Ed Valentine's recent landscapes are studded with fluid, inventive passages that effortlessly segue from pure paint revels to here-and-now realism and a dreamy otherworldliness. But then he goes and spoils it all by plopping down a bunch of flat-colored circles like so much joyless, oversized confetti.
Valentine probably puts theoretical stock in those circles, as well as in the artsy white vertical bars that just miss slicing through his unsettling portrait heads with mismatched eyes.
He may also feel he knows exactly what he's doing in adding the cheap thrill of a third eye on a face or the instant suburban bathos of an upside-down teddy bear on an otherwise haunting image of a refugeelike woman against a distant landscape.
But the net effect is of an artist with strong painterly gifts (especially in "Semi-Classical No. 18" and "Stormy's Gloom") who nevertheless is insufficiently discriminating as he pokes through art's immense ragbag of styles and subjects, with a resultant lack of control over the ultimate direction of his works. (Ovsey Gallery, 126 N. La Brea Ave., to Oct. 10.)