F. Scott Hess, "The Lotus Flower", egg tempera/oil on canvas, 48 x 64", 1996.

Eileen Cowin, "Between Panic and Paradise I", iris print (courtesy Muse X Editions), 36 x 46", 1996.

Josine Ianco-Starrels rarely misses and Subliminal Fictions, a curatorial collaboration with Carol Ann Klonarides and gallery Director Jay Belloli, once again elicits magic. The curators have not brought together an excellent selection of artists, but they are well put together as a group. Petrick Percy's darkly romantic, melancholy painting seen upon entering the gallery sets the scene for the dramatic ambiguity that permeates the show. Sarah Perry's wall construction embeds a strange animal in the pages of a torn book. A large painting by F. Scott Hess, with dark internal light, depicts characters caught in flight from some nefarious act. Michael McMillen's locked trunk, ostensibly containing all of the world's knowledge, sits unobtrusively in a corner, while one of John Frame's bronze figures peeps out from behind polished driftwood. Add notable works by Peter Zokosky, Lavi Daniel, Steve Galloway, Eileen Cowin, Joyce Lightbody, Tom Wudl, Ynez Johnston and Patty Wickman and you have one smashing exhibition (Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena).

Bill Viola, "The Sleep of Reason", video/sound installation, 25 x 32 x 14', 1988.


Bill Viola's installation retrospective is spectacular. Viewers enter into the expansive workings of Viola's imagination as they travel though darkened rooms illuminated only by video projections. Each room contains a single installation, but the sounds that eminate from each overlap, lending unity to the experience. Viola's works are subtle and disturbing, often assaulting you with loud sounds and unexpected images. But upon close examination Viola's dream-like imagery sucks you in and will not let you go. These meditative works explore grand themes revolving around the spirituality or life and death. He is able to work the properties of video, taking it beyond the monitor and into the space of the gallery (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, West Hollywood).

Mark Citret, "Walkers, Ocean Beach", photograph, 1997.


Mark Citret's black and white photographs are beautiful studies of the landscape. Citret prints his photographs on a special vellum paper which gives them a transparency that matches their subjet. Foggy lanes and lakes, clusters of trees are all captured by Citret's careful eye. The pictures communicate emotional states of being as expressed through the subtle ranges of shades and tones within the photographs (Paul Kopeikin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Mark Klett, "Contemplating the view at Muley Pt., Utah", gelatin silver print, 1994.


Nicholas Nixon's The Brown Sisters--an ongoing portrait of his wife and her three sisters--and Sally Mann's images of her children are exceptions in Under the Dark Cloth: The View Camera in Contemporary Photography. Most of these images only suggest human activity. The photographers who focus on the natural landscape draw our attention not to its naturalness, but to its human habitation, with hints and signs. Mark Klett's stark scenes, for example, contain a shadow of a pair of legs dangling over a cliff. In another motif, interiors are deserted. Yet, through the props in Len Jenshel's depictions of ornately decorated mansions, James Fee's images of a dismal, crumbling penitentiary, and Ray McSavaney's views of an abandoned factory, the photographers reveal insights into those who once inhabited these spaces (Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego).

Steven Roden, "Let Everything That Hath Breath", oi/acrylic/wax on wood, 14 x 15 x 31", 1997.


Steve Roden is a contemporary Renaissance man whose talents include both music and the visual arts. His paintings are layered abstractions. Each painting begins with a specific structure -- be it the title of a poem or the memory of space. Layers and layers of paint are applied to the surface, building up a depth of color and shape. The final layer often includes fragments of words or letters that don't always add up to coherent phrases, but refer to the nature of language as sound. Roden uses letters for their visual qualities, much as he uses sounds to create music (Griffin Contemporary Exhibitions, Venice).


Mark D. Sonday, "Dog Shit Hill," C-Print, 30 x 40", 1997.

Like LACE's Annuale, LACPS's 1997 Annual Exhibition is a great place to see what is new and innovative by younger Los Angeles artists working with photographic media. This exhibition, curated by Ellen Salpeter from New York's Thread Waxing Space, includes work by Pamela Mayers-Schoenberg, Mark Sonday, John Rand, Valerie Tevere and Annica Rixon. As the parameters of photography have changed, a photograph is not always just a photograph. These artists explore the medium of photography for its abilty to both capture and distort reality. Also on view are prints from the 1997 Patron Print Program--a chance to both support LACPS and take home an exceptional photograph (Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies [LACPS], Hollywood).