Revisiting a dark period in American history. Examining the role of women in a key artistic movement. And an installation made up of some very suggestive words. Plus: a conversation with a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and photographs of Nazi bunkers. There’s a whole lot of art action happening all over the Southland. Here are 10 exhibitions and events to check out in the coming week:
“Instructions to All Persons: Reflections on Executive Order 9066,” at the Japanese American National Museum. At a time when executive orders are transforming U.S. society, it’s probably a good time to study one of the most notorious ones: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Order 9066, which allowed for the incarceration of more than 120,000 Japanese Americans living along the West Coast of the U.S. and placed them in austere prison camps during World War II. This exhibition brings together historical ephemera from this dark period in U.S. history, as well as works of art and performance that reflect on the issue of internment. Beginning on March 24, the museum will present “Moving Day,” a nightly public art piece in which exclusion orders will be projected on the side of the building at night. Opens Saturday and runs through Aug. 13. 100 N. Central Ave., downtown Los Angeles, janm.org.
Jason Rhoades, “Installations, 1994-2006,” at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. The Los Angeles artist — known for sprawling, ribald installations made with everything from neon to cardboard to peas — often touched on issues of religion, sex and commerce in his work. This show, his first comprehensive survey in Los Angeles, brings together six of his most significant installations, including a tribute to sculptor Constantin Brancusi and a massive, sexually charged piece that features 240 neon words that describe female genitalia — a temple-like set-up where the viewer is invited to lay down and be wildly seduced. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through May 21. 901 E. Third St., downtown Los Angeles, hauserwirthschimmel.com.
“In Focus: Jane and Louise Wilson’s Sealander,” at the Getty Museum. For roughly three decades, twin sisters Jane and Louise Wilson have created large-scale photographs inspired by important events in European history — capturing everything from the nuclear site at Chernobyl to the former headquarters of the East German secret police. In the series on view at the Getty, they turn their attention to the brutal concrete bunkers deposited by Adolf Hitler along the French coast during World War II. Through July 2. 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
“Environmental Communications: Contact High,” at LAXArt. In the 1960s, a group of architects, photographers and psychologists began to create extensive slide libraries that they sold to academic and cultural institutions as a way of infiltrating student consciousness. These often contained hundreds of images that captured the design and other forces that shape the vernacular city, from gas stations to fast-food outlets to the facades of commercial buildings. The show captures the group’s process through images, videotapes and other ephemera. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through April 1. 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, laxart.org.
“Junot Diaz: Conversations,” at Redcat. The renowned novelist, known for his collection of short stories, “Drown,” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” is this year’s Katie Jacobson Writer in Residence at CalArts. He will be at Redcat to discuss his work. Couldn’t get a ticket? Redcat will stream the talk in its lobby and on its Facebook page. Friday at 8:30 p.m. 631 W. 2nd St., downtown Los Angeles, redcat.org.
April Bey, “Comply,” at Coagula Curatorial. An installation of art, paintings and multimedia works explore the demands of womanhood — in particular that of black women. Among the objects on view is a series of portraits produced by the artist that features celebrities as well as everyday women she met during a residency in Ghana. Opens Saturday at 7 p.m. and runs through April 2. 974 Chung King Rd., Chinatown, Los Angeles, coagulacuratorial.com.
“Escape Attempts: Curated by Kathy Battista,” at Shulamit Nazarian. The gallery is debuting its new Hollywood location with a group show that features artists who are tangling with the legacy of minimalism. This includes figures such as Carmen Argote, Virginia Overton, and Naama Tsabar engaging the clean lines and formal qualities of minimalism, but grounding it in the cultural references of our era. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. and runs through April 1. 616 N. La Brea, Hollywood, shulamitnazarian.com.
“The Birth of Motion Pictures: An Illustrated History of Silent Cinema, 1910–1929,” at the City of Brea Art Gallery. With the Academy Awards just around the corner, the City of Brea Art Gallery is devoting an exhibition to silent film — specifically, 60 original silent movie posters and a very rare “Silent Oscar” (one of only 15 ever awarded) from the private collection of Dwight Manley. Included in the show will be original posters for the Charlie Chaplin films “A Dog’s Life” (1918) and “The Kid” (1921), as well as a Spanish-language poster from the lost mystery flick “London After Midnight” (1927), which starred Lon Chaney as a vampiric inspector. Opens Friday and runs through April 14; an opening reception will be held on Saturday at 6 p.m. One Civic Center Circle, Brea, breagallery.com.
“Echo Location,” at Eastside International. A group show at this Eastside space brings together a disparate group of artists who participated in a series of talks hosted at the Inglewood studio of artist and exhibition curator Lisa Soto. This includes sculpture, painting and video by the likes of Nery Gabriel Lemus, Zeal Harris and Cindy Rehm, among others, as well as an opening performance by Amitis Motevalli. Opens Saturday at 1 p.m. and runs through March 18. 602 Moulton Ave., Lincoln Heights, eastsideinternational.com.
“Women of Abstract Expressionism” at the Palm Springs Museum of Art. The Abstract Expressionist movement has been widely regarded as a boys club, one bursting with the macho antics of painters such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. But the movement included a healthy number of women, and this groundbreaking exhibition gathers works by some of the key female artists of the era, including Helen Frankenthaler, Jay DeFeo, Elaine de Kooning, Grace Hartigan, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell. In other words, it’s a fresh look at a history we think we know so well. Also, starting this weekend, the museum is hosting Rob Pruitt’s itinerant artist Flea Market as part of the upcoming Desert X biennial, so bring some cold hard cash to pick up some artsy odds and ends. Opens Saturday and runs through May 28. 72-567 Highway 111, Palm Desert, psmuseum.org.
Sam Durant, “Build Therefore Your Own World,” at Blum & Poe. With a title drawn from an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, this exhibition of new works by the L.A. artist takes elements inspired by the transcendentalists (Emerson, Henry David Thoreau) and remixes them with objects drawn from the lives of African and African American thinkers. This might consist of a 3-D rendering of Emerson’s writing chair mashed up with poet Phyllis Wheatley’s desk, or the walking stick of Jack Garrison (once enslaved) with Thoreau’s pencil — objects that tell the intersecting tales of American history. Through Saturday. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
Harry Callahan and Robert Heinecken, “Figures in Transformation,” at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. This exhibition pairs two key artists who worked with images: Callahan, the 20th century photographer renowned for the ways in which he captured the human figure, and Heinecken, the Los Angeles appropriationist known for his subversive works of installation and collage. The show looks at how the two approached the female figure, pushing the boundaries of what is considered photography in the process. Through Saturday. 9953 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, marcselwynfineart.com.
“The Human Beast: Art of Maxine Kim Stussy & Jan Stussy,” at WUHO Gallery. A midcentury art couple who first met at UCLA in the late 1940s, Maxine Kim and Jan Stussy became known in Los Angeles for figurative works that revel in the animalistic. Organized by independent curator Michael Duncan, the show gathers 20 sculptures, paintings and works on paper by the artist pair. The show contains some beautiful, surprising works. Do not miss. Through Saturday. A closing reception will be held on Saturday at 6 p.m. 6518 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, wuho.architecture.woodbury.edu.
Patrick Martinez, “All Season Portfolio,” at Charlie James. Martinez has become known in recent months for paintings that take the iconography of the Pee-Chee folder, but use it to tackle a variety of issues, including figures in popular culture and police brutality. This show features works from that series, as well as neon text sculptures that reference hip-hop lyrics and L.A. vernacular signage. Through Saturday. 969 Chung King Rd., Chinatown, Los Angeles, cjamesgallery.com.
Merion Estes, “Lost Horizons” and “Cooling Trend,” and Emily Davis Adams, “Somewhere Between,” at CB1 Gallery. From 2007 to 2011, painter Merion Estes produced a series of works on paper inspired by vanishing natural landscapes and the 1937 Frank Capra film “Lost Horizon,” about the hidden mountain paradise Shangri-La. She will be showing these works, along with a work that draws its intense color palette from our ever-warming climate. Also on view at CB1 will be an exhibition of new works by Emily Davis Adams: a series of paintings inspired by constructions made from paper and other materials that toy with how the viewer perceives color and light. Through Sunday. 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, cb1gallery.com.
“Ease of Fiction,” at the California African American Museum. The museum has launched a new slate of shows. This includes “Ease of Fiction,” a group exhibition that features work by four African artists exploring the fine line between the invented and the real, as well as the debut museum exhibition of Los Angeles artist Genevieve Gagnard, whose photographs question notions of blackness and whiteness. There is also a beguiling room-sized installation by Hank Willis Thomas that recasts the symbols of the Confederate flag in the colors of black nationalism — and projects them in tune with a soundtrack of spoken-word audio (a piece that Times art critic Christopher Knight describes as “enthralling.”) Through Sunday. 600 State Dr., Exposition Park, Los Angeles, caamuseum.org.
“Truc Anh: Vacuphilia,” at Varola. The first exhibition by the Vietnamese-French artist at Varola has paintings and installations that feature bodies and body parts inhabiting an abstracted world of black and white. Through Feb. 24. Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Suite B256, West Hollywood, helenvarola.com.
Theaster Gates, “But to Be a Poor Race,” at Regen Projects. When writing his seminal work, “The Souls of Black Folk,” civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois created a series of data visualizations about black advancement in the United States — including circular charts that show taxable property owned by African Americans and other graphics that tracked city-versus-rural populations. Now Gates, a Chicago-based artist, has created a series of paintings inspired by Du Bois’ elegant graphics: bright color field canvases that are as much an homage to the sociologist’s work as they are to recent art history. The show includes various works of sculpture, too. Don’t miss. Through Feb. 25. 6750 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, regenprojects.com.
“Guerrero: Calder and Nevelson, in Their Studios,” at Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Guerrero made a name for himself as a photographer when he was hired to document Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture at Taliesin West in the early 20th century. A pair of providential assignments connected him with artists Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson, whom he would devotedly capture in their environments in ways that are both poetic and frank. Through March 4. 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, edwardcella.com.
“Pulped Fictions,” at the Torrance Art Museum. A group exhibition features works created from that most pliable of materials: cardboard. This includes large-scale installations and small, intimate wall-hangings by artists such as Ann Weber, EVOL and Dani Tull. Through March 4. 3320 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, torranceartmuseum.com.
Llyn Foulkes, “Old Man Blues,” at Sprüth Magers. The Los Angeles artist, known for his assemblages of scavenged objects that explore dark corners of the American cultural psyche, is having his first show at Sprüth Magers. On view are a series of new works made since the retrospective of his work organized by the Hammer Museum in 2013. Some of these are informed by U.S. electoral politics; others consist of the large-scale tableaux that, with their deep layering of materials, create startling plays on depth and perspective. Also on view at the gallery is a two-man show featuring Jon Rafman and Stan Vanderbeek, inspired by the pair’s interest in cinema, animation and video games. Through March 4. 5900 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, spruethmagers.com.
Allan Sekula, “Early Works,” at Christopher Grimes Gallery. The gallery has gathered a number of early works by the photographer and theorist, including preliminary versions of some of his documentary pieces, which tackled issues of labor and politics, as well as never before exhibited prints. Also on view are well-established works such as “Long Beach Notes” and the video “Reagan Tape,” which mashes up pieces of Reagan’s early films with footage from his political career. Through March 11. 916 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, cgrimes.com.
“Unique and Singular,” at Cirrus Gallery. A group show at the venerable print studio features works by the likes of Mark Bradford, Ruben Ochoa, Mary Weatherford and Lita Albuquerque and explores the ways in which artists manipulate multiples to create works that are one-of-a-kind. Through March 11. 2011 S. Santa Fe Ave., downtown Los Angeles, cirrusgallery.com.
Toba Khedoori, at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This is the first major museum survey of the L.A.-based artist, known for her painstaking draftsmanship and enigmatic drawings and paintings. Her works often feature architectural elements, landscape, smoke and flame in ways that play with negative space and toy with meaning. Through March 19. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Chambliss Giobi, “Arcadia,” at 101/Exhibit. Inspired by the Greek region, an icon of the pastoral ideal, this show features a series of works that explore the nostalgic and the idealized in nature — including a large Möbius strip sculpture made from some of these very elements. Through March 25. 668 N. La Peer Dr., Beverly Grove, Los Angeles, 101exhibit.com.
“Ursula Schulz-Dornburg: Bricks and Mortals,” at Gallery Luisotti. The German photographer has long been intrigued by transitory pieces of architecture — from her studies of brutalist, Soviet-era bus stops in Armenia to her images of ruins in Syria. Her first exhibition at the gallery gathers the early bus stop pictures, as well as later series that document a nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, the abandoned Hejaz Railroad in Saudi Arabia and an 8th century chapel in Spain. Through March 25. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, galleryluisotti.com.
“Edgar Arceneaux: Library of Black Lies,” at the Main Museum. First exhibited in Paris, this installation by the Los Angeles artist explores themes of African American progress through the selection and modification of books in a library of Arceneaux’s creation. At a time when questions about the fake and the real occupy the media, the piece looks at the complex, in-between stories that shape our current moment. Through March 26. 114 W. 4th St., downtown Los Angeles, themainmuseum.org.
“Non Fiction,” at the Underground Museum. An emotionally charged exhibition curated by the late Noah Davis in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles brings together works that explore issues of race and violence. This includes important works from MOCA’s permanent collection by artists such as Robert Gober, Kara Walker, Henry Taylor and David Hammons. Through March. 3508 W. Washington Blvd., Arlington Heights, Los Angeles, theunderground-museum.org.
Rachel Lacowicz, “Lay Back and Enjoy It,” at Shoshana Wayne Gallery. The Los Angeles-based artist has created a large-scale installation modeled after structures from Clint Eastwood’s 1973 western “High Plains Drifter” — two of which she has covered in red lipstick. It’s a look at the ways in which male power imbues our society’s governing institutions — not to mention the architecture that represents them. Through April 1. Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., B1, Santa Monica, shoshanawayne.com.
Frank Uwe Laysiepen, “Ulay the Animist,” at the Depart Foundation. It’s the first West Coast presentation of the performance artist known as Ulay — former collaborator of Marina Abramovic. The show includes works from his early Polaroid works from the ’70s to his large-scale experimental photographic projects from the 1990s, as well as documentation of his various performances. The exhibition’s title refers to the artist’s 1995 film, “The Animist,” which incorporated ritual and other elements, to determine the boundaries of reality. Through April 1. 9105 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, departfoundation.com.
“Forms of Identity: Women Artists in the ’90s,” at the Orange County Museum of Art. A show drawn entirely from OCMA’s permanent collection focuses on works by 16 women whose art in the 1990s underwent a transformation, from overtly political to something more poetic and personal. This includes works by photographer Laura Aguilar, sculptor Jacci Den Hartog, light and space artist Helen Pashgian and installationist Polly Apfelbaum, among others. Through April 2. 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, ocma.net.
Arne Quinze, “Jungle Cities,” at Denk Gallery. This is the debut show for the new Los Angeles gallery, which has kicked off its program with an exhibition by the Belgian sculptor known for his wild architectural installations. Quinze has created a new series of metal sculptures and wall hangings that play with the idea of disappearing nature. This includes a standing sculpture that evokes a wild creature and a work that resembles a log — full of growths and other bits of wild nature — but is actually a piece of cast bronze. Through April 15. 749 E. Temple St., downtown Los Angeles, denkgallery.com.
“Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media,” at the Getty Center. An exhibition that couldn’t be timelier: Curator Arpad Kovcs has put together a show that looks at the ways in which artists have turned bucolic magazine images and fragments of news programming into sharp political statements against events such as the Vietnam War and the so-called war on terror. The show features work by Martha Rosler, Alfredo Jaar, Catherine Opie and Robert Heinecken. Through April 20. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles, getty.edu.
Jimmie Durham, “At the Center of the World,” at the Hammer Museum. For the last 20 years, Durham, who was born in Arkansas, and who came of age as an artist in New York’s downtown scene in the 1980s, has chosen to show primarily outside the United States. (He is of Cherokee descent.) This makes his first North American retrospective all the more special. Gathering his works from the 1970s to the present, the show features wry assemblages and wall sculptures that combine natural and discarded elements, riffing on classical architecture, the nature of portraiture and colonization. While you’re there, don’t miss the exhibition featuring drawings by French artist Jean Dubuffet, a figure who turned the graffiti-like gesture into high art. Through May 7. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, Los Angeles, hammer.ucla.edu.
“Picasso and Rivera: Conversations Across Time,” at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This exhibition compares the artistic trajectories of two of the 20th century’s most towering Modernists: Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera. This covers the period from the 1920s to the ’50s as they explored Cubism, classical forms and ancient cultures in innovative ways. The shows features 150 paintings, etchings and watercolors. Through May 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective, at the Museum of Latin American Art. The first museum retrospective of the storied Los Angeles painter brings together more than 200 works from throughout his career — pieces that frequently contend with various aspects of the urban experience, in particular that of L.A. The show covers all periods of his more than five-decade-long career, including his early works, pieces from his time with the collective Los Four in the 1970s and ’80s, his large-scale paintings and murals, as well as his more recent work in neon and ceramics. Through May 21. 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach, molaa.org.
“Moholy-Nagy: Future Present,” at the L.A. County Museum of Art. This sprawling exhibition examines the career of the influential Bauhaus artist and teacher, known for stripping art down to fundamentals of color and shape. Moholy-Nagy was a polymath who worked in painting, printmaking, photography and industrial design and the show gathers more than 250 works of his in all formats. Moreover, it will also feature his installation “Room of the Present,” a concept for an exhibition space that was never realized in his lifetime. Through June 18. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
Loris Gréaud, “Sculpt,” at the L.A. County Museum of Art. The entire theater has been taken over by the European artist for a film that screens to only one person at a time. The nonlinear picture follows “a man about whom we know very little, who seems to be constantly developing the concept of what experiencing beauty, thought, or obsession can be,” according the write-up. Times critic Christopher Knight describes it as “pretentious and uninvolving.” A good hate-watch, maybe? On view through a yet to be determined date. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.