"I Turned Into a Butterfly," a/c, 48 x 48", 1991

This survey of Marion Stiebel Siciliano's shaped canvas geometric paintings brings to light a fascinating talent working virtually unheralded in our midst. Siciliano's approach to lucid, hard-edge form--and the content it bears--harks back beyond Minimalism to a time when artists practiced their geometric vocabularies as dynamic counterpoints freighted with extra-optical meaning, even iconography. The meaning Siciliano invests in her works--which tend to be shaped oddly but not erratically, and normally present an at least subtle symmetry--are by her own dint secondary to the appearance of the work itself. But clearly, what we see isn't simply what is visible. There are tantalizing shapes, pregnant ciphers, frequent lettering (rendering a few of the paintings veritable concrete poems) and at least a few images whose origins should be readily recognizable. Viewers will certainly be tempted to play name-that-icon; the paintings' lollipop-vivid acrylic hues and bumptious compositions, giving them a passing resemblance to board or even computer games, further encourage ludic impulses (CSU Los Angeles, Luckman Gallery, East Los Angeles).

Park, Seo-Bo (the comma indicates the precedence of the family name, Korean-style) would seem a natural for the mixografia process. His approach is to score painterly surfaces with myriad strokes, thus creating all-over compositions by a system of careful accretion. Previously, interlocking irregular cells of etched lines had comprised these compositions. Now, each composition--monochrome as before--has homogenized into a single cell. Each cell is as square, balanced and symmetrical as can be, with a solitary gouge acting as the focal point of an otherwise unvariegated texture of soft ridges. Small, self-contained, and yet nearly identical to its mates in the series--with only color changes and the vagaries of the hand to distinguish--each of Park's nine mixografia prints here inheres a transcendent silence. They reveal an emphatic sensuality at the heart of asceticism (The Remba Gallery, West Hollywood).

"Ecriture No. 1," mixografia on handmade paper, edition of 40, 8.5 x 10.5", 1996.

"Operatic Duet #3," o/c, 48 x 30", 1996


Kathryn Jacobi's haunting, compelling figurative paintings are steeped in theatricality and dark mystery. Knowledgable in European art history and culture, she creates shadowed, epic-toned paintings that have an affinity to German and Norse mythology. Multifarious relationships emerge between the artwork and the viewer so that personal ruminations occur. Although this series is inspired by Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, the paintings go beyond any specific narrative. In the large paintings, open-mouthed figures in ambiguous poses reach for one another or collapse in each others' arms. In the smaller paintings of heads, they gaze, sometimes confrontationally, at other times furtively, at the viewer. Each piece, formally and intelligently composed, communicates intense, passionate emotion without melodrama (Jan Baum Gallery, West Hollywood).

No title, epoxy on canvas, 1996.

Helen Pashgian is alive, well, working in Pasadena, and showing in Los Angeles again. One of the more lyrical participants in the Light-and- Space--or, if you would, Finish-Fetish--tendency, Pashgian, ever the master of epoxy, has evolved formally without abandoning her original principle or practice. Her new works swim with saturated, disembodied color and contrasting details and incidents. Non-objective "figures," which dance through translucent suspensions or undulate in place improbably cast shadows which, even more improbably, give them a holograph-like appearance: Suspended, disembodied, in thin air. The eye does not know whether to be fooled or seduced. The eye should stop worrying about such things and enjoy the ride; things are also as they seem (Estelle Malka Gallery, West Hollywood).

Scott Wagner, "Bobber,"
40 x 84 x 51", 1996

Michael Barton Miller, "Happy Painting #6 Wellbutrin 75," enamel/birch/poplar,
22 3/8 x 22 3/8 x 7 1/4", 1996.

Fifteen artists contribute eighteen works in a variety of media to Seen/Unseen. As a body they incorporate humor and optical illusion in an examination of perception. Notable are Catherine Maclean's Heads Up, a large, suspended painted steel work; Susan Joseph's untitled encaustic painting on panel; and John Snidecor's Safe Haven, which depicts mounted miniature horns in pine and faux bronze (Brand Gallery, Orange County).

Larry Wiese, "The Bixby Bridge", photograph, 1996

Carol Saindon's Sight/In/Site is a heavenly installation, while Larry Wiese shows masterful photographs in the current show here. Saindon's enclosed black room simulates the Cosmos. The walls are covered with dark charcoal drawings of galaxies, constellations and supernovae. One the floor, in the center, is a brightly-lit circle of sparking crushed glass, a bucket of still blue water, a large black ring turned on its side, and a surveyor's measuring rod. In her placement and choice of objects Saindon creates a sense of solid, liquid and gas, light, space, and gravity--and our need to find our positions in the vastness of space. Ultimately the viewer senses the oneness that permeates every aspect of the universe. Wiese's photography raises the snapping of an image to pure poetry. There is a sense of majesty in the ordinary objects he captures: gas tanks, benches, landscapes, etc. His diffused black and white technique, devoid of human subjects, results in haunting images. In The Bixby Bridge, Wiese renders the graceful, curvilinear white edges set aginst the bridge's darkened steel structure. The result is like a fine chiaroscuro line drawing, with the camera painting the abstract beauty of life's everyday places (Irvine Fine Arts Center, Orange County).

It's been easy to dismiss the international attention Barbara Ess' pinhole-camera photographs have received as just so much low-tech chic. Not anymore. Without abandoning the haunting, dreamlike, just-out-of-reach quality her most affecting images have always mustered, the New York-based artist's latest works take on another compelling characteristic: Beauty. Suffused with deep, sweet yet subtle color, the majority of these new pieces now command both the chimeric tenebrousness of memory and the immediate allure of luscious pictoriality. "Beauty," of course, is a pretty hot issue itself these days. But convincing, even profound manifestations of the beautiful, like Ess' current work--work that is anything but merely beautiful--insure that the supposedly timeless topic of beauty will not be theorized away (again) so quickly (Kohn Turner Gallery, West Hollywood).