5 Artsy Things to Do This Week, From Weegee at MOCA to L.A. Art's Equivalent of The Wire
African American Performance Artists Archives "Flying," a performance piece presented at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in 1982.
This week's picks pretty much sum up the year: L.A. boosterism, '70s nostalgia, autobiographical installation art and women artists recognized a few decades late.
5. The Original Paparazzo
At MOCA, Weegee is more showman than craftsman. The photographer, who started his career as an aggressive New York photojournalist and has been called the original paparazzo, came to Hollywood to shoot the stars and the starstruck, and made cameos in a few films. The museum show documents all that, but what's best are Weegee's campy experiments: blurred Marilyn with pig nose, elongated Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich with a second set of sultry legs replacing her torso and head. 250 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.; through Feb. 27. (213) 626-6222, moca.org.
4. Marriage and Mushroom Clouds
"Not listening to women in general handicapped [Norman] Mailer's fiction and not listening to [his wife] in particular was a literary felony," wrote James Wolcott of the novelist. Plug in "artistic" for "literary" and the same could be said for many of the guys who transformed California's art scene in the 1950s and '60s. Bruce Conner was more open-minded than his peers; still, his wife, now widow, Jean, is better known as executor of his will than collaborator and inspiration. Michael Kohn Gallery's exhibition "Circa Sixty 1958-1964: Bruce Conner & Jean Conner" includes smart collages by her and sculptures the two made together. But the draw, as always, is Looking for Mushrooms, the short, psychedelic film Conner, who once mushroom-hunted with Timothy Leary, made about pending nuclear disaster. 8071 Beverly Blvd.; through Jan. 4. (323) 658-8088, kohngallery.com.
3. History Hoarder
Artist Aaron Wrinkle transferred his studio into Actual Size's small Chinatown gallery, installing his own ceiling tiles, paintings and worn Persian rug. It looks like a shrine to 20th-century art history -- you think of Miró, Picasso, Matisse, and then skip ahead a few decades to pop minimalist Baldessari and exhibitionist-pack rat Jason Rhoades. And all these references seem cozily at home with each other. 741 New High St., Chinatown; through Jan. 21. (213) 290-5458, actualsizela.com.
2. Net Generation Body Fetish
"Boydem" is a funny name for a show that includes idealized photographs of the male physique, swirly spray-painted monsters, tie-dye-colored plastic bags in frames and scrawly signs that say "Hetro Boys" or "U Get Hated" next to "I Get Rated." There's even a tongue-in-cheek guide to baby-making at Nicodim Gallery, where Eddie Peake jumbles up nostalgia for an earlier era, when artists like Mapplethorpe's purportedly apolitical beautiful body fetishes felt subversive but with a Gen Y sense of irony. 3143 S. La Cienega Blvd., Unit B; through Feb. 3. (310) 838-8884, nicodimgallery.com.
1. Art Versus the City
"Civic Virtue," curated by Pilar Tomkins Rivas, might be L.A. art's equivalent to HBO's The Wire. The two-part show, held at both the L.A. Municipal Gallery and Watts Towers Arts Center, traces how the city both supported and stifled its artists, and how art communities beat bureaucracy. Among the highlights are ethereal stills from "Flying," a 1982 performance spearheaded by Ulysses Jenkins for the opening of "African American Abstraction," in which artists all in white danced, climbed and "flew" around Barnsdall Art Park. 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; and 1727 E. 107th St., Watts; through Feb. 12. civicvirtuela.org.