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Jane Dickson, "El Nino--Yellow Camper", oil on astroturf, 54 x 36", 1998.

Jane Dickson paints images of a fairly prosaic order on a surface that undercuts it’s familiarity. Her houses and homes and people lounging all are painted in oil and acrylics, but they are done on swatches of carpet that create a secondary texture under the paint. Here, she says in effect, this is the stuff underfoot that you walk on heedlessly everyday. Interestingly enough, when she is not examining the ordinary, she is out canvasing the extraordinary. The circus is painted in the same brightly colored patches as the other landscapes, but it is done in oils on linen cloth. Trapeze artists are frozen in mid-swing, a couple of men selling popcorn are dwarfed by the huge red stars announcing that the circus is here. In both her image worlds, Dickson paints a dark picture (Sandroni Rey Gallery, Venice).

A playful set of squiggles and antic ballooned shapes woggle around in a vaguely anthropomorphic manner that continues Ken Price's deft investigation of the suppleness and whimsy of ceramic form. A small hole on all these ceramic works alternately playacts at being an orifice or simply the requisite opening of an otherwise sealed vessel. The colors Price is working with underscore the joyfulness of this markedly "California" stuff: an opalescent range of pinks and blues mix acrylic with traditional clay firing to create a mottled surface that is every bit as poetic and unexplainable as the specific sense of the forms themselves.

Tony Berlant's nailed tin plates have unfolded from the diminutive support of the little houses they once constituted to spread out rather majestically on the wall. These low relief works have maintained the animated coloristic and material properties of the past, but they have taken up a slightly different image bank. Large swirls can be found careening around the picture plane, alluding to ocean waves seen in the distance or to a fingerprint greatly enlarged. Colorful images of exotic birds are recognizable amidst a flurry of "abstract" forms that are all the less abstract in that they bear the markings of their previous life as metal containers. Maps of the imagination, Berlant's work encourages the rapt transport of the viewer to places never before imagined (L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice).

In his current exhibition Dinh Q. Le presents both sculptures and photographically derived works. The photographs are made by weaving together strips of images depicting victims of the Khmer Rouge and images from the 12th Century Angkor Temple in Cambodia. The resulting works merge people and place. By using the method of grass-mat weaving Le fuses a contemporary practice with a traditional Vietnamese craft. Each image is a complex grid of face and building fragments that change depending on the viewer's distance to the work. Also on view is Le's sculptural installation entitled "Lotus Land" in which he examines the effects of toxic chemicals on the inhabitants (specifically children) of Vietnam. In the installation, he presents a number of sets of conjoined twins. Vietnam has an unprecedented rate of birth defects and conjoined twins and Le makes reference to its cause through this witty and cutting presentation (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).

A sprawling exhibition of photos, posters, flyers, albums and assorted ephemera commemorates L.A.’s punk scene from 1976 to 1982 in Forming: The Early Days of L.A. Punk. Anarchistic, disenfranchised groups like the Weirdos, Screamers, Alleycats, Germs, and Black Flag are nostalgically (!) enshrined via memorabilia, including video documentaries and Slash magazine covers. Ties between the underground club scene and the art world are alluded to by way of documentation of conceptual performances by Johanna Went and the Kipper Kids, drawings by Raymond Pettibon and creations by Phranc and Tomata du Plenty. Amidst the blood, animal entrails, and photos of punks at home lurk works by artists once proud to be labeled subculture misfits, but who later would rise to the light of public acclaim. Matt Groening’s early Life in Hell comic strips run in the L.A. Reader are displayed along with references to Jeffrey Valance’s guest vocalist appearances with a San Fernando Valley group, the Tikis (Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Alma Lopez, "Ixta," iris print, 17 x 14", 1999.

John Humble, Unititled, photograph, 1999.

Cola 1998-99 is a diverse group exhibition that presents the work of the ten artists who received a Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department individual artist grant. The recipients: Karen Atkinson, Miles Coolidge, Jacci Den Hartog, Sam Durant, Carlos Es-trada-Vega, Tim Hawkinson, Anthony Hernandez, John Humble, Sharon Lockhart, Alma Lopez, Yunhee Min and John O'Brien. They collectively work in a variety of styles and media. The works on view range from complex installations to photographs to abstract paintings. Aside from being simply a strong cross-section of artists, this show reflects the wide range of aesthetic modes being addressed in the cultural hothouse that is Los Angeles today (Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Park, Hollywood).