Don Lagerberg, "Charon Extreme", oil on panel, 7.5' h x 11' .


Twelve Catholics--Present, Former and Waffling includes artists who explore desire, guilt and redemption as mediated through images developed out of the religion they were born into. Susan Santiago produces serious, contemplative paintings of madonnas. Ron Davis makes colorful, formally sturdy constructions. One of these, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, uses a clock face with toy bi-plane dangling from it. Don Lagerberg re-makes Adam's arm on the Sistine ceiling into a linear virtual reality simulation activated by a tiny thunderbolt from God. A virtuoso pen and ink drawing by Lew Ott shows America's God as a TV screen filled with descending Duchampian figures not so solidly grounded on a sand castle. Sin's punishment is suggested by Patti Akesson's walk-in confessional, featuring a kneeling bench with protruding nails, fractured mirror, candles and curtains in orange and lavender--the muted purple of Lent. Robert Gino's tiny but very naughty figures frolic on top of a rosary-bedecked cross. This is only surpassed by his playful and even reverent red-and-green hell scene, snaking its way up a transparent plastic pole towards an angel frosted with lizards and dinosaurs. This work illustrates the adage that ribaldry is the garlic in the salad of life. No blood-and-guts Counter-Reformation angst to be seen here, but instead, humor and questions posed (Orlando Gallery, Valley).

In Ghosts and Other Apparitions, numerous renditions of phantasms and ghosts populate a series of mostly nocturnal landscapes. Oil painting predominates in the meticulously detailed representation of carefully wrought scenes where everything from a sense of the uncanny to a homage to the dearly departed are evoked. Rich, baroque narratives stimulate the imagination as your gaze lingers on the myriad of details which function as clues to an unfolding mystery. Scott Hess' homage to the reveries of an unknowable night gardener works like the best of them; conjuring up your desire to know more.

Camera Transformations: An Exhibition of Manipulated Photographs is a very thoughtful and thought provoking overview of the artistic results brought about by the inevitable merging of the photographic, printmaking and digital techniques and methodologies. Hybrids of photo-mono-digital color prints abound with the primary crux being a kind of surreal, tragic-comic universe of incongruities. Images seem to flow from one recognizable form to another (this is the magic of digitized imagery). Impossible physical grafts are made visually possible. Modes of visual understanding are placed next to one another, commenting back and forth on the specifics of their artifice. The un-truth of imagery is theatrically center-stage once again (Occidental College, Arthur G. Coons Lower Gallery and Weingart Gallery, Pasadena).

Robert and Nina Dawson, "Doge's Palace--Venice--The Anti-Collegio", mixed media, 1996.


Doge's Palace--Venice
is the newest installation at the Museum of Miniatures, West Hollywood. Following October's addition of Ellie Yannas' "Opera House at Versailles", this entertaining collection is gradually reconstructing the flower of Baroque to Neo-Classical architecture within its galleries. The ornate, Islamic-influenced facade is fronted by recreations of the sculpture of the Doge Foscari with the lion of St. Mark and a seated Justice figure. There are two of the Doge's private apartments, the Anti-Collegio (whose overblown decor and paintings by Tintoretto and Veronese entertained those awaiting audience with the Doge), the Chancellery and the dungeon included in the model's interior.

Lynda Benglis, "Aztec Anagama", ceramic, 18.5 x 17 x 17". Photo: Damian Andrus.



The twisted forms of Lynda Benglis' ceramic sculptures are well suited to their medium. Strips are torn, twisted and piled. Of the ten pieces only Aztec Anagama is without multi-colored glazes. This gives it a more organic quality, suggestive of thick, gnarly roots or branches. In contrast, the other pieces, with glazes ranging from gooey yellow to glitzy gold, evoke images of hardened volcanic flow--a once-molten material that, in flowing, has melted and fused with various objects, obliterating their form and assuming their color (Porter Troupe Gallery, San Diego)

This exhibition presents three reflections by Rodney Graham, Geoffrey James and Richard Long on nature by artists connected to each other only by the parsimony of the expressive means. A ring of flat stones lays in a large circle on the main gallery floor. Detailed photographs of areas in a park that are shot and printed in gray, almost monochromatic, light surround the floor sculpture. In the other gallery room, the roots and trunks of large, secular trees have been shot in closely cropped photographs and then framed and hung upside down, disorienting the viewer. Nature seems tremendous and not very nurturing at all (Angles Gallery, Santa Monica).



Lori Precious, "All the /livivg and the Dead #8", butterflies/stainless steel/concrete, 23 x 22 x 22", 1996. Two views.

Lori Precious' sculptures and Danielle Imperiale's paintings form a duet of poetic statements on the human condition. Both deal with universal inner and outer struggles in the most enchanting ways. Precious looks at vulnerability and the armour assumed as protection. Imperiale con- fronts hurt itself concealed by a shallow "everything's-okay" posture. Precious combines delicately beautiful and luminously opaque butterfly wings arranged in stained glass motifs. These fragile gossamer forms are protected by massive stainless steel forms. Imperiale masterfully uses the ancient egg tempera technique of illuminated manuscript on sheepskin. Exquisitely painted flora and fauna intermingle with modern imagery. Her miniatures offer a glimpse, as if through a peephole, beyond the appearance of beauty into the hurt of the human soul. The works of both artists have a timeless quality and speak to the viewer on various levels, first for their captivating beauty, their superb execution, and finally for their profound message (Griffin Contemporary Art, Orange County).

An exhibition of contemporary German paintings, prints and sculpture dating from the 1970s to the present, Wrestling with the Sublime: Contemporary German Art in Southern California draws on the work of 21 artists represented in local collections. Most of the work is expressionistic, with some contemporary romantic elements. Notable works include Georg Baselitz' Lesende Frau, Roger Herman's Auditorium, Isabell Heimerdinger's digital C-print Interior, Anselm Kiefer's Wege I, the bronze sculpture Ganymede by Marcus Lüpertz, and an oil on canvas Raumpunkte by Bernd Korberling (CSU Fullerton, Orange County).