Richard Sigmund's second solo exhibition continues his preoccupation with street iconography, using signs and symbols of urban and rural road surfaces as a metaphor for discovery and artistic responsibility. Frontal renditions of skid-marked Stop signs and crosswalks, and trompe l'oeil representations of yellow lines receding into an amorphous distance conjure up romantic images of boundless freedom, of Jack Kerouac on the road in search of personal transcendence.
This sense of movement is reinforced by Sigmund's painterly vocabulary, a built-up melange of splatters and stains evocative of Jackson Pollock. Yet, while each surface sign seems to disintegrate into a chaos of marks, the action of the creative act is frozen into a static symbol. Just as the painting process is both an adventure and a laborious travail, so the work itself is active and passive, triggering endless conceptual journeys yet remaining an inert object, open to interpretation.
In the rear gallery, Barrie Mottishaw's watercolor landscapes continue a long historical tradition of naturalist topographical painting. Mottishaw renders the L.A. River and local canyons in a muted palette of blues and ochres, contrasting unspoiled countryside with the rude intrusions of electrical towers, freeway bridges and high-rises.
The work is both aesthetically idealized and politically realistic, combining a preservationist plea against urban blight with an appeal to the conservative tradition of the watercolor itself. (Koplin Gallery, 8225 1/2 Santa Monica Blvd., to Dec. 19.)