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Return to C & R, Part 1


Skrentny, "Tracking,"
Side A/
Close up,
mixed media, 1994.

Darlene Nguyen-Ely, "Journey #16"
constructed wood/aluminum/
wall mounted,
48 x 6 x 4", 1996.

Skin and Bone, curated by Noel Korten, explores the relationship of substructure to surface covering, from the more organic forms to the more geometric, in some contemporary L.A. sculpture. Jessica Newman-Skrentny's ragtag multitude of irregular, multicolored twig "things" careen out of the corner towards the viewer. A counterpoint is the mechanical, progresssive spiral of steel armatures and stretched painted surfaces that Dean DeCocker unfolds out into the gallerey space. David Grant stretches a variety of materials over his welded structures, while Darlene Nguyen-Ely is busy turning the inside out. In its entirety, this show strikes allusively home; for after all, it is this mortal coil (Barnsdall Park, Municipal Art Gallery, Hollywood).

About fifty paintings from the California Impressionist school of plein-air make up Impressions of California: Early Currents in Art, 1850-1930. This exhibition served as the basis for the KOCE-TV series [KOCE is the PBS outlet for Orange County--Ed.] of the same name that featured over 300 paintings by more than 70 artists. Celebrating nature, the painters of this period recorded the unspoiled beauty of Southern and Northern California. Among the most notable individual works: Aldred Mitchell's At the Village Inn (1929); Sam Hyde Harris' Barn in the Fog (1925); Charles Reiffel's A Bit of Silvermine (1916); Franz Bischoff's Afternoon Idyll, Cambria (1924); and William Ritschel's Purple Tide (1915) (The Irvine Museum, Orange County).

Robert Blanchon presents photographs and photo-related objects confronting issues of dying, death, memory and loss with such elegance and sophistication that multiple viewings are worth the extra trips back to the gallery. The works range from single photographs, to sculptures, to an installation that includes every image that Blanchon has photographed--secured in a plastic box. The photographs focus on both the near and the far, making a metaphorical connection to the present. Blanchon asserts himself both physically and intellectually, and the many mixed media works enhance each others' meaning in this coherent and compelling show (LACPS, Hollywood).

Vessels is curator Jay Belloli's expansive overview of vessel making in the greater Los Angeles area. It is a show full of surprises, technical and poetic. Ranging from the traditional ceramic techniques associated with functional vessels, to micro weavings of dense fiber canisters, to the implementation of experimental materials in improbable and permeable containers, this large exhibition is a wonderfully contradictory accumulation of crossed purposes. From the delicate paper wraith-vessels made of Katherine Ng's poetry to the bombast of the multi-colored, quasi-floor sculptures, the multitude of intentions manifest in the work of the participating artists serves to indicate the wealth of research being done in this area (Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena).

Robert Wedemeyer, "Pocket Lint," paper/lint/hair, 6 x 6 x 1"

In the Pocket 2 is an annual copendium of pocket-sized art works from over fifty L.A. based artists. It comprises just about every kind of art form you can think of: miniature paintings from Lisa Adams, Holly Tempo, Habib Kheradyar and Haven Lin-Kirk; site specific lint collectionsfrom Robert Wedemeyer; "smog collection" wrist watches from Kim Abeles; photography from Laura Parker; dangling paper cut-ups from Tera Galanti; assemblage work for larger pockets from Seth Kaufman; and petite ritual object agglomerations from Rosalie Ortega. Here is the L.A. art world in a nutshell--or, rather, your hip pocket (Random Gallery, Pasadena).

Tera Galanti, "A Personal Wish List," shrinky dink/wire, 3 pieces, each approximately 4 x 5 x 7"

The Power of Suggestion: Narrative and Notation in Contemporary Drawing is a drawing show that is not about drawing. Curated by Connie Butler, this exhibition features the work of 13 young artists from Los Angeles and New York, and looks at non-traditional ideas about narrative and the notion of mark-making. Included are as many photographs, videos, sculptures and works on paper. The artists are aware of and employ artmaking strategies that range from the conceptual to the formal, but do so as young people living in the 90's. The works comment on the observable world of the present (The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

From Joan Miro's repeated variant state drypoints to Yves Tanguy's delicate and minuscule etchings and aquatints, Visionary States contains an extraordinary number of superb early graphic works done by the surrealists. Andre Masson, Hans Bellemer, Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst are just some of these well-known names, but the fascination lies in discovering how these artists, even with such a limited technique, were already producing such excellent work. The Dali illustrations for Les Chants de Maldoror are magnificent examples of his early vision and talent (UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center, West Los Angeles).