CONTINUING AND RECOMMENDED
John Baldessari, "Wrong," photographic emulsion and acrylic paint on canvas, 1966-68.
The multi-level appeal of John Baldessari is evident in 26 paintings from 1966-69, as well as the eleven new paintings created for this exhibit. For both the cynic and those with a sense of humor there are the text paintings, such as Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell (1967-68), and the phototext paintings from both periods documenting various National City sites. For those immersed in art history and theory, there are the paintings done by artists Baldessari hired--these pieces respond to another artist's comment on Conceptual art. All these paintings are very straightforward, accessible to those with little or no art background. At the same time, they are meta-art--a running commentary on art, providing the initiated with a wealth of material to theorize about (Museum of Contemporary Art Downtown, San Diego).
George Segal, "Woman Sitting on Bed," cast copper and bronze with black patina/wood/acrylic/light bulb, 21 x 16 x 25 1/2", 1996.
A single sculptural edition by George Segal depicts a sombre interior, Woman Sitting on a Bed. It is reminiscent of the larger tableaux that Segal is best know for. In this work there is a shift in the scale, and rather than look at life-sized figures, this work is clearly a representation of a mood and a sense of place. It is exhibited with two large collage pieces of a similar large grid. Seeing these pieces together enhances the work, although they are compelling pieces on their own (Remba Gallery, West Hollywood).
Figureheads and Red Herrings is a timely exhibition. While the works here are political, it is not a didactic show. Included are great pieces by Leon Golub, Nancy Spero and Ida Applebroog, as well as by guest curator Robbie Conal. The works are in a variety of media: painting, pastel, collage and drawing, and present diverse yet not really opposing point of views about the state of the world (Koplin Gallery, West Hollywood).
Wayne Forte, "Jacob & the Angel," charcoal on rag paper, 80 x 50", 1992.
Wayne Forte's large charcoal drawings depict figures bent, crouching as if boxed in by the paper's edges, yet they appear serene or contemplative in spite of the tightly squeezed space they occupy. Despite the claustrophobic, in-your-face pictorial space, strong volume and constantly moving details of light and plane provide strong, non-stop visual stimulation. The show provides an overview of the last ten years of the artist's development exclusively in charcoal (Diane Nelson Fine Art, Orange County).
Teddy Cruz, "Upper Entrance to the Labyrinth," mixed media/collage, 22 x 30", 1996.
Maps guide you around a city or the countryside; architectural drawings and models guide you through a house or building. The stonger pieces in Sight Seeing: Architectural Mappings explore this infrequently examined parallel. Hector Perez combines views of various houses in The Road Home/Camino a Casa so that the figures on the road leading to the collaged house appear to be going not to a particular house, but to a place that represents what a home should embody. In Sightseeing, Joey Shimoda places strips of fome core, like those used in architectural models, on a collaged map of Paris. One can imagine that, in this instance, neither the map nor the model functioned effectively (Simayspace, San Diego).
Huger Foote, "Untitled No. XI (open/closed)," pigment transfer print, edition of 10, 16 x 20", 1995.
Twenty-eight color photographs depict interiors and exteriors by Memphis photographer Huger Foote. Although these colorful images could have been taken anywhere, they represent Foote's desire to turn his camera back to where he was from in order to document the memories and surprises hidden in the familiar. Already well established as a commercial photographer, these compelling pictures display a more peronal side that asserts his artistic vision. Images range from a mixture of abstractions of pattern, color and light, to more fleeting instants of overlooked details from ordinary streetlife (Gallery of Contemporary Photography, Santa Monica).
German artist Christel Dillbohner introduces a phenomenon that arose in Northern Europe during the 17th Century to become the precursor of the present-day museum. There and Then: A Study Room is an installation that revolves around the wunderkammer, once found in many German homes. This was a library cabinet in which was stored an assortment of private treasures which families would bring out to while away otherwise empty stretches of time. Dillbohner reconstructs the wunderkammer, placing it by a study table and surrounding the area with darkened, richly overlaid paintings that hint of peering through doorways and time. They echo the wunderkammer's rectangular wooden structure, and also reinforce the artist's sensitive orchestrations of musty smells, rusty metals, darkened glass, and withered fabric. Browsing through objects that appear as though from antiquity triggers personal memories that seem to halt the flow of time (Griffin Linton Contemporary Art, Orange County).
Historic in scope, Drawn from L.A. includes an extensive cross-section of Los Angeles artists that ambitiously attempts to trace the development of drawing as an art form here. This two-venue collaboration emphasizes the abstract among one group (at the Armory), and the figurative and representational among the second group (at Art Center). Works by Judie Bamber, Jill Giegerich, Russell Crotty, Karen Carson and Mike Kelley stand out among the 30 artists included (Armory Center for the Arts; Art Center College of Design Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, both Pasadena).
Poet emeritus Allen Ginsberg has never dwelled on past laurels nor limited himself to doing only what he is known for. For years he has photographed fellow cultural denizens who have interested him, from fellow Beats Jack Kerouac or Robert Frank, to more contemporary personalities like Lou Reed or Jello Biafra. Handwritten notes are jotted below each picture that will allude to, if not simply describe, the circumstances of the meeting. What inevitably seeps through, too, is Ginsberg's worldview, to this day laced with a strong dose of Buddhist-style mysticism. What is surprising is how much warmth surrounds the collective image of this array of rebels. It's difficult to decide whether this collection is more a historical document about cultural iconoclasts, or a personal diary of one artist's take on life. Perhaps because it is neither and both--exactly the way Ginsberg likes it (Fahey/Klein Gallery, West Hollywood).
In his new book, Heaven of Animals, Keith Carter's black and white photographs stick to the theme of the kinship between man and animal. Rather than a sentimental journey that argues that we should love our pets or not eat meat, Carter is more drawn to the deep historical roots that bind alien spieces to one another. Concurrently, Lindsay Brice's color and black and white pictures labor to activate a multiplicity of narrative options. Along with new work, Magic and Loss offers a selection of earlier work, notably the doll series (G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Santa Monica).
William Lane, "Untitled," acrylic on wood, 12 x 16", 1995.
Color- and grid-based geometric abstraction has a more antique than contemporary feel in William Lane's current paintings. This is partially due to the ordered, symmetrical compositions he favors. The artist makes no secret of the architectural references he likes to conjure. The optical effects generated by key color juxtapositions are generally subtle and rather slow to shift from perception to consciousness. Then when you encounter egg tempera on a wood panel it is impossible not to reference medieval and early Renaissance painting, in which the normative use of these media predated the common use of oil paint and canvas. The irregularity arising from the touch of the artist's hand appears both in the visible layering (egg tempra accentuates this) and wavering edges may be low-key, but are an unmistakable indication that the artist is taken with the romance of painting--painting as an optical vehicle for deep, spiritual contemplation. As a True Believer in the power of painting, Lane must be positioned as something of a Modernist Pre-Raphaelite (FIG, Santa Monica).