Personal and political narratives about justice, photography with a fresh perspective, all-night sound performance, Chinatown shops and galleries stay open late, a painter gets cheeky with nature, poets get inspired by camellias, one of the world’s best-loved operas gets a makeover, dozens of museums are free on Sunday, billboards featuring contemporary art spring up across the city, Brecht goes gangster, and more.
Thursday, February 2
Dahlak Brathwaite: Try/Step/Trip at the Wallis. In a spoken-word, multi-character musical performed through the language of step dance, the story follows the journey of an anonymous narrator as he reimagines his experience in a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program. Layering characters, poetic verse, and dialogue over music to create a theatrical piece that blurs the lines between hip-hop and dramatic performance, Try/Step/Trip emerges from the belief that the criminal justice system functions as a normalized rite of passage for too many young Black males. 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; Performances Thursday, February 2 – Sunday, February 5; $40-$50; thewallis.org.
Bastiaan Woudt: Cadence at Fahey/Klein. Bastiaan’s distinctive point of view is directly influenced by the photographic masters of yesteryear, while his monochromatic imagery is wholly contemporary. His modern approach to keeping the tradition of portraiture evolving is evident through his use of flattened depth of field and two-dimensional perspective. Woudt’s unique perspective finds new ways to see the human form. His work is minimalistic yet moving, playing with the beauty of imperfection to push the traditions of portraiture. 148 N. La Brea, Hollywood; Opening reception: Thursday, February 2; Book singing: February 4; On view through March 18; free; faheykleingallery.com.
Friday, February 3
Dorian Wood: Canto de Todes at REDCAT. A 12-hour composition and installation inspired by a lyric of the late Chilean singer and songwriter Violeta Parra, Wood’s Creative Capital-awarded project emphasizes the urgency of folk music as a vessel for social change. A genre-defying canon of songs arriving as a durational spatial experience, the work is divided into three movements. The first (8:30pm) and third (7:30am) are live hour-long chamber pieces influenced by folk, popular, and experimental music. The second (9:30pm-7:30am) is a 10-hour pre-recorded piece unfolding in multiple spaces within REDCAT over the course of a single night. 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; Friday, February 3, 8:30pm-8:30am; $20; redcat.org.
Chinatown First Fridays. From Mandarin Plaza to Chung King Road, Central Plaza and beyond, visit the dozens of eclectic art galleries, studios, creative businesses, independent shops, and popular restaurants of L.A.’s historic Chinatown neighborhood — from a permanent immersive art installation made of cake, to contemporary art galleries, a rogue perfumery, handmade papers, rare zines, traditional gifts and crafts, avant-garde design, progressive tea shops, fusion cuisine, video art, public space activations, and maybe a couple of fireworks. First Friday of each month, 5-9pm; free; tierradelsolgallery.org.
Saturday, February 4
Trulee Hall: Plays on Foreplays at Rusha & Co. “Trulee Hall gathers…the myopic histories of her individual mediums, the funny camp quality of craft coupled with desire, pop spirituality, sex, “inappropriateness”—and creates a world where there is no embarrassment in pleasure,” writes Christina Catherine Martinez in the exhibition text. “A suite of paintings plays with the forced fantasy relationships we bestow upon animals, the unspeakable subtexts coming out to sun themselves. My favorite is the mermaid on the couch whose fishtail doesn’t even cover her pasty human ass. It’s like being mooned by mother nature.” 244 W. Florence Ave., South L.A.; Opening reception: Saturday, February 4, 6pm; On view through March 11, free; rusha.co.
The Marriage of Figaro at L.A. Opera. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something… threatening to throw Figaro’s wedding plans into disarray. Count Almaviva’s wandering eye has landed on his wife’s maid Susanna, who’s about to marry his own manservant Figaro. Racing against the clock, Figaro quickly concocts a plan to outwit his master. Will the wily duo outwit the Count in time to save the day? Mozart’s greatest comedy sparkles with disguises, wit, trickery and humanity, all under the masterful baton of Music Director James Conlon. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, downtown; Performances February 4-26; $29-$399; laopera.org.
Poetry at Descanso Gardens. Celebrate camellias and poetry throughout the month of February at Descanso Gardens. In collaboration with accomplished poets Amy Uyematsu and Peter Levitt, Descanso is pleased to offer a series of programs that invite exploration, reflection, and participation. Poets from the Los Angeles area will come together to share poems about nature, remembrance, connection and renewal. The poetry meeting will be moderated by author and historian Naomi Hirahara, and will feature poets Traci Kato-Kiriyama, Ramon Garcia, Mike Sonksen, Pam Ward, and Elena Karina Byrne. 1418 Descanso Dr., La Cañada Flintridge; Saturday, February 4, 2pm; free w/ $15 admission; descansogardens.org.
Sunday, February 5
Free Museum Day. SoCal Museums annual Free-for-All returns in person for the first time since 2020, with more than 30 local institutions in every corner of the region (from Catalina to Claremont, Santa Barbara to the OC, downtown to Malibu, Santa Monica to Santa Paula, and everywhere in between) offering free admission and special programming in visual art, cultural heritage, film, natural history, civics, design, technology, botany, fashion, science, geopolitics, and more. Sunday, February 5; for a full list of venues, visit socal museums.org.
The Hidden Meanings of Ancient Nubian Jewelry Getty Villa (Live & Virtual). Located where extensive trade routes met the Nile River, ancient Nubia was a complex and cosmopolitan region and a major exporter of gold. Over thousands of years, jewelers used gold and other precious materials to create works of astonishing beauty and technical skill. What does this jewelry tell us about Nubian beliefs, tastes, and world view? Denise Doxey, curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, traces the geographical and historical contexts of Nubian jewelry to draw out its hidden meanings and intriguing questions. In tandem with the exhibition Nubia: Jewels of Ancient Sudan from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on view through April 3. 17985 PCH, Pacific Palisades and on Zoom; Sunday, February 5, 2pm; free; getty.edu.
Monday, February 6
Kristina Wong: The Auntie Sewing Squad Guide to Mask Making, Radical Care, and Racial Justice at ALOUD. Performance artist, comedian, activist, and local elected official Kristina Wong began sewing masks three days into the COVID-19 shutdown and spreading the word through her social media. Due to the overwhelming response, she enlisted friends and strangers to form the Auntie Sewing Squad to provide PPE and other relief to people all over the country. Tonight’s program tells the stories of these primarily BIPOC folks who took up the call to fill in the gaps of the U.S. government response by creating a model for mutual aid in the 21st century. Join Wong and the Aunties as they share their stories. Central Library, 630 W. 5th St., downtown; Monday, February 6, 7pm; free; lfla.org.
We the People at The Billboard Creative (Outdoor). A new exhibition turns billboard ad spaces into an open-air art exhibition for all, featuring 30 emerging and established artists working in photography, painting, drawing, mixed media, and collage. “My intent was not only to narrate TBC’s vision, but also the world in which TBC belongs: the streets…and the people in the streets, coming from all walks of life, all of us together,” says its curator Mona Kuhn. This year’s featured guest artist is Bryan Ida, who addresses the political zeitgeist through fragmented portraits of artists and curators. This year also inaugurates TBC artist grants — awarded to Lola del Fresno, Gail Postal, and Werllayne Nunes. On view in neighborhoods across the city February 6-March 6; free; thebillboardcreative.com.
Tuesday, February 7
Book Soup presents Tim Blake Nelson, with Guillermo del Toro at Colburn School. Tim Blake Nelson’s debut novel, City of Blows, is an epic group portrait of four men grappling for control of a script in a radically changing Hollywood. A sprawling, character-driven depiction of the modern film industry, City of Blows reaches back decades to the formative experiences of each of the novel’s central figures to explore what first motivated them to become involved in the quixotic and often venal world of movie-making. Driven by their diverse backgrounds, each must navigate the same huckstering circus that puts films on screen. Book-signing to follow the conversation. 200 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Tuesday, February 7, 7:30pm; $38 includes book; booksoup.com.
Lee Krasner: A Through Line at the Kleefeld Art Museum. A Through Line demonstrates Krasner’s independent vision and stylistic hallmarks. The works included in this exhibition prove Krasner was not only resilient and dedicated, but also visionary. In illustrating a continuity Krasner’s critics sometimes denied she had, the Museum disputes critiques of Krasner that are often gender biased. Today, Krasner is a revered artist whose importance to the history of art is finally garnering deserved recognition. With A Through Line, we recognize that Lee Krasner helped shape the course of art history and assert that she will continue to inspire the next generation. 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; On view February 7 – May 19; free; csulb.edu.
Wednesday, February 8
The Wooster Group at REDCAT. The Wooster Group returns with a new production of Bertolt Brecht’s 1932 play The Mother. This play was written in the style of a “learning play,” intended both to entertain and to incite social change. He used plain language and songs to tell the story of an illiterate Russian woman’s journey to revolutionary action. The Wooster Group’s American translation of The Mother uses the vernacular of early Hollywood gangster movies, and features new music by composer Amir ElSaffar, who works across classical, jazz, and Arabic musical forms. 631 W. 2nd St., downtown; Performances February 8-12; $50; redcat.org.
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