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Exhibit of 'Just-Let-It-Happen' Works

December 20, 1987|ZAN DUBIN

Some sprinkle it on, some throw it, and some just let it drip.

"Visions of Inner Space: Gestural Painting in Modern American Art," at UCLA's Wight Art Gallery, features more than 60 works by 17 artists who employ spontaneous gesture to express subconscious states of being.

"It's really the transmission of inner stirrings, through this immediate, unpremeditated action of the hand," says Merle Schipper, an art historian and critic, who co-curated the exhibit with UCLA professor of art Lee Mullican.

"It's art made without applying conscious thought by artists who almost just let it happen," she said in a recent phone conversation. They work rapidly, without a preconceived plan for each painting, and often place their canvases on the floor or another horizontal surface.

California-based artists represented in the exhibit include Sam Frances, Ed Moses, Emerson Woelffer, Ynez Johnston, Lita Albuquerque, Mark Tobey, John Anderson and Richard Bowman. Out of state artists are Arizona's Peter Young and Charles Selinger, Richard Pousette-Dart and Max Cole of the East Coast.

The approach these artists take has been part of Eastern aesthetics for centuries, but was not identified in Western art until the early 20th-Century, notes a gallery statement. However, in the West, origins of the style can be traced to Wassily Kandinsky's abstracts, through the Dada and Surrealist movements, and, to Pollock and Abstract Expressionism.

"We have a range of works in the exhibit," Schipper said. "Tobey, who painted the earliest work on view, sort of lets his brush meander over the whole surface of his canvas, so a network of line emerges over the surface.

"Cole, one of the youngest artists, is very disciplined, but her work nevertheless reveals these pulsations of a sort. Using a pen, she creates parallel, horizontal lines over the canvas and makes these minute seismographic lines."

As part of an exchange program with India, "Visions of Inner Space" will travel to the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi after it concludes Jan. 31 at UCLA. In 1985, the Wight Gallery hosted "Neo-Tantra: Contemporary Indian Painting Inspired by Tradition," an exhibit organized in the South Asian country.

NEW HOME: UCLA has broken ground for its new Fowler Museum of Cultural History, slated to open to the public in fall, 1989.

When complete, the new facility will house the entire collection of the university's Museum of Cultural History, whose cramped space has not allowed exhibition of much of that collection, currently totaling 170,000 objects.

The new building is being named after the late Francis E. Fowler Jr. and his sons, Francis E. Fowler III and Philip F. Fowler, prominent Los Angeles businessmen and art collectors. The Fowlers and the Fowler Foundation have contributed about $2.6 million to the university for the facility, estimated to cost about $22 million.

The new structure, designed by architect Arnold C. Savrann in association with John Carl Warnecke & Associates, will be situated just to the east of UCLA's Royce Hall. It will mirror the Romanesque style of the university's original buildings and include four galleries, a 350-seat classroom, a library and seminar rooms.

ACTION! Some of Hollywood's unsung and some of its sewn-up stuff will be the subjects of two tandem exhibitions opening today at the County Museum of Art.

"Masters of Starlight: Photographers in Hollywood" features about 200 photographs by 44 still photographers, most of whom have received little recognition for their images of some of the industry's biggest stars, from Mary Pickford to Elizabeth Taylor.

"Hollywood and History: Costume Design in Film" includes about 50 historical period film costumes and 250 sketches and photographs. It aims is to illustrate how contemporary fashion styles influence period film costume designers.

The photography show was curated by the locally based Hollywood Photographers Archives. The dress show was organized by Edward Maeder, the museum's curator of costumes and textiles, who put together an exhibit of 18th-Century attire in 1983 that turned out to be the third most popular show in the museum's history.

PEOPLE: Stirling L. Huntley has been named interim director of the Southwest Museum. Huntley, who earned a doctoral degree in theater from Stanford University, has been director of admissions at California Institute of Technology since 1973 and associate dean of graduate studies from 1971 to 1987. The Southwest Museum is currently conducting a search to replace former director Patrick Houlihan, who resigned last month.

GRANTS: Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions has won a $28,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the work of interdisciplinary collaborative artists. The downtown organization was one of nine institutions nationwide to receive a total of $230,000 from the endowment's Initiative for Interdisciplinary Artists program.

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