Karla Klarin's high-relief paintings have taken a slow, sure ride from the grubby industrial center of Los Angeles to the suburbs. They have also, at times, moved from forbiding exteriors to comforting interiors and made room for an occasional person. With her current show, Klarin affirms her growing maturity and emotional range, now encompassing the figure, still life and landscape--both urban and rural. She takes on a freeway interchange in Glendale, lone sunbathers, a kitchen counter, a section of her studio, and herself in a sauna. All these are built up in thick, mixed-media wall panels that extend into space (usually at the bottom) and often have protruding elements. In the sauna piece, a real towel hangs off the ledge supporting the figure.
Though there's high drama in Klarin's rendition of the stark white Hollywood Bowl set into deep green hills, the news in this show is mellow. Her use of Southern California's bleached light, domestic subjects and her quiet grace have refined this loosely painted art without deflating its muscle. One of the most interesting artists to emerge from the merger of painting and sculpture, she has to be recognized as an astute chronicler of Los Angeles' ambiance.
Rodney Alan Greenblat holds forth with characteristically cheerful lunacy in a concurrent show, across the alley. He comes off as a clean-scrubbed, bug-eyed kid, intensely churning out framed pictures, furniture, lamps and clocks--all exuberantly patterned and neatly painted. The centerpiece is a zingy living room installation with a TV set playing a Greenblat production. The portion I saw had a cartoon character telling a bedtime story to the artist. This art is certainly all-of-a-piece and produced with impressively high production values. The problem is that Greenblat's fantasies are so decorator perfect and terminally cute that they have no edge to them. You can safely take your kid and the school censorship committee to see his show on the way to McDonald's. (Karl Bornstein Gallery, 1662 12th St., to June 14.)