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The Galleries

Wilshire Center

December 11, 1987|CATHY CURTIS

Bruce Houston had a couple of cute little ideas. Why not make block-like miniatures of Mondrians or a Stella protractor painting and rest each of them on a specially designed toy truck and a set of little wheels? Or how about having the Little-Truck-That-Could haul a gorge-like zig-zag of painted wood up a steeply graded tiny shelf?

As conversation pieces, these things deserve direct-mail marketing. You get the artsy allusion ("That's a Mondrian, you know") plus the whimsy ("How sweet, little trucks!"). There's healthy, style-deflating humor here, but the gimmick component overrides it.

Steve Tannen's wall sculptures are smoothly painted wood humanoids with pyramidal heads and limbs like bent Danish modern table legs. Postures offer charade-like clues to the titles. There's a running "Deserter" and a "Native" shielding his head with his arm, a slumping "Refugee" and a "Monk" with an inclined head and a bent knee. All have a snappy, post-Constructivist look.

Tannen's steel-outline standing pieces seem more contrived. In "Gotta Go," a horsy rhomboid head is attached to rhomboid legs and arms, one of which balances demurely on a rhomboid knee. (Jan Baum Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., to Dec. 30.)

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