James Strombotne, who turned out provocative hot stuff in the '60s, now paints harmless pictures that place amusing figures on colorful abstract backgrounds. A stringy gestural fellow strides away from a clump of blue blocks, acrobats do their amazing thing on a tower of chairs that disappears into a foggy atmosphere, puffed-up men preen and fly like fat birds amid a geometric framework, and the Tin Man (of "Wizard of Oz" fame) cavorts through three paintings.
There's a hint of commentary here on the absurdity and tenuousness of modern life. Strombotne's paintings also can be read as metaphors for the gulf between abstract and figurative camps--or between gestural and geometric approaches to painting. But the whole presentation (including some figurative sculpture) has such a haphazard look that it lacks conviction. It's as if an obviously talented artist got bored and started twiddling his thumbs with his paintbrush. (Eilat Gordin Gallery, 644 N. Robertson Blvd., to Dec. 3.)