CONTINUING AND RECOMMENDED, JULY/AUGUST 2016



Andrea Bowers, "Tired of Living Paycheck to Paycheck (May Day March, 2015, Los Angeles, California)” (detail), 2016, is currently on view at Susanne Vielmetter.


"The Triumph of Labor" is the title of Andrea Bowers' latest effort as well as its literal and symbolic jumping off point, in the form of a 22-foot-long, black marker on found (recycled) cardboard. Bowers takes a late-19th century illustration by Walter Crane, depicting a May Day worker's march, as its source. That's right: Bowers is up to her usual shenanigans: illuminating, highlighting and celebrating the objectives and protests of the poor and disenfranchised, in turn throwing something of a monkey wrench in the art world's very different celebration of its own. As surprising and charming as it is that a nine-foot high, 22-foot-long drawing is able to feel modest, or rather humble. It’s not at all surprising that her latest intimate drawings — photorealistic graphite or colored pencil on paper depictions, mainly of protesters — continue to draw us in, impressing as much with their craft as their compassion (or is it the other way around?).

 

The exhibition includes a beautifully color-coordinated photo wall featuring portraits of May Day/$15-an-hour-minimum-wage protesters baring their signs and messages (at least one of whom became the source for one of the intimate drawings). An installation is dedicated to education, including "Education Should Be Free" in both a cardboard-and-colored-light wall lamp and posters on the floor, along with an impressively high stack of printed-out emails related to Bowers' work with SEIU Local 721 (she's part-time faculty at Otis). It's hard to worry about whether Bowers' efforts will eventually reverberate through the world of high art, when they're clearly already stirring up such substantive recognition in the laborers whom she documents

It has been more than ten years since Lies Kraal had a solo exhibition in Los Angeles, and her re-emergence comes as a welcome event. The best way to describe them is — perfect. Kraal makes monochrome paintings that have exquisite surfaces and subtle interventions — vertical and horizontal ridges that are only obvious from oblique angles. Each diptych juxtaposes methodically thought out contrasts — in color or texture or surface (matt or gloss) — that create satisfying albeit often challenging couplings. Some are about color opposites (eg., yellow/purple), yet Kraal's work goes beyond formalism to emphasis issues of control and the obsessive nature of perfecting one's craft. The exhibition is beyond elegant; the artists' dedication and patience is seen and felt (Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City).

Michael Shaw/Jody Zellen

 

Federico Solmi, from “The Brotherhood,” 2016, is currently on view at Luis De Jesus.


Federico Solmi's character-based, narrative animations are over the top, dense and impossible to step away from. His animations begin as paintings on paper, a methodology that insures a hand-made feel.  The paintings are then scanned and composited via 3D modeling software and game engines. Each animation in "The Brotherhood" is a critique of power using historical and mythical figures from the past including, for example, Pope Benedict XVI, Julius Caesar, George Washington and Genghis Kahn. Solmi immerses these figures in imagined scenarios that develop across multiple monitors. The works are engaging as portraits they are simultaneously cutting critiques. Not only does Solmi create obsessively layered animations, he also extends these drawings outside the screen, framing the monitors with mixed media drawings and gold leaf (Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Culver City).

JZ



Neil Leifer, “Cassius Clay aka Muhammad Ali standing over a fallen Sonny Liston in their heavyweight title bout in Lewiston, Maine,” 1965, color photograph, is currently on view at Peter Fetterman.


Neil Leifer’s “Relentless” at first appears a bit nondescript due to the exhibition having received the smaller gallery space, in contrast to the Sebastiao Salgado retrospective which fills the gallery’s main walls. But it nevertheless is well worth your while. Sports fans and anyone interested in American history, politics and culture will appreciate it. It presents about twenty of Leifer’s most iconic prints. Among them is a remarkable black-and-white photograph of President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson as they’re watching a Washington Senators baseball game at Griffith Stadium in 1961. There is an image of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, in which the black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos took a stand for civil rights by raising their black-gold fists during the medal award ceremony. Another highlight of the exhibition are the images of Muhammad Ali, who passed away last month. These were shot during the years before and after Ali’s faith-based refusal of military induction. He had converted to Islam in 1964 and was affiliated with Nation of Islam. The New York Athletic Commission stripped him of the heavyweight title in 1967 following his conviction. In 1971 Michael Meltsner, the first assistant counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), succeeded in overturning this on appeal, thus restoring Ali's boxing career. Although, the exhibition doesn’t cover the epic battle between Ali and Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden on March 8th 1971, it features an image of him fighting Argentinian boxer Oscar Bonaventura during his second bout, after his three-year suspension, in December 1970 at Madison Square Garden (Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica).

Simone Kussatz

 

Denis Darzacq & Anna Lüneman, "Doublemix No. 39," 2015, digital pigment print with earthenware insert, framed, 14 3/4 x 11 1/4 x 2 1/2”, is currently on view at De Soto.


Denis Darzacq and Anna Lüneman's collaborative works fuse ceramics and photography. The relationship between the flat framing of reality and the sculpted ceramic forms that are inserted into the works' surfaces are both formal and intuitive. The two mediums meld harmoniously in unexpected ways. Some images are humorous, such as that of a dog charging toward the photographer as if chasing the ceramic object inserted into the image above but out of reach of the animal. The most successful works, however, are those in which the ceramics more seamlessly relate to the photograph, becoming an imagined three-dimensional appendage to the original (De Soto Gallery, Venice).

JZ

 

Justine Kurland, “Rebuilt Engine,” 2013, inkjet print, 20 x 25”, is currently on view at Kayne Griffin Corcoran.


In this odd pairing of two artists working in two mediums, the younger photographer Justine Kurland, represented by her series "Auto Parts,” outperforms and overshadows her memorialized counterpart, the late painter Deanna Thompson. Though Thompson's mainly large-scale oil paintings of desert interiors and exteriors get their own survey in the first gallery, some of her smaller paintings are later intermingled with Kurland's photographs, providing at least some confusion. Thompson's paintings, while competent, are nonetheless mediocre to the point of being below par here, the more so by virtue of the context. Kurland's C-prints, meanwhile, taken from road trips between 2011 and 2014, are contemplative and restorative. Taking auto shops, engines and cars and their repairers in mid-repair as her subjects, Kurland gets the engines and cars to levitate, and the mechanics to merge with their beasts, whether supine under the hood or with a dangling cigarette above it. Rather than running into exploitative territory, Kurland sends up these rituals and moments of private contemplation in ways that are quasi-spiritual, even religious. It's hard to imagine that Kurland, if not also we the viewer, will be able to see such scenes of auto interplay quite the same way again (Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Miracle Mile).

MS

 

Gregor Gleiwitz, “10.05.2016,” 2016, oil on canvas, 38 1/4 x 32 3/4”, is currently on view at ACME.


"It's hard to make a great painting." This is a sentiment many painters express, the subtext being that it's only a painting, or, put with a bit more nuance, that within the confines of an art-making form whose existence will never be relinquished but often comes with a caveat, great paintings so rare that they should be invested with the same level of awe and reverence as their less baggage-heavy peers. Berlin-based painter Gregor Gleiwitz's figurative abstractions flirt with greatness, though it's too early to make an unabashed proclamation. They're unquestionably among the freshest painterly offerings seen in L.A. in quite some time. Working with a thin, hard brush-scraped patterning that will make you wonder whether they're on panels (they're not; they're oil on canvas), Gleiwitz confidently brushes and carves wet paint into monumental forms that often loom so large that they're unable to be fully consumed in these relatively modest galleries. One imagines them born out of some massive East Berlin studio space, and ideally envisions them destined for cavernous kunsthalles. We know that they can't have been labored over, as their titles — “02.05.2016" is one of the standouts — refer to the single day in which they were completed. While he taps into some of the paired-down mark making of Luc Tuymans, Gleiwitz appears to conjure ambiguous forms of figuration out of thin air. His sources more likely come from his own imagination and process than still life or photo. Not all the works here are successful — usually coinciding with a lazy, i.e. muddy, palette. So if these paintings are not the next great thing, they are quietly formidable, curious and powerful (ACME., Miracle Mile).

MS

 

Sarah Charlesworth, “Figures,” 1983, cibachrome with lacquered wood frame, 2 panels, 42 x 32” each, is currently on view at LACMA.


It’s been over a quarter of a century since Senator Jesse Helms’ condemnation of Robert Mapplethorpe’s “obscene” work lead to the cancellation of the Corcoran Gallery’s exhibition of the artist’s photographs, opening a discussion on censorship as a threat to artistic freedom. But the nature of some of Mapplethorpe’s imagery still raises enough controversy that “Physical:  Sex and the Body in the 1980s” was motivated perhaps to validate Mapplethorpe’s genre through an exhibition of work by two dozen seminal artists practicing in the 1980s who also dealt with issues of the body and sexuality in their practice. This companion to “Robert Mapplethorpe, The Perfect Medium” is a little show with big implications [see Cathy Breslaw’s review in the June issue—Ed.]. Feminist disillusion with presentations of the female body exclusively as an object for the male gaze is counteracted by work from Laura Aguilar’s series “Clothed/Unclothed” and Judy Dater’s “Self Portrait, Salt Flats.” Sarah Charlesworth’s “Figures” addresses the sensual attraction of the human body as a lure in advertising, while Tina Barney takes viewers up close to a personal, affectionate moment in “Ken and Bruce.” The diversity of work shown here and it’s links to Mapplethorpe’s practice is further demonstrated in Mike Kelley’s “Torture Table,” complete with buckets, a knife and plastic pillow. In direct contrast is Brian Weil’s “Image Created to Eroticize Safe Sex for Education Purposes” (Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA], Miracle Mile).

Diane Calder

 

Matt Lipps, “Offering III,” 2015, archival pigment print, 50 x 40”, is currently on view at Marc Selwyn.


The pairing of Matt Lipps and Lee Friedlander contextualizes the younger in relation to the older, but more importantly places Lipps work in a lineage that includes modernist photography for which Friedlander serves as an aesthetic role model. Friedlander's black and white photographs are intricately layered images of flowers and stems framed within the lens of a camera. Each picture precisely articulates the complex shapes and textures found in nature. Lipps composes images based on found photographs culled from books and magazines, including Library of Photography a Time-Life series published from 1970-1972. His photographs often include images of other's art, trees and flowers as well as posed nude models. In the past he presented cutouts on shelves and photographed them against backgrounds illuminated by colored gels. In "Looking Through Pictures" he works with both positive and negative spaces, creating layered works in which the cutouts are placed in front of and behind the pages from which they come, painted in pastel colors. The works play with presence and absence and explore the nuances of the full range of hue and tone, from black to white with an occasional pastel color insertion. Lipps continues to mine his archive, creating richer and more complex works with each new iteration (Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills).

JZ

 

Lecia Dole-Recio, “Untitled (lt.bl.flr.ppr.lt.bl.crdbrd.shps.), 2016, gouache, graphite, glue, paper, cardboard, aluminum and wood panel, 50 1/4 x 38 1/2”, is currently on view at Gavlak.


As geometric abstract paintings go, Lecia Dole-Recio's are not an easy read. You know that there's a process here — that's more than apparent. Indeed, the paintings are all about their process, they're overflowing with it: the layering, the configuring, the re-configuring. The residual components of her paint sprayings and splatterings take center stage, and this fusion of the residual and the primary into the same field appears to provide her with a process that's eternally rewarding, though certainly not easy to execute. And in the bigger picture of abstraction, one which inevitably includes an awareness of process-based abstraction, more notoriously known as 'zombie formalism,' it's pretty easy to see that Dole-Recio's workings and re-workings are thoughtful, deliberate and very unlikely formulaic. Maybe the process is easy for her, maybe not, but either way the resulting objects and images, which fold into and out of themselves, come off as richly complex, and ripe for multiple viewings (Gavlak Gallery, Hollywood).

MS

 

Joshua Saunders, “Hot_Mess,” 2016, enamel, polyurethane and steel bolts on panel, 67 x 47”, is currently on view at Steve Turner.


Joshua Saunders' shiny, relief-pocked abstractions teeter on the precipice between seduction and repulsion, the latter not necessarily intentionally. The paintings include rock climbing references both literal and loosely metaphorical. The show's title, "Rock Candy," alludes to the climbing of the former along with the auto-spray-paint enamel coatings of the latter, glittering at attention. Two of the works, “Hot_Mess" and “Deep_Blue," each have similar clusters of screwed-on hand and foot holds, the kind you see on an indoor climbing wall. The red piece gets an arrangement of yellow holds, while the blue piece takes pink holds, both oriented toward their upper left quadrants. A triptych, “Red_Stripes, Blue_Stripes and Orange_Stripes," each with its own satellites of decorative, pulley-based rock climbing holds with striped circular cut-outs in directions opposition to their backgrounds, is even more aesthetically aggressive, and potentially aesthetically offensive to many. Saunders probes an abstraction that's about testing the boundaries of taste without quite going fully over the top. Though that teetering persists in the raising of the question: maybe it already has? (Steve Turner Gallery, Hollywood).

MS

 

Annelie McKenzie, “After My Mom’s One Painting (after Vera McKenzie),” 2016, oil, enamel, caulking on decorative frame, 28 1/2 x 23 1/2”, is currently on view at CB1.


Annelie McKenzie’s “Man in Canoe and Grizzly” is a beautiful and subversive imagining of a museum exhibition of Old Masters. McKenzie has chosen a variety of works by artists, very well known and completely unknown, to interpret. The titular piece is based on a 1960 work of the same name by Canadian artist Gladys Johnston. Most of the artists chosen by McKenzie are Canadian women, herself Canadian born and LA-based. McKenzie’s spirited “covers” include loud, decorative frames made of caulking and gesso. Painted in oil, these canvases have an intensely dimensional aspect. “I’ve always done mostly thick impasto work,” McKenzie says. In “After My Mom’s One Painting,” which features a vivid royal blue frame, the artist takes a still life and renders it immersive, layers of paint creating a flower and vase that jump off the canvas. “Elk Bum Scene,” pulls us into an impressionistic landscape of mountain wilderness. In each piece, complex layers of paint create a kaleidoscopic effect that swirls the eye into the visual space.

Also on view is Susan Silas’ “the self portrait sessions.” Photographs, bronze, and beeswax sculptures present an intimate and nuanced exploration of self-portraiture and the meaning of privacy, a potent subject in this era of selfies and Instagram. Positioned in front of a mirror, the artist looks at herself, examining the aging and grace of her female face. Using photographic work from the late 1970s through 2012, with castings of her face taken from 1992 to 2015, the result is haunting and evocative, whether black and white photos of plaster casts or color nudes. Silas notes, “The themes of aging and self-intimacy have both been around for a long time. But women need to be more comfortable with taking space in public.” Which she does here (CB1 Gallery, Downtown).

Genie Davis

 

John Mills, “Formal Foiblels,” 2016, oil and graphite on canvas, 60 x 60”, is currently on view at Rosamund Felsen.


John Mills’ “For Your Eyes Only,” is a study in shapes and lines. Using graphite and oil on canvas, Mills creates a mysterious and engaging world. It's the work of a modern-day Matisse, as well as tribal images suggestive of cave paintings. His visuals open the door to a world of subjective perception and experience. Mills says he works with the idea of creating visual signs and “… what we see in the world and perceive as our minds process information.”

The paintings are carefully textured. The artist scores paintings when wet, and also uses graphite on top of dry paint. There’s a rawness to Mills’ work, and a surging vitality within the delicate lines. “Elipses” features dark blot-like shapes and wistful, half-imagined figures that resemble the female form. “Formal Foibles” is more ebullient, featuring yellow, green, and hot pink forms that could be smiling faces, and an overall, flower-like outline. The rich green “Nature Crush” has, the artist explains, a dual meaning: of burgeoning development crushing out nature itself, and, more benignly, that society has a “crush” on nature, the beauty and lifestyle it represents. As lighthearted and whimsical as it is dark, the dichotomy of Mills’ art makes for fascinating viewing (Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Downtown).

GD

 

Lori Nelson, "With Your Feet in the Air and Your Head on the Ground,” 2016, oil on wood panel, is currently on view at Corey Helford.


Combining witty and gritty magical realism with images of today’s technology and culture, Brooklyn-based artist Lori Nelson presents “Cryptotweens Are Like,” 16 oil on wood panel paintings with a resin finish. Nelson’s work displays the influence of traditional devotional art Nelson observed as a young child in the family Bible, combined with the look of a surreal, illustrated Grimms’ Fairy Tale collection. Drawn to adolescents as subjects, Nelson has created what she calls a “parallel world” of nearly human creatures, dwelling in a netherworld between childhood and adulthood. In each of her paintings the situation, or the character inhabiting it, is bizarre yet relatable. This is a spooky world but not an overtly frightening one. Her characters exhibit innocent, even awe-struck expressions; there’s a tender vulnerability in their eyes, or a look of near-ecstacy in a moment of discovery. Some are painted in poses which resemble religious icons, others are part of a rich landscape.

“With Your Feet in the Air and Your Head on the Ground,” a title taken from the Pixies’ song “Where is My Mind,” the Brooklyn Bridge serves as a backdrop to a surreal scene in which an upside-down girl breathes fire while other children watch, two of them bearing a tribute of roses. In “Dearly Departed App,” Nelson depicts a wide-eyed girl, her face illuminated by the light from her smartphone, using an app to bring back a beloved pet. “Sparkle Prayer” casts Nelson’s tween as a praying young werewolf, wearing a whimsical cat-button on his sweater in this riff on icon imagery. Nelson’s work is pop-art storytelling as written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, an exploration of “cryptotweens” on the verge of self-discovery, and a journey through an enchanted forest worth undertaking (Corey Helford Gallery, Downtown).

GD

 

Lutz Bacher, “Magic Mountain," installation view, 2016, is currently on view at 356 Mission.


Lutz Bacher is a multi-media artist whose work is conceptually based. Now residing in New York, she began her career in Northern California. The most subtle and striking element here is that the floor glistens with iridescent glitter ( a limited edition of "bottled" glitter, signed by the artist, is for sale in the bookstore). The glitter might be superfluous, but it beautifully complements the giant billboard-size photograph of snow-covered mountains that hangs from a beam in the ceiling and horizontally extends out onto the floor of the gallery space. A thin blue snap line is the only work on the expansive gallery wall adjacent to the mountain image. Within the space is a white piano that is either being tuned onsite or a soundtrack of it's tuning is audible throughout the space. Outside around the back is another sound installation; in the basement a multi-channel musical projection and a mountainous pile of pointy sound insulation foam. Though each piece is integral to the installation as a whole, there is an allusiveness and a mystery to how the disparate parts inform the whole. Nevertheless, this adds up to thought provoking, meaningful and intelligent work (356 Mission, Downtown).

JZ

 

Neil Beloufa, “Data for Desire” (detail), 2016, rebar and resin, is currently on view at Francois Ghebaly.


Neil Beloufa’s “Democracy” is a study in contrasts. The French-Algerian artist gives viewers his perspective on the global tensions of today’s world, exposing our illusions of freedom and power. Beloufa mixes elements of filmmaking, sculpture and installation to create emotionally interactive pieces. The exhibition features two separate sculptural environments, “Data for Desire,” and “World Domination.” The former includes resin and rebar objects, a fireplace hearth, a wardrobe and other home-based objects crowded along the gallery walls, creating the landscape of home for the positioning of his video installation “Data for Desire.” The video depicts youthful partiers in a resort, and French researchers who are observing them, using an algorithm to predict how compatible each might be with their cohorts. Looking beneath our SnapChat, Facebook and Instagram-driven culture, the artist expresses the disconnect between where we live in our private reality, and how we appear — a commodity to be studied — when in the public eye.

The environment of “World Domination” includes a dinosaur, a lampshade and a kinetic sculpture of steel and fiberglass. Playful and ambiguous, the artist who once wanted to make cartoons has created a vastly entertaining work that belies the weighty subject of the video installed here. The video offers a glance into wartime situation rooms, as non-professional actors portraying our leaders behave like bullying children, declaring war on one another. Their precarious, outmoded methods make them dinosaurs. A pitch-perfect, thought-provoking exhibition, “Democracy” provides a layer of whimsical fun while sparking recognition of much darker themes (Francois Ghebaly Gallery, Downtown).

GD

 

Maria Lynch, “Spaces and Spectacles” installation view, 2016, currently at Wilding Cran.


Maria Lynch’s “Spaces and Spectacles” is a candy-colored tribute to childhood. The Brazilian multi-media artist has created paintings, soft sculptures, and an experiential installation piece that fills a large section of the main gallery with brightly colored, translucent plastic spheres. A soundscape created by Brazilian musician Rodrigo Amarante heightens the experience. Paintings are vividly colored, a carnival of shapes that resemble a collage, but constructed of nothing more than oil on canvas. “Across the Universe” depicts a supplicating flower and geometric shapes that resemble cut fruit. A thick line of deconstructed teddy bears run sinuously along the floor, an abstract and fantastical soft sculpture created with vivid fabrics and patterns.

The plastic spheres are stacked behind a wire “fence,” and viewers are encouraged to enter the space through a gate and push their way inside the balls, which look like colored bubbles. Positioned against the gallery’s front window, the transparent shapes refract and reflect the changing light. Lynch relates that “the idea is to create a fantasy that returns you to that freedom of being a child.” Evoking the sense of being a part of a surreal and magical carnival, “Spaces and Spectacles" mixes color, light, and form for a fresh and involving exhibition (Wilding Cran, Downtown).

GD

 

Bonese Collins Turner, “Heartland Lost,” watercolor, 30 x 22”, is currently on view at La Galeria Gitana.


None of the four dozen plus artists who responded to the call for work inspired by the “American West, it’s people, its history and its landscapes,” actually experienced life personally during the time and place designated in the exhibition’s title. So it’s no surprise that a significant number of the works in the show bring back the American West via reflections of romantic visions of a bygone era witnessed through popular generic Western films, novels and pulp fiction. Ralph Massey acknowledges this trend with “Exciting Western,” his acrylic on panel re-creation of a magazine cover featuring a gun slinging cowboy in action. Cowboy musicians strum their guitars or raise a fist in works such as Preston Craig’s “Lets Take This Outside.” Paul Chamberlain’s “Bodfish Taxi” could have come straight off a movie set. A variety of inspiring paintings of sunsets and purple mountain ranges abound. With the exception of relatively few works, such as Bonese Collins Turner’s “Heartland Lost,” a watercolor depiction of a section of bleached bones entangled in barbed wire, the images in this show ignore suggestions of battles for land rights between cowboys and ranchers, or any hint of the inevitable urbanization that would leave much of what once was Western wilderness only a memory (La Galeria Gitana, Valley).

DC

 

Joe Goode, “California Summer 22,” 2013, acrylic on archival foam board, 48 x 64”, is currently on view at Peter Blake.

 

The milk bottle of Joe Goode is analogous to the jar of Wallace Stevens. Both ordinary objects have been displaced from their customary sites, the kitchen. The wandering jar of Stevens migrated to the Hill in Tennessee, while the bottle of Goode, perhaps thinking of Duchamp’s Bottle Rack, stood ironically within a painting. Through their twin displacements, the objets trouvés were transformed: the jar enveloped by vines, the milk bottle, now empty, metamorphosed into an iconic statement of the power of the quotidian. Presented here with a group of mixed media sculptures, “Japanese Houses,” the bottle of Goode is alive and well, still making appearances after fifty years, long after milk bottles are nearly extinct, existing only as nostalgic memorabilia. The signature of the artist is re-presented as a series of sculptures and drawings, with the bottle rendered and re-made in various states of coming into being or being obliterated.

The ageless and aging bottle is the key to understanding the oeuvre of Goode, who has long been fascinated by the transparent nature of this elusive readymade. He pairs it with clouds. Clouds can also be seen through, but unlike the static bottle they are ephemeral and on the move. It may seem that with these cloud studies Goode is a modern day Constable, but his concerns are conceptual. In the time of the English landscape painter, a viewer was invited to look into the painting, to scan vistas. In Goode’s time painting became flat and obdurate. Conversely, Goode explored the notion of “seeing through” the skin of paint. As if expressing frustration or intense curiosity about surface, Goode takes to ripping and tearing the pigments themselves. Goode lays the skies and their secrets open, pinning these cloud views against gallery walls, layers of colors and atmospheres revealed. As the artist says, “It seems every image I have used since completing school has to do with seeing through something, whether it is glass, water, skies, fires, trees … everything.” Yes, everything (Peter Blake Gallery, Orange County).

Jeanne Willette

 

Mary Austin Klein, “Aqueduct Canal, Kern County,” oil on Dura-Lar mounted on board, 13 x 13”, is currently on view at Sue Greenwood.


While the Southern California landscape has inspired generations of artists to interpret its natural beauty in numerous ways, Mary Austin Klein’s take on this scenario is unusual. Her paintings are as small as 6 by 8 inches, with the largest being 24 by 36 inches, and they are imbued with meticulous details of rocks, mountains, trees, skies, even airplanes, a few dessert homes and the especially the radiant dessert light. She is also interested in what she calls, “the latent history of geologic features.” And we do feel that these rocks, mountains and vistas have vastly preceded humankind’s presence. She uses tiny brushes for the details and paints on Dura-Lar sheets, which prevents the oil from spreading. We feel like we are looking through a small window out at the vastness of the universe. “Santa Rosa Mountains, Anza Borrego” is a close-up of the pale, jagged mountains with puffy tumbleweeds in the foreground. “California Aqueduct, Hesperia” depicts a narrow body of water, naturally striated, colors ranging from greens to blues, and vanishing to a point. In the distance are purple mountains with their peaks and crevices carefully outlined against a pale wash of sky. The contrasting “Arrival-SWA at LAX” features a plane soaring in above palm trees, with puffy white clouds in the distance, an enormous space packed into a modestly sized package (Sue Greenwood Fine Art, Orange County).


Liz Goldner