Summer Art preview

With summer approaching, many sun-loving Angelenos will flock to the beach or frolic in the park. But once the heat gets to be too much, art museums and galleries prove to be a viable alternative to escape the rising temperature and also stay entertained — sometimes for free.

Over the new few months of summer vacation, consider ducking into your nearest art locale for some seriously interesting shows and as an alternative way to take a break from all that tanning.

James Turrell — LACMA

For starters, how about a museum show that’s anything but just a museum show? You know, the kind that makes you ask those deep, dark questions in life? Even if it doesn’t get that introspective, your experience with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s James Turrell: A Retrospective will still likely top your list of best museum shows. The exhibition recognizes Turrell, a native Angeleno known mostly for his work with light.

Expect drawings and even some pieces with holograms — all topped off by Light Reignfall, which requires one person at a time to lay down on a sliding surface that eases them into a spherical enclosure. For 15 minutes, light surrounds the viewer, creating a unique visual experience.

If that sounds awesome beyond your wildest dreams, make sure to reserve tickets online early. The retrospective opens May 26 and runs until April 6, 2014. LACMA is located on 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

Terry O’Neill — Mouche Gallery

For its exhibition on photographer Roger Ballen and his work with oddball hip-hop group Die Antwoord (their freaky good “I FINK U FREEKY” video, as a matter of fact), Mouche Gallery transformed its entire space and served tequila and champagne in a room filled with Ballen’s work — including black rats, pigeons and doves to set the tone.

Judging by that dedication to a theme, the gallery’s next show will also prove memorable; this time, the locale will focus on photographer Terry O’Neill, known for taking snapshots of anyone famous ranging from Winston Churchill to Audrey Hepburn. Not to mention, every James Bond.

The public reception takes place June 20 and is worth the visit, as the gallery also resides dangerously close to Rodeo Drive (shopaholics, unite). The show runs until July 5, so there’s plenty of time to check out fantastic work made up of plenty of familiar faces. Mouche Gallery is located on 340 N. Beverly Drive.

John Park and Skount — C.A.V.E. Gallery

If you yearn for something different, maybe something a little trippy, Los Angeles provides plenty such shows no matter the season. Explore the exciting styles of artists John Park and Skount, both of whom know how to craft large-scale visually stunning pieces with distinct looks.

Park’s people, animals and places burst with color and sometimes feel as if they’re ripped out of the pages of a strange children’s book. Expect dreamy cityscapes, girls with extra eyes and a feeling that you’ve been to this made-up land in the past, somehow.

Skount gets equally whimsical with detailed works that transform even the dullest of concrete walls into a dynamic setting for a fairy tale-esque vignette. The artist excels at creating movement on a surface with his unique, oddly dressed characters. Head to the opening reception of their show in the trendy Abbot Kinney area at C.A.V.E. Gallery on June 29, where you can sip free drinks in an outdoor area while discussing the true meaning of art. C.A.V.E. Gallery is located on 1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd., in Venice, Calif.

Never Built — Architecture and Design Museum (A+D)

Though Los Angeles has plenty of impressive architectural sights, it’s worth a visit to A+D to check out Never Built: Los Angeles, a reflection on buildings that were — you guessed it — never built in Los Angeles. Geek out on architecture drawings — actual hand drawings, not software concoctions — blueprints and models of buildings that might’ve been part of the city today but, for one reason or another, just did not make the cut. It’s the type of show that asks what we can do differently today for those budding architects with plenty of innovative ideas.

The show’s reception is on Saturday, July 27, but it requires tickets (that are soon to go on sale at an unannounced date), so you can always swing by from July 28 to September 29. A + D Architecture and Design Museum is located on 6032 Wilshire Blvd.

Keep an eye out for the openings, as they sprout up sporadically when a gallery gets a good idea or when an artist creates something new. Like L.A.’s gallery Facebook pages to stay updated with new shows and pick up advertising postcards at the galleries you visit.

And a tip to the wise: If you find openings near each other in the Downtown or Culver City areas, you can save stress on finding parking, indulge in plenty of free beer or wine and discover tons of great new artists in one swoop.