November in Los Angeles brings us performances that highlight the role of art both as a reflection of everyday life and as a force to help change our reality. Retrospectives on the work of Henry Taylor and William Kentridge focus on their approaches to identity, race and culture in their respective homes: Los Angeles and South Africa. An exhibit at the Angels Gate Cultural Center showcases the multi-faceted programs of the community Slanguage Studio. Exhibitions at the Vincent Price Museum of Art and the Skirball Cultural Center highlight the potential of art to commemorate and record our stories. And Cauleen Smith evokes a multimedia blueprint for liberation through film, color and sound.
Lizette Hernandez: Despierta
Lizette Hernandez’s ceramics distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar appearance, encouraging prolonged viewing. Skillfully crafted wall art and freestanding sculptures incorporate motifs of Mexican religious design, but extend those references into formal abstractions, glazed in bright green against dark brown clay. Fingerprints are left visible, signs of human contact amid their exquisite construction.
1819 3rd Avenue, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles
Until November 11
Slanguage Studio: we run things, things don’t run us
Since its founding two decades ago by artists Mario Ybarra, Jr. and Karla Diaz, Slanguage Studio has grown from a small artist-run space to an internationally acclaimed community studio known for its educational programs, exhibition and performance. We run things, things don’t run us features a cross-generational group of 20 artists who have been involved in various aspects of Slanguage’s commitment to engagement, pedagogy and activism. Participating artists include Raul Baltazar, EJ Hill, Amitis Motevalli, Felix F. Quintana, Guadalupe Rosales and many more.
Angels Gate Cultural Center (angelsgateart.org)
3601 South Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA
Until December 10
Lauren Halsey’s vibrant sculptures and installations reflect the streetscapes of the south-central communities in which she grew up. With vernacular panels, heavy color, and popular and archival media imagery, she creates architectural environments that commemorate and monumentalize what has been lost even as they look to a hopeful future. Her longtime exhibit at Cal State University Dominguez Hills, which ends in early December, brings her work back to her roots in South Los Angeles.
California State University, Dominguez Hills Art Gallery (gallery.csudh.edu)
1000 East Victoria Street, LCH A-107, Carson, CA
Until December 10
With today’s political polarization, the notion grows that there are “two Americas” with little hope of reconciliation. “Un-Civil War” at the Torrance Art Museum targets this unique moment in American civic life, featuring artists who address issues of politics, freedom, oppression and tyranny in their work. Participating artists include Lisa Anne Auerbach, Sandow Birk, Dread Scott, Bruce Yonemoto, Gabie Strong and others.
Torrance Art Museum (torranceartmuseum.com)
3320 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA
Until December 10
Don Ed Hardy/Laurie Steelink: Evidence of Unseen Things
Evidence of unseen things juxtaposes the work of Don Ed Hardy and Laurie Steelink who have been friends for 30 years. Hardy is best known for his role in bringing tattooing into the mainstream, but has focused on his own artistic practice since retiring from tattooing in 2008. Steelink, which is featured in the current California Biennial at Orange County Museum of Art, explores his own complicated identity as a Native American raised by an adoptive white family. His assemblages incorporate powwow regalia with found objects and elements from past artwork, imbuing them with humor and a punk aesthetic. Together, their works reflect lives dedicated to individual creative pursuit.
Track 16 Gallery (track16.com)
1206 Maple Avenue, #1005, Downtown, Los Angeles
November 5–December 17
Cauleen Smith: My Caldera
Solo exhibition of Cauleen Smith 2021 at LACMA, Give it or leave it, brought together film, installation, colored lights and archival documents to construct a spooky exploration of Afro-futurist liberation. His next solo show my caldera, takes an equally broad approach, viewing volcanoes as a metaphor for overturning the status quo, from the ecological and geological to the social and political. Incorporating hand-sewn banners, topographic candles, cinema, disco and heavy metal, the show is akin to an immersive and theatrical protest manifesto.
Moran Moran (moranmorangallery.com)
641 North Western Avenue, East Hollywood, Los Angeles
November 5–December 22
Phung Huynh: Survive
Between 1968 and 1974, more than 200 Latina women were forced to be sterilized by the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Following an apology from the LA County Board of Supervisors in 2018, the LA County Department of Arts and Culture commissioned Phung Huynh to create a public artwork commemorating the apology and honoring survivors. Title Survive, the steel sculpture features floral motifs, the praying hands of the Virgen de Guadalupe, and the prayers of the survivors. A related exhibit at the Vincent Price Art Museum features work designs for the sculpture alongside patchwork quilts created by other artists and activists, highlighting the ongoing struggle for reproductive justice.
Vincent Price Museum of Art (vincentpriceart.museum.org)
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA
Until February 18
Fabric of a Nation: Stories of American Quilts
Quilts and other textiles have been used for generations to preserve and pass on stories about the identity of the communities that produced them. Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, fabric of a nation expands on the American quilt tradition with works by folk and contemporary artists including Sanford Biggers, Bisa Butler and Harriet Powers. Skirball’s presentation of the exhibition includes Los Angeles-based artists Sula Bermúdez-Silverman, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Joel Otterson and Ramsess, alongside the Ellis Island quilt from his own collection, which commemorates Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants.
Skirball Cultural Center (skirball.org)
2701 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Brentwood, Los Angeles
November 17–March 12
William Kentridge: In Praise of Shadows
South African artist William Kentridge has struggled with his country’s tortured history and his own identity as a white South African throughout his career. Praise of Shadows brings together 130 works created over 35 years, focusing on the breadth of his production, including drawings, prints, sculptures, theatrical collaborations and films, including the hand-drawn animations for which he is most known, made through a meticulous process of drawing and erasing. A highlight of the show will be Kentridge’s 2012 video installation ‘The Refusal of Time’ which addresses relativity, colonialism and Victorian industrialism.
The Broad (thebroad.org)
221 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles
November 12–April 9
Henry Taylor: B-side
Henry Taylor: B-side is a thirty-year retrospective covering painting, sculpture and installation by the influential Los Angeles-based figurative painter. His style of flat acrylic painting draws comparisons to classic modernists like Marsden Hartley or Jacob Lawrence, but his subject matter is decidedly contemporary. Depicting friends, fellow artists, cultural and historical icons, Taylor’s portraits offer an incisive and empathetic view of black life in America.
Grand Avenue Museum of Contemporary Art (moca.org)
250 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles
November 6–April 30