Return to Articles


April, 2003

Ruth Weisberg, "Touch," 2002,
mixed media drawing, 30 x 22".
There is not a better draftsperson than Ruth Weisberg. Here she revisits the idea of love found and truncated by addressing the long iconography of Sacred and Profane Love. Titian addressed it more than 400 years ago, and Weisberg takes her lead from his work, though short-circuiting the Renaissance landscape. Included here is the symbolic duo of two women, clothed and unclothed, and, repeatedly, a lushly painted couple locked in embrace that's both spiritual and passionate (Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood).

Olga Seem, "Orchid (3)," a/c, 14 x 34".

Ron Pippin, "Lynx," mixed media, 21 x 12 x 42".

Olga Seem’s lush, meticulous paintings of organic botanicals are fecund seed pods that are just quirky enough to be neither too precious nor too denotative. Ron Pippin takes a whole new tack; his Medieval angels made from buttons, cloth and detritus have given way to the most wonderfully eccentric animals--an ibex, a panther--constructed from mixed media to almost life size. We already knew that each artist stands very well on their own merits; this is a wonderful pairing (frumkin/duval gallery, Santa Monica).

AIM IV: Interference Patterns, the USC School of Fine Arts’ international festival of time-based media, showcases innovative and diverse works by art makers who are actively exploring developments in communications and media technologies. Among the many notable full screen film and video projections housed in this industrial-sized facility are Marsia Alexander-Clarke’s haunting orchestration of words and facial fragments, Hortensia, and Sonia Bridge’s quick-witted Post Mark Lick. Lisa Tchakmakian’s installation, Menagerie references pre-cinematic projection devices and casts the viewer as flaneur. Mirabelle Ang’s Walk the Earth is as captivating as it is intimate. Other works that successfully focus on temporal and spatial issues include web-based projects by Jody Zellen and Michael Pinsky (Armory Northwest, Pasadena).

Sonia Bridge, "Post Mark Lick,"
2003, 16mm film, 3 min., 00 sec.

Marcia Roberts, "San Miguel,"
2003, a/c, 65 x 91".
It’s so nice to encounter art that draws the viewer into its bosom. Marcia Roberts' compelling Light and Space canvasses, devoid of all cerebral elements that make the viewer wrestle--subject matter, meaning, history--is pure color, light, and space that form a breathtaking visual meditation that just stops you in your tracks. Five large and majestic paintings, rendered meticulously with a minimum of one hundred layers each of analogous color in which, using conventional materials, Roberts achieves light emitting effects similar to those requiring technology. The finished works are composed of a strong colored background, a shimmering lipstick pink/orange, vivid lavender, or an earthy green, along with a trapezoidal, off-centered foreground of subtly varied hue: a faintly different pink, a blue/lavender, or another green.
Look closely, you’ll see that Roberts plays with edge. Now it’s here, then it disappears, as if through the masterful use of color manipulation, matte and glossy paint overlays, the image moves before our eyes. Moreover, the angularity and closeness of the color palette creates a primordial atmosphere, as if the forming universe has reached a state of perfection (Kiyo Higashi Gallery, West Hollywood).

The sprawling Ansel Adams at 100 allows viewers to see the breadth of Adams’ oeuvre. Best known for his black and white photographs of Yosemite, Adams is also the creator of the Zone System and an inspiration to numerous photographers whose desire it is to document the natural landscape. Adams was famous for printing his images many different ways, from the sublime to the dramatic, and this exhibition gives viewers a chance to compare and contrast multiple prints of the same image. The images on view span his career, extending from the twenties to the seventies. The case is made that Adams, who died in 1984 and was also a noted teacher, on the short list of our key photographers (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, West Hollywood).

Ansel Adams,, "Oak Tree, Snowstorm,
Yosemite," 1948, photography.

Croatian born Frank Horvat has been prominent in European photojournalism and fashion photography since the 1950s. His visual anecdotes are decisively selective in their compositional particulars, which can make for smoothly integrated narratives as well as surprising and dramatic contrasts. Style and objectivity seem to come together in this work (Fahey/Klein Gallery, West Hollywood).

Frank Horvat, “Paris, Le Sphynx, Rue Pigalle,”
1956, silver gelatin photograph, 30 x 40 cm.

Woods Davy makes the impossible possible in his towering rock sculptures. Entitled Las Piedras Davy, these new works join together large circular rock forms into vertical and horizontal stacks that seem to defy gravity. The results are graceful and anthropomorphic, yet at the same time call attention to their natural surfaces and materials. The sculptures, all floor works, dance in the gallery space. Also on view are new watercolors by Sam Erenberg. Erenberg is a versatile artist whose projects take different forms and use different materials. In this installation, entitled Oceans he presents grids of modest sized watercolors that depict the blue ocean at different times of day. Here formal elements of light, color and shadow reflect the different moods evoked by this familiar subject (Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica).

Woods Davy, works from "Las
Piedras Davy," 2003, rock sculptures.

Beth Campbell, "Same as Me," 2003,
three screen video projection.
New York artist Beth Campbell‘s debut Los Angeles exhibition is entitled Same as Me. This compelling installation juxtaposes drawings and video works that explore the “what if” of different paths taken. Campbell articulates this idea by filming different subjects performing the same mundane tasks in different locations. Presented as a projected triptych, one can compare and contrast how they go about their day. Campell’s drawings more explicitly map out different paths. The pencil on paper flow chart kind of works begin with the description of an event, then branch out and relate what would happen as the event leads to diverging consequences. These text-based works cleverly describe the cause and effects in an artist’s life (Sandroni Rey, Venice).

Getting artists to creatively address a specifically defined issue is fraught with pitfalls, but given an intriguing theme and well chosen group of artists there is a real chance at presenting an enlightening or informative experience that also packs in moments of aesthetic revelation. From the Neck Up asks participating artists to address how psychological constructs inform our thinking, or to set conceptual systems in motion. Add artist Kim Abeles in as curator and one looks for an interconnectedness in the show that will transcend all logic (Angels Gate Cultural Center, South Bay).

Jim Jenkins, "Activated Via a
Hand Crank," assemblage.

Sarah Petto, "First Contact."

Saying that Bob DeBris makes documentary photography is misleading, if basically true. What he gravitates to are little subcultures--Exotic World’s strippers, miniature golf courses, Elvis impersonators--that he burrows into. He may tend to flatter and elevate subjects, but he also delivers a sense of how it must feel to be doing things that range from mildly eccentric to flamboyantly outrageous (S.B. Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara).

Bob DeBris, "El Mariachi Loco," from the "Lucha Libre
Mexican Wrestler" series, 2000, type C print, 8 x 10".

Canvases of flat primary color doesn’t sound like an exciting premise by which to create celebrated art, but that is basically what Ellsworth Kelly has riffed on for half a century. His refined ability to activate relationships within and among monochromatic objects, their shapes, and the surrounding space is apparent in a spare selection of paintings, mainly from the first decade of his career, and a larger group of related studies (San Diego MOCA, La Jolla).

Ellsworth Kelly, "Red Blue Green,"
1963, o/c, 83 5/8 x 135 7/8".

Walterio Caldas, "Yellow ( ),"
2002, stainless steel, vinyl and
enamel, 24 x 36-1/2 x 6".
Walterio Caldas is a Brazilian artist who uses space and simple materials to articulate forms. His three-dimensional paintings come off the wall into the gallery space. Caldas often attaches colored rectangles to the wall--either painted or made from vinyl. He then extends the shape using colored yarn that hangs from the ceiling. The abstract forms comes alive in three-dimensional space. Where one moves in relation to the work determines how the pieces is interpreted. From one vantage point it lines up, from the others it does not. The works play with perspective and illusion, and while made from the simplest of materials they manage to function as complex and innovative works (Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica).

Mary Temple’s works on paper explore variations on a theme. 1,000,000 Ellipsoids is both the name of the series and a description of what they contain. Each drawing contains an ellipsoid shape in single color, drawn over and over again. The compositions of overlapping shapes are drawn with a single color pen that is used until it runs out of ink. The works are presented as a large grid, in which each piece is executed in a different bright color. In the back gallery, Temple creates a site specific work in which she paints a shadow on the wall. This Window series explores the relationship between real and painted shadows (cherrydelosreyes, West Los Angeles).

Mary Temple, from the series
"1,000,000 Ellipsoids," 2003, ink.

Jules Engel, "Crossover," 2002,
color lithograph, 15 3/4 x 10 1/2".
An excellent opportunity to check out 53 paintings, drawings, constructions, prints and animated films of pioneering California modernist Jules Engel shows him to be a master of abstraction. The exhibit showcases a new series of color lithographs that Engel has produced since 1999, when he began working with Master Printer George Page of Versailles Press. Engel is no stranger to the art of the stone. In 1960 he worked at the Tamarind Lithography Workshop to produce a series of prints. The new lithographs are bold abstractions with large oblique areas of black infiltrated by primary colors that possess real musicality of form. “By the use of color, lines could be in an active or passive state, near or distant,” wrote Engel about his abstract animated films. But, whether Engel’s art is made for films or to be hung on the wall, an inherent kinesis informs all his imagery. From the 1939 watercolors on view to the crayon and pencil animation sheets and the most recent lithographs, Engel’s striking abstractions have a vital integrity of form that continues to refresh our perception of color and space. (Tobey C. Moss Gallery, West Hollywood).

Photographing master sculptures by the likes of Bernini and Rodin would seem second order on the face of it. However, 81-year-old veteran David Finn manages to chronicle with Lambda color prints the sculptures in the Corcoran Gallery in a very artful manner. Through his vision he actually provides a kind of clarity about the works that our typical quick museum looking often doesn't render. Can this art depicting art be called fine art in its own right? Off what we see here, the answer is “yes” (Tasende Gallery, West Hollywood).

David Finn, "Auguste Rodin's 'Paulo
and Francesca' 1909," 2003, digital
color couple (Lambda) print.

Lalo Garcia, "Interior of Guadalupe
Shrine," at the Cathedral of Our
Lady of the Angels, 2002.
The second in a series of shows presenting project related works by the artists commissioned for the recently opened Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Lalo Garcia presents drawings, studies and maquettes for his Guadalupe Shrine there. Images depicting St. Juan Diego, angels, and a multicultural group of Angelenos were incorporated into the finished triptych surrounding a replica of the famous or-iginal at the Basilica of Tepeyac in Mexico City (Judson Studios, Highland Park).

Funny Papers is a group exhibition that draws together contemporary artists whose aesthetic bears resemblance to popular cartoon culture. This diverse group ranges from Donald Baechler to Philip Guston, from Carroll Dunham to H.C. Westermann, from Peter Saul to Jess. While cartoon-like works on paper constitutes the majority here, there is the presence of expressionism, art about art and more that serves to increase the show’s aesthetic weight. While most of the selections represent what is familiar about long established artists, there are also some surprises and new faces that lend the group a greater sense of relevance to the present moment (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, West Hollywood).

Nancy Macko with Robert
Valenza, installation view, 2003.

Jacqueline Cooper and Linda Kroff,
installation view, 2003.

What would you produce if someone tossed words like “portal” or “skin” at you and asked that you make artwork in response to these terms? The projects of Interstices respond to a more complex version of this hypothetical question, providing spectators a kind of Rorschach test introduction to individual members of a collaborative group of five artists, with a mathematician, who work in pairs. They mount three groupings of works that explore similarities and differences between individual group members. Photos of Jacqueline Cooper’s tattooed body by Linda Kroff abut Cooper’s drawings of Kroff. They reach beyond the expected dialogue about medium mediating interpretations of identity to produce an intimate and sensual result. Kara Maria and Diana Kunce explore personal history in geographic terms, using photos of their hometowns as resources for independently painted triptychs that contrast Maria’s dynamically graphic statements with Kunce’s cool reserve. Nancy Macko’s collaboration with mathematician Robert Valenza integrates a large scale video projection of the ocean’s flow with mathematical language linking Mako’s distribution of star patterns with systems of knowledge that give structure to artistic discourse (Cal Poly Pomona, Kellogg Art Gallery, Pomona).