For Mental Health Awareness Month, the Los Angeles County Department of Health has organized a series of art events with the belief that art can help us heal. Personally, I’ve probably never been more conscious of that fact than now. We’ve gathered some of the highlights from the WE RISE program below, as well as exciting exhibitions from newly reopened museums, including the Getty Villa, Craft Contemporary, and more.

Elisa Wouk Almino

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My Very Favourite Things

My Very Favourite Things, installation view at the Lodge (photo by Isar Jamali)

When: through May 22
Where: by appointment at the Lodge (1024 N Western Ave, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

For over a year, our physical worlds have shrunk, with our immediate surroundings and homes taking on increased significance. Curated by Iranian-American art consultant Narges Hamzianpour, My Very Favourite Things brings together 21 Iranian and Iranian-American artists into an intimate domestic setting, creating a cosmopolitan cross-section of the Persian diaspora in a tiny corner of East Hollywood.


Yōshū Chikanobu, “Famous Sights of Nikkō: Hannya and Hōtō Waterfalls” (1891) (photo courtesy © Japan House Los Angeles)

When: through May 31
Where: Japan House Los Angeles (6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Japan House Los Angeles has selected more than 60 Japanese prints from the Scripps College collection in Claremont, California, spanning from the 17th to 20th centuries and with a particular focus on nature. The exhibition compellingly argues that nature has long been of central importance in Japanese culture, as it is considered to influence human behavior and also encompasses the supernatural world of spirits. From depictions of idyllic cherry blossoms to awe-inspiring ghosts and demons, these imaginative prints are endlessly fascinating.

The New Contemporaries Vol. 2

Veronica Fernandez, “One to Thirty Days” (2020) (photo by Elon Schoenholz)

When: through June 5
Where: by appointment at Residency Art Gallery (310 E Queen St, Inglewood, California)

Since the beginning of US history, non-white bodies have been objectified, fetishized, and brutalized through artistic, scientific, and political means. The New Contemporaries Vol. 2 is an attempt to reframe the narrative by reclaiming self-representation in a way that is grounded in empowerment and inclusion. The exhibition showcases artists from all over the country working in a range of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, and performance. Participating artists include Yasmine Nasser Diaz, Veronica Fernandez, Alfonso Gonzalez Jr., Fabian Guerrero, February James, Larry Li, Yvette Mayorga, Carmen Neely, Na’ye Perez, Devin Reynolds, and Bradley Ward.

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

“Wall Panel with a Striding Lion Neo-Babylonian period” (605–562 BC), glazed brick object: 39 1/4 × 90 3/4 × 4 3/4 inches, 670 lb (the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund, 1931)

When: through August 16
Where: by appointment at the Getty Villa (17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California)

Located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in modern-day Iraq, Mesopotamia is home to some of the first major developments of Western Civilization: writing, cities, astronomy, and math. Organized by the Getty Museum and the Louvre in Paris, Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins covers three millennia, from its first cities in 3200 BCE, through subsequent civilizations of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, to Alexander the Great’s annexation of Babylon in 331 BCE. On view will be objects that tell the story of these influential cultures, including a glazed brick lion from Babylon’s Ishtar Gate; seals and tablets representing early forms of writing; and statues of gods and rulers, all created centuries before the birth of Christ.

Art Rise

Patrick Martinez, “Only Light Can Do That” (detail) (2021), neon mural installation, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes (courtesy the artist, photo courtesy of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes)

When: May 7–31, sunrise to sunset
Where: sites in Downtown LA, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, Leimert Park, and South Central

WE RISE is a series of programs, community pop-ups, public art projects, and digital experiences meant to engender well-being and healing, taking place throughout May, Mental Health Awareness Month. One facet of the initiative is Art Rise, a series of 18 outdoor art installations and three special projects taking place in five neighborhoods: Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire, Leimert Park, and South Central. Projects include an “Abolitionist Self-Sustaining Pod and Autonomous Garden,” at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), created by the Crenshaw Dairy Mart; Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio’s functional beehive oven sculpture, produced in conjunction with Clockshop; and Patrick Martinez’s neon sign mural gracing the facade of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes.

Making Time

Betye Saar, “Waiting to Serve” (1999), mixed media assemblage, 9.5 x 16.5 x 2.375 inches (image courtesy the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California, © Betye Saar)

When: May 9–September 12
Where: by appointment at Craft Contemporary (5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)

Craft Contemporary will be reopening with a group exhibition featuring LA-based artists who have had solo shows at the museum over the past decade. The wide-range of works illustrates the melding and blurring of fine art and craft that the institution has showcased since its founding almost 50 years ago. Artists include Tanya Aguiñiga, Uzumaki Cepeda, Beatriz Cortez, Keiko Fukazawa, Katherine Gray, Gronk, Sherin Guirguis, Betye Saar, Timothy Washington, and Ann Weber.

Call Card

Moyra Davey, “Réunion” (2021) (detail), two C-prints, tape, postage, ink, unique (image courtesy the artist and Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, photo by Grant Gutierrez)

When: May 15–June 12
Where: by appointment at Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA) (709 N Hill St #104-108, Chinatown, Los Angeles)

What happens to the messages and letters we send out into the world, after they’ve been mailed and delivered? In this group show, Moyra Davey, veronique d’entremont, and Miko Revereza gather archives of messages exchanged among friends and family, from decorated postcards to narrated home videos. 

Tomoo Gokita: Fresh

Tomoo Gokita, “Handsome Duo” (2021), acrylic on canvas, 101.97 x 76.38 inches (© Tomoo Gokita, courtesy the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo)

When: May 15–June 26
Where: by appointment at Blum & Poe (2727 S La Cienega Boulevard, Culver City, Los Angeles)

Tomoo Gokita’s first solo show with Blum & Poe in 2018 featured black and white paintings of figures pulled from print media that he alters and distorts with unsettling results. For his second solo show, the Japanese-born artist brings color back into his work and has abandoned the print sources, relying only on his imagination. These new paintings walk a line between abstraction and figuration, straddling high and low art with references to B-movie monsters as well as surrealistic predecessors like de Chirico or Dalí.

Intergalactix: against isolation/contra el aislamiento

Tanya Aguiñiga, “Metabolizing the Border” (2020) (photo by Gina Clyne)

When: May 15–August 14
Where: by appointment at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE)(6522 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, Los Angeles)

Intergalactix: against isolation/contra el aislamiento takes its name from the concept of “Encuentro Intergaláctico” (Intergalactic Gathering) coined in 1996 by the Zapatista rebellion in Southern Mexico, as an attempt to counter dehumanizing neoliberalism and imposed borders. The artists in the exhibition explores the violence generated by physical and figurative borders, focusing on both Mexico’s Southern border with Central America and its Northern border with the US. The show includes commissioned work by the Fire Theory,  Tanya Aguiñiga, Cog•nate Collective, and a collaboration between Beatriz Cortez, Kaqjay Moloj, and FIEBRE Ediciones.

Rights and Rituals: The Making of African American Debutante Culture

Nat King Cole and former United States President John F Kennedy greeting an African-American debutante during a cotillion, Beverly Hills, California (1962) (photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

When: May 26, 2021–February 27, 2022
Where: by appointment at the California African American Museum (CAAM) (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)

In the photo above, President John F. Kennedy and the great Nat King Cole greet one of 28 ladies at a debutante ball in Los Angeles. The moment would mark “the emergent power of African American debutante culture,” the subject of an exhibition at CAAM, which spans from the 1890s to the 1960s, when Black debutantes contributed to the fight for civil rights.

Elisa Wouk Almino is a senior editor at Hyperallergic. She is based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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.