September is back-to-school time, and that pedagogical impulse extends to the exhibitions listed below. Whether it’s Dan Levenson’s fictional modernist Swiss art school; shows that contextualize the work of Kaari Upson and Lawrence Weiner, who died last year; or the Fulcrum Festival, focused on the deepest reaches of space and sea, there is definitely something to learn.
* * *
When: until September 10
Where: Praz-Delavallade (6150 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)
The State Academy of Art, Zurich (SKZ) is a fictional Bauhaus-like modernist art school brought to life through painting, performance and sculpture. This elaborate ruse is the work of Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Dan Levenson, who has created artificially aged geometric abstractions purported to have been painted by the school’s students and worn-out studio furniture, even going so far as to devised a class list using an algorithm and a Swiss telephone directory. Two proposals for the formation of a new art school features two miniature classrooms and related works: one based on actual art classes for children using the imaginative SKZ curriculum developed by Levenson, and another in which the roll of a die is used to determine color choices, inserting an element of play and chance in pedagogy.
When: until September 17
Where: Eastern Projects (900 North Broadway, #1090, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Alphabet soup 2 showcases the work of six acclaimed Los Angeles-based street artists, each known for their distinctive letterforms or hand style. Contributors include Chaz Bojorquez, who popularized Cholo calligraphy in the late 1960s; Retna, whose angular symbols adorn the facades of buildings around LA; and Big Sleeps, which brings sophisticated precision to traditional LA street style; along with Cryptik, Defer and Prime. The exhibition comes almost a decade after the original Alphabet soup a show that offers a window into the development of these artists.
When: September 15–25
Where: Places around Greater Los Angeles
This year’s Fulcrum Festival, an annual series of talks, workshops, performances and exhibitions exploring the intersection of art and science, is based on the theme of Deep Ocean/Deep Space, exploring both celestial and aquatic wonders. The event is organized by the nonprofit Fulcrum Arts in partnership with more than a dozen organizations, including the Carnegie Observatories, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 18th Street Arts Center and the LA Dance Project. Offerings include sound installations and stargazing hosted by artist CM von Hausswolff at the Mount Wilson Observatory; A 24-hour long audio/visual reflection on Los Angeles’ last wetlands in existence, the Ballona Wetlands; and Victoria Vesna’s multimedia project that makes connections between microscopic plankton and cosmic dust.
When: until October 2
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)
The portable universe brings together 400 objects that open a window to the indigenous peoples and cultures of Colombia. Featuring several objects borrowed from El Museo del Oro in Bogotá, the exhibition is an attempt to move away from a Western-centric framework and is informed by a collaboration between curators and members of the Arhuaco of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The masks, sculptures and tools included in the show are grouped into thematic sections shaped around the cosmology of the peoples who used them, and the exhibition labels are undated, emphasizing the everyday use of these objects over the generations.
When: until October 8
Where: Sprüth Magers (5900 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)
Before his death last August at the age of 51, Kaari Upson emerged as one of Los Angeles’ most dynamic and innovative artists, whose diverse work was defined by material curiosity and psychological intensity. Through a practice that spans sculpture, performance, video, painting and drawing, Upson excavates the dark corners of home and family with a mixture of angst and humor. never never…, her first solo show in Los Angeles in more than 10 years, reflects this breadth, featuring new works such as colorful abstract paintings that reference both modernist mesh and gingham: formalism and familiar fashion. It also marks the US debut of Kris’s Dollhouse (2017–19), an unusual version of a human-sized dollhouse made of resin, urethane, wood and aluminum: part haunted house, part meditation on childhood, gender and friendship.
When: September 15–October 22
Where: Regen Projects (6750 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)
Lawrence Weiner, who died last December, was a seminal figure in the development of conceptual art. His 1968 dictum stating that “THE WORK SHOULD NOT BE BUILT” is a key tenet of the dematerialization of the art object. He is best known for his language artworks, enigmatic phrases written in paint or vinyl letters on the walls of galleries and museums. His simple and poetic utterances, almost always in the typeface he developed, Margaret Seaworthy Gothic, invite viewers to explore further to generate meaning. The stars do not stand still in the sky is a testament to his wide-ranging influence, featuring works by over fifty artists, from his contemporaries such as Sol LeWitt, Mel Bochner and Lee Lozano, to younger generations represented by Glen Ligon, Sue Williams, Wolfgang Tillmans and others. The exhibition will also feature a collaboration with the late fashion designer Virgil Abloh, as well as a selection of approximately 150 posters and publications designed and produced by Weiner.
When: September 10–October 29
Where: Wilding Cran (1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, Unit 460, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Visual artist and chef Ray Anthony Barrett explores the stories and mythologies of the American West. This comes in the form of his Cinqué pop-up restaurant, which traces the roots of Soul Food from California to the American South to West Africa, as well as Go tell it to the mountainan experimental film dealing with food justice in the climate crisis. …on borders and phantoms includes quilts made from calico, cotton, and denim, sculptures made from railroad ties and shell beads, photographs, and drawings that depict the American West as a place of breathtaking natural beauty, but also crushing exploitation—of people and natural resources— in the service of capital.
When: September 17 – January 21, 2023
Where: Art + Practice (3401 West 43rd Place, Leimert Park, Los Angeles)
Justen LeRoy’s three-channel film installation “Lay Me Down in Praise” connects the struggle for black empowerment with the environmental movement. LeRoy juxtaposes footage of black performers with scenes of volcanic eruptions and other geological events, drawing a connection between expressive vocal craft and earthy noise. Curated by Essence Harden of the California African American Museum (CAAM), the exhibition marks the beginning of a five-year museum residency through which CAAM will curate shows to be presented at Art + Practice in Leimert Park.
When: September 10 – February 19, 2023
Where: Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (152 North Central Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Tala Madani’s cast of anonymous, average white men act like babies. They smear their feces, throw up on each other and run around naked. More than just a brazenly transgressive celebration of the abject, Madani’s painting confronts cultural taboos and entrenched power structures, embedding a feminist critique in pictorial delights. biscuits is the Iranian-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s first North American retrospective.
Where: Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) (628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach, CA)
Narciso Martinez draws and paints portraits of farm workers directly onto produce boxes, making visible the often invisible labor that brings food from the fields into our homes. The Oaxacan-born artist has first-hand knowledge of his subject, having worked in the orchards of Eastern Washington for nine summers to pay for his education. Its installation Rethinking the essentials in MOLAA depicts these essential workers, their eyes peering out from behind masks and hats, with dignity and respect, heir to a historical line of art that weaves into the Mexican muralists and Millet’s The Gleaners.