Two artists share simultaneous shows and a certain obscurity but otherwise have little in common. John Mason is a celebrated veteran L.A. ceramic artist little seen hereabouts in recent years. He came to note in the '60s, making impossibly huge hollow glazed ceramic cubes that were a puzzling combination of surface effusion and Minimalist rectitude. Then in 1973 he took to building environments of firebrick rather like a fancier Carl Andre.
Now he is back to clay in some 30 recent works that might earn him the accusation of having caved in to Post-Mod stylishness. They are about equally divided between free-standing sculptural objects, such as open squares or triangles, and others in more conventional forms, such as urns and platters. All are glazed in subdued earth hues enlivened by blues and grays and all bear variations on check and zigzag patterns that would sustain the sobriquet Navaho-Deco. Mason's colleagues, Ken Price and Peter Volkous, swim into mind.
The sculptural objects look silly because the patterns on them are but pointless ornament. The quasi-utilitarian objects, by contrast, seem to have inspired Mason to release a heretofore hidden delight in the stylish and the decorative. He jerks rectilinear forms into twisted rhomboids and patterns them so the addition dramatizes form. His least pretentious conception resulted in the most bracing and richly integrated work of his career.