These ten Los Angeles shows to see in July remind us that art is not only a refuge or escape, but can also offer critical engagement and strategies of resistance. From group shows that imagine radical possibilities, to solo exhibitions that upend the status quo with humor and wit, this month’s selections reaffirm the role of art to challenge, question, inspire, and empower.
When: opens July 9
Where: Kohn Gallery (1227 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles)
You may not know her name, but if you’re at all familiar with 20th-century art in LA, you certainly know her face. Shirley Berman was both muse, observer, and anchor of the tight-knit circle of Beat artists that defined LA’s artistic underground in the 1950s and ’60s. She was the cool, elegant foil to her bohemian husband, the artist Wallace Berman, who used his photo of her on the fourth issue of his assemblage magazine Semina. Her striking visage was captured by other artists as well, including Charles Brittin and Edmund Teske. Lyrical Cool will feature portraits of Berman, as well as works from her personal collection by Bruce Conner, George Herms, Lun*na Menoh, and others, providing an artistic tribute to this underappreciated figure who passed away earlier this year at the age of 88.
When: through July 10
Where: Luna Anaïs (D2 Art, 1205 North La Brea Avenue, Inglewood, California)
Curated by artist Alicia Piller, Radical Dawn features 10 mixed-media artists who imagine hopeful possibilities for a new future. The work is characterized by material exploration, references to the urban and natural world, and a reconsideration of accepted histories. Artists include Sarah Stefana Smith, whose woven flag forms challenge rigid identities and boundaries; Silvi Naçi, whose functional objects queer traditional domestic spaces; and Molly Jo Shea, who has created a comedic monument to the exhausting limbo of the past few years with her fan-blown tube man who vacillates between torpor and mania.
When: through July 15
Where: Lauren Powell Projects (5225 Hollywood Boulevard, East Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Cute Gloom is a group show that features 40 artists who swaddle darkness and subversion within a blanket of “cuteness.” These include Avner Chaim’s brightly colored, childlike swastikas, Benjamin Cabral’s anxious cartoon figures, and Chanel Von Habsburg-Lothringen’s unsettling, masked pin-up photos. During this era of political, environmental, and social crisis, this combination of sour and sweet suggests a humorous, provocative aesthetic alternative.
When: through July 23
Where: Vielmetter Los Angeles (1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Enigmatic artist Pope.L works across performance, installation, and video to explore race, identity, language, and material culture. For his second solo show at Vielmetter, he has transformed the gallery into a series of sheds through which viewers must navigate. They will encounter four video works characterized by their unsettling tone, and a sculpture, I Machine, that is composed of two stacked overhead projectors and a contraption that drips liquid into a bowl, the sound of which is amplified. Also on view will be elements from “The Black Factory,” an ongoing archive since 2004 of “black objects” gathered from the public, that have been secured in compression boxes.
When: through July 23
Where: Chris Sharp Gallery (4650 West Washington Boulevard, Mid-City, Los Angeles)
Edgar Ramirez’s text-based works are deceptively simple, drawing on a range of styles from landscape to appropriation and abstraction. The LA-born artist begins with predatory street signs found throughout the city’s lower-income neighborhoods, offering “cash for houses” or high-interest loans. He repaints them onto cardboard, then attacks them, grinding down the surfaces and obscuring the text. The results are quite beautiful on an aesthetic level, but still bear signs of physical violence that reflect the systemic economic violence of their sources.
When: through August 4
Where: Canary Test (526 East 12th Street, Unit C, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Laggardism is a two-person show featuring sound artist Victoria Shen and “rhythmanalyst” DeForrest Brown, Jr. Defined by Canary Test as “a study and application of slowness amid rapid boom and bust cycles of unfettered libidinal economies,” Laggardism includes a live performance and site-specific sound installation. On view are cut-up records in resin, playable art objects produced by Shen, and Brown, Jr.’s sonic paintings created on an iPad and mixed through music production software Ableton.
When: July 7–August 6
Where: Commonwealth & Council (3006 West 7th Street, Suite 220, Koreatown, Los Angeles)
Beatriz Cortez recreates pre-Columbian objects and sites in steel, bridging ancient and contemporary, ritual and aesthetic. Her welded works have also taken the form of spaceships, anticolonial vessels that represent a kind of “indigenous futurism.” With One eye yes, one eye no, her first solo show at Commonwealth and Council, she will fashion sculptures based on existing and fabricated objetos antiguos that call into question established narratives.
When: through August 20
Where: The Hole (844 North La Brea Avenue, Fairfax, Los Angeles)
With his new series Crush, Adam Parker Smith melds digital and analog, offering a fresh take on classical sculpture. Working with digital researchers, master carvers, and a robot, Smith has taken iconic Greek and Roman sculptures, and compressed them into the shape of cubes, one cubic meter each. They are then painstakingly carved out of marble, offering a material connection to their ancient sources, but transformed through 21st-century technology.
When: July 9–August 27
Where: STARS (3116 North El Centro Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Clifford Prince King’s photographs are candid, poetic reflections of queer Black experiences. With Raspberry Blow, King takes a more elegiac tone, exploring death and longing, while his style becomes more painterly and experimental, incorporating split framing and double exposures.
When: through October 2
Where: Hauser & Wirth (901 East 3rd Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
In her video work, Argentine-born Mika Rottenberg satirizes the global commercial network of manufacturing and consumption with her own absurd DIY production lines. This is her first major solo show on the West Coast, which features four videos created over the last decade, in anticipation of the release of her first feature-length film, “Remote,” later this year. The exhibition will also include kinetic sculptures that use pedal power to flip ponytails or spin plants, pointless acts that recall Tinguely as much as Tati.