The UM’s 2017 Holiday Block Party. (Courtesy of The Underground Museum. Photo by Christel Robleto.)

The holidays are generally a downtime in the art world, when gallerists take a week or two off to rest and spend time with family and friends. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a lot going on, however. Here are a few arts-oriented holiday events to tide you over until the new year brings a flood of new exhibitions, performances, screenings, and talks.

The Underground Museum Holiday Block Party

Since its founding in 2012 by the late artist Noah Davis and his wife, sculptor Karon Davis, the Underground Museum has been not only a place to see museum-quality exhibitions (made possible through their partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), but also a gathering place, where communities of color are just as prominent if not more so, than the too-often predominantly white museum-going crowd. This Thursday, the museum will open their doors — or more accurately, shut down the street — for its second Annual Holiday Block Party. The free outdoor event is open to all and will feature a performance from choreographer Kyle Abraham’s group A.I.M., music from Zuri Adia and DJ Kaleem, and food from local Arlington Heights establishments.

When: Thursday, December 20, 6–11pm
Where: The Underground Museum (3508 West Washington Boulevard, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles)

More info at the Underground Museum.

l–r: Malik (Street Symphony), Lyrical Storm and DJ Sir Oliver at the Festival for All Skid Row Artists in San Julian Park on Nov. 3 and 4, 2018 (Courtesy of LA Poverty Department)

Holiday Party at the Los Angeles Poverty Department

Fusing activism and art, the Los Angeles Poverty Department is a performance group made up primarily of homeless people. Located in Skid Row, it was the first arts organization for the homeless in Los Angeles when it was founded in 1985. In 2015, they opened the Skid Row Museum & Archive to document the neighborhood’s history and traditions of resistance and perseverance. The current exhibition State of the ART: Skid Row features a decade’s worth of photographs of the area’s artistic community. To celebrate the exhibition’s closing, the LAPD will be throwing a holiday party and conversation featuring musical performances from Lyrical Storm, Sir Oliver and Street Symphony, and a discussion about the arts on Skid Row with artist Crushow Herring, activist Hayk Makhmuryan, and LAPD founder John Malpede.

When: Saturday, December 22, 5–8pm
Where: Skid Row History Museum & Archive (250 S. Broadway., Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at Los Angeles Poverty Department.

Krampus (via flickr commons, VasenkaPhotography)

Pagan and Christian Traditions at the Bowers Museum

European Christmas traditions are full of pagan elements, like the Christmas tree itself, that have been incorporated over centuries as the holiday has evolved. Author Al Ridenour will delve into the syncretic, medieval origins of modern Christmas in his discussion, “Yule in the Middle Ages: A Mix of Pagan and Christian Winter Traditions During the Time of Knights.” Ridenour will be joined by classical soloist Christina Linhardt and former Ringling Brothers clown Tuba Heatherton for a performance of period music. There will also be a demonstration of a Welsh Christmas tradition, and perhaps a visit from everyone’s favorite yuletide goat-demon Krampus, whom Ridenour has written a book on.

When: Saturday, December 22, 1:30–3pm
Where: Bowers Museum (2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California)

More info at Bowers Museum.

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.