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Charles Arnoldi, "A Fortune in Flowers", a/c, 66 x 58", 1995.

Charles Arnoldi's abstract acrylic paintings, ten in all here, show strong mult-layered, multi-leveled and vibrant color on a scale ranging from 10 x 12" to 66 x 58". Drawing in a through color fields, they form looping icon-like images set against soft, rich or solid bright panels ( Peter Blake Gallery, Orange County).

Uta Barth, "Ground #42", photograph on panel, ed. 7/8, 11 1/4 x 10 1/2", 1994.

Uta Barth aims for the sublime in her exploration of the mystery of light in photographs that use a minimum of imagery. Although an elegant beauty is achieved in these elusive images, Barth pursues an investigation into how we see. She relegates fragments of interiors--a curtain, a lamp, or a wall plane--to the edges of her field. As in paintings, the images blur as you approach, so that the viewer has to squint or move back to focus. The photographs become containers of light, shimmering and provoking romantic reveries. Barth assiduously pursues her investigation into perception, exploring the formal aesthetic aspects of framing and composing, only concentrating on the presence of light as the subject. She understands how we unconsciously see with our imagination, and how we distort information in order to see what we know ( The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown; ACME Gallery, Santa Monica).

Hannah Wilke, "July 26/February 19, #4 from Intravenus", chromagnetic supergloss print, 2 panels, 71 1/2 x 47 1/2" each, 1992/93.

Hanna Wilke died of cancer in 1993. She recorded the physical deterioation of her disease-ravaged body, and these images are th subject of this chilling exhibition. To be able to photograph the self and represent it to others is one thing, but to watch and then present that body in the process of decay is yet another. Wilke's work was always involved with the female body and politics of feminism, and these images take that exploration to their poignant conclusion. Also worth the visit are 15 new color photographs by LA photographer Jo Ann Callis from her Domestic Setup Series, as well as an installation entitled Tree of Life by Victor Estrada that is constructed out of a myriad of materials, including wood, plaster, radios and lights ( Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica).

Carroll Dunham, Untitled, intaglio, 49 1/4 x 68 3/4". Photo: Universal Limited Art Editions.

Numerous colorful prints and drawings by New York artist Carroll Dunham cover the walls here. Dunham is known for his large anthropomorphic abstractions, but is presented here on a more modest scale. This exhibition offers some exemplary drawings and prints by one of the masters of biomorphic abstraction ( Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica).
Neotoma is an incredible exhibition about collections. On display are the manias of a number of visual artists living in Los Angeles. Included are Uta Barth's rubber duckies, Daniel J. Martinez' soap fragments, Jim Shaw's record albums, Pae White's Vera scarves as well as Dave Muller's paper lamps, Jim Isermann's Christmas trees and Cameron Jamie's clips from Cable Access TV ( Otis College of Art and Design Gallery, Mid-City). To see what some non-artists collect visit the Collectism exhibition, where gatherings of radios, clocks, snowdomes, swatches, and credit cards are on display ( Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Dean DeCocker, "South West of Iron Bottom Sound", metal/wood, 12 x 24 x 30", 1995.

Dean DeCocker's latest wall-mounted constructions still aggressively announce their constructedness by pronouncing their construction--construction very consciously emulating the strut and buttress mechanisms of high-industrial structures such as bridges, billboards and oil derricks. Evocative as they may be of the industrial landscape, however, DeCocker's sculptures actually evoke more whimsical, impractical devices--eccentric experiments in lighter-than-air craft, for instance, or furniture hybridized into non-utility. DeCocker displays powerful command of form (geometric), composition (near-symmetrical, with playful manipulations) and material, together with a carpenter's hands-on sense of architecture and a cartoonist's tendecy the find the personality and the animation in the impersonal and inanimate ( Boritzer/Gray/Hamano, Santa Monica).

Doug Britt, "Clipper Came", o/c, 18 x 24", 1995.

Doug Britt may or may not be a genuine naif, but he paints and thinks convincingly like one. And it's harder to do that than it is to draw like a child. Britt's blend of Rousseauvian exoticism, crusty expressionism a la Nolde, and South Pacific Tikiana infuses his every rendition of airplanes, desert islands, hula gals and ocean liners. That old innate-sense-of-form carries Britt through his hoariest cliches and gives him the ring of the real thing--real outsider artist? Nah, real artist, period ( Liz Blackman Gallery, West Hollywood).
The exhibition of Robert Overby's wall sculptures on view is a stunning tribute to this artist. The works are, for the most part, large rubber casting from doors and door jams that have been affixed to the walls. In this compelling installation the art works with the architecture to transform the gallery space into a sombre and contemplative chamber ( Burnett Miller Gallery, Santa Monica).
Glowing on the white wall outside the gallery in bright orange letters is one of Lawrence Weiner's sensical/nonsensical site specific text installations. This piece, which references the function of matter, is presented in two locations simultaneously--the West Hollywood gallery space as well as downtown near Grand Central Market. Weiner's public projects are a way to make his complex conceptual works accessible to a greater audience. As Weiner is interested in both the visual and aural aspects of language, the bilingual nature of this piece adds another dimension to his work ( Regen Projects, West Hollywood).
The extent to which an object should maintain its functionality is a perennial issue for artists who make furniture. The artists in Chairs, Chairs, Chairs II differ widely in their approach. Brad Lewis' automotive-inspired Spring Chair and Alik Vitali Perakh's Copper Chair, constructed from plumbing fixtures, make novel use of materials. Wood is significant to Rock Cross' Laminated Stool, but here the medium is manipulated and finished so that it appears more industrial than organic. Only John Fruehwirth's comfortably inviting bench and chairs, influenced by the pattern and design movement in painting, give a clear answer to the question, "Is it a chair or is it a sculpture?" ( Trios Gallery, San Diego County).

Claire Chene, "Ocean", o/c and wood panels, 48 x 88" (3 panels), 1995.

Nature as pure force is the central theme in Claire Chene's new paintings. Fire, earth, forest, water--each element takes a turn as the central focus from one canvas to the next, at times sustaining a more abstract appearance, and in Ocean or Continental Divide, and while some images depict a readily discernable space, as in Forest, in which a waterfall stands as a metaphor of the life force. Symbolic references have been, and remain, a mainstay to her work. In A Family Portrait objects ranging from boats to architectural fragments stand in as "portraits" of particular individuals. Boats on a sea in My Boat Coming In serve as a kind of narrative of a life journey--the image rising or falling on the ability of the painted image to provoke and suggest richness and depth ( FIG, Santa Monica).
The subtitle to Still Working is "Underknown Artists of Age in America." "Of Age" seems to include anyone over 60, which puts some relative kids in with some genuine old-timers. Despite this, what Still Working demonstrates is that no age need hoddle an artist dedicated to her or his vision and craft. Although hipness is kept to a minimum, much of the work here does not feel dated. Just check out the figurative conjurations of outsider expressionist Jon Serl and insider expressionists Hans Burkhardt, Sherman Drexler and Vera Klement. Then there are the elaborate geometrics of Oli Sihvonen, Frederick Hammersley and Sidney Gordin; the more subdued constructivism of Florence Pierce, Martin Canin and Felrath Hines; the broadly painted imaginary landscapes of Guy Anderson and Julius Hatofsky; the wit of assemblagist Don Baum and painter Michele Russo; Edward Dugmore's monumental painterly abstraction; and Stella Waitzkin's staggering library of wax books ( USC, Fisher Gallery, Downtown).

New paintings by Gilah Yelin Hirsch and Jill Ansell share a common goal of delivering great clarity to dream-based imagery. Each of these latter day magic realists take pains to "remember" an evanescent vision in concrete detail, and with something of the atmosphere of medieval illuminated manuscripts and modern fantasy literature. Hirsh may lean more towards the symbolic image, Ansell more towards a richly textured narrative, but both appear intent on loading up their pictures ( Mythos Gallery, Burbank).
Fernand Leger may be in every-one's textbooks, but that's no reason to forget he was once a living, breathing painter, capable of something else besides a few large materpieces hanging in MOMA and the Centre Pompidou. Leger had a style and a sensibility that evolved from a stylized post-Cubism to an even more stylized post-Matisse, post-Surrealist figuration tinged with left-wing populism. In the course of that process he produced a lot more small canvases, drawings and incidental works than magna opera. This roundup of works from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s includes some also-rans, some surprising diversions (including several near-naturalistic sketches), and a lot of juicy notes and foot to his main themes and approaches. And yes, there are a couple of masterpieces, however minor, in this collection ( Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood).
No matter what an artist's medium a good one can transpose aesthetic knowledge of familiar elements into the unfamiliar. Here, three sculptors-- Laurie Hassol, Lynn Kubasek, and Cornelius O'Leary--who had little or no experience with photography chose the camera as their medium. Kubasek took up underwater photography, capturing vivid movement and forms. Splashes of a submerged figure acquire a voluminosity and energy as Kubasek inclucates the camera's lense with the sculptor's vision. Hassol explores the body as sculpture, photographing small items such as remains of apples and glistening chain links wedged between arms and legs. Her close-ups of the body's landscape turns a knee or toe into monumental topo-graphy. O'Leary combines the two- and the three-dimensional. He snaps flat but dimensional objects, such as a brick, a door, or a manhole cover. The resulting photographs are combined with objects. In this way, he comes close to returning the illusion to the reality of its original state ( Sasso/Cribb Gallery, Santora Building, Orange County).