Art This Week in Culture

Thinking of Extending Your Design Fair Trip in Los Angeles? Here Are This Month’s 9 Must-See Exhibitions in the City

Angel Otero, Neverland (Detail Shot), 2024. Image courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

That First Rain in May” by Angel Otero
Hauser & Wirth West Hollywood
When: May 29 - August 24
Why It’s Worth A Look: Woven into Otero’s first Los Angeles showing with Hauser & Wirth are memories of growing up in Puerto Rico. The pieces go through a singular process of production wherein Otero paints on plexiglass, scrapes the layers off, and collages them onto canvas. There, a series of domestic island scenes come to life.
Know Before You Go: Though Otero is most recognized for these unique paintings, the exhibition also sees him return to his sculpture practice. These pieces, also inspired by his upbringing, combine ceramics with metalwork.

Simone Leigh
LACMA and the California African American Museum
When: May 26, 2024 - January 20, 2025
Why It’s Worth A Look: Somehow, this is the first comprehensive survey of work by Leigh. Twenty years of the artist’s production across ceramics, bronze, video, and installation are on display in a show organized by the ICA Boston, co-presented by LACMA and the California African American Museum.
Know Before You Go: Leigh’s practice, which regularly explores the interiority of Black femme life, can be seen in all its iterations at this latest exhibition, including pieces from the artist’s 2022 Venice Biennale presentation.

Space Between the Lines” by Alicja Kwade and Agnes Martin
When: May 18 - June 29
Why It’s Worth A Look: Here are two artists separated by a myriad of factors: time, place, medium. Yet, the exhibition, Kwade’s first significant showing in LA, draws parallels between the finer points of their work. A number of Martin’s paintings are on view and Kwade is contributing work that includes two new large-scale sculptures.
Know Before You Go: Arne Glimcher, co-curator alongside Kwade, said of the show, “Both artists have been involved in the possibilities of line, both bring a meditative sensibility, and both are interested in questions of time. Both make works that reveal themselves slowly, with time.”

Keith Mayerson, Arisfroggle Contemplating a Bust of a Twerp, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist.

My American Dream: City of Angels” by Keith Mayerson
When: May 23 - July 20
Why It’s Worth A Look: Ahead of his opening at Karma, Mayerson has been posting a series of paintings of Kermit the Frog, presumably the star of his forthcoming exhibition. Kermit is sipping Lipton tea, riding his bicycle, marrying Ms. Piggy in a reimagining of the Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, and more. The “City of Angels” show centers on the West Coast metropolis and, to be frank, there are few Hollywood stars more iconic than the Frog.
Know Before You Go: Of the paintings, Mayerson shared on Instagram, “Jim Henson’s Kermit as the bandleader for all the Muppets taught me much [about] how to be a good person and successful human being in every way, giving back to the world to make it a better place, and to assume a queer positive role in terms of masculinity that could still be sensitive and compassionate but strong without having to perform negative macho John Wayne stereotypes we had in my generation.”

Painting, the shorter of the longest (Morán Morán), 2024” by SoiL Thornton
Morán Morán
When: May 18 - June 20
Why It’s Worth A Look: Brooklyn-based Thornton is staging their fourth exhibition with Morán Morán, which is sure to follow in their tradition of conceptual, often minimalist sculpture and painting. One such piece included is a bouquet, titled Splintered bouquet of each year of me as you (spectrum), crafted from a number of wood slivers painted and screwed through with livestock ear tags.
Know Before You Go: Past works shown by the artist at Morán Morán include a tin foil ball, hangars holding rain booties, a painting reading “Harry Pussy” among other text, and a constructed wood and plexiglass table containing a number of inventive coffee mugs.

JB Blunk, With Work by Gordon Onslow Ford
When: May 18 - June 29
Why It’s Worth A Look: This exhibition delves into late artist JB Blunk’s forays into pottery, a practice he learned after meeting Isamu Noguchi by chance while briefly stationed in Japan during the Korean War. The accomplished artist introduced Blunk to other practitioners that taught him the foundations of the medium. Also on view are a number of Blunk's woodworking pieces and selections from the oeuvre of contemporary Gordon Onslow Ford.
Know Before You Go: Of bringing the unglazed, wood firing techniques he learned to the U.S., Blunk once said, “I’d like to show the people in the States this material and way of using just earth, water, and fire. It’s very different from any concept or use of material to be found elsewhere.”

The Museum of Modern Art, Collection 1970s–Present (Installation View), 2019. © 2023 Department of Imaging and Visual Resources, The Museum of Modern Art. Photography by John Wronn. Image courtesy of MoMA and Sprüth Magers.

Gretchen Bender: The Perversion of the Visual
Sprüth Magers
When: May 24 - August 10
Why It’s Worth A Look: For the first time since 1989, Bender is showing work in Los Angeles. The Pictures Generation artist was an early critic of digitized media’s depiction of, and often disregard for, violence. The topic has only become more relevant in recent years, prompting a restaging of Dumping Core, 1984, which sets images of the El Salvadoran Civil War and corporate logos to an original soundtrack by Stuart Argabright, Michael Diekmann, and Shin Shimokawa.
Know Before You Go: Also on view will be a newly printed series of photo collages further exploring cultural desensitization to the reality of war—a timely response to an era where images of such conflicts dominate social platforms.

The Flood, The Vessel, The Commune—​​how do we find each other?” by Julie Tolentino
Commonwealth and Council
When: May 25 - June 29
Why It’s Worth A Look: Tolentino is returning to Commonwealth and Council with what is sure to be another immersive exhibition. Previously, the artist previously staged “REPEATER” and “Raised by Wolves” in the space, the former of which totaled 108 hours of performance, and the latter of which had 50 separate performances accompanied by a site-specific sculpture.
Know Before You Go: Last year, the artist explained to BOMB Magazine, “Everything that creates that intensity or that gravitational force that’s propelling us and pushing us away from each other are the things I’m interested in.” 

Still Life Stories” by John Sonsini
When: May 18 - June 29
Why It’s Worth A Look: Like many, Sonsini’s practice was interrupted by the onset of the pandemic. Live sitters were no longer an option, so instead, he turned to painting still lifes in the studio. His work morphed from a depiction of people’s daily lives, to the objects left behind by such activities. For Sonsini, many such pieces include half-used paints and other ephemera of an artist’s work.
Know Before You Go: Of his turn toward still life, the artist said, “I don’t think it happened all at once, but over a very short time, it occurred to me that the unfamiliarity I noticed when I returned to painting from life after the pandemic was that the absence of my sitters still hung in the air, and I wanted to try to convey that.”