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9 Art Shows in LA You Should See This December

By / December 6, 2016
   Matt Brown
   Matt Brown

So, you finally got a little time off work and you’re just kicking around house. You could just sit back on the couch, drink a few beers and lower your IQ watching CNN. Or you could get out there and experience some actual culture.

You may be thinking that all the galleries are probably closed in December. And sure, most of the art world is kicking around Miami or holidaying in Tuscany at this time of year. But don’t worry, there are plenty of eager interns to keep the home fires burning.

Here are nine art shows worth peeling yourself off the couch this December.


1. Radio Imagination: Artists in the Archive of Octavia E. Butler
Armory Center for the Arts
Until January 8

Every Angeleno should know Octavia Butler, Pasadena’s very own science fiction genius. In this group show, organized on the 10th anniversary of her death, eight artists were given access to her archives. A must-see for anyone interested in science fiction, literature or just LA in general.


2. Non-Fiction (Curated by Noah Davis)
The Underground Museum
Until May 1 2017

Before he sadly passed, founder of the Underground Museum Noah Davis curated this exhibition in collaboration with MOCA. Post-election, this show envisaged as “a love letter to the victims of racial violence, and the families who endured,” has unfortunately become even more urgent. There’s not much else to say except that you need to go and see it.


3. Jan Albers: flOtatiOn
Until December 20

If you want to be an artist these days, it’s hard to find an untapped niche, but Jan Albers is famous for just that. His 3D “paintings” aren’t quite paintings, but they’re not quite sculptures either. He’s been working in this in-between space for most of his career—at the artist’s talk he even talked of his epic struggle to move out of portrait and into landscape. This is a dedicated man.


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4. Wolfgang Tillmans
Regen Projects
Until December 23

Fresh from his appearance on Frank Ocean’s latest album, Wolfgang Tillmans lands at Regen Projects. A rare chance to see the famed German in full flight.


5. Roll Call (Curated by Gajin Fujita)
LA Louver
Until January 14

Gajin Fujita is known for breaking through from the East LA graffiti scene into the “real” art world. In this show, he taps his old 80s crew (many of whom have also gone on to international fame as well) for a reunion show.


6. Rat Bastard Protective Association 
The Landing
Until  January 7

These days with its 5k/month rents and Silicon Valley disruption, it’s hard to imagine that San Francisco was once a haven to the social outcasts of the Beat Generation. Rat Bastard Protective Association turns an eye to the “Painterland” scene that flourished in the Fillmore neighborhood in 50s San Francisco. Rubbing shoulders with the Beat culture were Californian favorites like Wallace Berman, Joan Brown and Bruce Conner, among others who would soon achieve fame to rival the Beats themselves.


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7. Tamara Henderson
Redcat Gallery
Until December 23

You may already feel like too many sinister unconscious processes have taken over your life in 2016. If not, then you should definitely check out Canadian artist Tamara Henderson’s show at the Redcat. Drawing on chance techniques similar to those of the Surrealists, Henderson’s films, sculptures and writings conjure up a bizarre, dreamlike landscape.


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8. Paul Thek
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Until January 7

A rare chance to see Paul Thek’s odd and idiosyncratic installations that were influential for artists like Mike Kelley. The last time his work was exhibited in LA was in 2011, so see it while you can.


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Bruce Conner at Kohn Gallery.

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9. Bruce Conner: A Movie
Kohn Gallery

These days, it’s easy to grab a couple of images off the internet, slap them together and call it a meme. But back in the 50s, that kind of thinking was mind-blowingly cutting edge. A Movie, made in 1958, is a collage film put together from snippets of found footage. Of course, you probably find it on Youtube, but some of us nerds like to see these things on the original 16mm.


Matthew O’Shannessy is a writer living in Los Angeles. He grew up in Tasmania, Australia and moved to LA via Melbourne where he joined an art collective and worked for the Melbourne International Film Festival. His work has been published in various magazines and he’s currently co-editing an arts anthology. He lives in Echo Park, but you can often find him scouting out the San Fernando Valley.

More articles by Matthew O'Shannessy



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