I did so much this week and wanted to cover it all, so I’m offering select small bites of summer’s arts bounty.
If the art of comedy depends on timing, no comic could have asked for better timing than Judy Gold, whose one-woman show is onstage at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at Geffen Playhouse. “The Judy Show” opened on the same day the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act and declined to decide on the overturning of California’s gay marriage ban.
Judy Gold tells you right up front, she’s a 6-foot, 1-inch tall observant Jewish lesbian mother of two who’s been an actress and a stand-up comic for decades. She develops her own version of family values, which involves her married spouse and two children from her prior long-term relationship. Gold’s mother looms large both in her life and in her act, but framing it all is her enduring love for the lifestyles portrayed in the heartwarming, G-rated family sitcoms of the 1970s and ‘80s that she grew up on and which became an escape from her reality.
While telling her story, she takes us through her attempts to pitch her life as a TV sitcom, her lifelong goal. The show is only a trifle risqué, with some howl-worthy laughs and a warm, engaging story. Visit geffenplayhouse.com for details and tickets.
An eye for design
I spent an afternoon cruising through the UCLA Hammer Museum, which has a plenitude of shows.
Architect A. Quincy Jones gets his first-ever major career survey, “Building for Better Living,” part of the Getty’s citywide initiative, Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. The quintessential designer of California modernism, the show features Jones’ drawings, historical materials and room-sized photos that feel as if you’re stepping into the living spaces he created.
William E. Jones, an L.A.-based artist, was given the privilege of curating a show as a Hammer Houseguest. He had free reign over UCLA’s and the Hammer’s extensive and strong collections of early to modern works including paintings, drawings and photos, to explore a theme of his own choosing, “Imitation of Christ.”
Inspired by an ‘80s photo of a multiple amputee guerilla fighter taken by Pedro Meyer in Nicaragua, Jones pulls together dramatic traditional and modern artworks and photos to question the nature and purpose of religious imagery throughout time. I was both moved emotionally and impressed by the level of intelligence behind the selections and their arrangement in the gallery.
I fell hard for the full-scale retrospective “Richard Artschwager!” This is the only West Coast venue for this comprehensive and thrilling show.
Unintentionally, I wandered into the back end of the show and walked through it to the entrance, where a giant bright yellow exclamation point welcomes you. There are also apostrophes on the wall and scattered throughout the exhibition.
In his many black, white and gray paintings, whatever material Artschwager is using as a canvas provides the texture of the work and becomes part of the fabric of the scene or the portrait, as if fibers were pixels. The effect is transcendent. His tables, boxes, doors and other everyday household furniture sculptures are eye-teasing constructions that will challenge your sense of depth perception.
This show is exuberant and will wake up your eyeballs.
And don’t miss Cyprien Gaillard’s intriguing gallery of excavated industrial construction and machine parts. Their rusted appearance gives the impression of obscure icons from a mysterious, undiscovered civilization. Lit dramatically, they’re displayed in individual elevated glass cases, a surprisingly thought provoking show.
Call (310) 443-7000 or visit www.hammer.ucla.edu. Thursdays are free at The Hammer.
Frank Lloyd Gallery showcases the most creative and inspiring ceramic artists. In “Soft,” by Ventura-based ceramic artist Cheryl Ann Thomas, clay is rendered as randomly folded mounds of fabric. Each piece is made up of hundreds of tiny individual hand-rolled coils built up into vessel shapes, which then collapse in the kiln, draping in and around themselves to take on frozen, flowing abstract shapes. The effect is indescribable, a transmogrification of material, fragile pieces that give the appearance of solidity. For more information visit www.franklloyd.com.
At Rose Gallery, Christian Patterson’s “Redheaded Peckerwood” pays homage to the true story behind the film “Badlands.”
Patterson followed the route traveled by a teenage couple who went on a notorious killing spree across Nebraska, murdering 10 people including family members, ending with their capture in Wyoming. It’s not a reenactment of the road trip but rather an evocation of the atmospherics, featuring the places and objects, real and imagined, that make up the landscape of the teens’ road trip, their mindset, and the artist’s reflections on both. For more information, visit www.rosegallery.net.
Qatar and K-12
The Qatar Foundation International is devoted to connecting cultures, with a focus on K-12 students. They convened a week-long cultural exchange in Doha, Qatar featuring 60 high school students from Doha, Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. to explore cultural identity and language.
Aber is an Arabic word meaning to express one’s feelings and thoughts, or to move across from one side to the other. Using graffiti, calligraphy, stencils and photography, the students created 10 art panels that celebrate their cultures, environments and their unique trans-global journey.
The 10 panels consist of the same framework of squares, tilted sideways or straight up, one superimposed on another, creating new spaces, shapes and border areas. The teens filled them in with their own expressions, using Arabic words, pop culture images and a rainbow of colors. Each canvas has a unique appearance within its repetitive framework.
“Aber,” now on view at ADC Contemporary Art & Building Bridges International Art Exchange, came here from Doha and moves on to Portland and Washington, D.C.
At this Bergamot gallery you’ll also encounter the entrancing, enmeshing works of Mohamed Abou El Naga, a mixed media imagining of “The Warrior,” and the melding of photography and traditional Iranian tapestries in “Iranian Carpets,” where haunting images emerge out of intricately patterned materials. www.adcbuildingbridgesartexchange.org
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.