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February, 2001

Friedrich Kiesler, “Sisler House,
Study”, pencil on paper, 1961.
Frederich J. Kiesler (1890-1965) was a visionary architect who began his career in his native Austria before emigrating to the U.S. in 1926. Noted for his design of the Peggy Guggenheim Art of This Century Gallery, Kiesler was best known for his ideas on organic architecture and design. In his work he explored the idea of movement in space, and this exhibition specifically focuses on the numerous models and drawings for his Endless House, which also serves as the show’s title. Presented are drawings, sculptures, plans and printed ephemera that illustrate the scope of Kiesler’s vision. For Kiesler "true organic architecture could only emerge out of a unified theory of the relationship of the human body to the environment--a relationship with spiritual, physical, social and mechanical aspects.” Rather than the linear structure defining static interior spaces, you can see here that Kiesler’s was a truly pioneering departure into regarding living space as curved and elliptical, and as a changing rather than fixed set of spacial possibilities (Mak Center, West Hollywood).

Doug Aiken, "blow debris,"
multi-projection video installation
with architectural elements,
dimensions variable, 2000.

Anyone eager to expand their view of the West beyond the background imagery commonly seen in SUV ads will prize the multiple states of consciousness embodied in Flight Patterns, an exhibition of photographs, paintings, films and videos by twenty-three artists based in southern California, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Diverse artistic strategies are employed to manifest topographic impulses in works that explore the social landscape of the Pacific rim. Doug Aiken structures sound and imagery on multiple screens, magnifying the interactions of nature and the body. Christina Fernandez ties the constant fear of deportation to photographs of anonymous facades of East Los Angeles sweatshops. Issues of cultural identity, the periphery, migration, spirituality and the effects of the new global economy surface in works by artists including Paul Outerbridge, Tracey Moffat and Alan Sekula. Locations as far flung as the deserts of Australia, the shoreline off Bill Gates’ dream home, and the arctic realm of the nomadic Inuit mix with mythological and metaphoric landscapes as artists address the changing conditions of life in this geo-politically dynamic region (The Museum of Contemporary Art [MOCA], Downtown).

Christina Fernandez, "Manuela S-t-i-t-c-h-e-d,"
one of ten C-prints and embroidered wall
mounted text by Ruth Ayala, 30 x 40", 1996

Richard Artschwager’s new sculptures double as crates. Each work appears to contain a piece of furniture, like a small bed, a doll’s house, an armoire, or a table. But in fact the crates contain nothing, and the artworks are the crates themselves. Crate-building is often thought of as a mere adjunct to art, but Artschwager’s versions are indeed beautifully crafted sculptures that occupy the gallery space as carefully positioned works of art (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, West Hollywood).

Richard Artschwager, studio view, 2000.

Melissa Thorne is a young Los Angeles artist exhibiting new paintings and drawings in a compelling exhibition entitled Radiant City. Her works are pattern paintings modeled so as refer both to architecture and to rugs. Each work is carefully drawn or painted in a single color on a smooth ground. Upstairs are enigmatic paintings by Eric Mao that depict fragments resembling stars and meteors. The painting of these celestial and natural wonders is slightly blurred, creating both certainty and unrest in the works (Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, West Hollywood).

Melissa Thorne, "Radiant Cities",
a/c, 91" x 76", 2000.

Ron Rizk, “The Bishop’s Folly,”
oil on panel, 15 x 18”, 1998.
Since as far back as the 1970s, Ron Rizk has been painting virtuoso compositions that arrange strange objects or medieval-looking profiles in luminescent still-lifes or mettre en scenes. These odd scenes and queer objects are depicted as if sitting in perfect architectural niches, stages, or hung on faux walls with trompe l'oeil pins of such precision they look real enough to toy with. Every last detail in these elegant visual tropes ends up being no more than Rizk's expertly wielded oil paint, moving with the lucidity of manuscript illumination. This is a wry play on mimesis, inspired long ago by the artist's fascination for how things work and by Rizk's love of antique machines. It is all done with all the credibility of the best early American realists, like Raphaelle Peale or William Harnett. The chops and the poetry are all there; this is a show you should not miss (Koplin Gallery, West Hollywood).

Lynn Hershman, "Construction Chart 2" from
"Roberta Breitmore Chronicles," C print, 1974.

Lynn Hershman, "Shutter" from "Phantom
Limb Series," gelatin silver print, 1988-1994.

One of the more recognizable art world persona’s of the 1970s was Roberta Breitmore. For a decade Breitmore’s character was continuously fleshed out in all her prosaic details--from how she put on her makeup to the contents of her checkbook--by Bay Area artist Lynn Hershman, and in this thirty-year survey Hershman’s contributions are energetically clarified. Unlike portrait artists who have long applied paint to canvas in order to create a convincing illusion of identity, Hershman turned to a whole array of media, newly validated by ‘60s experimentation, to accomplish the same thing. But with a wholly new spirit. In photographic work such as the Cyborg series, or in videos like Electronic Diaries she constantly puts you on edge, unsure to what degree what is seen represents a real self or an invented one. The tone of her social critique is equally discomforting, less because it is didactic than because the work forces you to work towards your own conclusions. This is fierce work that refuses to yield itself without participation. If you saw Roberta the first time around, seeing her again will not be the same (Sweeney Art Gallery, UC Riverside, Riverside).

The function of art in mass media publications is often wrapped in the consumption of passions and desires. The appeal of homeowner's magazines like Sunset, which vow to transform "what you have" to "what you want" in an artful manner, is the focus of a delectable body of new work by Mara Lonner. She employs sheet rock, joint compound, and mixed media in maps that lead to three-dimensionally enhanced abstract destinations in a series entitled, If I took all the trips in Sunset. The wall paintings in All the Colors in Sunset are cast cut-out reliefs that reference William Morris. Hues are tagged with original names, like "yellow energetic lifestyle acanthus," and "red rich saturated nature." Lonner's masterful constructions confound notions of ornament, architecture and place in thoughtfully designed objects that layer craftsmanship with longing and sensuality.
Adam Putman, a recent graduate of the Yale University sculpture program, employs devices like magic lanterns or fishing wire in work that pulls your attention in more than one direction at a time. An office chair explodes, a photo composite suggests that a figure may be falling and/or climbing a flight of stairs. The supernatural lurks in this room, as Putman activates the body with strange forces (Sandroni Rey, Venice).

Mara Lonner, "All the Colors in Sunset" installation view. Individual works:
"All the Colors in Sunset: Orange Warm Lotus", 2000, latex wall paint, matt medium, cheese cloth, hardware, 56x44 1/2";
"All the Colors in Sunset: White Neutral Sunflower", 2000, latex wallpaint, matt medium, cheese cloth, hardware, 42x45";
"All the Colors in Sunset: Pick", 2000, latex wall paint, dimensions variable

George Ketterl’s new paintings are filled with spirals and lines that move over and through the compositions. Using oil, enamel and pencil on silk, Ketterl achieves a layered effect in these works, which range in size from large to small. They amount to an investigation between the mysterious and the actual (Hunsaker/Schlesinger Gallery, Santa Monica).

George Ketterl, "Synaptic Echo," oil/enamel/pencil
on silk with digital images, 66 x 80 1/4", 1999.