New York artist Georgia Marsh paints sultry, gestural renditions of Mars, faraway moons and meteorites burning up as they pass a glowing orb. What could easily look like the satellite photos sent back from our Mars probe are turned into churning, emotional abstractions in the tradition of metaphysical, nonobjective work by Mark Rothko and other color fielders. "Mars," for example, is an incandescent wedge fading into a midnight-blue expanse. A couple of the pieces get a little special effect-ish, but Marsh's impeccably worked vinyl gouache surfaces dramatize the sense that there are things much larger than ourselves.
Also shown are playful but not very challenging sculptures and drawings by L.A. ceramicist Peter Shire. Over the years he has made glitzy tea cups, cactus candle holders and all manner of fun-house objects, both functional and not. Pushing toward the pure art object, Shire now constructs huge free-standing contraptions made from brightly colored metal shapes, wheels and wire. Each is rigged to look as if it might be turned on and/or placed under a giant Christmas tree. The huge scale undermines Shire's usually effective sense of whimsy. A suite of smaller-scale bronzes on the theme of a coffee cup seems equally forced. (Saxon-Lee Gallery, 7525 Beverly Blvd., to Oct. 10.)