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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

October 10, 1986|KRISTINE McKENNA

Laurie Pincus makes extremely large art and Scott Miller makes eensy-beensy art, yet their work has a number of things in common. Leaning heavily on pretty colors to make a potentially bitter pill palatable, Pincus and Miller are social commentators who cloak their observations in fantasy scenarios.

Miller's work is easily the tougher of the two. "Shoppin' For Satori," his new series of tiny watercolors, is a scathing indictment of the modern world. Working in an illustrative style reminiscent of the ornately embellished images one might find in a antique book of fairy tales, Miller lures the viewer into a horrific Hieronymous Bosch landscape polluted with heroin addiction, modern weaponry and half-wits driven mad with consumerist lust.

In "Paradise Becomes a Nation," a robotic war machine hatches out of a repulsive pink spore, while a chaotic image called "Enlightenment" depicting mutant livestock and piggish looking men cavorting in garbage is the very antithesis of the word. Miller's hopes for the future of mankind apparently aren't too high and in light of the evidence he presents, it's hard to argue with him.

While Miller frets about the future, Laurie Pincus is adrift in a dream of the past. You know the dream--it's the Art Deco Nick and Nora Charles Dream. There are lots of big yellow moons in Pincus' work, lots of ladies with vampy Veronica Lake hair, too. Working with acrylic and wood, Pincus fashions free-standing, larger-than-life wooden figures that put one in mind of props in a Noel Coward play.

Pincus' people favor brightly patterned clothes and are quite soigne. Surrounded by these mute urbanites, you're apt to feel that you've walked into a cliched dream peopled with amusing archetypes. We see sleepwalkers, a '40s cad clutching a gun, a classy dame balancing a book on her head. There's a vague sense of mystery about Pincus tableaux, but they're so stylized that in the end they're no more scary than a Thin Man movie. (Jan Baum Gallery, 170 La Brea Ave., to Oct. 25.)

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