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The sun sets in Los Angeles | © Tyler Merbler / Flickr
The sun sets in Los Angeles | © Tyler Merbler / Flickr
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Must-See Los Angeles Gallery Shows This Spring

Picture of Juliet Bennett Rylah
Updated: 27 March 2017
Spring brings us new shows from a diverse collection of artists, diligently working in a wide range of mediums. A Chicano painter and his assistant-turned-pro, a warehouse packed with immersive scenes, and a gallery of mugshots can be found among these seven vernal gallery openings taking place in Los Angeles.
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Home/Escape at FM Fine Art Gallery includes art from Los Angeles artists Gronk and Luis Roberto Vasquez Borja. This exhibit marks the first time the two artists will show their work together, though they have been acquainted for some time, as Borja began working as an assistant to Gronk four years ago. Gronk (otherwise known as Glugio Nicandro) is a Chicano artist whose work has appeared at LACMA, The Hammer Museum, and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Home/Escape opens on March 23, 2017, with a reception at 7 p.m. There will be an artist talk on March 26th at 2 p.m. and a gallery walk-through with the artists on April 2nd at 2 p.m. The closing reception is on April 30, 2017, at 2 p.m.

FM Fine Art Gallery, 834 N La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 466 9999

Hone/Escape|Courtesy of FM Fine Art Gallery

Hone/Escape | Courtesy of FM Fine Art Gallery

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The Legitimacy of Brutality

Rome-based artist Jebila Okongwu opens The Legitimacy of Brutality at the Baert Gallery on March 25, 2017. Okongwu’s work examines stereotypes of Africa and African culture, often repurposing or taking inspiration from cardboard banana boxes—which often display similar clichésto create his art. Other pieces include sculpture, paintings, prints, and drawings. This show will remain on display through May 6, 2017.

Baert Gallery, 2441 Hunter Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 213 537 0737

The Legitimacy of Brutality|Photography Joshua White/ Courtesy of the artist and Baert Gallery, Los Angeles

The Legitimacy of Brutality | Photography Joshua White/ Courtesy of the artist and Baert Gallery, Los Angeles

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Dialogs with the Future

San Diego artist Robert Nelson’s colorful and surreal pieces reveal a series of dichotomies. Though they use comic book shapes and accessible objects, each conveys a sense of dystopia through its juxtaposition of cute animals and toys with symbols of disaster or distress. According to a release from Brainworks Gallery, “Using elements from art history and popular culture, he fuses the serious with the humorous creating evocative, challenging and sometimes disturbing works.” An opening reception will take place on April 1, 2017, from 5–8 p.m. The show remains on display through April 29, 2017.

Brainworks Gallery, 5346 W Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 376 3113

Dialogs with the Future 3, by Robert Nelson|Courtesy of Shoebox PR

Dialogs with the Future 3, by Robert Nelson | Courtesy of Shoebox PR

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Legal Goods

Though alternative art space Think Tank Gallery has since shuttered their gallery space in the Fashion District after a battle with the city over compliance issues, they are still hard at work. Their next show, Legal Goods, features objects made only by artists who have had their own encounters with law enforcement. The show takes place at Bonita’s Swap Meet in MacArthur Park, with an opening reception on April 1, 2017, from 4–7 p.m. The work may be viewed during the swap meet’s open hours through April 30, 2017. The reception will include “prison-made refreshments” and is free to enter, though organizers request guests bring at least $5 to spend at one of the vendor’s booths.

Bonita’s Swap Meet, 620 S Alvarado Street, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Legal Goods|Courtesy of Think Tank Gallery

Legal Goods | Courtesy of Think Tank Gallery

The 14th Factory

The 14th Factory, described by event organizers as “a monumental, multiple-media, socially engaged art and documentary experience conceived by Hong Kong-based British artist Simon Burch,” takes over a giant, vacant warehouse in Lincoln Heights. Inside, Birch and several other artists have been creating their work inside 14 difference spaces. There are paintings, sculptures, a lush and sprawling lawn, a room full of pitchforks suspended from the ceiling, and a replica of the pristine white bedroom featured in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tickets cost $15, marked for either before 2 p.m. or after 2 p.m. The art will remain on display through April 30, 2017.

The 14th Factory, 440 North Avenue 19, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The Barmecide Feast by Simon Birch, Paul Kember |Courtesy of The 14th Factory
The Barmecide Feast by Simon Birch, Paul Kember | Courtesy of The 14th Factory
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Monument to the Pathetic Sublime

Chinatown’s Coagula Curatorial presents the Monument to the Pathetic Sublime, featuring artists Manuel Ocampo and Irene Ire. These works are inspired by Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos series. According to the artists’ statement, “We create art pieces that are open-ended, adapting our particular view within the legacy of Goya, who, despite 200 years, has allowed his visionary character to be either used or exploited for our own end.” The show runs April 8–May 21, 2017. Guests might also want to pop by the nearby Good Luck Gallery and check out John Hiltunen’s show, featuring colorful collages in which each person’s head has been replaced by that of an animal.

Coagula Curatorial, 974 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 480 7852

Manuel Ocampo, "Painting As A Monument To Aesthetic Misfortune" (left), Manuel Ocampo and Irine Ire, "Demons Dance Alone"|Courtesy of Coagula Curatorial

Manuel Ocampo, “Painting As A Monument To Aesthetic Misfortune” (left), Manuel Ocampo and Irine Ire, “Demons Dance Alone” | Courtesy of Coagula Curatorial

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Penelope Houston & Miso/Karen Hsiao

La Luz de Jesus Gallery will highlight work from musician/artist Penelope Houston (lead singer of The Avengers) and fine art photographer Karen Hsiao April 7–30, 2017. Houston presents a collection of diptych paintings based on mugshots found in the San Francisco Public Library. Each piece contains the front and profile view of the accused, as well the suspect’s name and alleged crimes on the piece’s side panel. In her statement, Houston writes, “One hundred years before the selfie, photography was an elaborate proposition and the demeanor of the suspects at that significant but unwelcome moment of the policeman’s shutter click is uniquely unmasking. I was struck by the difference in expressions in the frontal shots – pleading or defiant – and the more withdrawn introspection in the profile shots. I took pleasure in painting them, and in the process of discovering and getting to know these individuals. But more than that, I felt a sense of obligation.”

Hsiao’s work includes a series of macabre photographs that blend fetish trappings with religious themes.

La Luz de Jesus, 4633 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, USA, +1 323 666 7667

Art by Penelope Houston|Courtesy of La Luz de Jesus Gallery

Art by Penelope Houston | Courtesy of La Luz de Jesus Gallery