William Leavitt seems to be hooked on the banality of the Space Age. Working in a dead-pan style that proves to be his strength, he conveys a certain wonder about such inventions as a an "X-Ray Machine" and a "Rubidum Engine," while reserving a special place in his heart for aluminum and plastic lawn chairs, portable swimming pools and sterile modern architecture. Whether painting relatively juicy, richly detailed canvases or drawing dry pastels with all the charm of architectural renderings, he focuses attention on the amazing ordinariness of, say, a new Brown Derby restaurant or the pattern of "Diamond Canopies" on a roof.
His vacuous world is devoid of people and its air is stale, but it has a cozy banality that comes home in a bizarre tableau containing a painting of a "Planetarium Projector" on one side of a truncated wall and a pink curtain, a potted tree and a spotlight on the other. Looking at this peculiar group of objects is rather like cuddling up on a vinyl sofa; the sensation is all wrong, but it's so familiar that it seems OK. The very oddity of that acceptance gives this art a memorable twist. (Kuhlenschmidt/Simon, 9000 Melrose Ave., to March 28.)