Datebook: Boxing painters, teen idols and John Altoon’s short career


The humorously erotic works of John Altoon ... a charming documentary about a boxing painter and his put-upon wife ... art that is all about surveillance ... and the the space-age drawings of Suzanne Wright. In my weekly Datebook, I’ll publish a selection of worthwhile culture events for the weekend and beyond:

John Altoon at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This is the first major retrospective for a California painter who has been very influential to other L.A. artists, even if he is not a household name. Altoon died of a heart attack at 43, cutting short a career that was filled with humor and promise. The LACMA show gathers about 70 of his paintings and drawings: bulbous, erotic abstractions (along with plenty of not-so-abstractions that are NSFW). Also on view at the museum is a show about Expressionism in Germany and France, including works by Van Gogh, Cézanne and a remarkable lithograph by Max Pechstein, of blue figures frolicking in a lake. Opens Sunday. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

Restructure: Dance Camera West Dance Media Film Festival.” A series of events held over the weekend, as well as next Friday, celebrate the art of dance through live performances as well as on the screen in locations around downtown L.A., including MOCA, REDCAT, Grand Park and Union Station. The festival features a large, architectural installation in the plaza at the Music Center by L.A.-based artist Gustavo Godoy; the piece will be employed as an element in various performances. Events begin Friday with a free live performance at the Music Center plaza downtown at 7:30 p.m. and screenings beginning at 8 p.m.


“Sand in My Shoes: André Butzer, Cris Kirkwood, Maja Körner, Daniel Mendel-Black, Thomas Winkler,” at Tif Sigfrids. An exhibition inspired by a journey to the desert brings together disparate elements from different artists (including Kirkwood, a member of the band the Meat Puppets). Opens Saturday at Tif Sigfrids gallery, 1507 Wilcox Ave., Hollywood.

Suzanne Wright, “Rainbow Control Room,” at Commonwealth & Council. Drawings of interstellar landscapes accompany a large-scale painting of a cockpit that serves as frame for a video program taking viewers to “queer destinations.” Opens June 7 at 7 p.m. 3006 W. 7th St, Los Angeles.

Krysten Cunningham, “Under/Over,” at HRLA. Organized by artist Dawn Kasper, this show features sculptures and interactive events that explore Cunningham’s interest in textiles and weaving -- albeit weaving of a contemporary, somewhat conceptual nature. Opens Thursday, through June 22 at Chinatown’s Human Resources LA. 410 Cottage Home St., Los Angeles.

“Watchmen: Surveillance and the Flaneur,” at the Torrance Art Museum. A group show examines the phenomenon of constant observation. Opens Saturday at 6 p.m. 3320 Civic Center Dr., Torrance.

A screening of “Cutie and the Boxer” at the Grand Central Art Center. This terrific documentary chronicles the complicated relationship of artists Noriko Shinohara and Ushio Shinohara, covering money woes, heavy drinking, Ushio’s aggressive painting style (made by punching a canvas) and the sacrifices a woman makes for her partner’s creativity. While you’re there, check out the GCAC’s two new shows: “Jody Zellen: Time Jitters” and “Flora Kao: Wind House, Abode That a Breath Effaced.” Saturday at 6 p.m. 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana.

Darío Escobar, “Broken Circle,” at the Craft and Folk Art Museum. Hundreds of red light reflectors create an abstract-geometric wall drawing that is trippy to boot. Through Aug. 24. 5814 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.


“Narco-Venus and Other Stories: Recent Work” by Carolyn Castaño, at Meridien Gallery. If you find yourself in the Bay Area, check in on the works of this L.A.-based painter who artfully balances the lush and the grotesque in works that deal with the effects of the drug trade. Through June 28. 535 Powell St., San Francisco.

Max Maslansky, “13 Pages From History,” at Light & Wire Gallery. The L.A.-based painter (soon to be featured in the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” Biennial) has a series of works on display at this online-only exhibition space. Expect a whimsical soundtrack accompanying painted-over teen idols plucked from fan magazines and historical figures with extra appendages. Very cheeky. On view through June 21, online only at