John Mason's sculptures are large totemesque works--freestanding vetical columns made up of different geometric shapes, and sombre earth-toned colors. These sculptures are human in scale and stand like statues upon their white bases in the middle of the gallery floor. Also on view are a number of Mason's wall pieces that are studies in the overlapping of geometric forms (Frank Lloyd Gallery).


John Mason, "Vertical Torque," stoneware, 59"h., 1997. Photo: S. Einstein

Terry Braunstein, from the series "Boundless," photomontage, 11 x 9", 1996.

Terry Braunstein has extended the definition of photomontage with three series of small sculptures created from found objects (vinyl cubes, wire globes, and plastic plumber joints) into which she has inserted select photographs and illustrations from old manuals and turn-of-the-century textbooks. Titled Diffusion, Navigation and Conduit, these three-dimensional miniature stage sets operate on multiple levels. All deal with passage (both physical and ritual), quest (spiritual desire), elightenment (human knowledge), and transcendence (life and death): issues that have historically both plagued and informed the human condition. Two additional series of photomontages juxtapose images culled from old medical books and encyclopedias. Boundless explores the act of letting go, of taking risks; Modern Times concerns mid-life anxiety and attempts to postpone mortality in the Age of Technology (Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica).

Highly criticized in the 1950s for his curvilinear design of the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, Morris Lapidus has outlived his critics to get the last laugh. At a time when minimalism and restraint were the rules of the game, Lapidus bucked these trends and built dramatic showcases that the critics despised. Architects deplored their vulgarity and lack of taste, but world travelers adored them. Today, the 94-year-old flamboyant "Architect of the American Dream" is being hailed as a "Mid-Century Modernist" and "pioneer of the Ersatz Style." This exhibit of 80 black and white photographs documents the development of this controversial architect and the theories behind the creation of what turned out to be Miami's most glamorous hotels (CSU Long Beach, University Art Museum, Long Beach).

Morris Lapidus, "Seagram's Bar," 1934.

Brad Durham, "Celtic Memory #4," 71 x 56 x 2", 1995.


Wade Hoefer, "Aestuarium," o/c, 96 x 72", 1996.

In this two-man show of twenty paintings and lithographs, Wade Hoefer and Brad Durham explore the pastoral realm of the landscape. Hoefer uses a "picture within the picture" motif to empasize the illusory quality of realist painting such as landscape. Durham's landscapes are rendered in glowing earth tones, with superimposed geometric forms that read as symbols. Many of these works suggest dawn or evening's ethereal light. They are romantic, pleasing to the eye, but also retain an edge that addresses something beyond what is being represented (Diane Nelson Fine Art, Orange County).

Prostitution--Then and Now is a tasteful look at what is often a shunned subject. Both color and black and white images, abstractions of the body as well as documentary essays about places of prostitution, are presented, dating from the early 1900's to the present. Among the photographers included are: Nan Golden, Mary Ellen Mark, E. J. Belloq, Brassai, Arbus, Lissette Model and Bill Brant. Among the most compelling works in the exhibition are Merry Alpern's grainy surveillance-like images that present the idea of prostitution as fragmentary and distant, depicting anonymous interactions in a bathroom. This show is less about sex than it is about photography's ability to distance and transform (Paul Kopeikin Gallery, West Hollywood).

E.J. Bellocq, "Storyville Portrait, Bellocq," plate 11, printing out paper print, c. 1912, printed later. Photo courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles.

In An Affinity for Nature, Barbara Simundza's landscapes include components that comprise majestic scenery: the full moon, a rainbow, mountains and a waterfall. The inclusion of elements which allude to passageways --a gate, a road, an inlet of water--along with an undercurrent of darkness, suggest a more complex view of nature. The green forest in Road to the Stars is inviting, but the route leads beyond, to a foreboding darkness. This is subtle in the smaller works, stronger in a large painting, Two Women. The figures, painted in black, are falling through a black space, disconnected from their surroundings (The Iguana Gallery, East Los Angeles County).

Barbara Simundza, "Two Women," a/c, 9 x 12' (2 panels).

Two European artists/photographers' works are presented in an exhibition curated by Rosanna Albertini. Jochen Gerz uses images of the landscape. He frames each image and presents the framed photographs in large grids, sometimes distorting the harmony of the rectangle while still keeping the photographs along the grid's axis. On each of the 20 photographs presented here is the phrase: "The opposite of one is not reproduction but time." This line changes color, but that is the only difference in each of the 20 images. Gerz' work combines conceptual and philosphical questions with images of the natural world. Jean Louis Garnell makes color photographs of people, places and things. His work shares Gerz's conceptual agenda but his method of presentation is vastly different. Garnell photographs everyday objects and presents them juxtaposed against one another to create meaning. This resembles that of many other European photographers who matter-of-factly present what is there (Gallery Ram, Santa Monica).

Three large paintings, 16 small paintings, and a single sculpture cohere in the work of Enrique Martinez Celaya. The large paintings are on a translucent material that allows the stretchers or wall behind the work to show through. Each presents a small image: A drawing of a hopscotch game, a pair of gloves hanging from a nail, or a yellow silhouette spewing white liquid above the words "new of my virtue." The paintings are more like large drawings in which the figure-ground relationship is central. These larger works are juxtaposed with the smaller paintings on linen, each of which has a small rendering of what appear to be a feather or a bud. The final element is a plaster body cast of a female figure. Hung high on the wall this figure represents the earth. She is painted half blue for sky and half green for earth. The show is stunning, and the works, although ambiguous, are compelling in their elusiveness (Burnett Miller Gallery, Santa Monica).

The Vegas Show, curated by Jeffrey Vallance, presents the work of 10 artists who use Las Vegas as their point of departure. All the myths and cliches associated with Vegas appear. The glitter, the pop iconography, the lure and the seduction. Works in the exhibition range from Charles Morgan's color photographs to Troy Swain's sculptural installation--remakes of Power Ranger type toys now entitled Modern Man. Also included are drawings of religious scenes and a photograph of Area 51 (the Alien Zone) by the Reverend Ethan Acres, as well as Vallance's own Clown of Turin display. Other artists in this fun show include Phil Argent, Jane Callister, Steven Molasky, Victoria Reynolds, Mary Warner, and Mike Westfall (Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica).

After Pierre Menard is a conceptual exhibition centered on rethinking the purpose of, and invisible life still remaining in, discarded items. Six artists take up the challenge with vigor, humor and inventiveness. Most noteworthy is David Bunn's use of outdated library catalogue cards. He renders a series of collages of alphabetically arranged cards. In another work, he writes poetry based on like book titles of the card series. Meg Cranston stacks, into piles of varying heights, old books of assorted heroes--Harriet Tubman to Santa Claus--then dresses the rectangular piles in fabric specific to the hero, the image resembling a three-dimensional bar-graph. Old black and white postcards of great works of art are arranged on the gallery walls, turning them into wall decoration. Thus the art pictured in the postcards becomes a new work of art (Guggenheim Gallery, Chapman University, Orange County).

Georganne Deen's quirky narrative paintings depict cartoon-like figures going about their business, as characters in a mini drama. Each canvas tells its own story through fragments of text, collaged elements, and carefully drawn figures who are striving for a better life. The back gallery features Tom Friedman, known for his obsessive sculptures made of ordinary materials (like lifesavers, pencils, and plastic straws). In this exhibition he does not disappoint. A floor work made out of clear plastic straws is the centerpiece. Fashioned into a donut-like configuration are hundreds of straws joined together eminating from the center hole. This piece becomes a beautiful minimal sculpture. Also on view attached to the wall is a tiny pencil that recedes in perspectival space, as well as a number of obsessive drawings (Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica).

Terri Friedman's exhibition, Water in a Straightjacket, is a vibrant and exciting show. It is full of kinetic sculptures that move liquid around in unbelievable ways. Colored water moves through tubes caked with glitter. It spurts from baby blue fabric covered tubes into a large aluminum vat, only to be siphoned up the tube again. Friedman is a 1990's neo-light-and-space artist who uses '60s design as her point of departure, and '80s throw-away materials like plastic as her source to create works about atmosphere, light, shape and sound (Special K Exhibitions, West Hollywood).

Tim Hawkinson is a tinkerer who has an incredible ability to make the everyday into something else. In Secret Sync he has connected and transformed objects like a briefcase, a Coke can, and a tube of toothpaste into time pieces, each moving and recording the passage of time. Tucked away in a back corner of the gallery this piece requires close examination in order to discover Hawkinson's intervention (ACE Contemporary Exhibitions, West Hollywood).