Julie Mehretu, “Retopistics: A Renegade Evacuation” (2001), ink and acrylic on canvas, 102 × 216 inches (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; 2013.28, © Julie Mehretu, photo by Erma Estwick)

Julie Mehretu is a history painter for our contemporary, information-saturated age. The Ethiopia-born, New York-based artist creates densely-layered, large-scale canvases that depict grand movements and forces like capitalism, colonialism, and migration. Resembling complex diagrams or architectural models, her abstract works reflect the wide sweep of human history, as opposed to single moments of individual exceptionalism. LACMA’s upcoming mid-career retrospective is the first comprehensive survey of her work.

When: Opens Sunday, November 3
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA (5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)

More info at LACMA

Nayland Blake, “Equipment for a Shameful Epic” (1993), mixed media, 84 x 63 x 32 inches (©Nayland Blake, image courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery)

Emerging in the 80s and 90s, during the era of the AIDS crisis and the reactionary Culture Wars, Nayland Blake’s mixed-media practice incorporates sculpture, video, and performance to explore themes of queer and biracial identity and love. Playful, touching, and challenging in equal measure, their work often engages the viewer, such as in “Feeder 2” (1998), a life-size gingerbread cabin that spectators could nibble on. Although Blake received their MFA from CalArts, followed by a decade in San Francisco, the artist has surprisingly never had a solo show in LA. That will change this fall when the ICA LA mounts the most comprehensive survey of Blake’s work to date.

When: Opens Sunday, September 29
Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (ICALA) (1717 East 7th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at ICALA

Barbara McCullough, production still from “Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification” (1979) (image courtesy the artist and UCLA Film & Television Archive.)

In the aftermath of 1965’s Watts Uprising, a group of African-American filmmakers associated with UCLA’s film school came on the scene as a bold new voice in American cinema. Known as the “L.A. Rebellion,” their work was characterized by “burgeoning diasporic consciousness, strong characterizations of women, and formal experimentation.” Time is Running Out of Time: Experimental Film and Video from the L.A. Rebellion & Today at Art + Practice brings together short films from some of these cinematic pioneers, as well as work by contemporary filmmakers who have emerged in their wake. It is presented in collaboration with the knockout exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983, which travels from the Brooklyn Museum to the Broad, opening there on March 23.

When: Opens Saturday, February 2, 2–5pm
Where: Art + Practice (3401 West 43rd Place, Leimert Park, Los Angeles)

More info at Art + Practice

Shirin Neshat, “Untitled,” from Roja series, (2016), Silver gelatin print, 40 x 92 3/4 inches (© Shirin Neshat, image courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels)

Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian community outside of Iran, and fittingly we’ve had some solid shows of work by Iranian artists lately, from LACMA’s In the Fields of Empty Days, to the upcoming Focus Iran 3 at CAFAM. Later this year, the Broad will present Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again, the first major West-Coast retrospective of the Iranian-born filmmaker and photographer, spanning 25 years of her work. Since the 90s, her dynamic black-and-white films and still images have centered on Muslim women, exploring the lives of Iranians — at home and in exile — through their stories.

When: Opens October 19
Where: The Broad Museum (221 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at The Broad

Allen Ruppersberg, “The Singing Posters: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl by Allen Ruppersberg (Parts I-III)” (2003/2005) (detail), commercially printed letterpress posters (image courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali, New York and Skirball Museum, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, photo by Robert Wedemeyer)

For 50 years, Allen Ruppersberg has been interrogating the connection between word and image found in popular culture. Allen Ruppersberg: Intellectual Property 1968–2018 at the Hammer Museum is the pioneering conceptual artist’s first comprehensive US retrospective in three decades. The wide-ranging survey features over 120 works, from early assemblages, to photographic works, and iconic pieces like his reproduction of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl,” printed in collaboration with the now defunct but influential Colby Poster Printing Co. It will also focus on participatory installations like “Al’s Grand Hotel” (1971) in Hollywood and “Al’s Cafe” (1969) in Downtown LA, a surreal restaurant where patrons were served inedible objects like rocks and plants, until it was shut down by the police who arrested Ruppersberg and the waitresses.

When: Opens Sunday, February 10
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles)

More info at Hammer Museum

Beatriz Cortez, structures from “Trinidad / Joy Station” interacting with the Los Angeles River at the Bowtie Project, (2018) (image courtesy the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles, photo by Gina Clyne)

Beatriz Cortez draws on her roots in El Salvador, where she lived until emigrating to the US at 18, to create sculptures that traverse time and place. This was evident in “Tzolk’in,” a kinetic sculpture based on the Mayan agricultural calendar and her contribution to 2018’s Made in LA. The two versions placed at the Hammer Museum and the Bowtie Project were linked via technology that allowed visitors at the Hammer to view the other work in real time, analogous to border-spanning relationships. Her upcoming solo museum show at CAFAM, Trinidad / Joy Station, explores communal utopianism in both post-war America and ancient Mayan communities in El Salvador. She fills her welded steel structures with seeds, proposing a nourishing rebirth from the detritus of a post-colonial future.

Mariah Garnett, “Full Burn” (2014), HD Video, 20 min. (image courtesy the artist)

The works of Mariah Garnett aim to dismantle the supposed objectivity of film, as they play with documentary and fictional forms, and feature Garnett on screen, both as herself and impersonating her subjects. Mariah Garnett: Trouble at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, surveys the work of the young, LA-based artist, focusing on such disparate subjects as Hollywood stunt men, a 16th century conquistador, and gay sex symbol Peter Berlin. The show’s centerpiece will be Garnett’s latest film, Trouble, which explores her relationship with her Northern Irish father, whom she only met as an adult.

When: Opens Sunday, February 10, 2–5pm
Where: Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) (4800 Hollywood Boulevard, East Hollywood, Los Angeles)

More info at LAMAG

Trenton Doyle Hancock, “TorpedoBoy Steps and Screws Wearing some Cutty Black Shoes” (2018), acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 60 x 60 x 5 inches (image courtesy the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles)

Entering the world of Trenton Doyle Hancock is like slipping down a rabbit hole built around the artist’s fantastical and idiosyncratic cosmology. His mixed-media paintings chronicle The Moundverse, an alternate reality that he has been exploring for the past 25 years. Merging vibrant, cartoon imagery with abstraction, these canvases are both deeply personal, and thoughtfully engaged with our country’s complex racial dilemma. An Ingenue’s Hues and How to Use Cutty Black Shoes at Shulamit Nazarian is Hancock’s first solo show in Los Angeles. This Saturday’s opening will be preceded by a “story time” with the artist from 4:30 to 6pm.

When: Opens Saturday, January 5, 6–9pm
Where: Shulamit Nazarian (616 North LaBrea Avenue, Fairfax, Los Angeles)

More info at Shulamit Nazarian

Tomás Saraceno, “How to entangle the universe in a spider web?” (2018), spidersilk, carbon fiber, laser carbon, frame: 35 3/8 x 35 3/8 x 35 3/8 inches; 90 x 90 x 90 cm, overall installation dimensions variable (image courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles)

Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno moves deftly between the worlds of art, architecture, and science to create sculptures and installations that resemble molecular models or floating utopias. His whimsical works often draw inspiration from the natural world; last fall, he enlisted 500 spiders as collaborators for his show at the Palais de Tokyo. His upcoming show at Tanya Bonakdar’s new LA outpost will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in the city.

When: Opens Saturday, January 12
Where: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (1010 N Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

More info at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

A promotional image by 2019-Q1 (image courtesy Human Resources)

Long-running Chinatown not-for-profit arts venue Human Resources is known for its prolific programing, with a robust schedule of exhibitions, performances, events, and talks, but it seems like they’re looking to top themselves in 2019. For the first three months of the new year, they’ll be hosting back-to-back performances from dozens of artists. The series, titled 2019–Q1 in keeping with their mock-corporate schtick, features Kelman Duran, Kenyatta Hinkle, Jennifer Doyle, Ike Onyewuenyi, Elliot Reed, Dorian Wood, Kim Ye, and many more.

When: January 1–March 31
Where: Human Resources (410 Cottage Home, Chinatown, Los Angeles)

More info at Human Resources

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.