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April 4 - 29, 2001 at L.A. Artcore/L.A. Artcore Brewery Annex, Downtown

by Elenore Welles

“An Artist is a person who lives in the triangle which remains after the angle which we may call common sense has been removed from this four-cornered world. "

In a retrospective exhibition that covers more than 40 years of multi-faceted and multi-media artwork, it is evident that Judith Von Euer rejects rigid methodology. The exhibit opens with early paintings, moves on to various installations, and culminates in Teaching Wall, a series that documents 36 years of her teaching experience.

Her ability to integrate various disciplines stems from a fecundity of experiences and training. Her musical background encompasses varous musical instruments, improvisational jazz, big band pop, tap dancing and Japanese music and theater. Add to this professional background in printmaking, landscape and environmental design and college teaching, and you have an exceptional medley of talents. Consequently, paintings, installations and performances play like contrapuntal concertos. Ideas clash and integrate in point and counterpoint.

Her early Table Series (1964-66) recalls the brushy strokes, sensual colors and homey interiors popular with Nabi artists such as Bonnard and Vuillard. Combined patterns also reflect the influence of Matisse’s oriental paintings. Genovese Supper Table evokes the warmth and safety of her early environment. A typical family gathering, adults converse around the dining room table while dad holds the baby and a restless child climbs a chair. Also quoting Matisse’s interiors are windows that reveal exterior environments, an early indication of her love of the landscape. It’s a connection that becomes deeper and more involved in later works such as the Flow Inversion (1968-75) series.

A sustained body of multi-media works, Flow Inversion took her from wall to floor, out into the performance space and back. Based on three murals she executed in downtown L.A., the work came from insights and observations of the southern California landscape. As stated by Von Euer, the series evolved as a “testimonial hint of the powerful delusion of our perception of matter.”

The idea was to represent how the simultaneity of two irreconcilable elements such as matter and anti-matter can inhabit the same place and time. At any given moment, the contradicting properties of one cancel out our ability to perceive or take in its opposite. This heady premise is epitomized by her quote from the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus (535-475 B.C.): “Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed.”

In Flow Inversion, inversion refers to the reversal of the natural order of things. Von Euer intuitively grasps the intricate, if illogical, balance that lies beneath the chaotic surface of nature. Inspired by John Cage’s theories on randomness and chance, fields of twelve scalloped elliptical shapes ascribe the attributes of location. They in turn are superimposed upon fields of randomly assigned, diagonally oriented fragmented shapes that address movement or velocity. Colors are in varying combinations that include browns, greens and reds. The combined fields result in contradictions between the flat surface of the picture plane and pictorial illusions.

“Flow Inversion
Tapestry VI,",
acrylic/unstretched canvas,
8'4" x 11'5", 1971-72.

"Slice of Opera A: Nine Moments,"
drawing/mixed media,
18 x 24", 1979.

"Ornette's Way," performance
from "Ornette's Way: An Opera
An Art Performance", 1983.

"Artist's Studio Work in Progress,"
from "Ornette's Way: An Opera
An Art Performance", 1983.

Her considerable breadth of ideas, theories and experiences reaches a crescendo in Ornette's Way (1976-89), where once again the element of chance comes into play. A large-scale multi-media chamber opera and art performance, Ornette uses allegorical symbols to evoke the unfolding of the creative process. Included are notations and drawings, as well as paintings and collages that combine hard-edged geometry with amorphous forms. Diverse painted props and symbolic totems are manipulated by Kabuki-like black hooded prop-men. Intended as “invisible,” they nevertheless create dramatic impositions against backdrops of deep reds and oranges. Structures add form to pictorial spaces and a complex cacophony of rhythms emanate from drums, dance and electronic music. The overall implication suggests, and at the same time negates, a sense of space and time. The result is a recondite play on credulity. Ambitious in scope, the combination of music, art and drama transmits a total psychic experience.

Von Euer has the mindset of a storyteller who combines physical science, geology, and philosophy in her narrations. Although her art stems from esthetic, theoretical and thematic sensibilities, it is the synthesis between subjective vision and tangible reality that engages her. There are definitive threads that are based, for the most part, on theories of probability.

In attempting to assess her work in totality, one can lose orientation, which may be precisely the point. Confirming Heraclitus, nothing is totally resolved or deciphered, in the hope that revelations will grow out of the logic of contradictions. Ultimately, the viewer is forced to navigate through a maze of non-commensurable realities.