Maybe it’s the spring season imbuing everything with a renewed sense of vitality. Or maybe it’s seeing a new cohort of freshly graduated MFA students take on their own issues, the art system, and the world at large — a reminder of the constant regeneration taking place. Either way, something about the upcoming exhibitions this month feels overwhelmingly raw, vulnerable, and full of emotion.
When: through May 21
Where: The Box (805 Traction Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)
The inimitable, the legendary, and the iconic Simone Forti has no doubt been the subject of countless exhibitions, but rarely does one feel as gentle of an embrace as An Other Pretty Autumn. Videos of Forti weeding in her garden — the camera lingering ever-so-achingly on the movement of her hands — are woven together with writings, drawings, ephemera of the artist’s early performances, and readings of the exhibition’s eponymous poem, to create a kind of choreography that reflects on the totality, and the utter profundity, of Forti’s life and work.
When: through May 21
Where: Hannah Hoffman (2504 West 7th Street, 2nd Floor, Westlake, Los Angeles)
Though the exhibition may seem cryptic at first — with ceremonial offerings arranged on the ground, a stream-of-consciousness artist statement overtaking an entire wall, and the green-lit gallery installation suffused with the overwhelming smell of earth — Puppies Puppies (Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo) is surprisingly direct, and vulnerable. Here, the trans artist sheds some of the mechanisms of distance like the sexiness, humor, and critique that characterized so much of her work under the moniker of Puppies Puppies to reveal more of herself as Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo.
When: through May 21
Where: Bel Ami (709 North Hill Street, Upstairs Suite 105, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
CFGNY, short for Concept Foreign Garment New York or Cute Fucking Gay New York, makes their Los Angeles debut in Chinatown’s Bel Ami (even creating new tags marking a temporary change of name to “CFGLA”). Playfully self-described as “vaguely Asian,” the art/fashion collective expands upon their sculptural and installation practice in Import Imprint to explore the in-between-ness of Asian identity, from porcelain to globalized modes of production, with humor and incisive wit.
When: through May 21
Where: Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (709 North Hill Street, Upstairs Suite 104-8, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Just next door to Bel Ami is the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (LACA), a treasure trove of art-related ephemera, artists’ writings, audio-visual recordings, and more. The archive doesn’t always host exhibitions, but when it does, it is typically research-based, inviting viewers to delve into the resources surrounding. The Dividual is no exception. Curated by Joshua Simon, the exhibition tackles one of the biggest questions of all time: that of defining subjectivity. Equally ambitious is the exhibition’s list of included artists, writers, and thinkers, from giants like Karl Marx, Walter Benjamin, and Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, to local artists like Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Ignacio Perez Meruane, and Shana Lutker.
When: through June 5
Where: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)
Even if you think you know every single one of Hayao Miyazaki’s films by heart — or even if you don’t — you won’t regret spending an afternoon at the Academy Museum’s retrospective of the Japanese master’s work. Bring your family and friends, anime-lovers and non-anime-lovers alike, to get lost in the Miyazaki’s whimsical world and relive his movies through the exhibition’s array of interactive installations, miniature models, documentary footage of the filmmaker and studio, and of course, the artist’s signature effortless sketches.
When: April 5–June 25
Where: Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum, California State University Long Beach (CSULB) (1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach)
As a homage to the pushcart used by street vendors ubiquitous to Mexican communities on both sides of the US/Mexico border, Anabel Juárez creates her own interpretation for her solo exhibition Recordar Es Vivir (Remembering is Living). Instead of carrying merchandise, however, Juárez’ version transports memories — almost like votives — stored in the form of hand-built ceramic objects, ranging from the sentimental to the symbolic. Collectively, the sculptures speak to things that we can and cannot carry in the process of migration, prompting the artist to remember “the experiences, the people I left behind, and the place that I called home.”
When: May 7–June 25
Where: Regen Projects (6750 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Having just announced their representation of Kevin Beasley, known for his textile and sound sculptures addressing Black American history, Regen Projects presents the artist’s first solo show in Los Angeles. Titled On site, the exhibition features a modified utility pole, cable wires running out from its center and humming with field recordings. Beasley, who presented a similar work at Prospect New Orleans earlier this year, is sure to dig up the connections and contradictions of a place as complicated as Los Angeles.
When: May 14–July 2
Where: Mixografía (1419 East Adams Boulevard, Central-Alameda, Los Angeles)
Alongside an exhibition of works by Sonya Clark, Mixografía presents a new edition with the artist: “Confederate, surrender” (2022), an image of the dishcloth used as a flag of truce by the Confederate Army upon their surrender at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. With this closeup of the kitchen towel — waffle weave, frayed edges and all — waving against the blue sky, Clark asks the viewer to reconsider what it means for the humble rag, and all that it represents, to have been used as the Confederate’s flag of peace, and what it means for it to be flown again.
When: May 28–August 20
Where: Roy and Edna Disney / CalArts Theater (REDCAT) (631 West 2nd Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Taking acclaimed science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler as its starting point, American Artist: Shaper of God is inspired by both her novels and her life to explore the elements of science fiction shaping the history and mythology of Los Angeles — Pasadena, to be exact. Here, curator Adam Kleinman connects Butler’s narratives to the fact and fiction of another Pasadena institution: Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Whether tied to science or fiction, the show promises to ground Butler’s universe within the realities of Los Angeles, and conversely, unearth the fantasies embedded in the making of the city.
MFA Thesis Shows
When: ongoing; last show at UC Irvine (May 14–28)
Where: Art Center, CalArts, Otis, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, USC
Last but not least, don’t forget the MFA Thesis Exhibition shows happening all over town! Though most programs have already held their open studio events, there are still several smaller exhibitions running that feature 2 or 3 students from their MFA programs. With Los Angeles as the capital of art schools (the city hosts the highest number of art schools in the country), there is no shortage of exhibitions to choose from, from private schools like Art Center in Pasadena, Otis in the Westside, USC in Downtown LA, and CalArts in Valencia, to public ones like UCLA, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine. Go out and support your friends — most of whom probably started their programs in the midst of the pandemic and will definitely appreciate the IRL support.
Editor’s Note, 5/3/2022, 5:00PM EDT: An earlier version of this article listed an outdated location for Otis College of Art and Design. Their main campus is located in West LA, with their graduate studios in Culver City.
Editor’s Note, 5/4/2022, 3:30PM EDT: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the title of the exhibition Import Imprint. This has been corrected.