Idyllic 19th-century American landscapes at LACMA, new pieces by Patssi Valdez, a talk about art and AIDS at MOCA and the launch of a new film series at the Hammer. There's an art fair (or two) going down in Miami, so the art industry is a little quiet. Even so, there's stuff to do this rare rain-soaked week in L.A.:
"Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School" at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Drawn from the collection of the New York Historical Society, this exhibition gathers 45 paintings by the best-known artists of the American landscape movement: figures such as Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church, who helped build a national identity for the U.S. with their romantic depictions of our country's vast outdoor spaces. Better yet, this represents the first time that all five paintings from Thomas Cole's series "The Course of Empire" will be seen together on the West Coast. Opens Sunday and runs through June 7. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles, lacma.org.
"Patssi Valdez: Somber Hues" at Offramp Gallery. Known as much for her years as a performance artist with the collective Asco as she is for her buoyant paintings of domestic settings, the L.A. artist is now exhibiting a new series of gouaches inspired by poetry, the seasons and film. Opening reception Sunday 2 to 5 p.m.; runs through Jan. 4. 1702 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena, offrampgallery.com.
Bert Rodriguez Museum: Special Preview, at the Bert Rodriguez Museum. I recently wrote about how this L.A. artist is int he process of transforming his West Hollywood apartment into a real-deal museum. In advance of the institution's 2015 opening, Rodriguez will host a special preview this weekend by appointment. You can check out all the artifacts, including Wilson the dog. This Saturday and Sunday, from 11am to 6pm, by appointment only; 323-487-2378, firstname.lastname@example.org; 833 Clinton St., #3, West Hollywood, bertrodriguez-museum.org.
"Alternate Endings," a screening and discussion, at the Museum of Contemporary Art. A series of new short videos commissioned to honor the 25th anniversary of Day With(out) Art — by the likes of Rhys Ernst, My Barbarian, Julie Tolentino and others — will be followed by a discussion about art and the cultural history of AIDS. Tonight at 7 p.m. MOCA Grand Avenue, 250 S. Grand Ave., downtown Los Angeles, moca.org.
"The Contenders," a film series, at the Hammer Museum. The Hammer is collaborating with New York's Museum of Modern Art for a film series of the most influential and innovative films of the last 12 months. This includes Ava DuVernay's upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. film "Selma" and Ana Lily Amirpour's moodily cinematic "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night," an Iranian western about a skateboarding, chador-wearing vampire. The series kicks off with a screening of Bong Joon-ho's "Snowpiercer," which will also include a Q&A with actor Ed Harris. Begins Monday at 7:30 p.m., with films screening weekly through Jan. 13. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood, hammer.ucla.edu. For a full list, visit hammer.ucla.edu/contenders.
"World War I: War of Images, Images of War" at the Getty Research Institute. On the 100th anniversary of the start of a war that unleashed all manner of devastating technologies for killing, this exhibition gathers art about the experience including government propaganda and a cow's shoulder bone painted by a German soldier on the Eastern Front. Through April 19. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
Richard Misrach at Marc Selwyn Fine Art. The influential photographer, known for his images of the Southwest, shows prints from his "Scrubs" series, in which he captures tight details of desert vegetation in ways that render the plants completely abstract. Through Jan. 17. 9953 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, marcselwynfineart.com.
Josef Koudelka, "Nationality Doubtful," at the Getty Center. The first retrospective devoted to this important Czech-born photographer since 1988 gathers more than 180 works from throughout the artist's six-decades-long career. This includes his stark, downright cinematic images of Roma communities and his firsthand shots of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 — smuggled out of the country with the aid of a friend, who helped get them published in the international press. Through March 22, 1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, getty.edu.
Jacolby Satterwhite, "How Love Is Me Being as I Am," at Ohwow Gallery. Satterwhite's hallucinatory worlds — which feel like the sort of digital weirdness you might encounter in "Second Life" — have appeared in his live-action/animated videos, prints and sculptures. They might seem inspired by sci-fi, but many of his works take as a point of inspiration the inventive drawings of his mother, afflicted with schizophrenia, who sketches thousands of fantastical inventions in the hopes of profiting from them. (There's a great interview about his process in Guernica.) I was intrigued by Satterwhite's work at the Whitney Biennial and am very much looking forward to this show. Through Dec. 20. 937 N. La Cienega, West Hollywood, oh-wow.com.
"Artificial Complexion" at Various Small Fires (VSF). A couple of weeks back, the Art Newspaper reported that Marcel Duchamp's urinal may not have been his urinal at all but was instead a piece by artist, baroness and bohemian Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Now a show at VSF will consider the good baroness' legacy in a show of work by various contemporary artists inspired by her appropriationist, dadaist vein. Through Dec. 29. 812 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, vsf.la.
Florian Maier-Aichen at Blum & Poe. Images of aerials and landscapes — the L.A. Harbor, the Alps, the Rhine River — are manipulated in myriad ways by this German-born, L.A.-based artist in ways that will leave you wondering what is fiction and what is real. Through Dec. 20. 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, blumandpoe.com.
Lita Albuquerque, "STELLAR Axis: Antarctica," at Kohn Gallery. For her latest project, installation and environmental artist Albuquerque (who got her start with the Light and Space artists of the 1970s) headed to Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf to shoot a series of blue spheres in arrangements that echo the stars in the night sky. Through Dec. 20. 1227 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, kohngallery.com.
"Jeff Ho: The Board" at C. Nichols Projects. For its annual holiday surf show, this small Mar Vista exhibition space is doing a show around "The Board," a surfboard shaped by Jeff Ho (also known for abetting the art of skateboarding, as chronicled in the doc "Dogtown and Z-Boys"). In a sport in which a well-built board can take on practically mystical qualities, Ho will be showcasing half a dozen longboards taken from the template of "The Board," a now-renowned board he shaped in Hawaii in 1999 and which he used to ride the swells generated by Hurricane Marie this past summer. Runs through Dec. 23. 12613 1/2 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista, cnicholsprojects.com.