Robert Mapplethorpe, "Untitled," gelatin-silver print with dye cut star with gold paper, 1982.


Santa Baby delivers George Meredith's collection of over 300 historical and modern posters, magazine covers, photos, first editions, famous chil-dren's books, art and ephemerals celebrating the myths and marketing of Christmas in When What to My Wondering Eyes. . . See for yourself how Thomas Nast (19th century political cartoonist and creator of such icons as the Democratic donkey, Republican elephant and Uncle Sam) transformed a somewhat dour Saint Nick into the jolly, generous elf who decked Harper's Weekly in the 1870's. Spy Sunset's 1904 California colorization of Santa with a lean, leathery cowboy and generic Mexican draped in serape. Cindy Sherman pops up as Mrs. Santa. Vintage prints by Weegee include Miracle on Hollywood Boulevard and (Untitled) Santas Ascending from Subway. Robert Mapplethorpe adds to the sparkle with his silver print of a Christmas tree (with star cut-out exposing gold foil). The accompanying catalogue keeps the holiday spirit alive (Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Sophia Rosenberg, "Lilith Scroll" (detail), book.

Marilyn Rosenberg, "Remember Babi Yar", book.

Eighteen months ago, Judith Hoffberg placed a request for artbooks made by women who were Jewish on the Internet. Hundreds of responses came from all over the world. The result is Women of the Book: Jewish Artists, Jewish Themes, a moving exhibit comprised of a selection of works by 75 artists displayed on tables, shelves and walls. A visitor is welcome to browse through the work as one would in a library reading room. Hoffberg and volunteer docents are also there to lead tours that enlighten and inform, though these are not a requirement to fully appreciate the many levels of the art. Most important is the time you take to investigate the art. While there is a narrative aspect, a quiet, solitary inspection of each piece reveals visual aspects that should not be overlooked. The time spent here, especially if you can make more than a single visit, is well worth it (Finegood Art Gallery, the Valley. You can also visit an on-line exhibit of Women of the Book presented by Colophon).


Sandy Deeks, "Square 1 #G",
24 x 24", 1997.


Nicola Lamb, "Swimmers (River)", installation, ripstop
nylon/trevera/acrylic, 1997.
Humor tends to seduce us to consider profound ideas which in a more serious context might be less palatable. The wacky title of the exhibition Vitreous Humor (the gel in the eyeball) sets up the viewer for art with a funny-bone tickling twist--whimsical, droll, satirical, or literally off-the-wall. While there is much to relish, there is also much to contemplate.

Artists deal with a variety of issues: rampant consumerism (Frank Miller), the senseless and flip manner society deals with people and the planet (Clayton Spada), the absurdity of social truisms (Steve Anderson), the eternal male/female differences (Kent Maris), pretension of heavy-duty, erudite art criticism (Jeff Frisch), the physical and emotional stripping effects of therapy (Pam Cartmel), the cockeyed shapes of people's legs in bed (Bentley Yearger), playful irreverence of just about everything (Frank Dixon), and painterly whimsy (Sandy Deeks) (Orange County Center for Contemporary Art [OCCCA], Orange County).


James Whitlow Delano, "Chinese Infant,",photograph, 1997.

In James Whitlow Delano's photographic exhibition, Tiger Turning Away: Photographs of Asia, he presents extraordinary black and white photographs taken in Vietnam, China, the Philippines, and Indonesia among other places. Delano captures not only the sense of place but also an emotional aura that is more poetic than descriptive. Often an isolated individual is alone in the frame, surrounded by a blur of buildings. Delano's photographs record remembrances. They document places undergoing transitions, recording what was before it is gone forever (Paul Kopeikin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Margaret Nielsen, "Transaction," oil on panel, 11 x 14", 1997.


Margaret Nielsen paints birds. Her birds are exquisitely painted in acidy colors recreating nature as a hyper-reality. And her subject is also out of this world. Impossible situations are created and rendered in these small and precious paintings. Double Bind depicts two birds tied together by a string of pearls, not a situation often found in nature. But Nielsen has the ability to make the absurd seem believable through the skill of her brush (Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica).

Patrick Nickell's sculptures are made with low tech materials--cardboard, string, crumpled newspaper and poster paint. He combines these materials into large scale three-dimensional wall reliefs that are both elegant and comical. These are some of Nickell's largest and wittiest works to date. They are unusual in the way that they come off from the wall. His seemingly childish doodles take on a life of their own when they become three-dimen-sionalized. Although there are only seven pieces in the show they more than fill the gallery (Kohn Turner Gallery, West Hollywood).

Sustaining the Crisis is a new video installation by British artist Sam Taylor Woods. In the darkened gallery two monitors project on two opposing walls. On one screen is the image of a man's face, looking ahead, larger than life. He moans, groans and sweats. As he, and we, watch the opposite wall, we see a topless young woman wandering through the unpopulated streets of London. Nonchalant, at ease with her toplessness, the woman struts along as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Two vastly different emotional and physical spaces are explored, leaving the viewer to ponder how they relate to each other (Regen Projects, West Hollywood).

Next is a four-person exhibition. In the center of the space is Hirsch Perlman's Layman's Guide to Interrogation Techniques and Practices: First Draft. Here large sheets of laminated paper can be perused by gallery goers that illustrate--cartoon style--the events in a trial. Sam Durant's photographs depict the emptying of beer or other bottles that contained alcoholic beverages. In Bia Gayotto's photographic works, sequential photographs document the various arrangements of pieces of furniture in a white-walled, gray-floored space. Daniel Marlo's photographic works are long filmstrips recording the different faces and expressions captured on a single roll of film. Although at first glance these works have little to do with one another, when seen together each artist's works seem to come alive with new meanings from the new context (Blum and Poe Gallery, Santa Monica).