LOS ANGELES — This week, European Gallery Sprüth Magers opens an LA outpost, Emma Sulkowicz gets her first solo show at Coagula, it’s the last chance to see Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an at the Orange County Museum of Art, and more.
When: Opens Tuesday, February 23, 6–8pm
Where: Sprüth Magers (5900 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)
Toiling away in the art mines since before the current crop of art stars were in short pants, John Baldessari is arguably LA’s most prominent living artist. It is fitting, then, that Sprüth Magers — only the latest in a number of European and East Coast galleries expanding West — has chosen to inaugurate its brand new Los Angeles outpost with an exhibition devoted to this patron saint of deadpan conceptualism. The gallery’s ground floor location in the former Variety Building, across from Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), can only strengthen the small but formidable Miracle Mile gallery cluster.
When: Opens Wednesday, February 24, 6–8pm
Where: L.A. Louver (45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice, Los Angeles)
LA assemblage artists Ed and Nancy Kienholz used the detritus of everyday life to fashion fantastical, often unsettling tableaux, reflecting their weird, dark, media-soaked vision of American life. Not surprisingly, they often incorporated or referenced the TV — that ubiquitous mid-century vehicle of mass communication — and L.A. Louver presents 13 of the couple’s television-based works produced between the late 60s and Ed’s death in 1994. If that’s not enough, the gallery will also be opening a show of works and ephemera by Marcel Duchamp, all gathered together by a single collector.
Emma Sulkowicz: Self-Portrait
When: Opens Saturday, February 27, 7–11pm
Where: Coagula Curatorial (974 Chung King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Artist Emma Sulkowicz made headlines while still a student at Columbia with her 2014 piece “Carry That Weight,” for which she carried her mattress everywhere she went to protest the university’s mishandling of her sexual assault case. For her first solo exhibition at Coagula Curatorial, Sulkowicz will engage in a durational performance no less grueling. For the first three weeks of the show, she will stand on a platform during gallery hours, interacting with visitors, and answering questions. Any questions that she is not willing to answer, however, will be directed to a life-size replica of the artist, the Emmatron, which visitors can also interact with through an app.
Guy Richards Smit: A Mountain of Skulls and Not One I Recognize
When: Opens Saturday, February 27, 6–9pm
Where: Charlie James Gallery (969 Chung King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Just across Chung King Road from Coagula, Charlie James will be presenting his first solo show of work by New York-based painter and performance artist Guy Richards Smit. As the exhibition’s title suggests, A Mountain of Skulls and Not One I Recognize features a year’s worth of watercolors and gouaches that portray human mortality and vanity with a mix of pathos and dark humor. Also on view will be selections from Smit’s New York Times series, in which he paints satirical versions of the paper’s front pages with headlines like “Candidate Issues Unspecified Request for Forgiveness,” and “Everyone You Were Proving Yourself To Is Dead Now.”
Sandow Birk: American Qur’an
When: Closes Sunday, February 28, 11am–5pm
Where: Orange County Museum of Art (850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach, California)
As a result of Islam’s proscription against the depiction God and the prophets, Islamic Art has instead produced some of the world’s most dazzlingly elaborate geometric designs and incredibly florid calligraphy. These find perhaps their fullest realization in illuminated manuscripts, most notably the Qur’an. For his American Qur’an project, artist Sandow Birk spent nine years illustrating every verse of the holy book in a series of over 300 gouache paintings. Birk has attempted to make the universal themes of the Qur’an relevant to a contemporary, Western audience, even basing his script style on Los Angeles graffiti.
A Cinematic Open Mic featuring Ann Hirsch
When: Sunday, February 28, 6pm
Where: Non Plus Ultra (4310 Burns Ave, East Hollywood, Los Angeles)
LA-based “microcinema” Video Collective Los Angeles is hosting a cinematic open mic night of sorts, where participants are encouraged to bring their own short films to be screened. Interested parties should bring a DVD, VHS, Blu-Ray, .mov, .mp4 of no more than 10 minutes to DIY venue Non Plus Ultra between 5:30 and 6pm. Video and performance artist Ann Hirsch will also be presenting her work, which focuses on the intersection of technology, media, gender, and identity. $5 entrance fee.