This month’s picks are all about community, networks of support, and perseverance. Lonnie Holley brings together a group of friends and colleagues in By Any Means Necessary, while tabernacle at FOCA explores themes of dislocation, diaspora, and domesticity. Vaginal Davis summons a cadre of influential performers through her “make-up paintings” and Sherrill Roland processes the isolation and dehumanization of incarceration through his diverse practice. EPOCH’s Xenospace explores how artists can utilize AI to counter virtual alienation through creative empowerment, and Exposure highlights the disastrous repercussions that nuclear testing and environmental exploitation have had on Indigenous people around the globe.
Carlos Rosales-Silva: Border Logic
Carlos Rosales-Silva’s paintings reference the complicated history of abstraction, drawing on European modernism alongside the Indigenous visual traditions in the Americas that often provided inspiration for artists like Josef Albers and Juan O’Gorman in Mexico. He embeds bits of glass, stone, and plastic into his textured, shaped canvases, blurring the edges between art and craft. Reflecting on his background growing up in the border city of El Paso, Rosales-Silva’s vibrant, vital works don’t so much suggest a clear-cut “border logic” as offer a gleeful hybridity that skirts artificial borders and barriers altogether.
Sargent’s Daughters West (sargentsdaughters.com)
538 North Western Avenue, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through May 13
Vaginal Davis: Macha Family Romance
To create the expressionistic portraits in her solo show Macha Family Romance, Vaginal Davis used unconventional materials associated with beauty rituals such as eye shadow, nail polish, and perfume. They reference her own status as an influential member of LA’s underground queer/punk/performance scene since the late 1970s, as well as the theatrical practice of her subjects who include dancer Raven Wilkinson and actor and dancer Cyd Charisse. Made with potions, tonics, and tinctures, these “make-up paintings” as she calls them, suggest a sort of material-based transformation, forming a link to a show of astrological works by Cameron, who famously explored magic and witchcraft in her practice.
Marc Selwyn Fine Art (marcselwynfineart.com)
9953 South Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Hills, California
Through May 27
After the Biblical Exodus from Egypt, Moses built a portable dwelling place, a tabernacle, for God so the Israelites could worship as they wandered the desert. Curator Matthew Lax uses the motif of the tabernacle to explore themes of diaspora, community, and ritual within a framework of uncertainty and physical dislocation. Participants include artist and theorist Boz Deseo Garden, Skid Row-based performance group Los Angeles Poverty Department, Andre Keichian who explores personal histories through photo, video, and sculpture, and Miller Robinson, a multi-disciplinary artist of Karuk, Yurok, and European descent whose performance-based objects evolve over time.
Fellows of Contemporary Art (focala.org)
970 North Broadway, Suite 208, Chinatown, Los Angeles
Through June 3
By Any Means Necessary
Curated by artist and musician Lonnie Holley, By Any Means Necessary brings together the work of several Black artists from the South whose creative visions persevere despite the limited resources available to them. Participating artists include Louisiana Bendolph and Rita May Pettway whose quilts draw on the legacy of their hometown Gee’s Bend; Hawkins Bolden, who created “scarecrow” assemblages made from found objects despite losing his sight at age 8; and Ronald Lockett, who scoured his town of Bessemer, Alabama for sheets of tin, which he assembled into dynamic abstract compositions. The exhibition is presented alongside a show of works by Thornton Dial, a close friend of Holley’s and a cousin of Lockett’s who encouraged the younger artist in his practice.
Blum & Poe (blumandpoe.com)
2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Culver City, California
Through June 10
Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology
Exposure is a group exhibition that confronts the effects of nuclear testing, uranium mining, and nuclear power accidents on Indigenous populations around the world. It features 36 artists or collectives from the US, Canada, Greenland, Japan, Australia, and the Pacific Islands including Adrian Stimson (Blackfoot), Bonnie Devine (Anishinaabe/Ojibway), Jessie Kleemann (Inuit), Jerrel Singer (Diné), Munro Te Whata (Māori/Niuean), and many others. Incorporating textile art, photography, sculpture, and VR, the exhibition lays out how a history of corporate greed and governmental negligence has had devastating effects on generations of native peoples.
Armory Center for the Arts (armoryarts.org)
145 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, California
Through June 11
Countering the fears that artificial intelligence poses an existential threat to artists, Xenospace, on the online-only platform EPOCH, features seven artists who employ AI as a creative tool. Situated within a virtual environment created using the text-to-image model Stable Diffusion, are films, sculptures, and installations made with assistance from deep learning programs. These include Libby Heaney’s untamed digital landscape offering an alternative to corporate control of data; Harvey Moon’s 3D-generated sculptures based on the organizational strategies of termites; and “Dwellers Beneath the Waters” by Shanghai-based collective CROSSLUCID which evokes magic and ritual to confront contemporary issues such as climate catastrophe, wars, and widening economic disparities.
Online through June 16
Didier William: Things Like This Don’t Happen Here
Didier William draws on personal narratives, history, and myth to produce his charged, enigmatic images that incorporate painting, printmaking, and carving. Anonymous figures are depicted in caves or bodies of water, referencing his native Haiti and the legacies of colonialism that the country is still grappling with. As much as his works are defined by intense physicality, they also suggest a spiritual metaphysicality that transcends the earthly realm.
James Fuentes (jamesfuentes.com)
5015 Melrose Avenue, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
May 6–June 17
Virginia Jaramillo: East of the Sun, West of the Moon
East of the Sun, West of the Moon is Virginia Jaramillo’s first solo show in LA, featuring nine new works by the 84-year-old abstract painter. Born in El Paso but raised in LA, Jaramillo attended the Otis Art Institute before moving to New York. She participated in the seminal De Luxe Show in Houston in 1971, and she was more recently included in Now Dig This! Art & Black Los Angeles at the Hammer Museum in 2011, and We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965-85 at the Brooklyn Museum in 2017. Her recent work continues her longtime formal investigations into texture, color, geometry, and monochrome.
1201 South La Brea Avenue, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles
May 13–June 24
Sherrill Roland: do without, do within
In 2013, Sherrill Roland spent 10 months in prison for a crime he was subsequently exonerated for. The experience has provided the raw material for much of his work in the ensuing decade, including the five series featured in do without, do within. These include a group of oscillating fan sculptures referencing the inadequate cooling systems provided for prisoners; domino-styled diptychs recalling the severity of carceral architecture; and abstract dot paintings made with Kool-Aid, the ubiquitous beverage served to incarcerated individuals.
Tanya Bonakdar (tanyabonakdargallery.com)
1010 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through June 24
Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure
Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of those artists whose outsized legacy and legendary persona loom so large that they threaten to overshadow his actual life and work. Produced by the Basquiat estate and curated by his sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, King Pleasure offers an intimate portrait of the artist, featuring over 200 paintings, drawings, and objects, many never before exhibited. The exhibition also includes recreations of Basquiat’s New York studio, his family home, and the VIP room at the Palladium nightclub for which he created two monumental paintings, giving his story much-needed context and depth.
The Grand LA (kingpleasure.basquiat.com)
100 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through July 31