While I’m away, I hope you’ll get out and enjoy the vast array of arts and performance events available to you on the Westside and beyond.
Here are a few suggestions starting in our hometown.
Santa Monica Museum of Art has two new Project Room exhibitions, with an opening reception tonight from 7 to 9.
Mathew Zefeldt: Forms Forming Forms will create an immersive, optical installation in SMMoA’s Project Room 2, transforming the gallery walls into a hallucinatory backdrop for three of the artist’s monumental still lifes. He describes his paintings as windows into fictional worlds, where you’ll experience an explosion of fluorescent colors with intricate patterns of stripes, chevrons and plaids as backdrops.
Famous, New York, Modernism Everywhere is the first California museum exhibition by New York-based artist Ara Dymond, featuring a mixed-media installation in which sculpture and video function as allegorical actors in a theatrical setting that explores the critical tensions between art and life.
You’ll encounter a series of sculptures made up, at first glance, of sweatshirts, Plexiglas pedestals and a Persian rug. The hooded sweatshirts are actually ossified forms sculpted in resin and automotive filler, balanced precariously on their transparent bases.
Stealing the logic of surrealism and dada, Dymond transforms everyday objects and casts them against type. In the words of Jeffrey Uslip, SMMoA’s curator-at-large and organizer of Famous, New York, Modernism Everywhere, these spectres are “the present ghosts of modernism’s past.”
Stop by Santa Monica Museum of Art at Bergamot Station for the reception tonight, Sept. 12. Find out more about the art and artists at www.smmoa.org.
And while you’re out art hopping, make a point of visiting the Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery, located just behind the Broad Stage, on 11th Street at Santa Monica Boulevard.
Works by the Santa Monica College Art Department faculty showcase the artists and designers whose job it is to teach, inspire and help create a community for students to experience their own art. Info at www.smc.edu; drill down to find the “photo and art galleries” link, or call (310) 434-3434 or (310) 434-8204.
Trio of solos
For $60 you can see three of L.A.’s hottest solo theatre artists in repertory at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The DouglasPlus series is part of Radar L.A., an international theatre festival presented by REDCAT and CalArts in association with Center Theatre Group, which runs the Douglas.
In “St. Jude,” written by Luis Alfaro and directed by Robert Egan, Alfaro faces his father’s stroke and a flood of family memories with poignant clarity and gentle humor. Nurtured at the Ojai Playwrights Conference in 2012, the play receives its world premiere here.
In “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam,” written by Trieu Tran with Egan, Tran recalls the harrowing journey he took from Vietnam to Canada to the United States and his quest to find some place to belong.
In “Rodney King,” created by Roger Guenveur Smith, new light is shed on the man whose famous question, “Can we all just get along?,” continues to resonate 21 years after it was first posed to a riot-torn Los Angeles in 1992.
Plays open in repertory, Sept. 19 and 22 and continue through Oct. 6.
Tickets and detailed info at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 628-2772.
Longer range planning
If you like your piano jazz improvised, hummed along with and played by an eccentric genius, get tickets now to hear the Keith Jarrett Trio at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m.
This classic trio, composed of Jarrett on keyboard, Jack DeJohnette on drums and Gary Peacock on bass, is one of the most influential groups in the history of jazz. They’ve recorded and performed together for three decades, garnering five Grammy nominations, dozens of record-of-the-year prizes and critics prize awards from U.S. and international music press.
The trio has released more than 20 albums, many of them live-concert recordings, including two records featuring completely improvised free music: 2000’s “Inside Out,” recorded live in London, and 2001’s “Let Me Go,” recorded live in Tokyo.
Tickets are available via cap.ucla.edu, Ticketmaster or the UCLA Central Ticket Office by calling (310) 825-2101.
“What Would Beyoncé Do?!” is the smash hit comedy from London that comes to L.A. for a very short showcase run. But you’re in luck because one of the very few performances around town takes place at Santa Monica Playhouse on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Described as the breakout performance of the year, fresh and utterly original newcomer comedian Luisa Omielan has had four sold-out runs of this hugely popular show.
Luisa, who once speed-dated in a wedding dress, has fallen in love with every Mr. Unavailable she has come across, and like Beyoncé, her mother still styles her clothes.
But approaching 30 and finding clearing a toilet blockage caused by her brother, she’s starting to wonder: Does this ever happen to Beyoncé?
If she couldn’t dance or sing, but was still a diva, when life gave her lemons, would she be able to make lemonade?
This hugely successful, intense hour comes from Omielan’s strong writing, projected by her booming personality. It’s hot, funny and fierce, overflowing with playfulness and infectious enthusiasm. One night only; details at www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com.
Get ready to Glow
As Santa Monica gears up for Glow, the experimental nocturnal art festival, Jacaranda Music at the Edge, Santa Monica’s premiere music presenter, is gearing up for its 10th anniversary season.
To celebrate they offer a pre-season Glow event, The Rest is Noise, a free nighttime ride through 20th-century music on Santa Monica’s storied merry-go-round. With 16 speakers and lighting effects, the ride will allow participants, on painted-ponies and chariots, to experience a century of music history: excerpts from 25 key works by 25 visionary composers.
Jacaranda’s The Rest is Noise takes place on Saturday, Sep. 28 from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Get your Glow on!
Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.