Return to Articles


E.V. Day, "Bombshell," mixed
media sculpture, 1999.

At the Curve of the World is a group exhibition organized by Pilar Perez that features the work of eight artists, all of whom are women, most of whom are of Latin descent. Because this is a large space each artist is given ample space to display their art. The works are all over the place in terms of media, subject matter and approach, but for the most part are concerned with a social or political issue. Among the show’s highlights, E. V. Day's sculpture of Marilyn Monroe's exploding dress, Bombshell, is suspended from the ceiling by web-like monofilament wires. The simple beauty of this work is seductive, but it also skillfully communicates the tragedy within the beautiful. Day doesn’t explode Monroe’s myth, he nails it. Elena del Rivero's massive wall installation Echo of an Unfinished Letter contains over 600 individual works on musical notation paper. Mariana Botey's video projection also impresses. The other artists in the exhibition include: Anne Fishbein and Laurie Dahlberg, Diana Lopez, Gertrudis Rivalta and Sandra Vivas (Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Joe Scanlan has created a series of nesting bookcases that hover between art and furniture. Painted in a variety of colors they are able to perform various functions. These cases are painted wood that is designed so that the longest shelf is on the bottom, with slightly shorter shelves on top. The shelves are held together by rugged but colorful cloth that is attached to the wooden planks at the top and then threaded through a hole in the center of each shelf and pulled taut, keeping the case in position. This system allows for easy assembly and storage. Scanlan's works are both well crafted objects and an answer to a conceptual question. In addition to the bookcases, Scanlan presents numerous photographs of the cases in collector's homes exhibited as art objects as well as being used as functional shelving. The nesting bookcases themselves are elegant, well packaged, and smartly designed works that successfully function both as art and furniture (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Hollywood).

Joe Scanlan, "Product No. 2,"
painted wood/cloth, 1999.
Photo: Martin Cox

Grace Hartigan, "Oranges No. 7",
oil on paper, 44 1/4 x 33 1/2", 1952.
This curator’s show, organized by MOCA curator Russell Ferguson, In Memory of My Feelings--Frank O'Hara and American Art brings together work of many of the immortal as well as the little known artists and poets who were active in New York during the 1950s and '60s. These artists befriended O'Hara and were influenced not only by his words (O’Hara was an established poet), but by his presence (he also served the art community as a curator at the Museum of Modern Art). The works in the exhibition range from quick sketches and poems to full-scale portraits reflecting the contemporary pop and expressionist artists that O’Hara interacted with. Bear in mind this show is only secondarily about the art, and on the whole the art here is not front rank. It is about the reflected light cast by a figure uniquely qualified and positioned to be both in and of the emerging aesthetic developments of the day. Far from practicing curatorial detachment O'Hara collaborated with many of his artist friends, and these collaborations are precisely what makes this show stand out. Among the artists included are: Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Hans Namuth, Claes Oldenburg, Alex Katz, Larry Rivers, Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock (The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

Herb Alpert, "Destination,"
o/c, 49 x 37", 1999.

Herb Alpert’s abstract, colorfield paintings may not be exactly up to the minute, but they do satisfy. Destination, for example, is a symphony in shades of brown and gold that fairly glows. Although it is not as large as the paintings surrounding it, it manages to capture the space. The diminuitive Point of View, almost hidden on a small wall towards the back of the gallery space, proves capable of riveting your gaze. In another room, the tall sculpture Embrace resembles the figure of a woman in shimmering blue. It’s voluptuous curves invite a tender stroking (Sixth Street Gallery, Santa Monica).

Installation shot, "Concoctions."

Concoctions is a group exhibition, curated by Katie Sivers, that asked artists to submit work based on the idea of putting unrelated things together or more to the point, "works that explore the ways in which recipes permeate the culture." The work of thirty-one artists is hung salon style. The plethora of photographs, paintings, drawings as well as sculptural works that represent a wide range of viewpoints on the theme are notable less for the quality of individual images so much as for the way they collectively animate the theme. Still, Jacqueline Draeger’s six-minute video or life in a nursing home is moving without becoming sentimental. Elizabeth Pulsinelli’s dark blue wedding cake surmounted by a conferencing group of tiny figures throws a jarring yet humourous curve. Marny Narwold’s smarmy painting of a giant cockroach on a plex box, . . .340 million years and counting, and Jo Ann Callis’ wood burned portrait also stand out. Decide for yourself whether this concoction is gourmet or just glop (Side Street Projects, Santa Monica).

Steven Criqui, "Untitled," 29 1/8 x 41 1/2", 1998.

Architectural milieus of Los Angeles provide the raw material in Steven Criqui’s current photo/computer manipulated works. Criqui simplifies the artchitectural forms by overlaying details with painterly geometries in colors that extend the palette of the original photograph. While neatly transforming images by giving them an abstract dimension, we also indulge in the fantasy of an urban landscape free of the usual commercial clutter (Cirrus Gallery, Downtown).

The eight artists included in Grid Locked push the notion of the grid, which had it’s heyday as a popular device during the 1970s. Erica Huang uses her grids in the loosest possible way to make small yet spacious off-centered food paintings, all on a single sized format. Keith Walsh’s stunningly surreal paint-overs of supermarket ads lead the eye along meandering map-like trails. Timothy Nolan weaves white ribbon and rows of white sequine into rectangular pieces of galvanized metal fencing in what turns into a compellingly romantic referencing of minimalism (Occidental College, Weingart Center Galleries, Pasadena).

Sequences, selections from the renowned print publisher Edition Schellman, is a group exhibition that explores the way multiple images can create a whole. Many artists work in series and printmaking is a perfect media to explore these ideas. Among the works in the exhibition that stand out for their ability to tell a story over time, even if the story's content is abstraction, are a series of three yellow striped prints by Daniel Buren, a photographic sequence by Nan Goldin. a well as pieces by Sol LeWitt, Christo and Peter Halley (Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica; the exhibition was held collaboratively with CSU Long Beach’s University Art Museum, their half of which closed during October).

Thomas McGovern, “Donna Martinez,
born-again Christian with AIDS, worshipping
on Christmas Day,” photograph, 1994.
Beginning in 1987 Thomas McGovern began a ten-year documentation of HIV/AIDS victims and related public events that amounts to a social portrait of a disease. Sparked by the shocking news that all of the (gay) men with whom he had shared a house with during the 1970’s had died of AIDS during the early ‘80s, he turned his formal studies into a personal odyssey. Bearing Witness (to AIDS) sustains visual interest because it ties together the observational detachment of news documentary and the emotional involvement of an advocate (Loyola Marymount University, Laband Gallery, West Side).