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Martin Kersels, "Objects of the Dealer" (with
soundtracks), mixed media, size varies, 1995.

Martin Kersels, "Tripping Photo 2(b)," C-print,
24 x 30", 1995. Photo courtesy the collection of
Ivan Moskowitz, Madison, WI.

Martin Kersels makes work we can laugh at. In his sculptures, photographs and installation he emphasizes the performative aspects of art. In the exhibition one can sit at the gallerist's desk and observe Kersel's alterations (he added sound) to the the phone and fax machine as well as to the desk drawers and the dealer's personal belongings, so that every time the dealer tries to do his job a cacaphony of sounds is heard. In another series of photographic works Kersels (who is quite large) tosses his friends in the air, or presents himself falling on his face. Many of Kersels' works are concerned with the kinetics of motion. He is both a tinkerer and an observer who makes sculptural and photographic works that explore the relationship of the body to its space (S.B. Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara).

Jim Feldman, "Untitled," hydrocal/steel/wood, 80 x 19 x 15", 1989/90

Co-curated by Anne Ayres and Sally Elesby In the Polka Dot Kitchen, a two-part exhibition (the portion on display at the Otis College of Art Gallery closed at the end of last month), engages our fraught relationship with food and, covertly, between the real and simulacra. It raises the question: what does it feel like to eat the menu instead of the dinner? Or, more viscerally, what is it like to stuff yourself when you're already full? The "rollicking and interactive pieces" included in this part of the show permeate the gallery with the sickly, sweet smell of frosting. Your response to individual works will veer from attraction of the exquisite color and craft, as in Carl Bronson's cenotaph-like cast resin alien invasion leftovers; to the queasiness of Janine Antoni's Chocolate Gnaw; or somewhere in between, as in Carole Kim's beautiful withered persimmons, the left-overs of a performance. Some recipes are not meant to be edible, such as Mitchell Kane's Sugared Sand Boiled Figs (Pan Arabian). Jeanne Dunning's video of a beautiful person's head being slowly and thoroughly covered in layers of white frosting is terrific. The loveliness of this person being immolated in white glop has a macabre effect (Armory Center of the Arts, Pasadena).

Sol Lewitt, "Wall Works," installation shot,
site-specific wall drawing, 1998.


Sol Lewitt's Wall Drawing #886 Black Bands quietly occupies the gallery walls with majestic strength. Drawn by anonymous hands (anonymous, if you are not from among the student body, anyway) from a programmatic set of guidelines, the thick black lines sweep continuously from one wall of the gallery to the next. Curving from the floor to the ceiling in the areas outside the main gallery space, the lines are reminiscent of winding roads. Within the main gallery they sweep from side to side, activating and elongating the unoccupied floor space like some sort of oversized life support system readout. In this installation, the relatively simple lines accentuate the architectural shell of the otherwise empty gallery and make a rather amazing spectacle of its' ephemeral occupation of the gallery walls (Art Center College, Pasadena).


Enrique Martinez Celaya, "Time and Circumstance,"
o/c, 72 x 84", 1998.

Enrique Martinez Celaya's new paintings grouped under the title Berlin are a subtle juxtapositions of images and text. The works appear to be soft-focus depictions in sombre tones of the relationship between man and nature and the struggle for survival. In addition to the group of new paintings on view, Celaya also presents a large hand-scrawled poetic text that occupies two walls in the second gallery. This poem is seen in relation to a painting entitled The Undeniable and Unfortunate Truths (Griffin Fine Art, Venice).

Maxi Cohen is a photographer and film maker who resides in New York. Although Cohen has been making photographs for many years this is her Los Angeles debut. Photographs here depict the glow of television light as seen from the outside looking in. Cohen is something of a voyeur, wandering through the urban landscape looking to capture the TV's all pervasive glow. The TV, however, takes up only a small portion of the image, suggesting that it is always on but not really the center of attention (Sandroni Rey, Venice).


Robert Levine, "Quisp", 1998

In Robert Levine's exhibition, Things Painted, he has carefully constructed everyday objects like cereal boxes, Elmer's glue, cans of spray paint, as well as pencils in various forms out of wood. They are hand painted to simulate the 'real' object. These fabrications are presented either alone or in groups on white shelves that line the gallery. One is struck by the objects' verisimiltude. In addition to the sculpted objects, Levine has also made a number of small drawings of labels and two dimensional objects whose hand painted qualities gives them more personality than the generic packaging of the real thing (Kantor Gallery, West Hollywood).

Every once in a while, an artist comes along who moves painting back to its primitive state in order to return to the essence of the mark and its emotional impact. Dennis Ekstrom's paintings both convey a primordial and a type of Color Field painting. Rather than applying layers of paint or depicting a known image, the artist employs a subtractive process whereby the emphasis is on the removal of the superfluous until what is left is the natural abstracted essence--spontaneous shape and subtle earth-tones residing in a mysterious painterly world. Eckstrom's imagery is made even more powerful by an aged surface. The artist, who is a paint specialist, concocts his own copolymer materials containing a texturing agent. The surface crackles like ground shattered by an erupting volcano, or by time that has weathered a once smooth exterior. In Black Wallet, a sunset rust and black surface reveals, through spontaneously formed stripped crackling, the undersurface of the primed canvas. The effect is mesmerizing. As in all the work in this series, the art looks as if natural forces, not a deliberate human hand, metamorphosed the shapes, color, and the enigmatic configurations (Peter Blake Gallery, Orange County).

Twentieth-Century Still-Life Paintings from the Phillips Collection has the ambience of a delightful party where old friends and seldom seen acquaintances mix amicably. The very familiar--Picasso, Braque, Bonnard, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O'Keeffe--provide a measure of comfort. The less familiar--Alfred Maurer, John D. Graham, Joseph Solman and a very traditionally painted The Black Tray by Man Ray, for example--add a breadth that is rare. Now fast-forward to the late twentieth century for installations by Ali Acerol and Andy Yoder. Both present domestic scenes. Yoder's giant table setting for 32 implies a formal dining room; Acerol's brick furniture suggests a living room. Both employ a measure of absurdity--brick chairs not suited for sitting and glistening table settings minus the table--which elicits questions from the viewer about the role of materials and customs in our everyday lives (California Center for the Arts Museum, San Diego County).

Jennifer Steincamp, collaboration with Andrew Bucksbarg, "The TV Room," mixed media, 18 x 13 x 60', 1998.

Carl Cheng, "Organic Laboratory Museum", John Doe Co., mixed media installation, 1998.

Four installations currently on view are all compelling. Jennifer Steincamp's computer gernerated projection is a dizzying mozaic of pulsating colors. Michael McMillen asks viewers to participate in a quiet ritual. In his installation you can lie down on a pedestal, put your head under a small house and enjoy a meditative moment of silence while contemplating the artist's sculptural additions to the space. Carl Cheng is part alchemist, part mechanic, and in his installation you can watch the creation of his elegant wax paintings created by a complex homemade device. Finally, Amy Drezner's subtle installation is concerned with the demise of the Elm trees from Dutch Elm disease. Drezner captures the scent of the trees and presents their smells in small beakers that line the walls of the gallery. While your olfactory sense is subtly awakened by Drezner's homemade fabrication of nature, you are asked to consider the political and social ramifications of man's interference with nature (Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica).