the Dinner Table." In 2013, the artist duo known as JEFF&GORDON did a phone art piece for 323 Projects that allowed anyone to leave a voice mail message for a loved one he or she had conflict with. Now, with the holidays upon us, and everyone duking it out over the Paris attacks on social media, the artists have decided to resurrect the piece. So, if you have something to get off your chest with a loved one, but don't want to start a battle royale over the holidays, JEFF&GORDON want to hear from you. Call (234) 201-9709 to leave a message. Visit jeffandgordon.net to hear what has been said. Through Friday.
"KLAM Radio" at 323 Projects. Performance artist Lenae Day and writer Anna Kryczka have teamed up to put together a paean and parody to the bizarre art of small-town radio — in this case, in the fictional desert settlement of San Ranchito. This includes spoofs of public radio and right-wing talk. And, of course, there's the station's hilarious promotional slogan: "Jam out with your KLAM out." The podcasts are all available on the 323 Projects website. Listeners are welcome to call the gallery's line — (323) 843-4652 — to leave dedications for the KLAM DJs. Through today, at 323projects.com.
"J.B. Blunk: Painting, Drawing, Sculpture," at the Landing. This Northern California artist is renowned for his woodworking. (Blum & Poe in Culver City had a show of his abstract sculptures — some defined by the roiling organic forms of the wood that he worked with — in 2010.) Now the Landing, which is unveiling a 2,800-square-foot gallery space in West Adams, is bringing together a selection of the artist's paintings and drawings, which also gracefully manipulate form and texture. Through Jan. 9. 5118 W. Jefferson Blvd., West Adams, thelandinggallery.com.
Ron English, "Neo-Nature: We Are the New They," at Corey Helford Gallery. The migration east continues. Culver City gallery Corey Helford has a new spot in Boyle Heights and they inaugurated it with a big show by pop surrealist Ron English, who is showing a new series of largely animal-inspired works. Through Jan. 9. 571 S. Anderson St., Boyle Heights, coreyhelfordgallery.com.
Mariangeles Soto-Díaz, "The Subject Must Rotate Like the Sun," at Ruth Bachofner Gallery. A series of abstracted paintings nod to the artist's own process as well the work of Venezuelan poet Eugenio Montejo. Through Jan. 9. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., No. 2, Santa Monica, ruthbachofnergallery.com.
"Hammer Projects: Njideka Akunyili Crosby" at the Hammer Museum. The Nigerian-born artist opened an exhibition of her recent collages at the Art + Practice space in Leimert Park in September. Now there's more, a second exhibition at the Hammer that features a selection of her early works: wild collages of intimate domestic scenes fabricated from scraps of magazine pages. Through Jan. 10. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
James Turrell, at Kayne Griffin Corcoran. In his latest solo exhibition at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Turrell is debuting a series of large-scale works made from elliptical glass that, over 2 1/2 hours, go through thousands of different parts of the color spectrum. (Just the show for Pantone-heads.) Through Jan. 16. 1201 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-City, kaynegriffincorcoran.com.
"New Objectivity: Modern German Art in the Weimar Republic" at the L.A. County Museum of Art. A dark and gripping show explores the art of Germany following World War I, before the rise of the Third Reich. Featuring a mix of photography, painting, drawings and ephemera from the era, the exhibition captures the social, political and economic tumult of the Weimar period. Not to be missed. Through Jan. 18. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
Matthew Barney, "River of Fundament" at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Barney is a video and performance artist known for producing lush works inspired by fantastical mythologies. His latest (which includes an epic six-hour film) reimagines the birth and death cycles of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (or at least Norman Mailer's take on the Egyptian Book of the Dead). Should be decadent. Through Jan. 18. The Geffen Contemporary, 152 N. Central Ave., downtown, moca.org.
"Mapping the Information Age," at Christopher Mount Gallery. During the infancy of microprocessing, companies such as Intel, IBM and Hewlett-Packard would create colorful prints that were used as maps for constructing early microchip technology. Not intended to be art, these curious technological artifacts (dating to 1990) offer a range of intriguing abstract geometric patterns — of the sort that would no doubt impress the likes of Piet Mondrian. Through Jan. 20. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, christopherwmountgallery.com.
David Korty, at Night Gallery. The Los Angeles-based painter's latest series, titled "The Blue Shelf," all begins with the color blue. He uses the same inky backdrop on works that contain layered blocks of painted text, drawings and pattern fragments, which cohere into abstracted human figures. The show will also include a number of the artist's ceramic works. Through Jan. 23. 2276 E. 16th St., downtown, nightgallery.ca.
"The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris," at the Hammer Museum. Known for his elegant depictions of frigid Canadian landscapes, Harris was part of the Group of Seven, a group of painters who were proponents for establishing a distinctly Canadian school of painting — in Harris' case, one with distinctly Modernist overtones. His sparse landscapes, depicted in stained-glass hues of blue, white and green, often with exalted rays of light descending from the heavens, have practically religious overtones. Through Jan. 24. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
"Uh-Oh: Frances Stark, 1991-2015," at the Hammer Museum. This is a survey of work by L.A.-based artist Frances Stark, whose wide-ranging practice — she's done everything from carbon drawings to elaborate digital animations — covers a similarly broad terrain of subjects, including critiques of institutions and intimate views of the artist's personal life including animated productions of private online chats. Through Jan. 24. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu.
"Giant Robot Biennale 4," at the Japanese American National Museum. Giant Robot — the shop and gallery — has long focused on Asian and Asian American popular culture, showcasing works and decorative merchandise by figures such as Yoshitomo Nara and Takashi Murakami. Since 2007, founder Eric Nakamura has partnered with the Japanese American National Museum for this biennial, which showcases pop-infused works by an array of young artists. Through Jan. 24. 100 N. Central Ave., downtown, janm.org.
"Somewhere Over El Arco Iris: Chicano Landscapes, 1971-2015" at the Museum of Latin American Art. Guest curator Julian Bermudez has gathered 25 works that tell a story of landscape through the works of Chicano artists over more than four decades. This includes classic pieces by noted California figures such as Gronk, Frank Romero, Patssi Valdez and Carlos Almaraz. But it also includes up-and-comers such as Shizu Saldamando and Jaime "Germs" Zacarías. Extended through Jan. 31. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, molaa.org.
"Hannelore Baron: Collage & Assemblage," at Jack Rutberg Fine Art. Taut works of assemblage and collage take their power from the found materials the artist used: bits of fabric and other gewgaws found in thrift stores and junkyards, charged objects that retain the sense of having once served other purposes. Born in Germany (her family fled the country in the wake of Kristallnacht), Hannelore was part of New York's artistic milieu at mid-century, but her pieces, which feel faded and worn, suggest the claustrophobia of isolation and confinement. Extended through Jan. 30. 357 N. La Brea Ave., Fairfax, jackrutbergfinearts.com.
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 new work, which features a soundtrack by experimental audio artist Steve Roden, is inspired by 19th century magic-lantern performances and will include a stage-set and larger-than-life projections onto silhouettes. Through Feb. 5. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Space B230, West Hollywood, youngprojectsgallery.com.
"Various Small Fires (Working Documents)" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A show that 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." Through Feb. 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
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 Feb. 7. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, molaa.org.
"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.
"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 L.A. 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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.