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The Fine Art Dealers Association (FADA) brings back the Los Angeles Art Show for it’s sixth year, once again setting down at UCLA’s John Wooden Center. This is a tight collection of not quite fifty galleries affiliated with FADA, which was formed in 1990 to promote professional and ethical standards. The art presented here tends towards the traditionalist strains of the Hudson River School, California Plein Air, and Barbizon, along with proven modernist commodities along the lines of Picasso and Chagall. The atmosphere of gentility is consistent with the presentation.

Dwinell Grant, "Contrathemis #2769", colored
pencil and collage on paper, 8 1/2 x 11"

The L.A. Art Show will run over the weekend of September 15-17, with an Opening Gala on Thursday, September 14, from 6-10pm. Sale of tickets to the Gala, set at $100 per person, will benefit the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County (uh, still ‘the Music Center’ to most Angelinos). Call the Performing Arts Center for Gala details at (213) 202-2230. Regular show entry is $10, and includes the show’s color catalogue. You’ll also be paying for parking on the UCLA campus; go to the Westwood entrance to park directly at the Wooden Center. For further information call show organizer Kim Martindale, 1 (800) 656-9278.

Anne Bremer, "Carmel," o/c, 1915.

William Wendt, "Wandering Shadows," o/c, 1925.

Those drawn to the L.A. Art Show should also find California Paintings, 1910-1940: Selections from the Mills College Art Museum satisfying if not downright eye-opening. Northern California’s first museum collection of work by living artists during the 1920s was chiefly built on the generosity of Albert M. Bender. Local viewers will be most familiar with California Impressionists such as Maurice Braun, William Wendt and Granville Redmond, along with regionalists such as Maynard Dixon and Dong Kingman. Mexican artists such as Alfredo Ramos-Martinez who lived in California are another component of this show, but the important counterpoint here is the work of Northern California Tonalists such as Giuseppe Cadenasso, Gottardo Piazzoni and Will Sparks. This version of plein air painting reflects the more subdued light of the north. These selections, coming from a well esteemed collection, offer a broader state-wide vision of pre-War art than we normally have an opportunity to see (Laband Gallery, Loyola Marymount University, West Side).

William Wiley is a Northern California-based artist whose paintings, drawings and sculptures have long combined dense agglomerations of cartoon-like images accompanied by witty texts. Wiley investigates both the art and political climate of the moment in these evocative works. In addition to creating a number of new watercolors, entitled The string it...sound? Yours as ever, Marked Twine, Wiley has also fabricated a number of found-object musical instruments. These pieces, constructed out of string, stick, wire and tape, have been played by Wiley during the course of the exhibition (L.A. Louver, Venice).

William Wiley, "Tracking the Blind in Eden,"
watercolor on paper, 22 1/2 x 30 1/2", 1999.

Else Blankenhorn, "Untitled", o/c.
Photo courtesy of Prinzhorn College, University of Heidelberg.
The Prinzhorn Collection: Traces upon the Wunderblock consists of over 200 works created by psychiatric patients and amassed by the art historian and psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn during the early 20th century. Made by untrained artists as exercises in self-expression for theraputic purposes, in some cases they became more transcendent explorations into the psyche and inner soul, offering genuine aesthetic experience as well as insights into a patient’s condition. The raw visual talent and imagination is at times stunning. Many works offer a freedom and level of exploration that trained artists often shy away from (UCLA Hammer Museum, West Los Angeles).

David Ligare, "Ponte Vecchio/
Torre Nova," o/c, 40 x 58", 1996.

The title of David Ligare’s latest painting series, Various Structures, is both visually and intellectually descriptive. Classically controlled yet fanciful images speak to Ligare’s simultaneous attraction to the rationalist traditions of Europe, the more flinty patrimony of American realism, and his own dry wit. To cite one example, Ponte Vecchio/Torre Nova adds not only a Brunelleschi-style tower to the famous Florentine landmark bridge, but a figure rowing away on the Arno River and looking back at the bridge is distinctly drawn from American Thomas Eakins. As a stand-in for the artist, he makes Ligare’s point (Koplin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Frank Gehry, "Gehry House," Santa Monica,
CA, 1978. Photo: Tim Street-Porter.

Louis Kahn, "National Asembly
Building," Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1963.

At the End of the Century: One Hundred Years of Architecture is an exceptional exhibition that employs models, drawings, photographs as well as films to trace the unfolding development of modern architecture during the just concluded century. This is the kind of sweeping exhibition that requires multiple viewings in order to digest the wealth of materials being presented. The work is organized thematically rather than chronologically, allowing the works to be grouped together by ideas rather than by a timeline. The social, cultural and political climates under which the various buildings were conceived play an important part in the history of architecture. This exhibition goes a long way to illuminate the context in which to view the works (Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

“Emperor Qianlong Inspecting
Troops,” scroll painting on
silk, 18th Century

Secret World of the Forbidden City: Splendors from China’s Imperial Palace samples a remarkable and revealing treasure trove of holdings from China’s former Imperial Palace in Beijing. Built in the early 15th Century, its history and the more than three hundred objects on view are associated primarily with the Qing, or Manchu, Dynasty (1644-1911). Not only are these artworks and artifacts almost unrelentingly spectacular (irrespective of how important or trivial their function may be), but a good deal of light is cast on the life lead within those secret 30-foot walls over the course of four centuries (Bowers Museum, Orange County).