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Circle the week of October 14th and 15th in red on your calendar. Two of the more offbeat but special events of the season are the International Festival of Masks, hosted as always by the Craft and Folk Art Museum at Hancock Park, and the Downtown Arts Development Association's (DADA) first annual Downtown Los Angeles Arts Tour.

The International Festival of Masks' traditional highlight is the Sunday morning parade of masks down Wilshire Boulevard, beginning at 11am. The Hancock Park Festival grounds are a true multi-cultural panoply of two stages featuring contemporary and traditional mask performers, booths and cuisine. Across the street at the Craft and Folk Art Museum community mask-making projects are documented, and, in a special exhibition, the culture and lifestyles connected to the New Orleans Mardi Gras provide depth to the fun. This is an admission free event. For further information call (213) 937-5544 (Craft and Folk Art Museum, West Hollywood).

The DADA Tour will open up numerous aritsts' studios to the public for the weekend, as well as the area's galleries and museums. Park at the Music Center to catch buses that will run continuously to all of the participating locations. Tickets are $35 invidually or $60 per couple, and include all transportation as well as a nearly 200-page catalogue being produced especially for the event. For further information, call (213) 625-DADA (DADA, Downtown).
The deep space of a painting's shallow surface takes some wonderful twists and turns in Dan Manns' abstract paintings on old patterned bed sheets and brocade upholstery. Part nostalgia in overripe colors from 70's kitchens, part whirling bacteria, Manns makes images that feel familiar, yet are exciting and strange all the same. Tactile paint handling marks Manns' surface plays, with depth that intrigues via transparent layering, pattern and bits of Op-art eyestrain (Griffin Linton Contemporary Exhibitions, Orange County).
In The House of Mirrors Ruben Ortiz Torres explores the symbolic shift of cultural icons in color photographs. Taken during the artist's travels throughout the United States, Mexico and Central America, these images depict people and objects that are usually associated with specific places and time periods in America. In one particularly striking photograph, a young hispanic band is dressed up as the Beatles. Another is apparently of the Statue of Liberty--except this is not the New York monument, but a similar version located in Palizadas, Campeche, Mexico. All of Ortiz Torres' pictures have exaggerated color that fuses the real with the artificial. Although documentary in nature, these lurid and lush images are a heighted record of a sensationalized moment (Jan Kesner Gallery, West Hollywood).

Gerard Bourgeois, "Les Voyageurs" (The Travellers), o/c, 40 x 56 1/2"

The paintings of an artist from the island of Vanuatu is the archipelagoes off the east coast of Australia are rather incongruously of ships in the shipyards of Long Beach, as well as from photographs of famous ships like "Le France" and the "Titanic." But Gerard Bourgeois has captured, in painterly and accessible style, the massive essence of ocean-going vessels and a time that feels like the early part of this century. The Orange Hull shows abstract elements that are the architecture of ships, while other works display more complex compositions, all in muted earth tones against vivid blues (Sarah Bain Gallery, Orange County).
The desks, chairs, benches and tables of George Nakashima and his daughter Mira Nakashima-Yarnall demonstrate a sensitivity to their source--the tree--in overall design as well as in the smallest detail. The grain of the wood, as in Bench with Back, determines the shape of a seat. The edge of an arm rest or table top will also follow the grain line. Due to the refined finish, these pieces have an elegance often lacking in other furniture that strives to reflect its organic origins. On large surfaces--desk and table tops--butterfly-shaped splines reinforce crack-prone knots. Like healing bandages on the skin, these splines appear to gently tie the splitting wood back together (Tasende Gallery, La Jolla).
Mary Beth Hefferman photographs her subjects--chicken parts purchased in a grocery store then dissected for the studio--straight on to make delicate and highly detailed images. Their ambiguous constructions are quasi-sexual in nature, assuming the appearance of both male and female genatailia. The resulting pictures are enticing and grotesque at once (Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica).

Harriet Zeitlin, "Five Shrines", mixed media, 59 x 60 x 20", 1995.

Expressionistically brushy paintings and large, exhuberant painted boats with hand-quilted sails pieced together from gorgeously colored fabrics accumulated over years of travel in China, Japan and South America form the core elements of Harriet Zeitlin's recent work. The paintings and mixed media sculpture become a passionate record of her personal journey through troubled times--her husband's recent illness and death, and how they both came to terms with it (Biola University Art Gallery, East L.A. County).
The multi-faceted work of Felipe Ehrenberg will pay its respects to the upcoming Day of the Dead festivities. Todos Santos--All Souls includes found object assemblages, prints and stained sawdust installations that are intended to "create a remembrence of those gone." Ehrenberg's strong presence not only as an artist but as political activist and arts spokesman make his take on the cycle of life and death worth seeing--and he is also well worth meeting at personal appearances on October 1st and 5th. Call the gallery for details (Self-Help Graphics, East Los Angeles).
The most interesting element in Caryl Davis' installation is the wall painting done in mud. The large work fills an entire wall looming over the rest of the show. As an installation, this work makes connections between the body, the space it occupies and the shapes those spaces refer to. Included in the work is a wall of color photographs of a woman's torso, photographed as a phallis. These large voluminous shapes become abstractions of the human form. Another series of photographs depict a woman's body shot behind a scrim or veil that has been imprinted with the shadow of another figure. The shape these shadows refer to is that of a bull, whose silhouette appears as the mud painting. Although there are obvious and interesting connections among such isolated shapes, the installation as a whole fails to move beyond these formal concerns (Dan Bernier Gallery, Santa Monica).
In more than sixty mixed media, print, photographic and installed pieces, Confronting Nature: Silenced Voices seeks to raise issues of man's seeming disconnect from nature. Using humor with a touch of horror, the show is populated with real and imitation taxidermy-dead animal bodies and parts, some combined with human acoutrements. Notable are Maria Cardoso's Dancing Frogs (dried frogs and wire), David Mach's matchstick constructions, Bill Scanga's outfited fish and frogs in alcohol, and Laure Stein's Elk, a trophy head of wax (CSU Fullerton Art Gallery, Orange County).