If you know anything about Los Angeles, you know that the city is full of weird and wonderful niches geared towards almost everything imaginable, and its art world is no exception — there are museums at native plant nurseries, gallery spaces given over to exhibiting ramen and blood-infused mushrooms, even exhibitions involving the likes of Cheech & Chong and Tupac Shakur. This summer, we’ve compiled a guide to museum and institutional shows across LA County (and a little bit beyond), with an eye toward encouraging readers to explore those hidden pockets of LA. Get in the car and take a road trip to see what we’ve got in store for you — if gas prices aren’t too prohibitive, that is.
When: through July 10
Where: Fowler Museum at UCLA (308 Charles E. Young Drive North, Westwood, Los Angeles)
The Fowler Museum at UCLA is one of the few venues that consistently highlights artwork from across the globe, and their current exhibitions are no exception. Accompanied by a gorgeous publication, this ambitious exhibition not only showcases Aboriginal screen-printed textiles from Australia but also highlights how community-based practices are woven into the very fabric of the artwork.
When: June 4–June 21
Where: Human Resources (410 Cottage Home Street, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
When: June 24–July 24
Where: NAVEL (1611 South Hope Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
When: July 29–August 12
Where: Feminist Center for Creative Work (FCCW) (1800 South Brand Boulevard, Suite 111, Glendale)
Three much-loved, artist-driven nonprofits have joined forces to present what promises to be an epic event: PHILTH HAUS: LYLEX 1.0, taking place across the three venues throughout the entire summer. Curated by Mandy Harris Williams, the exhibition features PHILTH HAUS’s injection of the blood of a person undergoing hormonal and dietary modulation therapies into oyster mushrooms and investigating its implications.
When: through July 5
Where: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles (6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles)
What’s better than ramen? An entire exhibition dedicated to the Japanese food staple, dissecting everything from the history of porcelain donburi bowls to the region of Mino and its storied history of ceramic production to the glistening plastic replicas of menu items in restaurant displays. You’ll never look at your tonkotsu order the same way again. To learn more, read Hyperallergic’s coverage of the show.
When: through July 17
Where: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Mid-Wilshire, Los Angeles)
If you’ve driven by LACMA, you might have already gotten a glimpse of Barbara Kruger’s bigger-than-life show Thinking of
You. I Mean Me. I Mean You, with its unmissable large-scale vinyl wraps plastered over the construction plywood fencing leading up to the museum, as well as on the façade of the museum itself. The displays inside of the exhibition are even wilder, and include large-scale vinyl wraps, soundscapes, and video installations to present a career retrospective worthy of the seminal Pictures Generation artist.
When: through July 30
Where: Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) (1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, Los Angeles)
A major undertaking in examining sound in Latinx art, the show assembles over 30 Latinx artists and collectives, spanning the punk poetry and sound experimentation of Gerardo Velazquez (who was also one of the founders of the LA punk band Nervous Gender) to the contemporary pop-music-video-performances of the transdisciplinary artist and musician Martine Gutierrez.
When: through July 31
Where: Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego (ICA North) (1550 South El Camino Real, Encinitas, California)
Following Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas’s artist residency during the springtime, the ICA San Diego presents a solo exhibition of the artist’s work focused on petroleum. Cuevas, known for her witty interdisciplinary works critiquing global production and consumption, makes a splash by covering the gallery walls in oil.
When: through August 20
Where: Art + Practice (3401 West 43rd Place, Leimert Park, Los Angeles) and California African American Museum (CAAM) (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)
Spread across two institutions, Deborah Roberts’s solo exhibition I’m features found images of Black children, collaged and recombined to probe how racism, violence, and societal perceptions of beauty or masculinity shape their experience. The California African American Museum (CAAM) will also display a large-scale mural by Roberts in its lobby, titled Little man, little man (2020).
When: through August 31
Where: Los Angeles Historic State Park (1245 North Spring Street, Chinatown, Los Angeles)
Clockshop, the arts organization responsible for the public artworks you see at the Bowtie and the Los Angeles Historic State Park in Chinatown, has commissioned artist Jimena Sarno — whose practice is centered on spatial and sonic experiences — to create a “score” based on the LA Historic State Park. Listen to the landscape change as you stroll through the greenery.
When: extended throughout Summer 2022
Where: The Canvas at LA LIVE (944 Georgia Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Don’t be quick to dismiss the roving exhibition on the legendary rapper Tupac Shakur as the next blockbuster immersive experience. Organized by Chief Curator Nwaka Onwusa and Creative Director Jim Hodges in collaboration with the Shakur estate, the exhibition features an impressive amount of archival material, sure to engage novices and die-hard Tupac fans alike.
When: June 19–September 4
Where: Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles)
Andrea Bowers has dedicated her career to documenting activist movements, whether it be those addressing immigration rights, climate justice, or women’s rights. In these politically and economically fraught times, this retrospective is sure to feel more relevant than ever.
When: through September 4
Where: Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Brentwood, Los Angeles)
If you grew up in Los Angeles, you’re bound to remember whizzing past Judy Baca’s 1984 mural “Hitting the Wall: Women in the Marathon” on the 110 freeway, commemorating the Olympics in LA that year and the first time that the games included the women’s marathon. For decades, Baca’s socially engaged public artwork has been an iconic part of the visual identity of LA, but now her work is finally being recognized by the art institutions of her hometown — at the Getty Center and at MOCA in the fall.
When: through September 4
Where: Skirball Cultural Center (2701 North Sepulveda Boulevard, Brentwood, Los Angeles)
Over the past three years, the Skirball has collaborated with Korean American artist and activist Aram Han Sifuentes to explore textiles that center the experience of America’s immigrant communities. Though the first two projects were virtual due to the pandemic, the third and final one is in-person — particularly fitting, given the participatory nature of both Sifuentes’s practice and the project of America that the artist encourages us to reconsider.
When: through September 4
Where: California African American Museum (CAAM) (600 State Drive, Exposition Park, Los Angeles)
Troy Montes-Michie’s first museum solo exhibition considers the Black male body, using collage to refashion and construct new forms of selfhood. At the center of the show is the zoot suit, associated with the Mexican American, African American, and Filipino youth targeted during the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.
When: through September 4
Where: Forest Lawn Museum (1712 South Glendale Avenue, Glendale, California)
It’s a little-known fact that the Forest Lawn memorial grounds are home to a museum, in addition to the burial sites of loved ones across Los Angeles. The museum’s permanent collection alone is worth visiting for its theatrical narration of a huge, 195-foot-long crucifixion painting, but the current exhibition featuring a retrospective of Matthew Brandt’s photographs makes the visit all the more worthwhile. Steeped in the sites and landmarks of Los Angeles, it includes the La Brea Tar Pits as well as Forest Lawn’s own replica of Michelangelo’s David.
When: through September 9
Where: Theodore Payne Gallery (10459 Tuxford Street, Sun Valley, California)
The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of native California plants, operating its own nursery and education center in Sun Valley in an effort to reach out to the public with programs on propagation, seeds, and general courses on botany, horticulture, and ecology. Part of their initiative includes the Theodore Payne Art Gallery, where Studio Tutto — a collaboration between artists Sofia Laçin & Hennessy Christophel — has recently installed their Seed Spires sculpture series outdoors in addition to a site-specific painting inside the gallery space.
When: through September 25
Where: The Broad (221 South Grand Avenue, Downtown, Los Angeles)
Whenever I see an American flag flying over a neighbor’s lawn, I wonder what it means: Which version of America are they referring to? And what does it mean to self-identify as American? This Is Not America’s Flag draws upon the Broad’s rich collection to examine this timely issue, spotlighting David Hammons’s 1990 “African-American Flag” to explore the tensions underlying the symbol.
When: through October 23
Where: Wende Museum (10808 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, Los Angeles)
Speaking of flags, nationhood, and identity, the Wende Museum — LA’s quirky and sorely underappreciated museum dedicated to all things Cold War — puts these themes into a global, historical context to examine how flags shape identity. Not limited just to historical flags or existing countries, the show also makes space for flags that represent new possibilities of self-definition.
When: through December 23
Where: Santa Monica History Museum (1350 7th Street, Santa Monica, California)
Another oft-overlooked museum in Los Angeles is the Santa Monica History Museum. Located just off of the promenade, the museum points to the overlooked histories of the displaced African American, Mexican American, and immigrant communities along Broadway Avenue in Santa Monica. While the erased histories of East Los Angeles and Downtown are well known due to recent waves of gentrification, parallel histories in Santa Monica were less publicized, though no less important to remember.
When: June 18–June 18, 2023
Where: Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry of the Riverside Art Museum (3851 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, California)
Did you know that the celebrated actor Cheech Marin of “Cheech & Chong” fame is also a celebrated art collector? Indeed, Marin has spent the last few decades supporting Chicano artists and building what may be the largest collection of Chicano art, totaling over 700 works. His collection serves as the core of the long-awaited, soon-to-be inaugurated Cheech Marin Center, which will be devoted to Mexican American art.