The flamboyant armor of Japanese warriors, theatrical religious paintings, wild choreographies full of untrained dancers, a painter of the Harlem Renaissance, street signage reconsidered and an old East German guardhouse repurposed as art installation site. There is a lot going down in El Lay and environs this weekend. Here is a sampling:
"Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist," at the Getty Museum. The master of female voluptuousness was also a master at depicting high religious drama. This new exhibition showcases a series of preparatory works that the 17th century Flemish painter created as studies for tapestries that celebrated the glories of the Catholic Church. The show includes his epic 1612 canvas "The Entombment," which shows a limp Christ in the moments after his death by crucifixion -- a painting that is part of the Getty's permanent collection. (L.A. Times art critic Christopher Knight has a more profound analysis of the work.) Through Jan. 11 at the Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
"Samurai: Japanese Armor From the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection," at the L.A. County Museum of Art. LACMA has been knocking it out of the park in recent years with its innovative installation designs (frequently conceived by prominent architects) and it has done it again with this extraordinarily enticing exhibition in the Resnick Pavilion. Designed by L.A. architect Kulapat Yantrasast, it features a dim room with blood-red ceilings (a lighting effect) with a procession of armor from the age of the samurai in Japan (12th to 19th centuries). An estimated 140 objects, none of which would seem entirely out of place on the set of "Star Trek," are on display. They include chest armor emblazoned with fierce dragons, a helmet in the shape of an eggplant and a crest featuring a snarling eel sprouting a shock of white hair. It's a show worth getting lost in. Opens Sunday. On view through Feb. 1 at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org. A related exhibit of Japanese swords and other objects will open at the museum's Japanese pavilion early in November.
"Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist," at the L.A. County Museum of Art. More from LACMA, which is opening up a new show of works by Harlem Renaissance artist Archibald Motley, a painter known as much for his sensitive portraits as he was for his riotous nightclub and street scenes. The exhibition includes works from throughout Motley's career, including canvases made in Chicago, Paris and Mexico -- many of which feature a beautiful, young woman with bobbed hair at the heart of all the action, a seductive Jazz Age muse. Motley's works primarily reside in private collections and this is the first time they will be seen in L.A. -- a good opportunity to see something new. Opens Sunday. On view through Feb. 1 at LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org.
Mark Dean Veca, "Everlast," at Western Project. The latest exhibition by this longtime Los Angeles artist features more than a dozen and a half new works, some of which play with the forms of logos and street signage. He takes words such as "Everlast" and "Breakfast Burrito" and places them against the hyper-detailed backdrops that traditionally unify his pop-inflected works. This means a stylized phrase such as "Liquor Mart" might appear against one of Veca's signature intestinal-looking patterns for a piece that comes together to feel rather queasy. Opening reception Saturday at 6 p.m. On view through Nov. 29. 2762 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, western-project.com.
Friedrich Kunath, "ADN Pfoertnerhaus," in Culver City. A former East German guardhouse dating back to the Cold War will be placed on the grounds of the former National Guard Armory in Culver City. The structure, the last surviving example of its kind, serves as an installation site for various international artists, including Bernd Trasberger, Sonya Schonberger and Friedrich Kunath. Next up is Kunath, who was born in Germany and lives in L.A. He'll present a giant sculpted flip-flop that will be stuffed into the shack. Opening reception Saturday at 6 p.m. On view through Nov. 2 at the Wende Museum, 9300 Culver Blvd., Parcel B, Culver City, adn-pfoertnerhaus.de and wendemuseum.org.
"Ed Clark: A Thousand Lights of Sun," at the Mistake Room. New York-based artist Ed Clark is known for producing large abstract canvases marked by large bands of color, many of which are produced by laying the canvas on the floor and distributing the paint with a push-broom. The show at the Mistake Room gathers a wide range of works from throughout his career (which dates back to the 1940s), including key pieces the artist made when he lived in Paris in the 1950s. Opens Sunday at 1 p.m. On view through Dec. 20. 1811 E. 20th St., downtown Los Angeles, tmr.la.
"Wet Horizons: Luis Callejas/LCLA Office," at the Neutra VDL Research House. Callejas, an architect who divides his time between Colombia and the United States, has installed a series of temporary works inside the building once inhabited by modernist Richard Neutra in Silver Lake. This includes a billowing silk curtain imprinted with site plans for speculative water-based projects and made in collaboration with textile artist Charlotte Hansson. With luck, it will serve as a charm and bring us some rain. Through Nov. 23, 2300 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake, laforum.org and neutra-vdl.org.
Fifth Annual Festival for All Skid Row Artists, at Gladys Park. A good reason to be downtown this weekend: Skid row arts group Los Angeles Poverty Department is doing its annual arts showcase. Artists and performers from all around downtown will display and stage their works. Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Gladys Park, 808 E. 6th St., downtown Los Angeles, lapovertydept.org.
"Jocelyn Foye: The Field Dance and the Crane," for the Arts Council for Long Beach. Foye, who is known for creating multimedia sculptures with the assistance of roller derby competitors, is staging a dance/performance piece at an empty lot in Long Beach that will involve coordinating amateur dancers into Busby Berkeley-esque forms that will be filmed from overhead. Done in collaboration with choreographer Brian Moe, of INKED Dance, the whole thing is part of an effort by the Arts Council to use urban open spaces. Sounds like a fun one. Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, at the corner of Artesia Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard, Long Beach, alotlongbeach.com.
An exhibition walk-through of "Haunted Screens: German Cinema of the 1920s," at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Architects Amy Murphy and Michael Maltzan will lead a tour of their wonderful installation design for the German Expressionist cinema exhibition now on view. If you haven't seen it, this is a perfect excuse. As I wrote a couple of weeks back, Maltzan and Murphy have created a mind-bending setting for some mind-bending films. Monday at 7 p.m., 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, lacma.org. Reservations required.