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Don Suggs, "Clearing" (detail), drawing on manuscript pages by Paul Vangelisti, 1997.


Myra Gantman, "Echoes #4," mixed media on panel, 36 x 48", 1995.

Romantic and Contemporary Landscapes offers a broad panorama of graphics depicting contemporary landscapes as influenced by the 19th century Romantic movement. Curated by Jaime Villaneda, the work is magical, idyllic, whimsical, mechanized, and even brutal, but never commonplace. Hillary Brace provides mystical scenes rendered with pastels of swirling clouds and mysterious black holes. David Bierck offers a Eulogy to the Earth, dominated by fast-moving expanses of sky, with words such as FAITH or MEMORY, floating above the diminutive earth. Among the most impressive works are the renditions of Echo Park Lake by a master, the late Carlos Almaraz. His vibrant colors heat the cool of the lake with the warmth of the summer night. Two physical spaces create their own sense of landscape. The first is a small, darkened electrical alcove into which one walks to view Myra Gantes' haunting painting of a lone dog frozen in dense graytones. The other is a 4-wall section on which Don Suggs combines portions of Paul Vangelisti's poetry on manuscript paper with his own directly-sketched, oversized charcoal foliage. The effect is a magical glade, where the voice of the poetry sings through the bursts of leaf-like drawings, creating a sense of the pastoral so typical of Romantic landscapes, but modern in execution (The Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena).

Robert Mangold, "Curved Plane/Figure X," acrylic/charcoal on canvas, 108 1/4 x 108 1/2", 1995. Photo: Ellen Page Wilson. Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York.

Joel Sternfeld, "Aisle 2, Row 3, Seat 5, Texas Theatre, 231 West Jefferson Boulevard, Dallas, TX," photograph, © 1993. Courtesy PaceWildensteinMacGill, New York.

Robert Mangold's paintings explore geometry, specifically the placement of the ellipse to the shaped canvas and to the wall. Each painting is sombre in tone, painted in muted colors. The works entitled "the Zone Series" are concerned with a painting's relationship to the space it occupies. As in his earlier work, Mangold has always explored the many different possiblilities of how shapes and colors interact.

Joel Sternfeld's series "On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam" documents the places where tragic events in America's history have occured. Ranging from under a tree in Central Park, to a hotel room in Dallas, these clean, crisp photographs present the areas where something occured. Most often the site is not marked as a memorial and life goes on there, as if nothing ever happened. Without the accompanying captions, many of Sternfeld's photographs could be merely large format color photographs of arbitrary places. What links them however is the text. Here Jennifer Levin was murdered; here Martin Luther King was shot; here Rodney King was beaten. We have a memory of these events and our memory is linked to a specific time and place. In Sternfeld's images he revisits those places and re-presents them as they appear now. Our memories and the present do not always correspond (PaceWildenstein, Beverly Hills).

Chris Rainier, "Initiate with Face Paint, New Guinea," silver gelatin photograph, ed. 50, 16 x 20", 1994.

Chris Rainier, Initiate with Face Paint, New Guinea, silver gelatin photograph, edition 50, 16 x 20", 1994. This photographer, a former assistant to Ansel Adams, has made documenting vanishing indigenous cultures a specialty of his. A selection of dramatic images from his examination of New Guinea are featured in his latest exhibition, "Where the Masks Still Dance" (Fahey/Klein Gallery, West Hollywood).

Robin Mitchell, "Untitled (Column)," plaster/styrofoam/acrylic/paint, 66 x 12 x 12", 1996.

Besides referencing this group show's material common denominator, the title Plastered also suggests the revelry and spontaneity embodied in many of the works, as well as the artists' exploitation of the medium's inherent qualities. A fine powder, which when mixed with water rapidly cures from smooth slurry to lumpy gel to rock-hard mass capable of capturing details as fine as fingerprints, plaster finds a variety of permutations in this exhibition from Ross Rudel's provocatively personal life casts and Ann Preston's supple, pristine wall reliefs to Robin Mitchell's gloppy abstract totems and Jacci Den Hartog's clumps of lumps (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).


Carl Cheng, "Art Tool/597," 1978/97.



Jorge Pardo, "Something to Look At", boxes with sand, 1997.

COLA: 1996-1997 Individual Artists Grants is a group exhibition featuring the artists who won grants from the Cultural Affairs Department. Included are paintings, sculptures, photographs, as well as installation works by Kim Abeles, Michael Brewster, Carl Cheng, Victor Estrada, Harry Gamboa, Tony Gleaton, Joe Edward Grant, Phyllis Green, Martin Kersels, Joyce Lightbody, Michael McMillen, and Jorge Pardo. Although the exhibition has no specific theme it is interesting to view these works by L.A. artists who share little thematic or material concerns. Some are interested in personal issues, other in the language of abstraction, while others take on political and social issues. As L.A. is a culturally diverse city, the works by its artists should reflect that diversity (Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood).

Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894), "Der Struwwelpeter (Shock-Headed Peter)," wood engraving printed in color, published by Literarische An stalt, Rutten & Loening, Frankfurt am Main, 1876. Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.


Picturing Childhood: Illustated Children's Books from University of California Collections, 1550-1990, a rich and extensive survey of children's books from the UC system, is chock full of wonderful books and illustrations. From small, carved ivory letters collected in a wooden box as a children's game to "peep show" books that telescope out into panoramic views of famous gardens, to the original Theodore Giesel (Dr. Seuss to the rest of us) drawings for his "Cat in the Hat" book, this exhibition is a delight. Ranging in style from the precision and severity of black and white woodcut illustrations of fables and fairy tales to the color and whimsy of cut-out doll universes, this picturing of childhood is a bountiful, enchanting survey (UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art, West Los Angeles).

Toba Khedoori, "Untitled (seats)" (detail), oil/wax on paper, 140 x 306",1996.

Toba Khedoori is one of the most interesting young artists working in Los Angeles today. Her large drawings confront viewers head on and ask them to respond to and reflect on architecture and space. A carefully drawn and painted subject occupies the center of a vast field. Perhaps it is an empty park bench, or a small chain link fenced-in area, or a dead-end hallway, or row after row of empty theatre seats. Each of these peopleless scenes is surrounded by what appears to be nothing. In actuality the ground upon which Khedoori creates her work is a wax coated surface that has picked up miscellaneous animal hairs and smudges. These incidental marks become an intergal part of the work. They contradict the apparent precision of the image. These works are about isolation and anonymity that, in spite of their precision, allow for an element of chance (The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

The three new large scale photographs by Richard Misrach are the latest additions to his series of night sky images. In these photographs, taken with exposures ranging from four to twelve hours, the night sky becomes an abstract painting where lines of light (moving stars and planets) move across the frame creating sweeping archs in a wide range of extremely bright colors. In this series the work has moved from color fields (where the the entire photograph was a single muted color, either a hazy blue or a firery red depending on time of night and exposure time), to these busy and dynamic images. They leave you in awe and constant wonder as to how the camera records what the eye cannot see. The rest of the work on view relates to the theme of landscape, but it is Misrach's photographs that make it worth the trip (Jan Kesner Gallery, West Hollywood).

Wolf Kahn, "Railroad Bridge Near Hinsdale, NH" o/c, 36 x 52".

Wolf Kahn is known for his vibrant landscapes which range from being a hairsbreath shy of complete abstraction to detailed executions of sunfilled representation. The artist is a second generation Abstract Expressionist. His simplified broad areas of chromatic shapes are frequently compared to the works of Mark Rothko. Both artists base their compositions on natural structures, reduced form, and employ the most luminous colors. Kahn, however, is always a representational landscape painter, finding the architecture in natural settings. He portrays the structure of the land, and the interactive harmony/disharmony between earth, sky, trees, mountains, and horizon. Consequently, there is brilliant tension that binds the various elements in his compositions--frequent use of diagonal positioning, and a hint of realism within a radiant mass of sheer color. The exhibition includes Kahn's masterful oils and pastels (Diane Nelson Gallery, Orange County).

Defamiliar is the name of the exhibition that contains photographs by Miles Coolidge, Julie Becker and Thomas Demand. Each of these photographers works with a constucted reality. Coolidge photographs in Safetyville, a smaller-than-scale replica of city streets and buildings. Demand builds cardboard interiors and exteriors in his studio that simulate recognizable buildings. Becker also builds doll-house-sized structures, photographing fragments of that environment focusing on where scale shifts are the most distorted. Each of these artist's photographs present a distorted view of reality. They make what seems to be familiar defamiliar, throwing viewers' sense of both balance and reality into question (Regen Projects, West Hollywood).