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Arts and Entertainment

Pencil This In: Aimee Bender at ATX, Ry Cooder at Vroman's, Punk Films at MOCA, photo l.a. Gala Opening

A closeup of work from the Two Rabbits solo show 'Buy Product' at Crewest Gallery. (Photo: Crewest).
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It's one of those nights in LA where there are just too many events going on at the same time. Art openings and performance during the Downtown Art Walk, lit events with Aimee Bender and Ry Cooder, photo l.a. opens in Santa Monica and more. Read on for all the details.

photo l.a.—the annual fine art photography exhibition (and sale)—returns to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium for its 21st edition, showcasing both vintage works and contemporary photography. photo l.a. opens tonight with a gala reception to benefit LACMA’s Wallis Annenberg Department of Photography tonight from 6-9 pm, with special host Moby and guest DJ Aaron Byrd (KCRW). Gala tickets: $80. The exhibition runs through Jan. 16.

Art Walk night tours of The Times continue tonight with an editorial tour at 7:30 pm. Get a behind-the-scenes-look of the newspaper, including the art deco lobby, news desks, photo, test kitchen and features. The tour runs about 1.5 hours Free with RSVP.

Tonight at 7 pm, MOCA Grand Avenue and Los Angeles Filmforum presents the alternative film screening Strange Notes and Nervous Breakdowns: Punk and Media Art, 1974-1981. Los Angeles was home to a rich punk scene in film and media, so in conjunction with Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981, rare performances by punk bands of the era, performance art, and D.I.Y. documentary will be screened. Free, but reservations required.

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Writer Aimee Bender reads excerpts from her short stories and novels and then discusses her writing process with Slake editors during the January edition of Slake after Darktonight at 7 pm at Atwater Crossing. Local band the Socialistics plays live sets before and after her reading. Atwater Crossing Kitchen will be open for dinner and wine; event copresenter Stories Books will be on hand to sell a number of Bender’s titles. Doors and dinner orders at 7 pm; event begins at 7:30 pm.

Tonight at 7 pm, Vroman’s hosts an evening with Lynell George in conversation with guitarist, singer, and composer Ry Cooder in support of Cooder’s book, Los Angeles Stories. The “quirky collection of loosely linked, noir-ish tales” takes readers back to post-WW II LA, where “a do-it-yourself culture of cool cats, outsiders, and oddballs populated the old downtown neighborhoods of Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine. Ordinary working folks rubbed elbows with petty criminals, grifters, and all sorts of women at foggy end-of-the-line outposts in Venice Beach and Santa Monica.”

The Los Angeles Theatre Center’s resident comedy and music ensemble—The Vault—celebrates its two year anniversary with a show of its greatest skits. The multiethnic cast takes its inspiration from local and global events with almost no subject off limits. Tonight’s show takes place at 9 pm during the Downtown Art Walk at LATC. Tickets: $5 at the door. Complimentary wine is available for adults (21+) with ID.

Crewest opens the Two Rabbits solo show Buy Product from 6-10 pm tonight during the Downtown Art Walk. Two Rabbits have taken what many consider to be useless scrap and turned it into beautiful works of color and shape to display. The show will remain up through Feb. 5.

There’s a tasting of Australian wines tonight from 8-10 pm at the Pacific Design Center presented by Bottlenotes, the leading company for new to intermediate wine enthusiasts. The first-ever Around Australia in 80 Sips wine tasting event in Los Angeles gives attendees the opportunity to learn about Australian wine, while tasting more than 80+ wines from more than 20 Australian wine regions. Admission: $75.

*Pencil pick of the day

Want more events? Follow me on Twitter (@christineziemba). Or follow Lauren Lloyd—who takes care of Pencil on Wednesdays (@LadyyyLloyd).