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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

September 06, 1985|KRISTINE MCKENNA

An exhibition of seven artists who occasionally work with glass includes a hypnotic sculpture by Michael Hayden that appears to breath. A long, clear tube suspended overhead encases a coil that seems to inhale and swell red with color, exhale and the color drains away. It's fun to look at yet oddly distracting. It feels tricky, as does much of the work in this crisp, high-tech exhibition.

A mercurial material that changes with the position of the viewer, glass can be romantic as a rainbow under proper conditions. But at the same time, it's hard to breath much emotion into it; its simple, clean integrity is rigidly fixed. Laddie John Dill comes closest to truly painting with glass in wall sculptures composed of geometric shapes of varying thickness that are fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. Painterly swirls of polymer color are pressed under a glass surface in this art, which feels corporate, tough and built to last. Dewain Valentine offers a gorgeous optical illusion sculpted in iridescent glass, while Lynda Benglis' sand-cast works are the only organic shapes on view. Three sequential images by Larry Bell look like JPL mementos of a trip to Saturn. Bands of prismatic color form elliptical spheres floating in reflective surfaces that function as mirrors. The piece feels dated and reminiscent of the '60s art and technology craze.

Curiously, none of this glass work feels fragile--perhaps because we're so programmed to tip-toe and keep our hands to ourselves in the art world. Delicate materials or ideas that wouldn't survive for a second in the real world need never worry for their safety here. (Ruth Bachofner, 804 N. La Cienega Blvd., to Sept. 7.)

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