Unlike their East Coast counterparts, most Los Angeles galleries don’t slow down or close in August, despite the sweltering heat. The exhibits below offer dynamic and thought-provoking explorations of place, identity and history. Some dig deep into the geographic and cultural fabric of the city, while others feature artists from across the country and the world, whose work complements the buzzing energy of summer in the city.
When: until August 12
Where: Palm Grove Social (4660 West Washington Boulevard, Mid-City, Los Angeles)
Fans of ’90s indie rock may know Steve Keene, whose paintings appear on the covers of albums by Pavement, the Silver Jews and the Apples in Stereo. Keene is not a niche artist, however, but rather an extremely prolific painter, having produced 300,000 paintings over the past 30 years, which he sells for as little as $5-10 a piece. He mass-produces his works on the assembly line, painting the same image on multiple panels lined up in “the cage,” his chain-link walled studio filled with paint, brushes and plywood. Scheduled to coincide with the release of his first monograph, Steve Keene’s Art Bookthe Steve Keene Art Show is a career retrospective featuring hand-painted multiples, a site-specific mural and rarely seen early works from this “Johnny Appleseed of art”, such as ICA LA founder Elsa Longhauser, nicknamed him.
When: until August 13
Where: Nicodim Gallery (1700 South Santa Fe Avenue, #160, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Rae Klein’s haunting, dreamlike paintings feature familiar objects – a horse, a candelabra, a pair of eyes – but the juxtapositions offer little explanation. On the contrary, his sober and surreal compositions invite the viewer to construct their own stories, like a Rorschach or a rebus.
When: until August 13
Where: Matthew Brown (633 North La Brea Avenue, Fairfax, Los Angeles)
The paintings of Blake Daniels in Triumph of the southern suburbs reflect the artist’s experience in queer communities in Johannesburg but avoid direct representation. They imbue their scenes of street vendors, landscapes and domestic life with elements of magical realism and fantasy, expressed through vibrant, buzzing colors and animated brushwork.
When: until August 27
Where: Ochi Aux (3305 West Washington Boulevard, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles)
Ozzie Juarez cut his teeth as a scenic artist at Disneyland, where he used his painting and crafting skills to create compelling fantasy environments. This context is evident in By Debajohis first personal exhibition at Ochi Projects, which is inspired by pre-Columbian Mexican codices, street art and geometric abstraction. Painting on textured stucco flooring, car parts and found awnings, Juarez weaves Nahuatl symbols from the codices into neon and pastel patterns that stretch across borders and time to imagine an alternative anti-colonial future.
When: until August 27
Where: David Kordansky Gallery (5130 West Edgewood Place, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)
All opposing players is a group exhibition organized by the Racial Imaginary Institute, founded by Claudia Rankine in 2016 with the aim of challenging the way we think about race. It features videos, performances, and works on paper by Lotte Andersen, Ed Fornieles, and Shaun Leonardo that explore the theme of nationalism through games, role-playing, puzzles, and sports.
When: until August 27
Where: Charlie James Gallery (969 Chung King Road, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Rostro is a festive group exhibition featuring artists from the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico who explore themes of identity and individuality in their work. Hosted by Ever Velasquez, the show – whose title translates to “face” – considers both the surfaces we present to the world and the facets we keep hidden. What does it mean to offer a bold and shameless version of yourself to an often hostile world? Participating artists include Danie Cansino, Hely Omar Gonzalez, Patrick Martinez, Joey Terrill and many more.
When: until September 4
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles)
For Los Angeles-based artist Andrea Bowers, art and activism are inseparably linked. Her current retrospective at the Hammer Museum showcases three decades of her work advocating and taking action around issues such as environmental justice, women’s rights, immigration and labor struggles. The work ranges from drawing and sculpture to installation and performance, and connects the dots between art history and popular protest.
When: From August 13 to September 18
Where: The Maximum (2525 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, CA)
Jerry Peña’s mixed-media painted works incorporate car parts, beer cans, work gloves, cement and broken glass, reflecting his lived experience as a native working-class Angeleno. Mexican American. He brings these elements together in compositions that are as reminiscent of Kienholz’s junk assemblages and Rauschenberg’s poetic melds as they are of the body shops and custom car culture, ubiquitous features of the city.
When: From August 21 to April 9, 2023
Where: Academy Film Museum (6067 Wilshire Boulevard, Miracle Mile, Los Angeles)
Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898–1971 showcases the work of black American filmmakers, actors and artists, reframing narratives often excluded from the history of mainstream cinema. The exhibition spans from the birth of cinema to the end of the civil rights movement, focusing on those who worked both inside and outside the Hollywood system. It highlights William Selig’s recently rediscovered 1898 short “Something Good – Negro Kiss”; iconic dancer, singer and actress Josephine Baker; and fiercely independent director Melvin Van Peebles, whose 1971 film “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” is a cornerstone of the blaxploitation genre.
When: until June 11, 2023
Where: LA Plaza de Cultura y Arte (501 North Main Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Art for the People is a career retrospective of the work of influential Chicana artist Margaret Garcia, whose paintings offer an intimate and honest portrayal of her city, community and family. With nods to Fauvism and Impressionism, Garcia’s paintings range from street scenes in his Boyle Heights neighborhood, to portraits of his circle of friends and collaborators, to reinterpretations of imagery. Mexican Catholic nun. The exhibition also includes prints from his “Stamp Project”, a suite of black and white serigraphs by Garcia and other artists who attempted to exert greater control over the means of production, distribution and sale of ‘art.