August is sometimes perceived as a slow month in the art world, but these 10 shows offer a wealth of experimentation and vitality. Printed Matter’s Art Book Fair returns to LA for the first time since 2019, and the LA Municipal Art Gallery reopens after a three-year closure. Storage Wars at The Hole provides a glimpse of the secluded storage spaces of galleries and collectors, while [LA] Living Room is an irreverent, non-stop, month-long exhibition and performance marathon. Solo exhibitions of works by Suchitra Mattai, Slavs and Tatars, and Thania Petersen challenge dominant cultural, historical, and racial perspectives, while the installation Black – Still at Craft Contemporary challenges architecture’s whiteness in every sense of the word.
Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair
This month, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair returns to MOCA Geffen for the first time since 2019. An international selection of over 300 publishers, presses, booksellers, and collectives will be exhibiting this year, alongside a full program of talks, performances, and book launches. Select highlights include “Total Landscaping,” a series of programs exploring LA’s turbulent physical, social, and cultural terrain, presented by Active Cultures and X-Tra; the unveiling of a new mural by Carolina Caycedo that addresses our current energy and ecological crises; and the installation-as-publication “a symphony a work in progress (pt. II, andante),” by Yusuf Hassan and Kwamé Sorrell of the independent publishing house BlackMass. Hyperallergic is a media partner of the event.
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (laabf2023.printedmatterartbookfairs.org)
152 North Central Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles
The refined museum halls and galleries where we encounter paintings and sculptures are just the tip of the art iceberg. A considerable network of storage spaces house countless artworks, lying dormant in their wooden crates. For Storage Wars, The Hole reached out to other galleries, collectors, and artists to solicit works in storage that they felt needed to be seen. The resulting motley assortment is presented salon style, still in their crates (with their face panels removed), offering a view behind the curtain that the public rarely glimpses. Featured artists include Chris Johanson, Diana Yesenia Alvarado, Eric Yahnker, Joe Reihsen, Pedro Pedro, Scout Zabinski, and many more.
The Hole (thehole.com)
844 North La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through August 19
Strip Down, Rise Up! A Benefit for Equity Strippers Noho
This past May, dancers at Star Garden Topless Dive Bar in North Hollywood became the only unionized group of strippers in the United States. They began organizing in March 2022, picketing outside the establishment in response to concerns over safety, wage theft, and illegal firings. Strip Down, Rise Up! is an exhibition to benefit the newly unionized dancers featuring Rachid Bouhamidi’s street protest scenes, Amitis Motevalli’s abstract portraits based on Islamic design principles, Kayla Tange’s platform shoe paintings, and works by Katherina Olschbaur, Cynthia Herrera, and Kyle Ranson. On Friday, August 11, the gallery will host a night of performances and films by Motevalli, Herrera, Tange, Trulee Hall, Kayla Tange, Riv, and Leona Skywalker.
LAST Projects (lastprojects.org)
206 South Avenue 20, Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles
Through August 20
The [LA] Living Room
Part group exhibition and part performance festival, The [LA] Living Room is an ambitious celebration of LA’s diverse and irreverent creative spirit. Organized by artist Daniela Soberman, the monthlong show features multiple performances and participatory events each day, showcasing a heterogeneous mix of homegrown talent. These include a butoh dance performance, pierogi-making workshop, fondue party, 20-piece doom orchestra performance, Double Dutch jump rope contest and steen poetry slam, and an interactive lecture on “The Entire History of Art In 2 Hours, While Drinking.”
D2 Art Westwood (thelivingroom.art)
1074 Gayley Avenue, Westwood, Los Angeles
Through August 21
Suchitra Mattai: In the absence of power. In the presence of love.
Suchitra Mattai draws on her Indo-Caribbean heritage, European landscape painting, and Indian miniatures to create soft sculptures and tapestries that confront and reframe colonial legacies. The artist uses sewing, embroidery, and beading — craft techniques passed down from her grandmothers — and reworks traditional artforms to feature Brown female protagonists, thereby making visible under-recognized networks of labor and resilience.
Roberts Projects (robertsprojectsla.com)
442 South La Brea Avenue, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles
Through August 26
Sarah Miska: High Stakes
Sarah Miska’s highly detailed paintings of racehorses and jockeys convey an almost erotic delight in physical details: the rippling of a horse’s muscles mid-gallop or the sheen on a jockey’s fluttering silk jersey. Beyond their verisimilitude, however, the works allude to systems of class and domination and risk and reward, portraying the racetrack as a microcosm of larger financial and social orders.
Night Gallery (nightgallery.ca)
2276 East 16th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles
Through September 9
Slavs and Tatars: Hang Don’t Cut
As their name would suggest, the collective Slavs and Tatars explores the diverse cultural and geographic area known as Eurasia, incorporating parts of Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and Southwest Asia and North Africa. Hang Don’t Cut focuses on melons, highly prized in Eurasia and associated with knowledge and written language. From the ceiling hangs a field of blown-glass lamps depicting specific melons from Uzbekistan and Xinjiang. Mirror works hide words in different languages (Russian Cyrillic, Kazakh Cyrillic, and Latin) within the pattern of melon skin, while a reading room recreates the kind of communal space found in teahouses and other regional buildings.
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (tanyabonakdargallery.com)
1010 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through September 9
Thania Petersen: Zamunda Forever
Taking its name from the fictional African nation in the 1988 Eddie Murphy film “Coming to America,” Zamunda Forever pulls apart and reconfigures elements of history, identity, commercialism, and globalism with boisterous enthusiasm. Thania Petersen’s first US solo show focuses on her family, from intimate, personal moments to the broader story of the Cape Malay people’s migration to South Africa. Her highly detailed, often maximalist textile works incorporate the broad sweep of contemporary culture, presenting it on the epic scale of history painting.
Nicodim Gallery (nicodimgallery.com)
1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, #160, Downtown, Los Angeles
August 5–September 9
Black – Still
Created by the architecture and design practice enFOLD collective, Black – Still addresses issues of race, health, and access within the built environment. Organized by Materials & Applications, the installation in the courtyard of Craft Contemporary offers a quiet space of respite and shade from the bustle of Wilshire Boulevard. Its color celebrates blackness as an alternative to the uniformity of whiteness in modernist architecture, also referencing the tar that still bubbles up from the nearby La Brea Tar Pits. As an extension of its focus on self- and community-care, the installation is accompanied by a series of events and workshops concerning public wellness.
Craft Contemporary (craftcontemporary.org)
5814 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles
Through September 10
2023 City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Master Artist Project (IMAP) Visual Artists Exhibition
After a three-year closure, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery reopened last month with its City of Los Angeles Individual Master Art Project exhibition. The annual show highlights the work of several LA-based mid-career artists selected by a panel of curators, nonprofit gallerists, educators, and previous awardees. This year’s exhibition includes Patricia Fernández’s delicate abstractions and carved wooden works, Elyse Pignolet’s feminist updates of Delft pottery, Wakana Kimura’s radiant riffs on traditional Japanese painting, Michael Massenburg’s evocative portraits with accompanying audio tracks, Duane Paul’s photographic-sculptural hybrids, and Kyungmi Shin’s layered art historical revisionism.
Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (lamag.org)
Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
Through September 16