The art of a comic book master. The future of housing in L.A. And films by a long-time avant-garde filmmaker. It may be the end of summer, but there are still artsy happenings going down in L.A. Here are three exhibitions not to miss:
“Comic Book Apocalypse: The Graphic World of Jack Kirby,” at Cal State Northridge Art Galleries. The artist who helped launch titles such as “The Avengers” and “X-Men” into the public imagination remains one of the most influential comics artists of all time — and this exhibition documents his career, which lasted for more than half a century. For the comic book geeks, this one should be a site of pilgrimage. Opens Monday and runs through Oct. 10; a special public reception will be held at 4 p.m. Aug. 29. 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, csun.edu.
“Shelter: Rethinking How We Live in Los Angeles,” at the Architecture and Design Museum. As L.A. reaches the limits of sprawl, city planners, developers and designers are thinking about how to do more with less: less space, less material, and a greater attention to questions of environment and density. This exhibition asked six architectural teams to consider housing options for the L.A. of the future. The examples vary from the radical (a series of buildings occupying strips of Wilshire, developed by Kulapat Yantrasast and the team at wHY Architecture) to the more restrained (a proposal by LA-Más that would pump up the density on granny apartments). Through Nov. 6. 900 E. 4th St., downtown Los Angeles, aplusd.org.
“The Films of Saul Levine I: Tunes of Sound and Silence,” at Chin’s Push. The alt art space in Highland Park is hosting a screening of the avant-garde filmmaker Saul Levine, an artist who, since the ‘60s, has used film — along with a Super 8 camera — to produce montages and other chronicles of urban reality and human peculiarity. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the artist. 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26. 4917 York Blvd., Highland Park, saullevine.com and facebook.com.
A.L. Steiner, “Come & Go,” at Blum & Poe. The noted photographer and installation artist, who often turns arrangements of images into wild, immersive environments, is showing selections from her extensive photographic archive, which covers the two decades beginning in 1995. Through Saturday. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
Bart Exposito, “Strange Alphabet,” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. Exposito’s abstract works in dusty shades contain shapes that suggest typographic characters as well as geometric abstraction. Through Saturday. 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City, vielmetter.com.
“Oaxaca – Immigration and Cultural Memory,” at the Duron Gallery. Two dozen works by artists from around the Mexican state of Oaxaca who deal with personal questions of immigration in their work. This includes video, painting, photography, prints and murals inside and out the gallery space. Through Aug. 29. SPARC, 685 Venice Blvd., Venice, sparcinla.org.
Einar and Jamex de la Torre, “Quemando Las Naves,” at Koplin del Rio. The Guadalajara-born brothers are known for glassworks that riff as much on pop culture as they do on the history of craft. In this new show, however, they are going lenticular, with a series of tripped-out light boxes that look different from all angles and that toy with the imagery of the U.S.-Mexico border. Through Aug. 29. 6031 Washington Blvd., Culver City, koplindelrio.com.
Tala Madani, “Smiley has no nose,” at David Kordansky Gallery. The Tehran-born artist is known for producing paintings and animated works that record the misadventures of a variety of pudgy, middle-aged Everymen. She generally places these figures in absurd scenarios or subjects them to cartoonish levels of violence. But the humor doesn’t obscure a political streak focused on questions of power, conformity and alienation. Through Aug. 29. 5130 Edgewood Place, Mid-City, Los Angeles, davidkordanskygallery.com.
“Andrew Frieder,” at the Good Luck Gallery. An impassive nun prepares to pound a snake with a stone hand. A pair of figures grope at each other amid an ever multiplying array of human hands. Frieder, who passed away last year, produced work that is both painterly and surreal. This is the first solo show of his work in Los Angeles. Through Aug. 29. 945 Chung King Road, Chinatown, downtown Los Angeles, thegoodluckgallery.com.
“Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography,” at the Getty Museum. Photography isn’t just about the image on the paper. It’s also about the processes that led those images to appear. This group show features seven contemporary artists who are all experimenting with ways in which light and chemicals form what we see on the page. Through Sept. 6. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
“Korda: Revolutionary Photographer,” at the Museum of Latin American Art. Alberto Diaz Gutierrez, better known by the nickname Korda, is the Cuban photographer who snapped the iconic photograph of Che Guevera looking heroic. He also photographed many significant happenings during and after the Cuban Revolution. MOLAA gathers 19 vintage prints from the late 1950s and early ‘60s, when the country was in a period of great transition. Through Sept. 6. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, molaa.org.
“Chris Francis: Shoe Designer,” at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. Shoes that aren’t so much shoes as they are experimental works of art. Francis, a self-taught designer who lives in L.A., creates designs inspired by street art, Constructivism, Cubism and high fashion, in the process employing plywood, leather and leftover bits of fruit crates. Through Sept. 6. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, cafam.org.
“Art and Other Tactics: Contemporary Craft by Artist Veterans,” at the Craft & Folk Art Museum. A group show gathers works — painting, sculpture and even ceramics — by figures whose artistic practice has been shaped by their military service. This includes haunting sculptures of bones as well as decorative porcelain plates that record the lives of women in the service. Through Sept. 6. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, cafam.org.
“After Victor Papanek: The Future Is Not What It Used to Be” at the Armory Center for the Arts. A group show examines the legacy of the industrial designer who called for ecologically sound design and who didn’t believe in patents because he felt they stymied innovation. Runs through Sept. 6. 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, armoryarts.org.
“Tongues Untied,” at the MOCA Pacific Design Center. Exploring themes such as desire, love, loss and mourning, this show, drawn from the Museum of Contemporary Art’s collection, looks at the world of art during the dawn of the AIDS crisis. The centerpiece of the show is Marlon Riggs’ feature-length 1989 documentary, “Tongues Untied,” a semiautobiographical look at the black gay experience. Through Sept. 13. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, moca.org.
“Rafa Esparza: I Have Never Been Here Before,” at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Over the course of several weeks, Esparza will transform the galleries of this Hollywood space with thousands of adobe bricks that he made with his father. He will use these to create an elliptical structure that will obscure the corners of the venerated white box. Through Sept. 13. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, welcometolace.org.
“Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action,” at the Getty Museum. An exhibition jointly organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Frick Collection in New York brings together nearly 50 drawings and four paintings by the 16th century Italian Renaissance master known for bringing an unprecedented naturalism to art. Through Sept. 13. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
Ave Pildas, “Hollywood Boulevard: The ‘70s, at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions. Prostitutes, homeless and the star-obsessed. For three years in the early 1970s, Pildas photographed the habitués of Hollywood Boulevard, capturing the grittiness of one of L.A.’s most famous thoroughfares. This exhibition gathers more than 50 prints from that era. Through Sept. 13. 6522 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, welcometolace.org.
“Perfect Likeness: Photography and Composition,” at the Hammer Museum. Where is the art in a medium that all of us practice relentlessly on a daily basis? This exhibition argues that part of it lies in composition. Artists such as Stan Douglas, Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall and Catherine Opie all carefully consider the ways they set up and frame their subjects. Through Sept. 13. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles, hammer.ucla.edu.
“Petra Cortright: Niki, Lucy, Lola, Viola,” at the Depart Foundation. The L.A.-based digital artist’s latest exhibition features a video crafted from animations of strippers she downloaded from a website specializing in adult entertainment, among various other new works. Through Sept. 19. 9105 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, departfoundation.com.
“David Hockney: Painting and Photography,” at L.A. Louver. The British artist is known for creating painted and photographic works that play with depth and perspective: canvases featuring torqued and bending rooms and photographic collages that create complete images out of fragments captured on film. Now Hockney is playing with the possibility of digital photography and is stitching together images in ways that explore some of these notions. Through Sept. 19. 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice, lalouver.com.
“The Art of Hair in Africa” at the Fowler Museum. This exhibition brings together an array of African hair ornaments made with wood, beads, copper wire and ivory — some of them embellished with delicate bas relief carvings. It will also include a film by Ghanaian American artist Akosua Adoma Owusu called “Me Broni Ba (My White Baby),” about the role that hair plays. Through Sept. 20. UCLA, North Campus, Los Angeles, fowler.ucla.edu.
Norbert Tadeusz, “Studio,” at the El Segundo Museum of Art. The German painter, known for his colorful contorted figures, often presented in surreal scenarios, is little known in this country. But this exhibition — a collaboration between ESMoA and the L.A. County Museum of Art, which curated the show — provides an opportunity to get acquainted with his work. Through Sept. 26. 208 Main St., El Segundo, esmoa.org.
Mark Bradford, “Scorched Earth,” at the Hammer Museum. In Bradford’s first solo museum show in his native Los Angeles, the artist is unveiling a dozen new works, including a new series of abstract paintings and an audio installation that riffs on the macho nature of stand-up comedy. This is one not to miss. Through Sept. 27. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles, hammer.ucla.edu.
Marcia Hafif, “From the Inventory,” at the Laguna Art Museum. The artist, known for producing monochromatic installation pieces that play with color, tone and the material nature of paint, is getting her first solo museum show in her native California in 40 years. The show gathers a series of works made in her Laguna Beach studio, such as her Red Paintings and Pacific Ocean Paintings. Runs through Sept. 27. 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, lagunaartmuseum.org.
“Vitality and Verve: Transforming the Urban Landscape,” at the Long Beach Museum of Art. The museum has commissioned a series of new murals by well-known urban artists such as Saber, Greg “Craola” Simkins, Jeff Soto, Tristan Eaton and Audrey Kawasaki. These are all part of the summer arts festival Pow! Wow! Long Beach! Through Sept. 27. 2300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, lbma.org.
Noah Purifoy, “Junk Dada,” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The sculptor who turned the detritus of the Watts riots into sculpture and transformed a patch of desert in Joshua Tree into a wild assemblage museum is finally getting his due: a solo museum exhibition at LACMA. This includes work from early in his career, as well as a dozen assemblage works that he and other artists crafted for “66 Signs of Neon,” the seminal post-riots show held at the Watts Towers Arts Center in 1966. Through Sept. 27. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
“Touching the Past: The Hand and the Medieval Book,” at the Getty Museum. A new exhibition looks at medieval illumination in the context of its original purpose: in books intended to be touched, handled and read. Through Sept. 27. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
Ben Jones, “Ben Jones Ben Jones, Ben Jones…” at Ace Gallery. A founding member of the art collective Paper Rad, known for producing multimedia installations and wild animations that fused the psychedelic with the 8-bit, Jones is opening his first solo exhibition at Ace. The show will include a mix of boldly colored sculpture and painting that tips its hat to color minimalism as well as video games. Through Sept. 5514 Wilshire Blvd., 2nd Floor, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, acegallery.net.
“In Focus: Animalia,” at the Getty Museum. Drawn from the museum’s collection of photographs, this small show focuses on the relationship between human and animal as defined by the camera’s lens. This includes work by early 19th-century photographers who captured dogs, wild felines and even taxidermy game in early photographs and daguerreotypes. Through Oct. 18. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
“Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent,” at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Known for a groundbreaking body of work that combined faith, activism, snippets of found text and bold color, Kent was a Catholic nun who also had a prolific career as a fine art printer. Through Nov. 1. 490 E. Union St., Pasadena, pmcaonline.org.
“To Live and Dine in L.A.,” at the Central Library. The history of a place can be told through its texts: its books, its accumulated government documents and its menus, too. Critic and writer Josh Kun has pored over the Los Angeles Public Library’s extensive historic menu archive and put together a show that tells a layered story about L.A.’s food and design — but also stories of politics, culture, society, race and gender. See an image gallery. Through Nov. 13. 630 W. 5th St., downtown Los Angeles, lapl.org.
“Adams, Curtis and Weston: Photographers of the American West,” at the Bowers Museum. More than three dozen images produced by three of the most iconic American photographers tell the story of the American West — through dreamy images of landscape as well as the people who once inhabited it. Through Nov. 29. 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, bowers.org.
“Various Small Fires (Working Documents),” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A show that illuminates unusual bits of LACMA history: 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, Los Angeles, lacma.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, Los Angeles, caamuseum.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., Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Find me on Twitter @cmonstah