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March, 2001

Dara Friedman, “Total,” 16mm film loop
and mixed media, 12 minutes, 1998.
This quartet of exhibitions are not to be missed. Francesca Gabbiani is a young Los Angeles artist who glues together bits of colored paper to make both large and small representational works. Arturo Herrera’s painting fills the large wall in the Museum’s Lobby. When Alone Again engages the viewer on many levels. The work provocatively combines abstraction and vernacular imagery. Lisa Henry has cruated a three person exhibition that includes the work of Gary Simmons, Lorna Simpson and Carrie Mae Weems. Entitled I’m Thinking of a Place, this exhibition explores issues of race and identity.

The centerpiece, however, is a video exhibition entitled Making Time where works by over 30 artists are presented as single channel videos shown as a long line of individual monitors. You can watch them with available headphones, or as projected images of each piece in its own small room. The installation, designed by the architectural firm LO/TEK, has transformed the usual video watching experience into living architecture and has made an inviting environment in which to view the works (UCLA/Hammer Art Museum, West Los Angeles).

Richard Shaw, "China Cove," glazed porcelain
with overglaze transfers, 15 x 9 x 7", 2000.
Photo: Charles Kennard.

Richard Shaw's “real new ceramics” are chicanery of an optical order. Mixing his metaphors by drawing from the cabinets of traditional 2D trompe l'oeil imagery, Shaw's glazed objects move humorously forward in their ambiguity. Simulated paint cans piled up together with sticks and stones and pencil nibs turn into androgynous half-humanoids marching merrily on their way. Houses of porcelain cards are built over porcelain containers that rest on porcelain books. Beyond his humor, Shaw intimates about the potential for imbalance in our loosely constructed real new world (Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica).

Richard Bruland is a real brush and paint man. There is no end to what is going on with him if this work is any indication. Intimate ‘landscapes’ use intuitively proportioned horizontal bands of complex color, subtly trifurcated with vertical lines. Everything’s in place, yet these paintings give off more heat the closer you get. Bring along a telescope and a magnifying glass (Don O’Melveny Gallery, West Hollywood).

Richard Bruland, “Romeo and Juliet,”
acrylic on wood, 12 1/2 x 18”, 2000.

More than fifty paintings and drawings by David Bowers reflects an in spired homage to the Old Masters. The oil on masonite paintings use a translucent application that is virtually brushstroke-free. Subject matter is mostly medieval scenes, but with a humorous modern element built into the images. Arch Angel Gabriel shows the angel in the foreground of a pastoral setting--with a small American flag and the Capitol building in the background. Another angel sports a bright penny for a halo. Contemporary media figures such as actress Gillian Anderson or the homicidal O.J. Simp-son are incorporated into works that mix present, past, and future. What is to be appreciated is Bower’s marriage of excellent technique with the mocking, time-warped sensibility (Galerie 224, Orange County).

David Bowers, "Missing Link,"
oil on masonite, 17 1/2 x 15 1/4".

KIT's Airbag Architecture project is part of an ongoing series of installations by this collaborative group that has its core in the UK, Canada and Australia. Fifty-two hundred pounds of flour, the equivalent to the pounds of pressure used in the exploding release of two airbags, are framed by miscellaneous bumpers and illuminated from overhead by a video projector's flickering blue light. These enigmatic images and objects are placed alongside explicit informational pamphlets and printouts that are used to bear out what the group calls "the act of release through sacrifice" (Side Street Projects, Downtown).

KIT, from the "Airbag Architecture" project.

Sam Francis, "Untitled, SF 73-130,"
acrylic on paper, 16 1/4 x 12 3/8", 1973.

Robert Motherwell, "Octavio Paz Suite
(Blue Gesture)," lithograph and chine colle,
edition 50, 25 3/8 x 21 15/16", 19987-88.

Sam Francis' unique works on paper and Robert Motherwell's print series dedicated to the poet Octavio Paz momentarily turn the gallery into a graphic paradise for modernists. The color of Francis, with his watery gusts of red and blue offsetting and accenting his now trademark usage of white expanses between colors, are diminutive wonders. Motherwell's works comprise a set of staccato black brush marks that are highlighted against single tone color fields creating the effect of open-ended but controlled calligraphy (Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica).

Dedicated to the improperly incarcarated and recently released Mumia Abu-Jamal, Capital Art is a large group show that explores the culture of punishment. This multi-media extravaganza features work by more than 40 artists. Among the highlights are Dread Scott's installation Historic Corrections, featuring a life-size electric chair; Robbie Conal's original Dis Belief painting, as well as noteworthy pieces by Sandow Birk, Ken Gonzales Day, Glenn Kaino, Kori Newkirk, Daniel J. Martinez, Ruben Ortiz Torres, John Outerbridge, Sheila Pinkel, and Laurie Steelink. As with many exhibitions here the quality of the work is as diverse as its intentions. But nowadays it is rare to see an exhibition of works that celebrate their social and political causes. The exhibition reminds us that artists are still making work that is personally meaningful, and still feel art can bring about change (Track 16, Santa Monica).

In his first solo exhibition, L.A. painter Ivan Morley presents a diverse body of work. Paintings on glass and canvas as well as fragments of stories presented as text on the wall make up the components of this intriguing exhibition. Selections from three bodies of work are included: Dig, A True Tale and Brazillian T-Shirt. Each of Morley‘s paintings is based on a story. He thinks about the narrative and creates both abstract and representational works based on his interpretation, the results of which are complex as well as humorous. Morley is an artist to watch (Patrick Painter Gallery, Santa Monica).

J.H. Lartigue was one of the first photographers to experiment with the idea of capturing motion using the camera. His photographs of people and their race cars are among the classics of early photography. Lartigue was given a camera at the age of seven in 1901 and made photographs of his family and the upper class life he was born into. His family tried out many of the new inventions at the time and Lartigue documented their experiences with race cars and airplanes. The resulting images, shot at unusual angles and often at close focus, show what a photographer free of inhibitions can frame and present as art (Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica).

In Jackie Draeger and Sandra Vista's current exhibition a lot happens within a small space. Dreager's work ‘documents’ the imminent demise of groves of trees up on the hill near Barnsdall Park with a willfully romantic set of photomontages elegizing the beauty of the shade and glade. Center stage, her termite drawings juxtapose the painstaking damage done to a pile of cottonwood paper to the lines of topological maps appearing in the spaces left by the minute creatures passage. Vista presents a grid of One Hundred Paintings across the way that makes her point of view clearly and colorfully regarding innumerable subjects --all outlined in the extensively annotated titles list (Coagula Projects, Downtown).