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January, 2002

Los Angeles artist Daniel Marlos has created a freize of photographic diptychs that are installed around the perimeter of the main gallery. Entitled Timeline the project consists of 221 photographs that juxtapose portraits of Marlos’ friends with images of building facades and with addresses that range from 1781 (the founding of the city) to the present (2002). Timeline becomes a portrait of a city and its inhabitants. A study in contrasts and difference, the images reflect the diversity of people and places in Los Angeles. In addition to the photographs, Marlos presents a film Breezing through the 20th Century. an animated version of the facades (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Hollywood).

Daniel Marlos, "Self-Portrait on
North Broadway," vinyl banner, 2001.

Habib Kheradyar, "Passage," fabric/PVC pipe, 16 x 40 x 2', 2001.

Diana Cohen, "Funnel," plastic bags/thread, 13 x 10', 2001.

Big Plastic fills this temporary exhibition space (the newly rennovated Raymond Avenue space should relaunch next month) with large, colorful works that, true to the show title, are all made from some type of plastic. The artists in the exhibition include Diana Cohen, Megan Geckler, Habib Kheradyar, Carlos Mollura, Hilary Norcliffe, Gloria Sedaghat and Anita Rafie, Stephen Shackelford, Jaime Scholnick, Ashley Thorner, Paul Tzanetopoulos, Monique van Genderen and Margo Victor. While the work generally sustains interest, Carlos Mollura’s inflatable sculpture, Diana Cohen’s hanging sculpture and Habib Kheradyar’s corridor stand out. This exhibition also features a playroom where children can create their own plastic art (The Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena).

Rembrandt van Rijn, "The Angel Appearing
to the Shepherds," etching, 1634.
Gift of William F. and Bradley I Elterman
in memory of Frances and David Elterman
Photo: © 2001 Museum Associates/LACMA
Usually gift exhibitions at a large blue chip museum gather the appearance of last minute sweeps of the drawers with an eye to currying favor with a generous donor. Not so The Kindness of Friends. This is a show of varied gifts from many collectors dating as far back as 1919, even before there was an official Drawings Department at LACMA. Sampled are gifts that have been added this year to an already impressive cache of prints and drawings. Without currying favor and listing benefactors, be advised that there are stunning and expressive drawings by Vincent Van Gogh, a moody scene by the great symbolist Odilon Redon, and a host of other works on paper you should not miss by mainstays like Leger. Drawings always seem like the unedited pencil to paper workings of the artist's soul; like images often made for no one in particular, more to try the hand and tool the eye. In their intimacy and directness, the pieces culled here pack a wallop (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, West Hollywood).

Four centuries of human likenesses make up Posing for Posterity: Portrait Drawings from the Collection, a selection of thirty sitters as they were portrayed by European artists from Renaissance times through the nineteenth century in preparatory studies and finished drawings, including some self-portraits. They reveal a great deal about the sitters’ existence, the artists’ priorities and the degree of cooperation between them. Paul Gauguin’s Head of a Tahitian Woman accents her slanting eyes, in sharp contrast to the Western style dress. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was not at all pleased with what Madame Moitessier was wearing when she sat for a portrait study. He admonished her to, “Be so kind, Madame, as to bring, on Monday, your jewel chest.” When she complied, he selected a brooch and pearls that he deemed more suitable for the finished work. This collection is packed with little treasures. Check out also Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sensuous portrait of a handsome young colleague. Jacque Louis David’s 1795 drawing of Andre Antoine Bernard with arms crossed is quite defiant by contrast. Both the artist and his subject were imprisoned for revolutionary activities at the time that this drawing was made (J. Paul Getty Museum, West Los Angeles).

Brad Spence, "Conceived (red),"
acrylic on canvas, 60" x 78", 2001.
Brad Spence’s exhibition As I was Conceived presents his latest paintings. The paintings, of men and women in various intimate positions, explore notions of sexuality and representation. The works have a kind of movement to them, not only from the action depicted but also because of the way the images are layered. Spence begins by making digital images. Various photos are offset so that there is a ghost-like trace of their previous position. The digital files are then transferred to canvas using an airbrush. The paintings have the feel of softcore pornography. They are blurred but still recognizable, with a warm-toned palette that also reinforces this sensibility. One is also reminded of the motion within Futurist works, as well as Duchamp’s mechanical/sexual paintings. These are visually compelling, technically flawless and intellectually challenging works (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).

Galactic space has long served as a metaphorical environment for inner spiritual space in the art of Gordon Onslow Ford. This small but sweet selection of paintings covers a wide time frame, but there is a consistent and stately drive to express the life force according to his surrealist-based take on abstract automatism (Herbert Palmer Gallery, West Hollywood)

Gordon Onslow-Ford, “Arising
Hearts,” a/c, 41 x 54 3/4”, 1991.

Recent jaw dropping paintings by hyperrealist D.J. Hall presents her latest signature women in sun drenched settings of comfort and affluence. They are here again but with a little more life. Located in a scene that can only be stereotype SoCal--blue skies, lots of skin, palm trees--women face the sun and share drinks. Her subjects are no less expertly conceived, but one detects something that can be missing in Hall: these snippets of the good life have a bit more humanity (Koplin Gallery, West Hollywood).

D.J. Hall, "The Conjurer," oil on linen (diptych), 56 x 90", 2000.

Marlene McCarty is a young New York artist who makes large scale drawings that explore the inner anguish of young women who commit matricide. These chilling drawings, made simply with ballpoint pen and graphite pencil on paper, juxtapose realistic renderings of the criminal’s head with imaginary depictions of their partially naked bodies. Also included is a printed description of their crimes. The drawings portray the girls as both innocent and seductive. These aggressively drawn works attribute traits of violence and sexuality to people who, far from arousing our wrath, tug at our sympathies (Sandroni Rey, Venice).

Marlene McCarty, "Patty Columbo - July
1984 (1 of 4)," graphite/ballpoint pen/colored
pencil on paper 72 x 55", 1995-2000.

William Eggleston, " Untitled (fake roses), Arizona," photograph, 2001. Signed on verso by the artist. Eggleston Artistic Trust stamp on verso. Printed in 2001 under the supervision of the artist.
A selection of extremely painterly photos of the vast and still desert by William Eggleston is stunning. These California landscapes operate in the tradition of early American landscape paintings of the unspoiled West by practitioners like Albert Bierstadt. To see these mostly untitled and tremendously expressive open spaces, with their low lying horizon lines and tumultuous skies captured via the camera's "objective" lens, is somehow more intriguing. This is partly because we are shocked at just how gorgeous a document can be, and partly because Eggleston's keen and moody verisimilitude connects us--as we slowly snake through the metallic 405 Freeway--to how truly magnificent nature is. Additionally, many of the works are displayed as Iris prints rather than as traditional photographic prints, which makes for an interesting comparison. When a photographer known for his images of saturated color uses a new medium the opportunity for comparison arises, and suprises often occur (rose gallery, Santa Monica).

Toshio Shibata’s black and white photographs are stunning. He captures water in motion and other natural as well as manmade wonders, presenting them as larger than life abstractions. Using an 8 x 10 inch view camera, Shibata is able to render his subject with a crispness and veracity of detail that is often chilling. The rich images are seductive not only because of the attention to detail but because of the composition and framing that is uniquely Shibata’s vision. The work explores where the manmade and natural coincide. Juxtaposed images of both allow viewers to decide for themselves whether man or nature is the superior creator (Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica).

Toshio Shibata, "Hiyoshi Town, Kyoto Prefecture,"
gelatin silver print, 40" x 50", 2000.

Eve Arnold, still active into her in her 89th year, was the first woman to join the renowned Magnum Agency nearly fifty years ago. She is perhaps most familiar for her series of shoots with Marilyn Monroe over a ten-year period, some of which are included here. Political events are very much a part of Arnold’s oeuvre, with historical moments and personalities of the Cold War era very much a presence. Her color landscapes of China and portraits of Chinese people helped reopen American awareness during the 1970s, but stand on their own as beautifully observed and dramatically revealing (Apex Fine Art, West Hollywood).

Eve Arnold, "Bar Girl, Havana," photograph, 1954.

Won Ju Lim creates urban landscapes out of light and shadows. Her room-sized installations are comprised of an intricate layering and network of plastic boxes, cardboard models and desk lamps. Using readymade plans from build-it-yourself-catalogues Lim creates a city out of disparate elements. This nighttime metropolis comes alive through dramatic lighting that casts shadows on the gallery walls. In addition, Lim projects a video of billowing smoke from an oil refinery, which adds another layer to this already dense installation. The overall effect is a science fiction cityscape that references today’s industrial landscape (Patrick Painter, Inc., Santa Monica).

Now in its eleventh year, the Los Angeles Photographic Print Exposition, photo l.a. 2002, returns to the Santa Monica Civic (1855 Main St., Santa Monica) with a contingent of seventy participating galleries, including several from Europe. The range of vintage historical prints, modern masters and contemporary cutting edge photography is an established given. Photo l.a., originally launched in the teeth of the early ‘90s recession, has maintained a cadre of annually returning galleries that are able to offer an informative experience to the public even as they do what they can to attract serious collectors.

Event organizer Stephen Cohen, an active local photography gallery owner himself, continues the tradition of daily lectures with a mix of master photographers--Larry Fink and Gerd Ludwig this year--historians (Beth Gates Warren, former director of Sotheby’s Photography Department), and museum curators (LACMA’s Tim B. Wirde and Karen Sinsheimer of the Santa Barbara Museum). Actor and filmmaker Ben Stiller serves as host to the opening night Benefit Reception, which continues to support LACMA’s Photographic Arts Council.

Dates for photo l.a. 2002 are Friday to Sunday, January 18th to 20th, opening at noon each day and running until 7pm on Friday and Saturday, 6pm on Sunday. Tickets are $15 per day, or $25 for all three days. The Thursday Benefit (January 17th, 6-9pm) tickets are $35, call (323) 932-5846 to order. A catalogue is included. For further information call (323) 937-5525, fax (323) 937-5523, or visit the photo l.a. Web site at