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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

March 14, 1986|KRISTINE McKENNA

Michael Kanin's sculptural bronzes are not so much works of art as they are mementos. A highly successful screenwriter, Kanin, along with wife and writing partner Fay, is the mind behind countless B-movie classics, and even when moonlighting in his art studio, his heart remains at the movies. A practitioner of what's usually referred to as movie star art, he fashions small bronze models (in editions of 12) that are idealized homages to legends of the silver screen.

There is no editorializing or subjective interpretation in Kanin's work; he presents the stars in the guise we know and love best, as if to say, "Here they are, the way we made them." And, of course, the public does have a large hand in creating its own icons by way of how richly it rewards a star for a given trick. So we see Marilyn standing astride a subway grating, dress whooshing up ("The Seven Year Itch"); Carol Burnett in cleaning-lady drag, Fred Astaire in top hat and tails, Gene Kelly swinging from a lamppost a la "Singing in the Rain." Like Humel figures and Toby mugs, this stuff appeals to the collector's "get the complete set" mentality. Though Kanin's bronzes are obviously made with a great deal of love, they are, like paintings of clowns, part of a vilified genre that nonetheless seems to warm the hearts of the masses. Included in the exhibition are posters from movies and plays that Kanin had a hand in. (Heritage Gallery, 718 N. La Cienega Blvd., to March 29.)

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