Unlike their counterparts on the East Coast, most galleries in Los Angeles don’t slow down or close up in August, despite the sweltering heat. The exhibitions below offer vibrant and challenging explorations of place, identity, and history. Some dig deep into the geographic and cultural fabric of the city, while others introduce artists from across the country and the world, whose work compliments the buzzing energy of summer in the city.
Steve Keene Art Show
When: through August 12
Where: Palm Grove Social (4660 West Washington Boulevard, Mid-City, Los Angeles)
Fans of nineties indie rock will no doubt be familiar with Steve Keene, whose paintings appear on the covers of albums by Pavement, the Silver Jews, and the Apples in Stereo. Keene is no niche artist, however, but rather a wildly prolific painter, who has produced 300,000 paintings over the past 30 years, which he sells for as little as $5 to $10 per piece. He mass produces his works in an assembly-line fashion, painting the same image on multiple panels lined up in “the cage,” his chain-link walled studio filled with paint, brushes, and plywood. Timed to coincide with the release of his first monograph, The Steve Keene Art Book, the Steve Keene Art Show is a career retrospective featuring hand-painted multiples, a site-specific mural, and rarely-seen early work from this “Johnny Appleseed of art,” as Elsa Longhauser, founder of the ICA LA, dubbed him.
Rae Klein: LOW VOICE OUT LOUD
When: through August 13
Where: Nicodim Gallery (1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, #160, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Rae Klein’s haunting, dreamlike paintings feature familiar objects — a horse, a candelabra, a pair of eyes — but the juxtapositions offer little in the way of explanation. Rather, her spare, surreal compositions invite the viewer to construct their own narratives, like a Rorschach or rebus.
Blake Daniels: Triumph of the Southern Suburbs
When: through August 13
Where: Matthew Brown (633 North La Brea Avenue, Fairfax, Los Angeles)
Blake Daniels’s paintings in Triumph of the Southern Suburbs reflect the artist’s experience in the queer communities of Johannesburg but avoid direct depiction. They imbue their scenes of street vendors, landscapes, and domestic life with elements of magical realism and fantasy, expressed through vibrant, buzzing colors, and animated brushwork.
Ozzie Juarez: Por Debajo
When: through August 27
Where: Ochi Aux (3305 West Washington Boulevard, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles)
Ozzie Juarez cut his teeth as a scenic artist at Disneyland, where he used his painting and fabrication skills to create compelling fantasy environments. That background is evident in Por Debajo, his first solo show at Ochi Projects, which draws on pre-Columbian Mexica codices, street art, and geometric abstraction. Painting on stucco-textured ground, found car parts and awnings, Juarez weaves Nahuatl symbols from the codices into neon and pastel patterns that stretch across borders and time to imagine an alternate anti-colonial future.
All Opposing Players
When: through August 27
Where: David Kordansky Gallery (5130 West Edgewood Place, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)
All Opposing Players is a group exhibition curated by the Racial Imaginary Institute, which was founded by Claudia Rankine in 2016 with the goal of challenging how we think about race. It features video, performance, and works on paper by Lotte Andersen, Ed Fornieles, and Shaun Leonardo that explore the theme of nationalism through the frame of games, role-playing, puzzles, and sport.
When: through August 27
Where: Charlie James Gallery (969 Chung King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Rostro is a celebratory group exhibition featuring artists from the US, Mexico, and Puerto Rico who explore themes of identity and selfhood in their work. Curated by Ever Velasquez, the show — whose title translates to “face” — considers both the surfaces we present to the world and those facets that we keep hidden. What does it mean to offer a bold, unapologetic version of yourself to an often hostile world? Participating artists include Danie Cansino, Hely Omar Gonzalez, Patrick Martinez, Joey Terrill, and many others.
When: through September 4
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles)
For LA-based artist Andrea Bowers, art and activism are inseparably linked. Her current retrospective at the Hammer Museum features three decades of her work that advocates and agitates around issues such as environmental justice, women’s rights, immigration, and labor struggles. The work ranges from drawing and sculpture to installation and performance, and connects the dots between art history and popular protest.
Jerry Peña: You Ain’t Gotta Lie to Kick It
When: August 13–September 18
Where: Le Maximum (2525 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, California)
Jerry Peña’s painted mixed-media works incorporate car parts, beer cans, work gloves, cement, and broken glass, reflecting his lived experience as an Angeleno from a working class, Mexican American background. He brings these elements together in compositions that recall the junk assemblages of Kienholz and the poetic combines of Rauschenberg as much as auto-body shops and custom car culture, ubiquitous features of the city.
Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971
When: August 21–April 9, 2023
Where: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)
Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971 showcases the work of Black American filmmakers, actors, and entertainers, reframing narratives often excluded from mainstream film history. The exhibition spans from the birth of film to the end of the Civil Rights Movement, focusing on those who worked both within and outside the Hollywood system. It highlights William Selig’s recently rediscovered 1898 short film “Something Good – Negro Kiss”; iconic dancer, singer, and actor Josephine Baker; and fiercely independent director Melvin Van Peebles, whose 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” is a cornerstone of the blaxploitation genre.
Margaret Garcia: Arte para la Gente
When: through June 11, 2023
Where: LA Plaza de Cultura y Arte (501 North Main Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Arte Para la Gente is a career retrospective of the work of influential Chicana artist Margaret Garcia, whose paintings offer an intimate, honest portrayal of her city, community, and family. With nods to Fauvism and Impressionism, Garcia’s paintings range from street scenes of her Boyle Heights neighborhood to portraits of her circle of friends and collaborators, and reinterpretations of Mexican Catholic religious imagery. The exhibition also includes prints from her “Stamp Project,” a suite of black-and-white serigraphs by Garcia and other artists that was an attempt to exert greater control over the means of producing, distributing, and selling art.
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.
Ten Painful Stories of the Dutch Colonial Slave Trade
The Rijksmuseum’s traveling show strives to remind us that we are all, in some way, a part of this chapter of human history, whose legacy continues today.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Textured Histories at Shiprock Santa Fe
The Santa Fe gallery features Indigenous textiles and jewelry from the early 19th century to today.
Renaissance Portrait of “Ugly Duchess” Likely Depicts a Man
A curator at London’s National Gallery believes the subject of painter Quinten Massys’s painting “is most likely a he.”
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Hokusai’s “Great Wave” Makes a Splash at Auction
An edition of the iconic woodblock print broke records when it sold for $2.8M this week.
MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
Episode four, in which artists tackled themes of justice and injustice, was the most lifeless of the reality TV show so far.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.
Tickets to Sold-Out Vermeer Show Are Going for Hundreds
The online resale market for the Rijksmuseum’s smash exhibition is booming, with tickets selling on eBay for over $2K.
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?