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Sophie Calle, from "The Blind," mixed media.

For The Blind Sophie Calle photographed people who are blind and asked them what their image of beauty was. In the resulting work she presents a framed black and white or color portrait of each subject (men and women of a variety of ages), a framed statement describing their idea of beauty, and one or more color photographs illustrating their description. The Blind explores the imagination and experiences of those who have never seen as interpreted by one who does see--artist Calle. Although she claims not to be exploiting her subjects, this work, like many of her other pieces, uses photography to disclose something that the subject is unaware of being disclosed (Newport Harbor Art Museum, Orange County).

Bruce Houston, "Stella Nefertete," plaster and acrylic, 1995.

Bruce Houston's works are tongue-in-cheek parodies of the contemporary art world. At the entrance to the gallery is a collaborative piece in which a famous Egyptian bust has been decorated with icons from popular culture, including the Campbell's Soup logo among others. Further back in the gallery, through a room housing African art and artifacts, are a number of paintings. These works juxtapose replicas of Frank Stella's paintings with actual toy trucks. Each truck carry's the painting as its cargo, the painting being the 'flatbed' or 'announcement' being pulled by the toy truck. The images correspond with actual seminal works from Stella's oeuvre (Jan Baum Gallery, West Hollywood).

Squeak Carnwath, "Hard Rain," oil and alkyd on linen, 48 x 48", 1995.

Squeak Carnwath's newest canvases are among her most literally articulate--rarely have the paintings the Bay Area artist shown, in these parts at least, been so rich with verbal, even poetic notation--and also among her most methodical. A number of them are divided into grids, into which marks, letters, images, and other ciphers are portioned like typeset letters in a printer's cabinet. Others contain small, irregularly inscribed grids, also containing marks, counterbalanced with even less formal alignments of caricatures of body (especially head) parts. Another recurring image is a stencil of a human brain, which Carnwath subjects to a variety of apparently mathematical "equations." The heady orientation (pun intended) of Carnwath's new work does not undermine her rich painterly approach or the passion that approach conveys. Indeed, it enhances that passion with metaphoric thrust and philosophic inquiry. Carnwath has become, you'll forgive the term, a Conceptual Expressionist (Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, Santa Monica).

Numerous images of empty theaters (Hiroshui Shugumoto), crowded halls, as well as an assortment of movie marquees like John Collier's Bijou from the 1940's, or similar shots by William Klein or Berenice Abbott are hung salon style in Movie Theatre. Some of the images are well known, like O. Winston Links Drive-In shot, others are more obscure, but all the images compiled in this innovative exhibition explore the spectacle of the motion picture industry, ranging from the phenomenon of the Chinese theatre's hand prints to the architecture of the old picture palaces that are now being replaced by multi-plexes. This exhibition documents not only the influence the movies have had on photography, but the influence that photography has had on the world (Paul Kopeikin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Kiki Smith's photographs, like her sculptures, are explorations of the body and the many forms and ways the figure manifests itself. Psychologically challenging and aesthetically beautiful, Smith's works are amongst the most provocative being made today. This exhibition of photographs includes images of the fabrication of her figurative sculptures at the Art Foundry in Santa Fe, New Mexico as well as shots of her sculptural installations. Smith sees photography as an important part of her artistic practice. It provides another way to enter into her work (PaceWildenstein Gallery, West Hollywood).

Buzz Spector offers one of his most engaging, attractive, and downright sensuous exhibitions to date. This book-arts master continues his series of torn tomes, each consisting of umpty-hundred identical pages, each page torn a little closer to the binding than the page beneath, so that the printed image emerges amidst a mist of jagged lines (one book retains intact its many identical pages; the repeated image is, fittingly, the title page of John Cage's Silence). Some of Spector's best work ever hangs on the wall, non-book versions of this method of tearing identically printed--and in these cases, also identically colored--pages close to one another. In these the basic image never quite clarifies itself, but floats like a ghostly presence within the drizzle of deckled edges (Angles Gallery, Santa Monica).

Ruben S. Ojeda, architect, proposal for Arts Village, Avenue 53/York Blvd., Highland Park. Sixteen live/work studios, 1250 sq. ft. each, exhibition space/community center.

New Visions for Historic Neighborhoods--Environmental Design and Architetural Concepts for Northeast Los Angeles is a lengthy title for a vibrant tri-partite exhibition. The show includes the expected historic building renovations and modern dwellings (and some quite gorgeous models of same), as well as various wonderfully imaginative community involvement projects. Tricia Ward-Arts Corp L.A.'s ongoing La Tierra de la Culebra [Serpent] is an example. The group did more than renovate a parcel of garbage-strewn land, they created a gathering place in the neighborhood, involving people in art projects, theater, games and Saturday morning Native American teachings. Another proposal (so far only on paper) is Nancy Buchanan, Paul McCarthy, and Doug Wichert's idea for various Infill Houses on a theme by Ed Kienholz. Doctored photos show various anonymous Northeast teardowns as they would be , literally, filled in to the brim with cement. In contrast to this anti-architecture, there are several presentations for metro and blue line stations in the area, which is presently home to many recent immigrants and artists. Plans for bikeways and tree-plantings abound (Occidental College Galleries, Pasadena).

After years of unorthodox approaches to orthodox painting, Craig Kauffman has returned to the less orthodox formats with which he first made his national impact. In new fiber-glass wallworks, Kauffman effectively inverts the "bubbles" he once formed out of plastic, fabricating concave rather than convex structures. These bowl-like objects, their basins flattened against the wall, are all similar to one another but for small variations in color (well, tint), size and the exact profile of the object. The pieces low-key playfulness emerges in their installation, in which they are hung at various heights on the walls.

By contrast, two of John Divola's new series of relatively small photographs cluster images in close grids, which makes them read somewhat monotonously. The subjects here are "hallways" and "evidence of aggression"--both actually set stills for 1930s Warner Brother films. That is to say, the photos are not taken but found by Divola, and they are not of actual places but of artificial environments. It's a terrific idea for an anthological treatment such as Divola proposes, and likely works wonderfully in books. But unlike, say, Bernd and Hilla Becher's morphological sequences of industrial buildings, they don't work so well on the wall, at least in bulk (Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica).

Michael Zwack's paintings and photographs are beautitul and peaceful images that combine textual references with landscape painting. Often across the surface of the works are fragments of text written in another language that suggests another time and place. The pieces are elegantly painted, muted tones tilling up vast expanses of space. In the upstairs gallery are ink and resin paintings by Jason Young. These abstract works shimmer and shine, inviting close scrutiny. They are technical wonders that are reminiscent of cyber art, yet are nonetheless painted canvases (Thomas Solomon's Garage, West Hollywood).

Marco Sassone, "Venezia XX," o/c, 60 x 40", 1995.

San Francisco painter Marco Sassone exhibits Venetian cityscapes dating from the late 80's to the present. Originally from Florence, Sassone's style is European Impressionism utilizing a bright palette and energized brushwork. The artist works from drawings made on sight combined with photographs of the subject matter which is made up of building facades, canals, bridges and street cafe scenes (Diane Nelson Gallery, Orange County).

Ronen Mintz' sculptures are a multi-sensory experience. There is a heavy odor of melted wax, the soothing sound of water, contrasting textures, as well as the visual experience. In the Defeat of Man series, rough, rusting beaver traps and horse bits stand in stark contrast to the pristine glass vase containing clear water and a fresh red rose. This contrast suggests the full cycle of existence--from the height of life to the ultimate decay. More whimsical are his Cyclical Fountain pieces. The rusted funnels, milk cans, gears, occasional flame and falling water appear out of place in the gallery and deserve the natural garden setting for which they were intended (Galleria Spagnolo, San Diego).