Santa Monica hosts ‘Night of Ideas,’ ‘More Art Here’ and Art Los Angeles Contemporary this weekend

By Christina Campodonico

Guy Maddin’s “Grimes/Lenin,” a collage-on-paper juxtaposition of the Canadian musical artist and the Russian communist revolutionary, is among several works that Art Los Angeles Contemporary exhibitor Lisa Kehler Art + Projects is bringing to Barker Hanger. Photo courtesy of the artist and Lisa Kehler Art + Projects.  

SoCal may have gotten a good soaking over the past week, but Santa Monica is set for a deluge of creative ideas come this weekend. Three major cultural events hap-
pening Jan. 26 to 29 are primed to tickle both aesthetic and intellectual sensibilities.

Thursday’s “Night of Ideas,” hosted by the French Embassy’s French Cultural Services at Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Ave.), aims to stimulate your cerebrum with free philosophical talks, performances and film screenings, scheduled late into the evening. Leading artists and thinkers from various disciplines facilitate this seven-hour public exchange of ideas from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Starting at 8 p.m. in the Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles Times Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne will discuss utopias in contemporary Los Angeles with opera impresario and artistic director of The Industry Yuval Sharon, whose staging of the 2015 mobile opera “Hopscotch” across a fleet of limousines, parks, historic buildings and rooftops in and around downtown Los Angeles drew national attention to the city’s avant-garde opera scene.

Kristy Edmunds, the Artistic Director of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance is slated to speak at 7 p.m. at Craig Krull Gallery, while Beyond Baroque Poet-in-Residence Will Alexander will read poems from his books “Spectral Hieroglyphics” and “Compression & Purity” from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on the Robert Berman Gallery patio.

Edmunds plans “to offer a bit of a stream of consciousness reflection on utopias: civic and artistic, and how we work to dream potential into being” and hopes that the evening sparks inspiration for participants and speakers alike.

“I welcome any and all ideas and questions,” she writes. “A Night of Ideas, being just that, means I am going to be as much of a conduit as I am an interlocutor.”

Meanwhile, Alexander hopes to showcase vocabulary that “crosses disparate disciplines, such as biology, zoology and astronomy” through his poetry.

Then experimental music composers  David Rosenboom, violinist-conductor-composer Eyvind Kang and CalArts critic-historian Norman Klein team up to discuss experimental arts and music during times of inequality at midnight, while audio-maker Prieur de la Marne does a closing set to conclude the evening.

Art Los Angeles Contemporary also opens Thursday night at Barker Hangar (3021 Airport Ave.) with a ticketed reception ($65) and a series of on-site performances by pop culture appropriation artist “Puppies Puppies” starting at 7 p.m. The contemplation of art continues throughout the weekend with discussions, performances, screenings and displays by more than 60 exhibitors designed to excite your inner critic. (Passes start at $25).

On Friday, artists Zoe Crosher, Tony De Los Reyes, Fred Lonidier and Christine Wang discuss “Art in the Age of Donald Trump” at 3 p.m. On Sunday at 12:30 p.m., leading art figures from L.A.’s non-profits, foundations and arts institutions — including Eric Kim of Human Resources, Cascade Wilhelm of the Wilhelm Family Foundation and Jamillah James of the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (formerly the Santa Monica Museum of Art) — discuss the tension between elitism and egalitarianism in today’s art world. L.A. art critics David Pagel (The Los Angeles Times), Jonathan Griffin (Frieze), Hunter Drohojowska-Philp (ARTnews and KCRW’s “Art Talk”) and Lindsay Preston Zappas (CARLA) follow up this discussion at 1:30 p.m. by sharing their perspectives on four current art shows in L.A.

Zappas, who founded CARLA in 2015, is excited to exchange ideas with some of L.A.’s most well-known critics. “We all kind of come from different publications, which have their own voice and ethos,” says Zappas, but she hopes that having a diverse set of critics will “prove that criticism isn’t a right or wrong endeavor; it has a wide array of opinions.”

Starting Friday you can see more art up close and in the making, when Barker Hangar neighbor Santa Monica Airport Studios (3026 Airport Ave.) opens its doors for “More Art Here” during Art Los Angeles Contemporary. Through Sunday, over 25 artists working in painting, printmaking, video, photography, and jewelry will open up their studios to visitors. “More Art Here” will also hold an “Art in the Time of Trump” panel from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, featuring Los Angeles Review of Books Senior Editor Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, artist Masami Teraoka, actress/screenwriter Yareli Arizmendi, artist Gregg Chadwick and playwright/professor Michael Malek Najjar. Video and interactive art installations by Luigia Martelloni will also be on display inside and outside the building throughout  the weekend.

Whether viewing art, collecting it or discussing it, the torrent of cultural happenings in Santa Monica is sure to keep the creative juices flowing.

Visit nightofideasla.com, artlosangelesfair.com, or facebook.com/MoreArtHere for each event’s registration and schedule information.

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