THE SAINTS
(AND OTHER UNUSUAL PERSONAGES)

[1] [2]

[3] [4]

(1) Kim Stringfellow, "Grandma On My Mind", photographic construction, 35 x 24 x 3", 1994.
(2) Kim Stringfellow, "Untitled", photographic construction, 39 x 44 x 4", 1992.
(3) Allison Kendis, "Seth", mixed media on wood, 36 x 36", 1995.
(4) Rene Vasquez, "Description of a Possible State #3", mixed media on wood, 37 x 31 1/2", 1995.

by Kathy Zimmerer

(Mythos Gallery, Burbank) A tightly woven exhibit of magical narratives, The Saints (& Other Unusual Personages) illuminates the art of Kim Stringfellow, Allison Kendis and Rene Vasquez. Each approaches their work from a visionary stance to infuse figures with a rich mysticism.

Stringfellow's mixed media assemblages are an eerie blend of photography and real objects. She frames fantastic photo-narratives, such as the bloody self-mutilation of St. Lucy or the transformation of the pagan deity Ceres into the Christian Madonna, with actual quirky objects that include a jar of pickles and a loaf of bread. This uneasy coexistence of spirituality and reality heightens the psychological tension of her work. Brilliant crimsons, acidic oranges and luminous blues only intensify the emotive content of her narratives. The haunting Grandma on My Mind bristles with anguish and poetry. The suicide of her grandmother is filtered through youthful memories and starkly preserved in a tightly knit composition.

Kendis' ephemeral Narrative Portrait series is fluidly presented in a mixture of materials: charcoal, eroded shells, rocks, and oil medium glazing on wood. David depicts the beautiful head of a young man simply, but also with the strongest spirituality among the works here. Kendis cryptically writes in numbers and letters over the head and superimposes leaf and feather images to increase the inherent mystery of the image. In her intriguing mixture of dreams and reality, Kendis' paintings evoke the works of Marc Chagall as heads and images float by in a transient world. Each head is viewed at an unusual angle, and the use of glowing whites, lavenders and grays emphasizes the ethereal nature of her subjects.

Vasquez delves into a mythic world populated by exotic deities and visceral imagery. Using prismacolor on birch panels, Vasquez combines mainstream contemporary art with the tenets of Mexican Modernism to give his paintings an odd, hydrid look. Vasquez has interesting ideas and an original imagination, but his focus becomes lost in a welter of confusing imagery. Defining his paintings as an "archeology of inner states," Vasquez has much potential if he would pare down his compositions to the essential drama.

All three artists skillfully reveal a rich inner fantasy life. Most striking are Stringfellow's magic realist assemblages, which pack a complex narrative into a compelling tableau. Kendis' poetic narrative portraits are shimmering illusions existing in a metaphysical realm. Caught in a fluid whirlwind of color and line, they are on the verge of metamorphosis. Vasquez' narratives are filled to the brim with goddesses, rituals and symbols. Held together with spiritual threads, these artists convey an otherworldly aura that provides a welcome break from the mundane.