Return to Articles


October, 2009

James Everett Stanley, “I’m here for the duration,” 2009, oil on canvas, 48 x 36”.
James Everett Stanley’s “Let It Burn,” oil paintings and watercolors depicting multiple versions of fire, seems as though it couldn’t be more timely, in light of L.A.’s recent Station fire that devastated Angeles National Forest. But the show coincides with our fire season in general, so the topical nature can be taken as coincidence. And of course the loss that goes along with such destruction is timeless. As a painter, Stanley’s portraiture emits naked vulnerability. Every character, each star of his own narrative, is rendered with a freshness that is contemporary yet very much in line with the masters. The realist quality of each subject, something in the glints in their eyes, is both classical and yet intimate. These fire warriors--not fire fighters, but rather survivors--are very much of the moment. It’s a tremendous portraitist’s gift: there’s no nostalgia, only presence. There’s a twist to these portraits: the subjects aren’t just posing, they’re posing with their ‘makers,’ whether as a backdrop, a remnant, or a reflection in their eyes. “I’m here for the duration” shows a man in a green army jacket, his skin gleaming with sweat, holding up a painting of a fire to his chest. The watercolor portraits pair camo-clad men (there’s one woman in the group) with circular images of fires above their heads, thought bubbles of destruction and loss. That said, the work isn’t nearly as mired in melancholy as it might sound. Despite the themes of destruction, a romantic sensibility pervades--the heroes are aflame, if you will, with life (Kinkead Contemporary, Culver City).

Michael Shaw

In her “Lost Horizons” series, Merion Estes deploys her considerable technical skills as a painter, her collagist delight in patterns and her passionately engaged feminist politics to mix visual seduction with ecological warnings. She begins most of the works with ripped reproductions of ancient Chinese landscape paintings taken from wall calendars, then adds layers of fabric and decorative paper. Finally, she covers the surface with poetically balanced expressionist paint strokes--drips, splatters, splashes of pigment--and inserts carefully rendered images of wild animals. Some of the animals are ghostly white, others wounded. In one piece, helicopters race across the horizon. In another, an explosion shatters the pastoral beauty. Estes takes the title of her series from the 1937 film “Lost Horizon,” a fable about a group of travelers who find Shangri-la, a utopian society in the Himalayas. Romantic and nostalgic, the film combined shots of a set constructed in Burbank with black and white documentary footage of an actual avalanche in China. Much like Estes’s paintings, “Lost Horizon” merged images of nature suffering destruction with fabrications of the world as we yearn to see it (Galerie Anais, Santa Monica).

Betty Ann Brown

Merion Estes, "Lost Horizons #45,"
2009, paper collage, photo transfers
and paint on Arches paper.

Debbie Han, "Two Graces II," 2008, digital lightjet print, 47 x 57".

In her solo show “Hybrid Graces” Debbie Han manipulates references of female beauty from classical antiquity through the use of photography and sculpture to create something unexpected.  The viewer first encounters the photo series “Graces” (several of which are suspended from the ceiling) where the artist employs digital renderings limned onto sheets of Plexiglas made to mimic the sculptural depth and dimensionality of marble.  Furthermore the nudes do not appear in traditional Greek poses rather make gestures distinct to Asian life, which speaks to Han’s background as a Korean-American artist. “Hybrid Graces” asks the viewer to embrace alternative forms of beauty and not regard Greek archetypes as an objective yardstick of either beauty or femininity. “Terms of Beauty” demonstrates Han’s diverse and complex art practice working with ceramic and celadon to create a set of three of busts.  
The center bust depicts a classical female face with high cheekbones, a pronounced nose, and pursed lips.  The busts on either side of the archetype however are both garish and comical with their wildly exaggerated lips and grossly distorted noses. Han turns tradition on its head and questions the manner in which the female figure is depicted precisely by using the traditional practices of drawing and sculpture (LA Contemporary, Culver City).

A. Moret

Dan Attoe is a contemporary figurative master whose work is savvy enough to somehow fit with others in this stable. “I'm done worryin' about shit” has a heavy existential bent without sacrificing humor altogether: each piece, in fact, seems to oscillate between those points, either through the larger images or by way of the blunt thoughts painted with a tiny brush of silver paint across the heavily layered, luminescent surfaces.“Hotel Party” features a middle aged woman sitting in front of a glass coffee table with coke lines. In the midst of her high she is accompanied by the just discernable words, “I’ve forgotten how to think like a kid.” A small gem in the gallery’s office depicts a customer in shadow at the counter of a convenience store. The clerk says to him, “You’ve been here before. A pack a Marbs.  It’s always the same.” The tour de force of the show (and the largest at 48” square), “Dumbfucks at the Beach,” features a fantastically picturesque scene of bright sun, beautiful waves and a rocky cliff coastline, while its inhabitants, by sea and by sand, are for the most part too enmeshed in their own neuroses to absorb the moment. In Attoe’s world beauty and majesty is all around us, but somebody’s gotta paint them (Peres Projects, Culver City).


Dan Attoe, "Dumbfucks at the Beach,"
2009, oil on canvas over panel, 48 x 48".

Allen Ruppersberg, "The Never Ending Book," 2007
mixed media installation at Micheline Szwajcer Gallery.
Step right up and actively participate in collecting and rearranging imagery from Allen Ruppersberg’s broad collection of everyday, twentieth century source material: calendar art, recipes, magazine pages, record album covers and family photos. The West Coast conceptualist sees his colossal new works, “Therefore Ourselves and The Never Ending Book Part 2,” as incomplete without your collaboration. Two full color vintage circus posters from the 1930’s set the mood, underscored by quotes from Yeats, whose grief over bygone eras is counter-balanced by Ruppersberg’s broad humor and respect for the days when people entertained themselves by singing songs around the piano. Gallery walls are hung with a supporting cast of older work, including a dozen or so remarkable drawings from Ruppersberg’s “Gift and Inheritance” series (Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica).

Diane Calder

In modestly sized, harmonically painted views captured while journeying through her homeland, Mongolian born, Beijing educated Song Kun dissolves distracting details into the mist. Her sensitive handling of light and form reward viewers who come close to examine her moody depictions of subjects like “Man on the Road in Sichuan,” “Paradise Cove,” or “The Deer City.” Designed mainly as diptychs, images such as “A Letter in the Water,” which affords two views of an illegible message before it floats out of sight, serve as metaphors to an ancient Tang Dynasty poem, “Seeking the Recluse but Not Meeting.” Song’s melancholy pictures stress the futility of any search for meaning in China’s tumultuous, consumer driven, post revolutionary society that inadequately acknowledges harmony with nature and respect for ancient traditions (Walter Maciel Gallery, Culver City).


Song Kun, "Qiyun Mountain," 2008,
oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 23 3/4".

Titus Kaphar, “Tina Vesper,” 2009, oil on canvas with wood, unstretched canvas,
thread and string, 25 x 15 x 6”.
Though “Reconstruction” is the title--and it’s apt in its reference to Civil War era dichotomies and gestalt--Titus Kaphar’s paintings, collages and painting/sculpture hybrids just as thoroughly exude deconstruction. Indeed, Kaphar deliberately copies American portraits from the 18th- and 19th-centuries, and then cuts, binds, sews and crumples said paintings into a mélange of mixed media objects that reveal their process as much as traces of their former selves. Among the main group of objects are also two sepia-colored portraits on paper--”The Narrator and The Protagonist”--that were painted with tar, which of course brings to mind tar & feathering, but is also a visceral method of representing skin color. “Lillian Dandridge” began as an oil on canvas--perhaps of slaves in a drawing room?--but the completed work has only its top third revealed, the rest having been crumpled into an uneven bunch to reveal a blank canvas beneath it, which is in turn framed by a heaving mass of curtain-sized, canvas-colored fabric at its bottom. “Tina Vesper,” a portrait of a woman with hair in thick side buns, is cut off mid-nose and given the Christo treatment: bunched up canvas is sewn into the painting and otherwise bound across the rest of the surface with thick string. More than twenty smaller works fill the main wall of the project room--collaged, cut, glued and painted mash-ups that fold back into themselves and beyond; they’re like history looking back on itself through a dominatrix’s lens (Roberts & Tilton, Culver City).


Was that the artist who was wearing headphones at the opening, on a lit set and moving to the beat of a tune heard only by him, simultaneously becoming the star of the video being projected on a wall just to the other side of the set? Based on Dave McKenzie’s past projects--which have included conversing with passersby on a bench and another dance-oriented piece at Harlem’s Studio Museum--and that his show here is entitled “On Premises,” it quite likely was. There’s also another pair of headphones for those visitors brave enough to join the set. In the video, the ghost of Bill Cosby appears intermittently to look down on the ‘stars,’ and a separate video in one of the project rooms re-imagines “The Cosby Show’s” Theo’s room as more of a ghettoized crib.

Dave McKenzie, "Preamble," 2009, NTSC color video with
sound, chroma keyer, lights, paper, “Ready to Die” CD.
From these central points additional offerings seem disjointed but no less engaging and memorable. A revolving drycleaner rack spins around with a single metal paper-covered hanger that reads “Love Me, Jesus,” with ‘Love’ encircled by a heart.  It’s a new twist on a still hot element of the zeitgeist. “Proposal” is an acrylic on unprimed canvas which states: “This painting is a proposal. I propose we meet once a year every year until one of us can’t or won’t.” Conceptual art is sometimes knocked for its coolness; for being short on the visual; for consisting of one-liners. But in some hands, such as McKenzie’s, such one-liners sing, transcending their typical limitations and stirring you up with no less verve than the more pictorially-minded (Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City).


Gustavo Artigas, "Vote for Demolition,"
2009, partial view of installation.

Mexican artist Gustavo Artigas makes his L.A. exhibition debut with “Vote for Demolition.” Artigas’ project takes six Los Angeles “un-aesthetic” buildings--Walt Disney Concert Hall; the Broad Contemporary Art Museum; Rodeo Drive shops; Staples Center; Kodak Theatre; and Pacific Design Center--and leaves it up to the public to decide which should be demolished. The voting booths are placed in front of a Communist colored red wall, and leaves the viewer questioning whether the installation is a mockery or an actual concern. After the exhibition closes, Artigas will present the ‘winning’ building to the city for review, perhaps sparking a dialogue of how residents of Los Angeles judge the environment in which they live.
A simulated video of the winning building being demolished will be shown at the finale of the exhibition (LAXART, Culver City).

Alexx Shaw

John Knight's project “Worldebt” is a conceptual work that looks at the borrowing strategies of different countries since 1945. For this project he created mock credit cards for each country that borrowed money with the date of that initial contract. Each card supports an image culled from the media. A frieze of over 150 cards that encircles the gallery space poses but does not answer questions. The installation is quite thought provoking in this didacticism, especially given the political topicality of the global economic crisis. This is Knight's first appearance in Los Angeles in some years (Richard Telles Fine Art, Miracle Mile).

Jody Zellen

John Knight

Kevin Appel, “Construction (ram),” 2000, gouache and collage on archival pigment print, 23 x 18 1/2”.
Kevin Appel’s masterful collages constructed from whimsical shades of tissue, colored paper and finely sliced bits of wood invent an illusory visual plane, transforming found images of nature into fantastical visions. Each element of a collage is cut and adhered to the prints with a high degree of skill, intention, and without any trace of the artist’s own hand.  Working on unusual archival pigment prints, many of which still retain their page number on the bottom right corner, Appel creates geometric forms over an owl, mushroom, ram, and the LA mountainside. The tension established between the distinctly precise collage forms and the bodies of the animals and scenery literally superimposes order upon unpredictability. What’s most stunning about Appel’s collage work is that it does not distract the eye from the archival image underneath, but rather presents a new manner of seeing an image, broken down into parts (ACME, Miracle Mile).


Skillfully detailed paintings and drawings by Victoria Gitman immediately draw one in. She has for years been making images of lacy pocketbooks, handbags that connote beauty and luxury, but of a decidedly, even jarringly historical character. Preoccupied with this concept she also paints and draws images of putti and women fresh from 19th-century Europe.  She states that she "is attracted to vintage purses and jewelry because they are artifacts laden with personal history, social significance and aesthetic values." The juxtaposition of the figurative and the decorative are presented as two aspects of the same ideal. Gitman explores the idea of woman and object as things of archaic beauty, and ghostly seen in this way in the present (Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Miracle Mile).

Victoria Gitman, “On Display,”
2008, oil on panel, 14 x 12”.

Matthew Ronay, 2009, installation view.
Matthew Ronay is a New York-based artist best known for his floor based sculptures, painted in bright colors that appear to be three dimensional cartoons. Sometimes sexual, sometimes political, his humorous works both delight and challenge. In this exhibition, Ronay presents darker more somber floor and wall pieces that are more ritualistic, totemic and spiritual. On the wall works are large fabric cloaks and masks that could be relics from a performance. The floor works reference shrines commemorating the past and the future.
Black is the predominant color in these works, yet as dark as they appear, they convey a sense of possibility rather than hopelessness. The artist’s website ( offers numerous views and videos of the works as wearable costumes as well as sculptures (Marc Foxx Gallery, Miracle Mile).


Kati Heck, "Rudi's Angebot," 2009, oil on canvas, 70 x 133".

Kati Heck is a German painter living in Antwerp whose large scale figurative works depict figures that are painted in various styles ranging from exacting detail to brushy abstraction. The figures also are often deformed or partially completed, thus lending an unsettling aura to the paintings. In some, large hand-lettered German words disrupt the picture plane. Heck's works are a cross between Martin Kippenberger and Sigmar Polk, both of whom also combined different styles in single works. The paintings are compelling not only because of their physical presence and Heck's skill at combining styles, but for their confrontational subject matter (Marc Selwyn Gallery, Miracle Mile).


The objects in Zoe Sheehan Saldana's exhibition appear to be ordinary things one could buy in a store or find in the street: matches, a book of Cliff's Notes, paper towels and twine. Each of the objects however has been hand-crafted by the artist using a wide range of materials. The new object looks exactly like the mass produced one. A row of bright orange life preservers hung on the gallery wall in various sizes suggests that everyone can be saved and one size does not fit all. Saldana works in various media creating both objects and videos. Her works are concerned with the relationship of man to nature as well as the passage of time, as articulated in "1 Second / 1 Hour," which shows a single view of a Vermont landscape photographed 50,000 times at ten-minute intervals. Played at six frames per second, the images condense one year of real time into 140 minutes. Also on view are sculptures by Joshua Callaghan, who alters utilitarian objects one would find in an artist’s studio, such as a hand truck and a broom, extending the handles so they extend out from the wall or around the space as a graceful wave of metal. (Steve Turner Contemporary, Miracle Mile).


Zoë Sheehan Saldaña, "Strike Gently," 2008-09,
letterpress on cotton paper, sterliing silvre wire,
laminated paper match stems, wax, glue, gelatin,
groundglass and flammable chemicals, 2 x 1 1/2 x 3/8".

Chris Verene, “The Pregnancy Test” from the “Family” series, c-print, 24 x 20”.

“Family” is a new book and series of digital c-prints by Chris Verene that offers a window into the artist’s past and documents a present that is at the mercy of alcoholism, poverty, and unemployment. Galesburg, Illinois, a small town where Verene’s family has lived for the past three generations, provides an endless source of fascination that is at the heart of his work. The artist writes the names of people and locations directly on the prints, transforming the faces of perfect strangers into identities that we come to know. This he does by capturing all walks of life, from “Max the Bachelor,” a balding elderly man with thick plastic glasses seated on a exercise bike, to “The Pregnancy Test,” where a young couple seated on a swinging bench either waits for or has already received the results. A young boy named Billy stands proudly in his room, his arms crossed over his chest, but the walls behind him have deteriorated and are covered in graffiti and handwriting more likened to a seedy bathroom stall than a young boy’s bedroom. The landscape is covered with junkyards, clothing lines with denim and corduroy flapping in the wind. Double wide trailers are supported by concrete blocks and adorned with twinkle lights.
A white clapboard house is crushed by a tree and the title explains, “the same day they signed the divorce papers, a tornado hit the house.” In the Galesburg presented here there are no homes behind white picket fences, only those who have very little and are struggling to do the best they can (DNJ Gallery, Miracle Mile).


“A Shadow Falls” is a continuation of Nick Brandt’s ongoing effort to capture wildlife in East Africa and raise awareness that the most exotic animals on Earth are threatened with extinction. Although these large scale archival prints capture the massive scale of elephants, giraffes, lions, and herds of zebras, the scale also makes it apparent that the animals are dwarfed by the surrounding landscape, which is both vast and barren. It is only through Brandt’s lens that we can witness intimate moments shared by a lion and his mate, the affection between two giraffes who delicately wrap their necks in an embrace, and a lioness who feeds her cub while cautiously standing guard.

Nick Brandt, "Wildebeest Arc, Maasai Mara," 2006, archival pigment print, 18 x 28".
Members of the animal kingdom who once seemed a threat appear delicate and kind creatures who are merely trying to survive.  A photograph taken from a high vantage point reveals hundreds of thousands of zebras and bison gathering at a riverbank, waiting to cross. The chaos of the gathering herd quickly restores order as the animals proceed single file into the water and swiftly make it to the other side, their path forming an arc. The threat of extinction is the foreboding message of “A Shadow Falls.” A lion with a thick mane and piercing eyes waits beneath a splintered tree that has uprooted and is now growing sideways. The once king of the jungle has no one to protect and nothing to hunt (Fahey/Klein Gallery, Miracle Mile).


Andrew Bush, "High School Students Facing North at 0 MPH on
Sepulveda Boulevard in Westwood, California, at 3:01 P.M. on a
Saturday in February, 1997," 1997, chromogenic print, 48 x 58".

“Vector Portraits” are color photographs that Andrew Bush began making when he first moved to Los Angeles in 1989. The series continued well into the 1990s. These are quintessential L.A. images as they capture people in their car caught in traffic or driving on the freeway. The tightly cropped images taken by Bush while in his car, depict other drivers and their cars in as though they are in suspended animation. Rather than depict the bustle of the freeways, Bush singles out individuals who are perfect matches with the cars they drive. The images are nostalgic for a time when big cars and big hair dominated the roads. Blue sky and green grass enter the frame at the edges, but the images stay focused on a straightforward fascination with the uncanny relationships people have to their vehicles (M+B Gallery, West Hollywood).


Oan Kim, "The River is Moving" (detail), photograph.

Too often photographs taken to capture late night partying bliss turn out to be a harsh dose of reality the morning after. It is not as easy as it appears to bring images of night-time revelry into the daylight, at least not without disintegrating the easy mood in which they were taken. Somehow the French-born Korean artist Oan Kim pulls it off. Using an arsenal of old-fashioned photography techniques, like double exposure and over-exposed blurs, Kim creates large black and white prints of fans, both enjoying the show and at the after-party. In “Fanfare” a man’s head is improbably horizontal to a marble tabletop. Nearly touching him is the mouth piece of a well-worn trumpet jutting out between somebody’s legs--while somebody else’s hand is pulling a cigarette from out of the unidentified trumpet player’s front jeans pocket. The number of hands reaching for smokes, clasping knees, and touching strangers--all in this single cramped shot—sums up the story of the collapsed sense of personal space that we have all experienced late at night (PYO Gallery, Downtown).

Jeannie R. Lee

Ry Rocklen, “House of Return,” 2009, installation.

Ry Rocklen’s “House of Return” is a collection of found objects that have been transformed into sacred relics without ever leaving the realm of the pedestrian. A conglomeration of familiar if unsavory carpet tiles both sets and is the stage for four sculptures--each resting on its own colored octagon or rectangle--that more or less reference the domestic. Surrounding the tableau is “Light Health Medallion 2,” a giant necklace made up of a bracketed rope circling the walls overhead. Its medallion is a bamboo circle painted with pastel pie-triangles emanating from its center. The medallion conjures both teenage delusion and the West Coast answer to bling, and offers a solid visual counterbalance to the otherwise static floor sculptures.
“Rise” is the strongest among these: a found mattress-turned-mosaic, it’s bent at its center and arched as if rising from a nap, or otherwise making its presence known before being escorted to the dumpster. “Hooded” is a found sweatshirt flattened by way of resin, copper and nickel plating. It’s reminiscent of Richard Serra’s lead and Linda Benglis’ latex pours, but for Rocklen, the silvery color is only the finish, the surface of an otherwise frail core (Parker Jones Gallery, Chinatown).


When stretched flat, painted on white squares of canvas and organized in a wall sized grid, Christina Muraczewski’s impeccably crafted, cheery semblances of Ikea style pillows lose their practicality in proportion to their ability to capture the eye of the beholder. The work toys with questions examining the margins isolating art from design. How and why do we separate the two? By what means do patterns similar to those presented here filter down (or up) between designations of craft and fine art? At a time when the state of the economy is crucial, how do these images relate to the broken promises of modernity and what does it mean if they may not be sufficient to pull us out of despair? (Fifth Floor Gallery, Chinatown)


Christina Muraczewski, (upper) "Mod Garden
Stripe," 2009, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40".
(bottom) "Calandria Chair - Mod Garden,"
2009, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30".

Nova Jiang, "Hull Loss," 2008, installation.

Most of the pieces in “Cause and Effect” reveal a boy’s hankering for metaphorically playing with fire. The one installation by a female artist, Nova Jiang’s “Hull Loss,” which occupies the center of the gallery, is so different in tone, given its playfulness and audience interaction, that it appears not to belong. Len Lye’s “Trilogy: a Flip and Two Twisters” is a video documentation of three 20-foot lengths of steel suspended from a ceiling. The lengths of steel shudder and writhe in response to some huge wind or vibration, creating a thunderous cacophony, and causing alarm and intimidation to even the remote viewer watching the DVD more than thirty years later. Or watch Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s “The Way Things Go.” Their camera follows an over-engineered Rube Goldberg chain of events replete with flowing goo, chemical reactions bursting into flame, and acid wearing away the wheels of a small jerry-rigged cart.
In the same way you cannot tear your eyes away from your friend who is about to bungee jump off a bridge, you will find yourself drawn into these well-documented kinetic sculptures (LM Projects, Downtown).


Neïl Beloufa, a French artist of Algerian descent, understands first hand what it’s like to grow up in the liminal space between two cultures. The centerpiece of his first Los Angeles solo show is “Welcome to Kempinski,” fourteen uncanny minutes of contemporary African science fiction documentation. Shot in the former French colony of Mali, the video’s structure operates on the simple premise of having local residents talk about the future in the present tense. The resulting video is a confounding and seductive mix of science fiction, subtropical motifs, animist fantasy and present day reality. Like the similarly named European company that opened the first five-star hotel in Mali, we bring our western expectations to Kempinski, only to have them disrupted by the fictional reality projected before us (Chung King Projects, Downtown).

Michael Buitron

Neil Beloufa

Joel Kyack, "The Knife Shop" (detail), 2009, mixed media installation, 23 x 8 x 9 ft.

Whether it’s a 12-foot long piece of shit or a fountain of fake blood, Joel Kyack has the right amount of chutzpah to pull off what may first come across as boyish pranks. For this new gallery’s inaugural show Kyack has pulled together a sculpture called “The Knife Shop,” which might more appropriately called an installation considering that the viewer has to duck into a gallery with completely boarded-up windows. The “sculpture” in the center of the gallery is more like a redneck diorama, except what redneck would have the self-awareness to hang a sign “You can’t put the shit back in the goose” over a homemade mannequin that has been stabbed to pieces?
The sculpture includes a showcase of handmade and tweaked manufactured knives (you’ve got to love the shanks, fashioned from New Hampshire license plates) and tools of the trade for today’s caveman: an “anvil,” a couple of metal mallets, gloves, a torch, and a bench grinder (Kunsthalle Los Angeles Chinatown).


In a modest show of her recent paintings, Hadley Holliday continues to use acrylic as a stain or watercolor on unprimed canvas, offering undulating patterns in a lyrical palette. While there is a serious and beguiling exploration of color underway, it is interesting to note that the colors, often in stripes, are contained in simple shapes: floating squares, stacked bridges, and snaking ribbons. The way those shapes occupy the space of the canvas, sometimes expanding and sometimes contracting, give the eyes a Rothko-esque mandala on which to rest their gaze. In “Gestalt,” the pale pastel stripes are translucent, but the form pulsates with the intensity of a solid object (SolwayJones, Chinatown).


Hadley Holliday, "Sky Window," 2009, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 66".

Roger Herman, "Pink Tank," 2000.

In this age of inkjet and laser printers when images can be instantaneously spit out with the touch of a ‘print’ button, the power of handmade prints might well be considered on the wane. “Impact – the Big Print” dismisses any such notion. The massive scale of these lithographs, serigraphs, and block prints that fill walls or hang like long scrolls from the ceiling are riveting. The wall spanning scale makes the hand labor of carving wood blocks like Roger Herman’s wry, bright pink “Tank”, and Patrick Merrill’s haunting black and white “The Whores of Babylon”, stunning to contemplate. It also allows us to soak in the amazing color of Helen Frankenthaler’s large, luminous “Guadalupe;” the velvet-night blue of Sarah Bayer’s “Crescent;” and to feel the vibrant energy of June Wayne’s crashing tidal wave triptych.
Lesser sized works feel downright miniature in this company, but still have hefty dimensions. Their sizes provide marvelous treats, like Richard Estes’ color rich, 300 screen photo realist print of reflective city windows in the “Holland Hotel”, and the two towering personalities captured in bold shape and line in Dirk Hagner’s ceiling hung portraits of Egon Schiele and Kathe Kollwitz. In prints this large there is something almost alive about the tactile surface of thick papers, soaked in ink and crushed into stones and plates by powerful presses. It’s a great feeling (Orange Coast College Art Gallery, Orange County).

Suvan Geer

The group exhibition, Redefining the Line: Art Nouveau & the Female Figure, feels like the fond gaze of Art Nouveau’s forebears (Mucha, Klimt, Beardsley, Gaudi) on their modern day grandchildren. The irony is that the nature of pen and ink drawings of the female form--however much tweaked by 21st century software--still seems sweetly antiquated, in light of the dizzying array of objects and actions that huddle together under the vast umbrella of art today. The best work here gives itself up to the psychedelic doodle and Japanese manga/animé influence as in Aya Kato’s giclée and silkscreen prints on the back wall. Comic book collectors and record album cover afficianados will especially enjoy this show (Cal State Fullerton, Orange County).


Aya Kato, "Snow White (Sweet Enchantment)," 2005,
giclee print and silkscreen print on paper, 22 x 18".

Danielle Adair, "The Making of Americans," video still.

At Ft. Irwin’s National Training Center, the military has constructed a faux Iraqi village where troops conduct maneuvers before being deployed overseas. Nicholas Grider, the show’s organizer and a participating artist, contacted the Army and asked to role-play an embedded journalist. On later rotations Grider invited fellow artists to embed, and the resulting art can be seen in Welcome to Fake Iraq. The artists became part of a large contingent of civilian actors, along with Americans with Middle East backgrounds dressed as villagers, and amputees playing the part of the war wounded.
In addition to the compelling photographs of Grider and Maria Schriber, installations by Matthew Siegle and Jason Kunke, rise to the level of the complexity of their experience (Angels Gate, San Pedro).