Nan Goldin, "Pavel laughing on the beach, Positano," photograph, 1996.


This show of Nan Goldin's photographs feature selections from different periods of her career. The images, all color, are large prints that, in effect, tell the story of her life. They depict pleasure and pain, love and loss. Goldin, best known for her slide show "The Ballad of Sexual Dependency", has continued to make photographs that document the changes in the lives of those around her. Her pictures are thoughtful and direct in their ability to confront difficult personal situations. Goldin is as much a subject of the work as she is the photographer (Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills).

Viacheslav Kalinin, "Carousel,"
o/c, 55 x 39", 1986.


Elena Figurina, "Mourners,"
o/c, 50 x 38", n.d.

Stalin died in 1953, but official Soviet culture continued to operate as a monolithic system under Krushchev and Brezhnev, exerting absolute power in matters of artistic policy. While bureaucrats demonstrated intolerance towards alternative ideals, dissident artists secretly produced and exhibited underground works that mocked the manipulation of art into instruments of empowerment for Party politics. Paintings and sculpture created by strategists such as Lomid Sokowv, whose immovable bronze Lenin comes face to face with a striding Giacometti figure in Meeting of Two Sculptures can be seen in Forbidden Art: Postwar Russian Avant-Garde. Alexandr Kosolapova's bright red and yellow Mac Lenin acknowledges the influence of Pop, as well as foretelling the eventual breakdown of the Soviet political machine. Similar views are expressed in Mikhail Romadin's Brushes and Money, Natalia Nesterova's A House of Cards, and Komar and Melamid's Pravda (Art Center, Williamson Gallery, Pasadena).

Greg Colson, "Practicing Physicians, By Specialty," oil/enamel on wood, 58 1/4" diameter x 1 1/4", 1998


Greg Colson's current paintings and drawings continue his investigations of mapping the everyday world. In the past Colson has created sculptures and painting using street signs and other found objects that make reference to location and movement through space. In these new works he creates pie charts, rather than abstract maps, that diagram social services, projected spending or doctor's specializations. Each chart is made up of found pieces of wood carefully shaped to fit in the large circle and is painted with a single banal icon--a house, a plane, etc. The statistics presented seem irrelevant; it is how Colson has interpreted them that gives these works their meaning (Griffin Contemporary Art, Venice).

"Let The Women Dance" is an installation consisting of a single sculptural work by Austrian artist Erika Thummel. Hanging from the small gallery's ceiling is a spinning sculpture made up of everyday materials like forks, shoes and light bulbs. As the sculpture spins, the centrifugal force creates a beautiful arc that lends the illusion that these objects can float endlessly through the space (Side Street Projects, Santa Monica).

Anselm Keifer's recent large woodcuts fill the vast gallery space. These are awesome works made of pieced together fragments of printed paper as well as the occasional collaged twig, stick or seeds. Keifer's works take on universal themes, and these landscape images overwhelm the viewer's field of vision. Keifer's pieces are rarely exhibited in Los Angeles galleries, so this show is a great opportunity to encounter works by this remarkable German artist (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).

Al Hansen, "Untitled (Sketchbook #1,229), mixed media, 14 x 17", 1972.

The new wing of Bergamot Station (see the Preview of Stephen Greene's show) features the Santa Monica Museum as its flagship. The Museum reopens this month with a bang, featuring two exhibitions that will draw attention, Beck (yes, the innovative alternative rocker) and Al (his grandfather, who was a Fluxus artist) Hansen and oohs-and-aahs (Liza Lou). The cherry on the sundae will be an evening performance two days before the public opening featuring performances by Karen Finley and Beck (gotta call the Museum for ticket information). Lou's installations are full-sized renditions of a suburban Backyard and of a Kitchen. Of course, everything is constructed from tiny glass beads--rather mind-boggling when you think about it, but a joy of rediscovery of the familiar when you see them. The Hansens do collages (not together, Al is deceased). Beck's are characterized as "a hybrid form of process art" that seem to delight in combining loads of crumbled snapshots, travel post cards, and any number of bits and scraps. Al went in for scraps of paper and snapshots too --all very typical of the assemblage/collage genre--using them with apparently greater judiciousness (Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica).

Joe Strasser, "Nacimiento,"
mixed media, 11 x 14".


Slater Barron, "Thorn Bear I," found
object/thorns/collage, 18 x 9 x 9".

Assemblage artists seem never to exhaust the art's possibilities. Fifty-two works range from profound, lighthearted, elegant, humorous, biting, to pure invention. Curated by Frank Miller, the show is an upbeat experience, which begins immediately upon entering the gallery. Sue Ann Hillyer's Two Windows and a Door--an old door, windows, and curtains--is both a haunting assemblage and an invitation to the show. Anniemarie Rawlinson's Transformation is riveting, dramatizing the innocent potential of babies who often must contend with a hostile society. Slater Baron parodies the proverbial teddy bear by forming a cute, well-crafted, paper-mache creature on a little bright red chair. Except hers is a Thorn Bear, whose edges are outlined meticulously in thorns, keeping cuddling at bay. Joe Strasser's Nascimiento is among the most beautifully constructed pieces. Subtle pastel colors and delicate surfaces tell of the fragile moment of birth. Jeffrey Frisch includes four Dream Vessels, magical barges made to cast the viewer off into a meditative dream-like voyage. Then there are Jari Haviena's four works that display her painterly hand in a sculptural art. Lastly, not only because of its size, Frank Miller's This is Then and That is Now is probably one of the most handsome pieces. It is made from silvery old weathered wood, covered in part with the remains of distressed red-orange paint, and adorned with an assortment of antique rusty hardware. The work not only tells of the past and the present, but is a tribute to the staggering beauty that emerges in materials, such as wood and iron, when they are allowed to be transformed by age (Orange County Center for Contemporary Art [OCCCA], Orange County).

Chris Johanson, "Cityscape," installation, 1996.


Subcultures of mobility generate their own visual languages and cultural codes. Skatelore Expo showcases the popular imagery and cultural context for skateboard art. This varied exhibition includes painting, video, photography, sculpture and site specific installations, and is very well mounted by guest curator Armando Rascon. Entering the exhibit you encounter a large wall drawing by Barry McGee created specifically for the venue. The large gestural strokes of line created by spray can, the bright red primary background and cartoon narrative, underscore the connection of graffitti culture to that of the skateboard. The art that goes on skateboards, or "deck" art, is here in abundance. Some of it, as with the work of Jim and Jimbo Phillips, Sean Oliver and Mike Le Sage, is shown as graphically reproduced on the boards with different processes ranging from silkscreen to dye sublimation. Thomas Campbell, with neo-fifties cartoon images and colors, paints directly on the decks. Other work celebrates and documents skateboard culture. Sandow Birk's large pencil drawings depict skateboarders suspended in mid-air, while C.R. Stecyk has photographed this emerging culture. A blueprint for a skateboard park by Santa Cruz architect Ken Wormhoudt is also on display (recently the City Council of Santa Barbara approved construction of a permanent skateboard park). This is one motion art form that is going to be around for awhile (SB Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara).