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And somehow, it’s 2022. There’s plenty to look forward to in Los Angeles’s art galleries this year, including the good news that the Underground Museum is reopening with what will surely be a knock-out show of Noah Davis’s paintings. Several spaces continue to be open by appointment, making it safer for you and your loved ones, so be sure to plan ahead.
When: through February 5
Where: Vincent Price Art Museum (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, California)
Those of us in Southern California understand all-too-well issues surrounding water rights, water scarcity, and environmental justice — issues that will only get more contentious as climate change intensifies. Liquid Light is a collaborative project between Javier Tapia and Camilo Ontiveros that traces the passage of water across the US to Mexico. The exhibition is based around a film that follows the Colorado River from the Rockies to the Sea of Cortez, highlighting its natural beauty as well as the ways its water is exploited, despoiled, and diverted.
When: through February 6
Where: Central Library, Annenberg Gallery (630 West 5th Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Dubbed the “Renaissance Man of the West,” Joseph Jacinto Mora was a prolific artist, illustrator, muralist, and map-maker who helped shape the image of California and the American West in the first half of the 20th century. The Uruguayan-born artist is best known for his maps — or “cartes,” as he called them — that meld cartographic accuracy with humorous and historical cartoons and annotations. Jo Mora: Mapmaker showcases his singular imagination through drawings, artifacts, and, of course, maps, many never before seen in Southern California.
When: through February 19
Where: Self Help Graphics & Art (1300 E. 1st St, Boyle Heights, Los Angeles)
Pavel Acevedo’s intricately carved linocut prints depict nahuales of Mezoamerican mythology — people with the ability to shapeshift into animals — confronting contemporary issues surrounding migration and identity. In one print, a half-raccoon, half-human holds a sign stating “When we fight, we Win,” while in another, a hybrid bat figure bears a slogan reading “Somos Millones, Cuentanos Bien” (We Are Millions, Count Us). The Shell in the Clouds (El caparazón en las nubes) is the culminating show of the Oaxacan-born, Riverside-based artist’s “Beyond the Press” residency at Self Help Graphics, which began in early 2020. It features prints created during the residency, as well as the linoleum blocks from which they were printed, offering insights into his process.
When: January 7–February 6
Where: Junior High (603 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale)
What does it even mean to be a “late bloomer”? Kelly Malka reflects on the human tendency to measure ourselves against others through illustrations of people engulfed in flowers. She says her artworks capture the “aching feeling that I’m doing something wrong: that I’m behind schedule, that everyone around me is moving at an instinctive pace that I can’t seem to uncover.”
When: January 12–September 30
Where: The Underground Museum (3508 W Washington Boulevard, Arlington Heights, Los Angeles)
After nearly two years of being closed, the beloved Underground Museum is reopening with an exhibition devoted to its cofounder, Noah Davis. (In the time that it’s been closed, the museum redesigned its galleries to make them more accessible.) Organized by Helen Molesworth and Justen Leroy, the exhibition will be Davis’s first museum show in Los Angeles. The artist, who died at the young age of 32, wanted to paint “Black people in normal scenarios,” his canvases conjuring the tranquil, intimate, and sweet.
When: January 15–May 2
Where: The Huntington Library, West Hall (1511 Oxford Road, San Marino, California)
Coinciding with the centennial anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, the exhibition Mapping Fiction examines the intersection of literature and cartography. Spanning four centuries, the show features examples of both real and imaginary worlds depicted in novels and illustrated through maps. In addition to prints of Dublin related to Joyce’s iconic novel, Mapping Fiction includes maps from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Talents.
When: January 15–February 19
Where: Commonwealth & Council (3006 W 7th Street, Ste 220, MacArthur Park, Los Angeles)
With her upcoming solo show at Commonwealth & Council, Brazilian-born artist Clarissa Tossin continues to explore the themes of her recent show at Kunsthalle Mulhouse in France, namely impending environmental catastrophe and the role humans and corporations have played in it. Works will include weavings made from cut-up Amazon delivery boxes, clay death masks cast from the artist’s face, and a silicone cast of a dead Sycamore Maple Tree, a victim of rising global temperatures.
When: January 16–May 8
Where: Fowler Museum (308 Charles E. Young Dr N, Westwood, Los Angeles)
Kwame Akoto, known as “Almighty,” established his studio, Almighty God Art Works, in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi 50 years ago. He began painting signs for businesses and religious banners for local clients, before shifting to “creativity arts,” paintings created for international collectors that incorporate text rendered in his signature sign-lettering. Ranging from portraiture to commentaries on contemporary global issues, Akoto’s paintings are firmly embedded in the tradition of Akan arts of Southern Ghana, while transcending a specific utilitarian function.
When: January 28–June 12
Where: Armory Center for the Arts (145 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, California)
How we are in time and space focuses on the remarkable, career-spanning collaborations and creative exchanges between three influential female artists: Nancy Buchanan, Marcia Hafif, and Barbara T. Smith. The three met at UC Irvine in the late ’60s where they were MFA students and young mothers, and over the ensuing 50 years, each has explored the body, gender, liberation, and communication with boundless curiosity, empathy, and humor. Curated by writer and educator Michael Ned Holte, the exhibition will feature drawing, photography, performance documentation, and architectural proposals, highlighting both their collaborative works as well as their individual practices.
When: January 30–May 8
Where: Craft Contemporary (5814 Wilshire Blvd, Mid-Wilshire) Los Angeles)
If you’re familiar with the Los Angeles-based artist Diedrick Brackens, you’ve probably noticed a recurring character in his cool and quiet tapestries: the catfish. A survey of Brackens’s work at Craft Contemporary gathers his representations of the animal, “a symbol of physical and spiritual nourishment, a messenger linking the present to ancestral memories.”
Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he is a frequent contributor to Daily Serving, and Glasstire. More by Matt Stromberg