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January, 2001

Bruce Conner, "Totem Time in Dreamland,"
ink on paper, 22 1/4 x 20 1/2", 1975.

Bruce Conner, whose expansive career dates back to the mid-1950s, is a filmmaker, photographer, painter and assemblage artist. This survey exhibition presents selections from all aspects of his work including the films: DA Movie (1958); Breakaway (1966); and Looking for Mushrooms (1959-67). Seeing these films in conjunction with Conner’s mandala and inkblot series of drawings and large photographs allows you to begin to understand the complexity of his vision. This exhibition presents many of the highlight works from Conner’s extensive career, and conveys his ability to balance painstaking care with liberating indifference. Here is a strong case that he is among our most seminal artists (The Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown).

Don Ed Hardy, "2000 Dragons"
(detail),4 x 500', 2000.

Don't look for damsels in distress or some Christian hero's symbolic slaughter of all things slithering in Don Ed Hardy's 2000 Dragons. His undulating 4- by 500-foot floating screen celebrates a cyclical renewal of life forces with bursts of primal energy. Painted over a period of seven months, Hardy's commemoration of the new millennium's Year of the Dragon showcases his knowledge of Asian arts and his skill and daring as an image maker. Zen-like splashes co-exist with finely drawn details. Hardy empowers the water element suggested by his serpents with the breath of life, infusing matter with spirit.

Reversing Picasso and Gauguin's appropriation of the noble savage's imagery, Mexican born Enrique Chagoya assumes the role of the primitive artist collecting and re-organizing fragments from art history books and popular culture in utopiancannibal .org. Catholic iconography, cartoon characters, advertising logos, Western masterworks and political figures pepper his reinterpretation of nineteenth century prints and a codex series painted on bark. Traditional canons that ignore issues of global imperialism or the hypocrisies of contemporary life are upended by Chagoya's satirical juxtapositions of icons of high and low culture (Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica).

Enrique Chagoya, "" (detail), 2000.

Paul DeMarinis, "The Messenger," enameled steel bowls/electromagnet/wooden chairs/toy skeletons/bur-
lap/wood/glass jars/metal foil electrodes/electrolyte/
computer/electronics/internet connection, 1998.

Paul DeMarinis’ exhibition is subtle and exhilarating. The works, about sound and the way sound resonates, are both interactive and visually compelling. You participate in many of DeMarinis’ works by "touching" a charged wire. To avoid a shock, fruit is provided whose thick skin absorbs the current. To hear the sounds, you must rub your hand (or the fruit) along a thin wire. Fragments of recorded sound fill the space. Demarinis is a collector, and his installations juxtapose high tech computer programming with low tech objects. In these works skeletons dance, pots bang and rain falls, all according to a complex web of signals. You don’t have to understand how Demarinis’ pieces work to find the visual and aural qualities to be breathtaking (Art Center, Pasadena).

Woven portraits of women gaze at you passively in Diane Jacobs’ new work. The expressions are neither hostile nor accusatory, but the accompanying text is shockingly derogatory. Jacobs has collected ‘worst names’ directed at women from friends, family and strangers, as well as from slang dictionaries. Photo-lithographs and text are cut up and woven together to form a kind of tapestry. Jacobs says that she starts weaving from the eyes, which are the focal point. She achieves her goal, for it is the passive expression in the eyes that sets up the powerful message. The branding of insults on these countenances without any response conveys an acceptance of humiliation (frumkin/duval gallery, Santa Monica).

Diane Jacobs, mixed media, 2000.

Allan Sekula, still from "Untitled Slide Sequence.
End of the Day Shift, General Dynamics Conair
Division Aerospace Factory, San Diego, California,
17 February, 1972," photograph, 1972.
Allan Sekula’s photographs from his recent series entitled Titanic’s Wake refer to ships as well as to the global economy. This body of work, as always politically and socially relevant, addresses the relationship of high and low culture as related to the shipping industry. Standouts among these beautiful images are a diptych of the Bilbao Museum in relation to its surroundings, and a large photograph depicting the set of the filming of the Titanic that explores the relationship between the luxury of the movie industry and the suffering in the destitute Mexican villages where the film was shot. Also notable, a slide presentation of an earlier work from 1972 poignantly depicts the end of the workday at General Dynamics as the employees leave the facility (Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica).

Susan Silton’s color photographs are computer generated photographs of birds. These still images, taken from an ornithological guide, are injected with a sense of the texture of speed. They yield some rather perplexingly beautiful things. Perplexing because the chromogenic prints are in essence nothing more than blurry, colored stripes. Beautiful because their oddly smooth transitions from color to color are engrossing beyond expectation. In addition to the photographs, Silton also presents a video work, hemidemisemiquaver, a 30-foot revolving video image you view through a 70-inch tunnel situated at eye level. Color and sounds speed by, creating a sense of vertigo. This vertiginous space draws you in. In both the photographs as well as in the video, collectively entitled Aviate, Silton allows your imagination to take over, taking you on a journey, as if a bird in flight (Angles Gallery, Santa Monica).

Break Step features the work of James Buss, Greg Colson, Steve DeGroot, David MacDonald and Steve Roden. This group generates most of the show’s movement in the space between image and language. Most of the work harbors a secret desire to speak without breaking the visual spell. This is especially evident in the magnificent painting by Roden, where letter forms and half words emerge from the inky depths of richly painted monochromes, and in the loopy construction by Colson, where garage sale signage meets his neo-constructivist bent (INMO Gallery, Downtown).

A refined, specialists kind of an exhibition, The Un-Private House, is replete with architectural models, complex and beautiful architectural drawings and renderings of homes reaching beyond the traditions of modernity. Ranging from built to unbuilt, found on this continent and abroad, the un-private house explores and explodes the norms of building for people by looking at the exceptions. Concentrating on the buildings for a very few extraordinarily wealthy and specific patrons has made for fantastic results, fantastic for the viewer in imaginatively coping with the sheer capriciousness opted for and fantastic in the formal architectural solutions obtained.

Simon Henwood has achieved renown already; it's just that it is outside the confines of the artworld. His 'zines' (a smaller edition maga-'zine' usually for a targeted audience and often elevated to cult status) and

Rem Koolhaas, Office for Metropolitan Arch-
itecture, Maison á Bordeaux, France, 1998.

animation work have been accorded praise and accolades since their appearance in the digital animation world. Rightly so, given their immense imaginative and technical strengths. A somewhat evil cast of characters romps surreally about in his 3-D computer generated video wreaking mayhem with conventions of storytelling and genre definition. It is heartening to see such valid and even novel visual arts being exhibited along with those of traditional making. Critical accountability is still far from being approached; but in the meantime, the new technologies spectacle is fascinating (UCLA/Hammer Museum, West Los Angeles)