Don Hendricks, who made his reputation as a talented Photo-Realist drawing cars and girls, now shows a fresh group of watercolor landscapes. They are cool, familiar images whose only drama comes with the heightened contrast of, say, a shaft of light in a forest or a shimmering reflection on water. Still, compared to the clinical slickness of Photo-Realism, this work is relatively loose and mellow.
Hendricks has stated in an interview that he is now more inclined to draw directly from nature or to work from memory than to depend upon photographic information. His new work shows it. We accept the woodsy views of water and rocks or roots and fallen leaves as strikingly realistic, yet they are rather broadly painted. Their cropped compositions and up-close examination of detail are, of course, part of the legacy of looking through cameras.
Hendricks spreads his discoveries of nature's intricacies before us like Oriental carpets. It's not news to see--through art--that nature teems with abstract patterns. What's interesting about Hendricks' watercolors is his merger of natural patterns with arbitrary painted ones. (Simard/Halm Gallery, 8006 Melrose Ave., to June 21.)