CONTINUING AND RECOMMENDED EXHIBITIONS



 

Andy Warhol, "Cow", 1966, screenprint on wallpaper.

 

Lucas Samaras, Book, 1968, die-cut book-object in 98 colors.

This big-tent revival of sixties-era multiples by the vanguard of Pop art--Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, et al--will remind you of the upbeat energy of Pop's initial explosion. But The Great American Pop Store: Multiples of the Sixties does more than that. Originally drawing visual cues from tacky commercial sources such as wedding cakes, dinnerware, or (good heavens!) cow wallpaper, Pop threw us off-balance. Were we to take this seriously, or was it a send-up? Could commerial, mass-produced objects provide any kind of basis for serious art? Was this a cultural critique or a celebration of crass values? Today the inventive spirit and charged optimism pushes the object far back enough to allow the artists' aesthetic touch to stand tall. The faux-retail store presentation, cannot hope to reproduce that early feeling. But, like the original intent of the multiples themselves, what once seemed rather fleeting now appears poised for the ages (CSU Long Beach, University Art Museum, Long Beach).


Didi Dunphy, "Decorative Sampler," embroidery floss/Aida cloth/wood hoop/eyelet lace, 7" diameter, 1997.

 

One of the most interesting experimental galleries in Los Angeles hosts three separate exhibitions. Didi Dunphy's Cross Stitch presents tiny embroideries based on Frank Stella and Piet Mondrian paintings. Each sampler presents a single image. The Stellas are done in pink thread; the Mondrians are no larger than 2 inches high. Ingrid Calame's Spalunk... is a large painting on mylar that moves from the wall to the floor. The image is an impressive abstract gesture--remnants of paint drip on the floor. Bill Radawec also organizes a group show featuring many of the artists he showed at his Domestic Setting alternative space. All in all the exhibitions, though unrelated, nicely complement one another (POST, Downtown).




Arthur Tress, "Man with Classical Statue, Pozo, California, 1994," black & white photography, 1994.


Success in the commercial realm often permits our best photographers the opportunity to produce a parallel body of art photography that addresses issues of the heart. Arthur Tress is no exception. Selections from his Male of the Species series of nudes are erotically charged, but are truly notable for their use of setting and props to generate visual surprise. Reinforcing eroticism with obviously phallic objects, though, falls flat. Also on view are selections from the Condom Series, which veer in a very humorous direction. To Tress' credit, clever use of kitschy souvenirs and childrens' toys with the object of the series pokes serious fun at stereotypes rather than delivering another dour lecture about safe sex (Stephen Cohen Gallery, West Hollywood).



Kim Dingle switches from the elaborate installation that marked her last show, returning to traditional oil on panel. She does continue with her motifs of awkward young girls in white baby-doll dresses, lace socks and Mary Jane shoes acting out the varied passions of adult life against a backdrop of domestic wallpaper patterns. With carefully layered under- and over-painting, Dingle creates images in which the raw grain of the panels, the patterns of the hand-painted wallpaper and the mischievous girls fade in and out, overlapping and interacting with curious guinea pigs that serve as objects of both affection and desire (Blum and Poe Gallery, Santa Monica).


Brent Bond, "Bound for Destiny", mixed media on wood with inset light box, 61 x 37 x 5.5", 1997.

A collection of seventeen works by Brent Bond cover an array of media that leave the viewer happily torn between appreciating the medium as well as the message. Bond brings his virtuoso printmaking skills to bear on palladium prints, screenprints, C-prints, color copy transparencies, traced vinyl color copy collage, light boxes, dry point engravings, letterpress on paper, copper etching, intaglio, photogravure, polaroid transfers, chine'colle on paper, laminations, boxed frame enclosures and engraved school desks (whew!). As to the message, it focuses on altar-like constructions that seek to explore the worshipper and those physical symbols that represent that which he worships. The images reflect religious and cultural meanings that are fixed, layered and laminated together in complex collage-constructions, many illuminated with electric light. Each work is unique unto itself in terms of both materials and content. This is a rich, complex and rewarding exhibition (Brand Gallery, Orange County).



Gerard Bourgeois, "I'm Good At That," o/c, 44 x 24", 1997.

 

It is natural for viewers to be swept into the haunting moods created by Gerard Bourgeois' paintings. The exhibition, entitled Il etait une fois. . ., French for "Once upon a time. . .",creates a heightened state of reverie, an enchanted world, made more magical by the sole presence of children--children at play, practicing music, engaged in making art, going to bed, sewing, grooming, daydreaming. Theirs is a state of purity, free of concerns of weighty daily struggles. In short, a more ethereal existence to which adults long to return--a Once Upon a Time. Through lush applications of paint, skillful portraiture, and graceful lines that match the gentleness of a child's soul, Bourgeois captures this return to innocence. Here lies the magic (Sarah Bain Gallery, Orange County).



Fedoskino School, "Laquer Miniature," is included in a special showing of Masterpieces in Miniature at the Carole and Barry Kay Museum of Miniatures.

As Pilchuk is to contemporary art glass so Fedoskino is to the two-century old Russian tradition of decorative laquer boxes. These are papier maché at the beginning. A good soaking in linseed oil allows them to stiffen until they are as hard as wood, though still very light. A coat of paint is then applied to the entire box, most typically but not limited to black, at which point an artist adds the pictorial element. Illustrated scenes from Russian fairy tales, landscapes, battle scenes or romances give the boxes their individual character. Gold-leaf borders complete the highly decorative look. Once completed, coats of laquer provide the final polish and protection from the elements. Masterpieces in Miniature is a special four-day only exhibition that features selections from London's Colebrand House. Fedoskino master painter Natalia Lenova, a specialist in animal scenes that evoke country settings from early in this century, also arrives with this collection. She will demonstrate her painting techniques in a special presentation; call the Museum for exact times and details (Carole & Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures, West Hollywood).


Frederic Ohringer and Becky Cohen are both photographers who abstract the landscape. Ohringer's large photographs are grainy sepia-toned images of hills and dunes, as well as flowers that present the natural landscape as sensual patterns of lights and darks. Becky Cohen's photographs are harsher abstractions. She photographs in gardens, using a square format camera. Her compositions of fragments of statues as well as groupings of trees present the garden environment as an organized abstract landscape (Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica).
Jeff Wall's exhibition of light boxes and black and white photographs is an extraordinary show. Wall's work is layered and complex, often based on specific19th Century paintings or theory. As intellectually rigid as these works are, they are just as visually compelling. Wall's compositions, lighting and ability to capture gestures are uncanny. Although each work is carefully constructed and staged for the camera, some are also digitally enhanced, making them appear to be candid shots. Each image tells a story. And these are stories that can be revisited again and again (The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).