THE ART WORLD is increasingly drawn to Greater Los Angeles, where the vibrant cultural landscape continues to transform. New art museums and a new wave of commercial galleries are establishing roots and a major art fair has a committed audience. The Orange County Museum of Art is inaugurating a new building in a new Costa Mesa location in October. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is expected to launch in Exposition Park in 2023. On the gallery front, Nigerian-based Rele Gallery moved into a space on Melrose Avenue last year. More recently, David Zwirner, Pace, Sean Kelly, Lisson, and Sargent’s Daughters are the latest New York-based galleries to announce plans to open locations in Los Angeles.

This week, Frieze Los Angeles returns after canceling the 2020 and 2021 editions due to the pandemic. Staged in a new Beverly Hills venue, the art fair is open Feb. 17-20, with more than 100 participating galleries.

Works by artists of African descent are on view throughout the fair with a selection of galleries. Suzanne Jackson’s work is surveyed at Ortuzar Projects. Stephen Friedman Gallery’s booth is dedicated to Denzil Forrester. Vielmetter Los Angeles has a solo show of Samuel Levi Jones. In the Focus LA section, Parker Gallery is presenting works by Melvino Garretti, an early artist in residence at the Studio Watts workshop in the mid-1960s, who describes himself as an urban and suburban anthropologist.

At the same time, museums across the Los Angeles region are hosting must-see exhibitions showcasing a spectrum of works by Black artists. Beyond Frieze, there is plenty to see in Los Angeles now and in the weeks and months to come.

Highlights include “Black American Portraits” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; a survey of Noah Davis at The Underground Museum; a retrospective of Los Angeles-based video and performance artist Ulysses Jenkins at the Hammer Museum; Diedrick Brackens at Craft Contemporary; and solo shows of Matthew Thomas, Troy Montes-Michie, and LaToya Ruby Frazier at the California African American Museum.

Solo exhibitions of late choreographer and video artist Blondell Cummings at Mark Bradford’s Art + Practice and painter Jennifer Packer at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, close this week. Early prints by sculptor Richard Hunt are on view later this month at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. In March, “Deborah Roberts: I’m” opens at A + P. A selection of 18 museum exhibitions follows:


JENNIFER PACKER, “A Little Life,” 2021 (oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 18 inches / 57.1 x 45.7 cm). | Courtesy Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, Corvi-Mora, London

Jennifer Packer Every Shut Eye Ain’t Sleep @ Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif. | July 1, 2021-Feb. 20, 2022

Jennifer Packer paints lyrical portraits and allegorical tableaux, including floral still lifes commemorating loss. New and recent works by New York-based Packer are featured in the exhibition, the artist’s first West Coast solo show.


Installation view of “LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze,” California African American Museum (Sept. 8, 2021-March 20, 2022). | Courtesy CAAM

LaToya Ruby Frazier: The Last Cruze @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Sept. 8, 2021-March 20, 2022

LaToya Ruby Frazier‘s powerful black-and-white images document the lives of workers at the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The factory ceased production in 2019 after operating for more than 50 years. The exhibition features 67 photographs and a video.


Preview of “Blondell Cummings: Dance as Moving Pictures” exhibition at Art + Practice in Leimert Park. | Video by A + P

Blondell Cummings: Dance as Moving Pictures @ Art + Practice, Los Angeles, Calif. | Sept. 18, 2021-Feb. 19, 2022

The exhibition offers a fresh look at the practice of New York choreographer and video artist Blondell Cummings (1944-2015), who combined dance with photographic images, creating what she called “moving pictures.” Rarely seen video works from Blondell’s personal archive are on view along with photographs, dance films, documentation of her performances, and interviews with the artist.


KARA WALKER, “The White Power ‘Gin/Machine to Harvest the Nativist Instinct for Beneficial Uses to Border Crossers Everywhere,” 2019 (soft pastel, charcoal, and oil sticks on paper; graphite and ink on paper, 86 3/4 x 216 inches / 220.345 x 548.64 cm). | @ Kara Walker, Acquired by The Broad in 2019

Since Unveiling: Selected Acquisitions of a Decade @ The Broad, Los Angeles, Calif. | Nov. 20, 2021-April 3, 2022

A collection exhibition, the show presents 53 works acquired by The Broad over the past decade. Twenty-seven artists are represented, including Kara Walker, Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Julie Mehretu, and Nathaniel Mary Quinn.


From left, DANNIELLE BOWMAN, “Vision (Garage),” 2019 (inkjet print, 30 × 24 inches). | Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LENS: Photography Council, 2021, © Dannielle Bowman, digital image courtesy of the artist and Sasha Wolf Projects; JANNA IRELAND, “The Black Suit,” 2012 (inkjet print, 40 × 32 inches). | Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Ralph M. Parsons Fund, © Janna Ireland, digital image courtesy of the artist

Family Album: Dannielle Bowman, Janna Ireland, and Contemporary Works from LACMA @ Charles White Elementary, Los Angeles, Calif. | Nov 27, 2021–Jun 5, 2022

The visual vocabulary of family photographs and notions of home are the focus of the exhibition, a group show featuring new works by Dannielle Bowman and Janna Ireland, alongside works by artists Germane Barnes, Mark Bradford, Micaiah Carter, Tony Cokes, Sandra de la Loza, Mercedes Dorame, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Genevieve Gaignard, Leslie Hewitt, Deana Lawson, Tyler Mitchell, Star Montana, Zora Murff, and Chino Otsuka.


Installation view of “Black American Portraits,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Nov. 7, 2021–April 17, 2022. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Black American Portraits @ Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, Calif. | Nov. 7, 2021-April 17, 2022

Organized on the occasion of The Obama Portraits tour and inspired by David Driskell’s “Two Centuries of Black American Art” show (1976), the exhibition draws primarily on LACMA’s permanent collection, featuring about 140 works spanning two centuries dating from circa 1800.


SAMUEL L. DUNSON JR., “The Cultivators,” 2000 (oil on canvas, 38 ½ x 26 ½ inches). | © Samuel L. Dunson Jr., Kinsey African American Art and History Collection

The Cultivators: Highlights from the Kinsey African American Art and History Collection @ Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, Calif. | Jan. 15-March 27, 2022

The Kinsey Collection features African American art, photographs, rare books, letters, and manuscripts spanning five centuries. The art and history collection has been the subject of more than 30 exhibitions over the past 15 years. The current presentation showcases more than 30 works of art, signature artifacts, and a selection of items shown publicly for the first time.


ALMIGHTY GOD (KWAME AKOTO), “God Knows ‘Am Jailed Falsely. Not I Alone But Many People Around the World,” 2005 (pigment on plywood). | Fowler Museum at UCLA, X2016.35.3; Gift of Doran H. Ross

How Do You See This World?: The Art of Almighty God @ Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif. | Jan. 16-May 15, 2022

A retrospective, the exhibition presents nearly 80 paintings by Kwame Akoto, the Ghanaian artist who is commonly referred to as “Almighty” by his friends. After establishing Almighty God Art Works in 1972, producing “signs for small businesses, cloth banners for evangelical events, and tin portraits for grave monuments,” he shifted to making the kinds of paintings featured in the exhibition. Combining images and text, the pictures explore several themes, including portraiture, Christianity, and major international issues.


The creative process of MARK STEVEN GREENFIELD is “based on research that delves into topics of Black genealogy, heritage, and cultural representation. His artwork is anchored in aspects of Black history that have been buried, forgotten, or omitted.” | © Mark Steven Greenfield, Courtesy Lancaster Museum of Art and History

Activation @ Lancaster Museum of Art and History, Lancaster, Calif. | Jan. 22–April 17, 2022

Under the umbrella of Activation, the museum’s new season of exhibitions features solo shows of April Bey, Paul Stephen Benjamin, Carla Jay Harris, Mark Steven Greenfield, and Keith Collins, along with “What Would You Say? Activist Graphics from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” a survey exhibition showcasing the intersection of design and activism through works produced by California organizations and artists, including Emory Douglas, artistic director of the Black Panther Party.


NOAH DAVIS, “The Last Barbeque,” 2008 (oil on canvas, 60 x 52 inches / 152.4 x 132.1 cm). | © Estate of Noah Davis, Courtesy Estate of Noah Davis and David Zwirner Gallery

Noah Davis @ The Underground Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Jan. 28-Sept. 30, 2022

A survey of The Underground Museum co-founder Noah Davis (1983-2015), a version of the exhibition originated in early 2020 at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Curated by Helen Molesworth and Justen Leroy, the exhibition features 20 paintings by Davis, made between 2007 and 2015.


Installation view of “Diedrick Brackens: heaven is a muddy riverbed,” Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles (Jan. 30-May 8, 2022). | Courtesy Craft Contemporary, Photo by Josh Schaedel

Diedrick Brackens: Heaven is a Muddy Riverbed @ Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, Calif. | Jan. 30-May, 8 2022

Diedrick Brackens makes figurative tapestry weavings embedded with symbolism and narrative. In 2017, he introduced a catfish motif. Its enduring presence in his work is the focus of the exhibition. Accompanying his first West Coast solo museum show, a new publication documents all of his catfish-themed artworks and poems.


Installation view of “Daisy Hightower: An Installation by Rosalyn Myles,” Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, Calif. (Jan. 30-May, 8 2022<). | Photo by Josh Schaedel, Courtesy of Craft Contemporary

Daisy Hightower: An Installation by Rosalyn Myles @ Craft Contemporary, Los Angeles, Calif. | Jan. 30-May 8, 2022

Los Angeles-based Rosalyn Myles visualizes the life story and familial influence of Daisy Hightower (1904-1980), her maternal grandmother, through a series of domestic textiles (tablecloths, drapes, wall treatments) and ephemera. The presentation serves as a lens through which to consider the universal experiences of African American families.


Installation view of “Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning,” Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, (Feb. 5–May 29, 2022). | Photo by Jeff McLane/ICA LA

Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning @ Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Calif. | Feb. 5-May 29, 2021

Houston, Texas-based Jamal Cyrus “explores the evolution of African American identity within Black political movements and the African diaspora.” The artist’s first museum survey and first solo show in Los Angeles presents about 50 works spanning assemblage, textiles, sculpture, and installation.


Preview of Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation” at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. | Video by Hammer Museum

Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation @ Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Feb. 6-May 15, 2022

The practice of pioneering video/performance artist Ulysses Jenkins dates back to the late 1970s and includes collaborations with Kerry James Marshall, David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, and Senga Nengudi. Co-curated by Meg Onli and Erin Christovale, the artist’s first museum retrospective presents more than 20 videos and 60-plus collaborative works, mural paintings, photographs, and performances.


MATTHEW THOMAS, “Abstract Earth,” 2018 (acrylic on wood, 36 x 36 inches). | © Matthew Thomas, Courtesy the artist

Matthew Thomas: Enlightenment @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Feb. 5-Aug. 7, 2022

An artist and professor from Los Angeles, Matthew Thomas has lived in rural Thailand for more than a decade, where his practice is influenced by Buddhism and the religious philosophies of multiple cultures. The exhibition presents a site-specific installation and paintings “that function as visual prayers meant to harmonize humanity and the universe.”


TROY MONTES-MICHIE, “America Is Woven of Many Threads #1,” 2019 (graphite, colored pencil, grease pencil, and polyester thread on magazine paper, 11 x 18 inches). | © Troy Montes-Michie

Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye @ California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Calif. | Feb. 16-Sept. 4, 2022

The practice of Troy Montes-Michie is informed by his experience growing up along the U.S.-Mexico border. Collages, drawings, sculptures, and installations that explore the intersection of body and place and portraiture and landscape are featured. The first solo museum exhibition of the artist is documented by a new publication.


RICHARD HUNT (American, b. 1935), “Untitled,” 1965 (lithograph, Paper: 18 x 18 inches / 45.72 x 45.72 cm). | © Richard Hunt. Norton Simon Museum, Anonymous Gift

Richard Hunt: Details @ Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, Calif. | Feb. 25-July 4, 2022

Chicago-based sculptor Richard Hunt’s standard medium is metal. In 1965, he participated in a residency at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles, where he produced Details, a suite of 8 lithographs and 17 independent prints. The graphic works complemented and helped expand Hunt’s sculptural practice. The exhibition presents a selection of prints Hunt made at Tamarind more than half a century ago.


DEBORAH ROBERTS, “Jamal,” 2020 (mixed media collage on canvas, 65 x 45 inches). | © Deborah Roberts, Courtesy the artist, Vielmetter Los Angeles, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo by Paul Bardagjy, Image Courtesy Contemporary Austin

“Deborah Roberts: I’m” @ Art + Practice, Los Angeles, Calif. | March 19-Aug. 20, 2022

A selection of new paintings and works on paper by Deborah Roberts explores issues of beauty, masculinity, race and the Black body. The artist’s subjects are children whose fragmented portraits speak to their complex identities and tenuous innocence. Presented in collaboration with the California African American Museum, this traveling survey of Austin, Texas-based Roberts was organized last year by The Contemporary Austin. CT


FIND MORE Amanda Hunt organized the Focus LA section at Frieze Los Angeles, where works by Melvino Garretti are on view at Parker Gallery

FIND MORE Betye Saar repainted a mural at Frieze Los Angeles, part of Roberts Projects presentation at the art fair


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