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July/August, 2005

Louise Nevelson, “Untitled,”
c. 1985, black painted wood
construction, 72 x 23 x 21”.
Known largely for her constructions of discarded wood turnings composed in vertical assemblages, Louise Nevelson unifies disparate objects by painting each with a one-color skin, often black. Thus, she endows her work with an aura of holiness. While the gallery displays several small wooden constructions and, in the back, some masterful pencil drawings, the bulk of the exhibition is her clay sculptures, an art form rarely seen from her. They too, although small, are no less majestic. These abstracted forms, of hollowed out fired clay painted black, have a classic yet earthy elegance. Space and form wed in a poetic interplay of surface and dimensionality.
Undulating, rotund, angular, stepped forms combine. The three media--drawings, constructions, and clay--display commonality. In drawing a portrait, Nevelson captures patterns in a woman’s dress that translate over to the constructions. The clay work, if flipped over, conveys in its diverse planes a similar dynamic to that of the frontally positioned constructions. Thus, the clay sculpture and drawings here gives new respect for her gifted abilities and the broad expressions of her art (Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, Santa Monica).

Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin were three great female artists whose works investigate line, shape color and geometry. Their works use the grid as a point of departure. When seen together, as they are here, their discoveries and methodologies have numerous and illuminating intersections. Hilma af Klint (1862 –1944) was a Swedish artist, Emma Kunz (1892-1963), Swiss, and Agnes Martin (1912-2004), American. The exhibition, organized by New York’s Drawing Center, is an unusual and thoughtful gathering of exceptional works by three very distinctive and equally fascinating artists (Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica).

Emma Kunz, "Work No. 396," n.d.,
pencil and colored pencil on graph
paper, 16 13/16 x 16 13/16".

Eliseo Mattiachi, portrait of the artist.
Six stark, powerful, oversized drawings on paper by Eliseo Mattiachi underscore the Italian artist’s fascination with the geometry of cosmic forms in motion within the vast expanse of the universe. This show celebrates the concurrent installation (near the north entrance to UCLA’s Royce Hall), of “Eye of the Sky,” a seven foot high sculpture fabricated by Mattiachi from a single coil of cortex steel. The artist’s delight in texture, surface and form has been evident since he began showing work created from discarded industrial materials in the 1960’s. Here he orchestrates a limited range of sooty black to delicate gray marks on expanses of white paper, setting matter adrift in energized modernist cosmic landscapes (Italian Cultural Institute, West Los Angeles).

The premise behind Very Early Pictures is to show what a cross-section of established career artists were doing before they knew they would be artists. Gathered together are youthful drawings from Ed Ruscha, Fred Wilson, Kay Rosen and Yvonne Jacquette to mention just a few of the 50 artists here. All the works were made when they were children between the ages of two and sixteen. You can’t help but enjoy trying to measure the precosity of each talent, or whether the selected examples provide some insight as to the mature artist that ultimately lay within (Cal State L.A., East Los Angeles).

Patricia Cronin, Untitled childhood drawing.

Steven Simon, "Import," 2005, two
tons of reed with 8 thousand
$1 bills interlaced.
Paul Chilkov elevates platoons of geometric forms, including aluminum mesh squares, 12 feet and more above its plaza garden exhibition space, from well crafted, precisely balanced armatures branching out of slender silver steel poles. You must turn your back on Chilkov’s dancing modules, which are enlivened by invisible currents of air, if you are to confront the oversized mass of Steven Simon’s installation, “Import,” huddled on the floor of the lobby of the office building bordering the corporate garden. The hulking sculpture is built from a quarter mile long roll of 6’ bamboo reed fencing with sheets of dollar bills wrapped around a hollow square steel pipe.
Simon has deftly woven into this work his examination of some of the most crushing concerns of our times: ever widening trade deficits, dependence on fossil fuels, and the impact of imports and exports on rich and poor nations as well as the environment (The Art Art Project, Valley).

“Aerospace Folktales” is a black and white photo essay that Allan Sekula created in 1973. While it has been published in book form, it has rarely been exhibited. In this work Sekula examines issues surrounding the aerospace industry in Southern California. Using images, spoken and written text “Aerospace Folktales” offers a poignant view of a family and the issues surrounding work, class, labor, and socialization. Sekula’s full frame black and white images are less concerned with the aesthetics of an individual photograph than in the narrative a sequence of images can portray (Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica).

Allan Sekula, from "Aerospace Folktales,"
1973, silver gelatin print, 8 x 10".

Rut h Grace Jervis, "Wedding Cake
Two," 2004, oil on canvas, 54 x 42".
Ruth Grace Jervis’ paintings are beautifully executed surreal fantasies. The works combine the classical and the contemporary. They are purposely “off,” and that is what makes them intriguing. Jervis juxtaposes paintings of “cakes” with paintings of “boats.” While there seems to be no connection between these subjects, each has a life of its own. In “Untitled 10 (Square Rigger with banners: The Dream that Gives)” a large boat sits in a green ocean. We are immediately drawn to the classically derived figure of a woman who is attached to the ship’s bow without having to know who is she or what she is doing there.
In the three paintings of wedding cakes that feel like an image from an earlier century, their decoration is so detailed you can’t imagine eating them. Although Jervis has not exhibited widely (and not at all locally since 1993) she has a unique vision and is a painter to watch (Hunsaker/Schlesinger Gallery, Santa Monica).

Mark Innerst’s paintings are crisp, clear depictions of urban scenes and amusement parks. He has a unique ability to capture light and drama in animate objects. In his previous exhibition vertical paintings of cityscapes conveyed the claustrophobia of the modern metropolis. These offer a noticeable contrast: Expansive views of pleasure grounds and beach scenes in which the image seems more open to interpretation. These views are inviting so as to suggest Innerst loves the subject, and he has that ability to capture and romanticize it in paint (Michael Kohn Gallery, West Hollywood).

Mark Innerst, "South on Walnut," 2005,
acrylic on panel, 29 1/6 x 17 1/8".

Gustavo Perez, "Vase (05-313),"
2005, stoneware, 10 3/8 x 9 7/8".
Gustavo Perez makes stoneware vessels that seem formed by forces outside his or our control. And he acknowledges this by naming some works “Compression Series.” Shaped like pitchers and other vessels, the containers in earthen tones of slate, fawn, and black seem to close in on themselves as if they were formed and then melted. The organic quality of the shapes is only exaggerated by the fact that Perez is very skilled at hand painting these undulating surfaces with precise linear designs. Every crinkle and nuance, every counterbalance of edge and curve has been carefully designed and even more carefully fired. The products are fascinating vessels that fold and fissure, and in some cases end up looking like a Judy Chicago vulgar petal or a ziggurat tower (Frank Lloyd Gallery, Santa Monica).