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AT THE GALLERIES / Robert McDonald

July 04, 1986|ROBERT MCDONALSSAN

SAN DIEGO — Summer is traditionally a time for art galleries to slow down. If they don't close, they may be open "by appointment only," or they may offer extended group shows of works from their inventories.

But summer may also be a time for risk-taking with as yet untried talents. The San Francisco Art Dealers' Assn., for example, sponsors a weeks-long, citywide festival titled "Introductions," during which member galleries exhibit the works of usually young artists who as yet have not had significant exposure.

San Diego does have an "Artwalk," organized by downtown galleries, both commercial and nonprofit, to introduce themselves. It is so early--it was held this year in April--and so brief, that it is doubtful that its impact carries over into the summer, when galleries could be trying to attract tourists.

Carolyn Bush, associate director of Installation and co-coordinator of this year's Artwalk, has said that focusing on "new talent" would be an appropriate next step in San Diego, but it still needs to be planned as a conscious effort.

In the meantime, there are some shows to be seen.

The A.R.T./Beasley Gallery in Old Town (2802 Juan St.) has two three-person exhibitions, both running through July 31.

The "Humor in Art Winners of 85" gives an in-depth look at the works of three prize-winning artists from last year's large annual group show.

The works of San Diego artist Dennis Gunn are outstanding. Made of mixed-media, including watercolor, ink and colored pencils on paper, they are complexly composed, exquisitely detailed, technically sophisticated, vividly imaginative and poetically sensitive works of art.

Gunn typically surrounds the central images of his rectangular drawings with a checkerboard and flowered framing device perhaps three inches wide.

The most abstract of his works, "Tapestry in Bloom" (1985), an overall design evincing his compulsive attention to detail, is reminiscent of medieval manuscript illumination and Islamic patterning.

Gunn's images usually feature a jester or court fool wearing a clown's suit and coxcomb hat in awkward and sentimental situations. In "A Slight Miscalculation" (1983) he hangs upside down by one foot from a crossbar. In "A Bird's Eye View" (1984) he sits in a tree. In "A Kiss for Lunch" (1984) he rides the back of a white swan.

Gunn may also use contemporary imagery, as in "Party Favors" (1986), with a group in party hats on a couch before a window overlooking downtown San Diego. And the clown appears with a beach towel and other swimming accouterments at water's edge in "Surf's Up" (1985).

Gunn's work is exceptional, but idiosyncratic. His testing as an artist will be in the evolution of his work, if it evolves.

Stuart Burton makes large, painted, molded fiberglass masks with tropical landscape and maritime imagery. Lorraine Krol Alperson has created "A Little Las Vegas" of humorous ceramic figures representing tourists, gamblers and chorus girls.

A.R.T./Beasley's second show, "Three Dimensions, Three Perspectives," includes raku vessels and wall pieces by Michael Gustavson; large earth-toned paintings, rather like raku on canvas, by Belmont Speroni; and metallic, kinetic "ribbons in space" by Elijah David Herschler.

Nearby on the edge of Old Town, the Art Collector (4151 Taylor St.) is featuring oil-on-canvas landscapes by Wayne Forte. The Laguna Beach resident works in the area's tradition of plein air impressionism, but uses photographs as well, a gallery representative said. Forte deftly conveys the physical characteristics of the Orange County coast, its seductive and hedonistic beauty. In several of his most effective paintings, images of eucalyptus trees reflected in swimming pools, Forte updates the traditions of the "Eucalyptus School" of painting.

The exhibition continues through July 15.

In Mission Hills, Acevedo Art Gallery International (4010 Goldfinch Ave.) is presenting mixed-media (pastel, graphite and acrylic) works on paper by senior artist Guillermo Acevedo. One group of drawings, portraits of Navajo men and women, is dedicated to the Big Mountain Relocation Resistance movement, which is opposed to the forced removal of Indians from their homeland in Arizona. A second group of drawings focuses on tiled rooftops, or "tejas," that the artist has studied from Venice, Italy, to Cuzco, Peru.

The exhibition continues through July 19.

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