Lee Krasner, "City Verticals," oil and collage on board, 41 1/4 x 31 1/8", 1953.

Lee Krasner began showing in the early 1950's. She was a powerful colorist who could get the subtlest, evocative tensions out of abstract, flowing marks. Her only mistake was to be born a women at a bad time for that sort of thing, and to have married America's macho art icon, Jackson Pollack, around whose aura there was not much room. This show is a terrific look back at Krasner's career, with a special focus on that rich creative decade between 1953 and 1963. Triple Goddess is a potent, sonorous canvas, and even when Krasner is being "sweet," as in Butterfly Weed (worked from 1957 to 1981), she still exudes a force to contend with. This must-see show reminds us that she was very much her own painter, influencing as much or more than she was influenced by her famous husband (Tasende Gallery, West Hollywood)

Peter Shire, "City on a Hill", ceramic.


Peter Shire believes that people don't really see things clearly during the course of their mundane routines. By placing his wild and zany sculptures in the context of a living room setting, he thinks that viewers will look "at" art instead of "past" art or "through" art. In Peter Shire's Living Room Circus we find his whatchamacallit coffee table standing next to a velvet chaise lounge, or wildly imaginative teapots sitting on traditional bookcase shelves. Hilarious floor lamps are arranged next to functional straight back chairs, while his Mr. Mazz unicyclist rides a tight-rope back and forth over the heads of everyone in the gallery. In the guise of absurdist comedy, this delightful exhibit has much to say about life in our contemporary culture (Palos Verdes Art Center, South Bay).

Rudy Ortiz Torrez, "Alien Toyz," installation.


In Ruben Ortiz Torres' installation, Alien Toyz one has the opportunity to see Salvador "Chava" Munoz's infamous low rider truck separated within the gallery. Also on view is Gomez Bueno's exhibition entitled Board Graphics. Here, Bueno's wild graphics can been seen in both their incarnations--paintings on canvas as well as on skate boards and snow boards (Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Tape, rope, electrical wire, tire tubes, cardboard, foam rubber and used lumber are Gregory Coates' raw materials. His painted constructions utilizing these urban cast-offs retain our interest because of his use of repetition and patterning. In both Smoke and Unsolicited, the systematic wrapping imparts an orderliness to the whole that seems contrary to the nature and source of the individual elements. Al Loving's recent geometric abstractions are simpler yet no less elegant than his spiraled constructions of the early '90s. The form--paintings of cubes with cubical cutouts--tend towards the analytic. The color and handling of the paint pushes them into the sensual. The glossy surface and juicy lime greens, purples, reds, oranges, and blues make the paint appear to be as edible as Koolaid and Jello (Porter Troupe Gallery, San Diego).

Unknown photographer, Untitled (Two Men Playing Chess), date unknown.

A sad elegance abounds in And I Still See their Faces: Images of Polish Jews. We are used to seeing the horrors of the Holocaust and the aftermath of Jewish lives capsized by World War II. It is rarer and somehow almost harder to see these lives as they existed, full of promise and dignity, before Hitler. These are mostly anonymous family photos--young scholars playing chess in a park, a family of winsome adolescents, village elders reading the daily paper outside a stone brick building--gathered along with diaries, poems and letters by the Warsaw-based SHALOM Foundation. There are 456 photographs of those culled, and they collectively convey the rich culture of Polish Jews from the late 19th Century through 1940 (Museum of Tolerance, West Los Angeles).

Hiro Yamagata transforms a gallery into a pulsating environment of spectacular color. His laser installation, entitled Element is a complex construction of holographic panels and rotating cubes that, when struck by the laser, create a dancing pattern of extraordinary light. The programmed laser show changes biweekly, giving viewers the opportunity to see a different configuration upon multiple viewings. The unsuspecting viewer is overwhelmed by the pure spectacle of the installation (Fred Hoffman Gallery, Santa Monica).

While worshippers sing odes to sunsets on travertine monuments or fancy regal life in French decorative drawing rooms, mindful Getty goers realize that God is in the details and get down on their knees to thank Zeus for the Museum's masterful drawing collection. Since 1981, over 500 works have been brought in. Standout selections for this richly diverse initial exhibition of Master Drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum include Martin Schongauer's lyrical Northern Renaissance Studies of Peonies; J.M.W. Turner's brooding Conway Castle, North Wales; Edgar Degas' penetrating self-portrait painted in oil on paper; and Vincent Van Gogh's intense ink study of postman Joseph Roulin. Michelangelo's brilliant drawing of the Holy Family reveals experimental ink and chalk reworkings of the figures, exposing developments in the artist's creative thought process (J. Paul Getty Museum, West Los Angeles).


Susan Weller, "Anatole XXVII," monotype/mixed media, 16 x 12".

Susan Weller presents a profound and sensitive body of paintings on canvas and paper, and monotypes Landmarks/Watermarks. Borne out of personal tragedy, the artist looks at life's metaphysical journey and depicts two general forms it takes. She creates colorful abstract representations of land masses and architectural ruins, symbolizing the known signposts that guide us through life. Then there are immense seas--where markings disappear and, without maps we must chart our course alone. The Beautiful Swimmer shows a lone swimmer submerged in the sea. Despite her strong and perfect body, amid lush colored markings, the swimmer must find her way out of the watery maze. The universality of these themes and the manner in which they are executed gives Weller's art a timeless, even a primordial look, somewhat reminiscent of ancient pictographs. The dominant imagery of simple markings, often circular shapes contrasted by horizontal lines, draws the viewer in to explore the many engaging details the artists renders (Diane Nelson Gallery, Orange County).

Grant Mudford's photographs are of architectural structures. Mudford is well known for documenting his subjects with precision and clarity. In these black and white photographs he captures the transformation of a building--Cedar Sinai Hospital undergoing extensive reconstruction. In Marnie Weber's installation of collages and sculptural elements, she once again makes viewers smile and squirm simultaneously. While comparing and contrasting a woman's body to the landscape, Weber does the obvious with such a twist that one cannot help but be engaged by her project (Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica).

David Scheinbaum is an art professor at the Marion Center for Photographic Arts in Santa Fe. He and his wife, Janet Russek, hauled a large format camera over the ruggedly beautiful terrain called Ghost Ranch there, and known to us as the place Georgia O'Keeffe called home. Scheinbaum has printed for the likes of Eliot Porter and Beaumont Newhall; Russek was the founder of the New Mexico Council on Photography. Their technical skill and deep reverence for the land is felt in this excellent suite of fine Ghost Ranch photos. Between the duo, Russek stands out as the poet (Gallery of Contemporary Photography, Santa Monica).


Catherine Opie, "Untitled #40," from the "Freeway" series, platinum print, 1994-95.



The urban landscape has long been a subject of fascination for Catherine Opie and in this, her first solo museum exhibition, two bodies of work are presented. These include abstract photographs of freeways as well as her more recent series of mini-malls. Both series are black and white. Whereas the freeways are precious palladium prints, the mini-malls are large scale Iris prints. Seeing these two bodies of work together gives viewers a chance to see aspects of Opie's interpretation of the Los Angeles landscape (Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).