Now that the fairs are over, it may seem like the Los Angeles art world is settling down and getting back to normal, but the art on view this month is still volatile and boundary-pushing. Sculpture is packing a punch, whether it’s Alison Saar’s radical, revisionist take on racist, colonial imagery, or Kathleen Ryan’s fabulously fetid depictions of American exceptionalism, rot and all. Two-dimensional work kicks back just as fiercely, from Luis Garza’s documentation of Chicano activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s to an exhibition of art as activism at Subliminal Projects. Korakrit Arunanondchai uses fire and ash as creative elements, while Gaetano Pesce proves that his delightfully unrestrained designs still offer a welcome rejoinder to staid Modernism after more than five decades.
Alison Saar: Uproot
The 1801 engraving “Voyage of the Sable Venus from Angola to the West Indies” by Thomas Stothard depicts an African woman standing on a shell, à la Botticelli’s Venus, attended by White cherubim as she crosses the ocean. It is an idealized scene that omits the traumatic dislocation and mass death of the Middle Passage. Alison Saar confronts the legacy of the Sable Venus in Uproot, her eighth solo exhibition with LA Louver, instead portraying Black women as icons of resistance and resilience. In the sculpture “Mutiny of the Sable Venus” (2022), Saar reimagines her as a sickle-wielding revolutionary astride a catfish, while “Uproot” and “Plucked” (2022), paintings on cotton sacks, feature illustrations of herbal abortifacients used by some enslaved women to break the cycle of generational violence and subjugation.
LA Louver (lalouver.com)
45 North Venice Boulevard, Venice, California
Through March 11
Hubert Schmalix: Eyes Upon… / Roger Herman: Keramik
Twenty-five years ago, four friends opened the Black Dragon Society in LA’s Chinatown, a gallery, performance space, and gathering spot for artists. It operated from 1998 to 2008, a period that saw the emergence of Chinatown as a vibrant contemporary art community. Nino Mier Gallery honors the legacy of the Black Dragon Society with solo shows of new work by two of the venue’s founders: Hubert Schmalix and Roger Herman. Schmalix engages with the traditional painting genres of landscape, still life, and portraiture, updating them with a graphic simplicity and discordant color schemes. Herman intervenes in his wheel-thrown ceramic vessels, cutting and stacking them to produce a tension between polish and imperfection, enlivened by rough geometric compositions of vibrant glaze.
Nino Mier Gallery (miergallery.com/exhibitions/hubert-schmalix & miergallery.com/exhibitions/roger-herman2)
7313 & 7277 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, California
Through March 11
Benjamin Asam Kellogg: Hidden Pathways
Benjamin Asam Kellogg’s work is filled with symbols — snakes, flames, stars, crowns — that reappear in wide-ranging mythological and mystical traditions, including the Bible and tarot. In his second solo show at Murmurs, he connects these symbolic archetypes through an architectural installation anchored by a compass on the ground, inviting viewers to navigate through the web of arcane mysteries he has conjured.
1411 Newton Street, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through March 17
Luis Garza: The Other Side of Memory
Luis Garza got his start as a photographer at the seminal Chicano magazine La Raza in the late 1960s, while still a student at UCLA. In the ensuing five decades, he won acclaim for his photographs, and branched out to become a producer-director of documentary film projects and an exhibition curator. The Other Side of Memory presents 66 black-and-white silver gelatin prints from his archive, many never exhibited before, documenting life in the South Bronx in the 1960s, East LA in the 1970s, and his iconic images of the Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros taken in 1971. Curator Armando Durón juxtaposes photographs from different eras and locations to suggest new stylistic and thematic threads.
Riverside Art Museum (riversideartmuseum.org)
3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, California
Through March 19
Visual Language: The Art of Protest
Some of the most influential radical movements — from the Russian revolutionaries of a century ago to the Black Panthers of the 1960s — spread their message with equally radical and eye-catching graphics. Visual Language: The Art of Protest features over two dozen artists who aim to push culture forward through their artwork, whether it be exhibited on the museum wall, wheat-pasted on the street, or unfurled as a protest banner. Artists include Andrea Bowers, Barbara Kruger, Robbie Conal, Emory Douglas, Guerrilla Girls, Renee Cox, Pussy Riot, and others.
Subliminal Projects (subliminalprojects.com)
1331 West Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park, Los Angeles
Through March 25
Kathleen Ryan: Beachcomber
Kathleen Ryan is known for her glittering sculptures of decaying fruit, constructed from hundreds of small crystals, stones, marbles, and bits of glass. With her current solo show, she applies this mixture of fascination and revulsion to that quintessential site of California cool, freedom, and leisure: the beach. A rotten orange slice and cherry are skewered by a larger-than-life cocktail umbrella, alluding to the sickly sweet hangover that remains once the party is over. In contrast to her signature maximalism, she has crafted oversized clam shells from scrap car parts, their elegant industrial curves tinged with a melancholic sense of abandonment.
François Ghebaly (ghebaly.com)
2245 East Washington Boulevard, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through March 25
Korakrit Arunanondchai: Painting, Prayer, Text
Korakrit Arunanondchai’s latest show includes paintings and sculptures shaped by processes of destruction and creation, reflecting a conflicted relationship with home. The exhibition features spirit houses which began as doll houses built by the artist’s mother, which were then burned and remade with elements from traditional Thai spirit houses. Large history paintings are made through a similarly destructive process during which Arunanondchai collages onto denim canvases, then sets them aflame, mixing the ashes and performance photography with unburned denim to create works that depict their own demise.
530 North Western Avenue, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through April 15
Gaetano Pesce: Dear Future
Architect and designer Gaetano Pesce’s work is characterized by bold colors, organic forms, experimental materials, and a whimsy that offers a vision of Modernism quite different from the understated, rectilinear uniformity of the International Style. He uses techniques like pouring colored urethane to thwart industrial standardization, giving near-identical objects their own personalities. Dear Future brings together over fifty years of furniture and sculpture from the mercurial master, including an updated version of his iconic 1969 curvacious “UP5_6” recliner chair, made this time from recycled corks.
Future Perfect (thefutureperfect.com)
1800 Camino Palermo Street, Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles
Through March 31
Kade Twist: To Keep a Fire
In his own multi-media work, and as a member of art collective Postcommodity, Kade Twist explores the intersection of Indigenous cultural expression, neoliberal capitalism, and decolonization with biting wit and keen insight. To Keep a Fire arranges five works as a “fragmented ceremonial ground” that illustrates the complexity of these crossovers. In these sculptural installations, fire is depicted as a symbol of both group collaboration and righteous fury, a DIY engine hoist champions human inspiration against corporate interests, and the hemispheric solidarity of working-class BIPOC communities takes the shape of a 40-gallon tub of Fabuloso cleaner.
Grand Central Art Center (grandcentralartcenter.com)
125 North Broadway, Santa Ana, California
Through April 16
Kenturah Davis: Dark Illumination
Kenturah Davis uses letter forms and words to build up her revealing portraits, forging a link between language and representation. In Dark Illumination, the culmination of her OXY ARTS residency, works that incorporate drawing, photography, and printmaking explore another in-between space: that of darkness and light. Inspired by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s 1933 essay “In Praise of Shadows,” Davis challenges conventional associations of darkness with obscurity and confusion, stressing its importance in the construction of meaning.
Oxy Arts (oxyarts.oxy.edu)
4757 York Boulevard, Highland Park, Los Angeles
Through April 29