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Roberto Gil de Montes, "Under
Venus," o/c, 24 x 18", 1999.

Roberto Gil de Montes' recent paintings and works on paper are mostly inspired by his travels to India. The references to an Other culture, with its totemic figures and exotic motifs, are blended with the artist's penchant for elliptical storytelling. Never too blatant in his narration nor overly preoccupied with descriptive detail, Gil de Monte's graceful images give up their mysteries slowly. Enigmatic landscapes comprise the rest of the work on exhibition: secluded seascapes and cloud-like islands hover between dreams and awakening (Jan Baum Gallery, West Hollywood).

Jennifer Steinkamp with Jimmy Johnson,
"Stiff", mixed media installation, 2000.
Jennifer Steinkamp projects abstract computer animated imagery onto 17-foot tall, 3-foot wide monoliths in an installation that she has designed specifically for this gallery. Colorful dancing wave patterns of light are enhanced by sound-engineer Jimmy Johnson's electronic music and subtly linked to the viewers’ interaction with sensors embedded in the end walls. Steinkamp has fabricated Stiffs with as much skillful attention to scale, placement and effect on the viewer as one finds in a Zen master's construction of a Japanese garden. The wires, software tools and computer technology utilized in this media fusion of art with science are the seamlessly hidden ghost in the machine that continually updates this light/sound/space work. The sensing devices in the gallery have the spectator literally playing the installation as the computers register and react to movements. The idea of feedback takes on a new meaning. (Art Center College of Design, Williamson Gallery, Pasadena).

Laura Aguilar is a Los Angeles based photographer whose black and white images explore the form of the human body. Aguilar uses herself as well as other women as models, and in these new works constructs playful compositions of intertwined human forms in nature. Unlike her earlier works, where she confronted viewers with her own body pushing against the photographic frame, these more subtle and open works explore not only the relationship between female bodies but also the relationship between the body and its surroundings. Also on view are Tam van Tran's evocative paintings that appear to be abstract compositions from aerial photographs of urban settings. Here overlapping lines and shapes dot the top half of the frame. These paintings feel familiar yet also seem to be unrecognizable places--futuristic cities begging to be explored (Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, West Hollywood).

Laura Aguilar, Untitled,
black & white photograph, 2000,


John Divola, "1500 Pacific Coast Highway, LA, CA, 1999",
color photograph/Fuji Crystal Archive paper, 31 1/2 x 96", 1999

John Divola's new photographs at first glance seem to be just wide-lux shots of everyday Los Angeles streets scenes, yet upon close examination the peculiarities of Divola's images become more apparent. Shot in strong daylight, these photographs depict a row of buildings, including storefronts with liquor stores or palm readers, as well as a fair amount of street. Often a car or an unaware person is caught in the frame. What sets these images apart is their color and the quality of light. It seems to be more intense that expected yet not quite surreal. Divola achieves the special aura in these works because they are digitally produced. This allows him to subtly manipulate the colors to get the desired effect. Divola's intervention makes these banal settings spectacular (Patricia Faure Gallery, Santa Monica).

Desiree Buckman, "Temple Mask",
acrylic and tir dye on
unstretched canvas, 2000.
Desiree Buckman's Sushi and Tupperware, a painting project on primed and unprimed canvas, ideally serves to balance those who make their conceptual livelihood by interpreting and misunderstanding all things American. Focused on her rendition and misunderstanding of all things Asian, the project careens back and forth between signs and symbols from both worlds, painted and placed side by side. Particularly satisfying were the paintings of the Ma Jong tablets, laid out with careful reference to pattern painting.

An eclectic grouping of mostly pictorial works centered on the strategies and objects of Desire spills out into the two adjoining gallery spaces here. Ranging from direct approaches like Federico D'Orazio's home grown soft porn photo collection, to Amy Caterina's video exploration of what appears to be a medical fetish, to Max Presneill's pictorial re-management of bits and pieces of advertising culture, the overall result is as diverse as the forms of desire themselves. Privileging no one form, the collected works will grab your attention in succession and in unison (Coagula Projects and I-5 Gallery, Downtown).

Charles LaBelle's installation, Disappear, juxtaposes drawings, photographs and a sculpture. LaBelle usually carries a camera whereever he goes, and for a period of time photographed every building he entered (among other things). For this exhibition LaBelle has transformed almost 100 of these photographs of locations in Los Angeles into modest sized drawings done in brown pencil and water color. In conjunction with the drawings, LaBelle has also created a single sculpture, preserved in a vitrine. The sculpture appears to be a store-bought white shirt that has been cut into over 200 two-inch squares. To create the sculpture, LaBelle swallowed a piece of the shirt each day until he has swallowed the entire thing and allowed each piece (one per day) to pass through his body. LaBelle is interested in bodily functions and in movement through space. In Disappear he has found a way to merge the two (Roberts and Tilton Gallery, West Hollywood).

Charles LaBelle, “Grasping at Clouds (i)”,
C-Print, 28 x 38”, 2000.

For the last few years David Bunn has been creating poetic works that are derived from discarded library card catalogues. The project began with Los Angeles Public Library cards and has extended to other collections, including that of the Mutter Museum. In these works Bunn juxtaposes cards from various subject categories, creating poems from their titles. Each work consists of a typed list of the phrases as well as the actual cards. Bunn's found poems are often humorous and always meaningful. He groups together numerous found poems, creating more inclusive works that compare and contrast numerous subject headings (Angles Gallery, Santa Monica).

At first glance James Welling's new black and white photographs seem to be high contrast black and white abstractions of slatted roofs in varying states of disrepair. Each photograph is a carefully constructed composition of overlapping linear forms that evoke the recognizable, yet are entirely fabricated by Welling in the darkroom. Welling's abstractions are cameraless photographs made by placing strips of board on photographic paper and exposing that paper to light. These photograms are then scanned, inverted and enlarged to produce the final compositions. The resulting images are exquisite black and white works (Regen Projects, West Hollywood).