It may be a long time before we see contemporary art that's anything like Degas' pastels, but L.A. newcomer Joan Leal Carter gives the tricky, unforgiving colored sticks an admirable run for their money. In a first solo show, the Argentine born Carter shows mountain landscapes with de rigueur violet canyons scored by icy lemon light.
Night scenes predominate and in these Carter marks herself as a budding realist of note. Out of blackish indigo expanses, which Carter works to a liquid smoothness, come the barest suggestions of trees, distant hill-set verandas, pockets of yellow light streaming from windows or clusters of night stars. She's no less promising when she moves from country nights to evening urban skylines, as in "Mulholland Drive" with its broody, dark foreground and electric show of city lights beyond. (Adam Mekler Gallery, 651 N. La Cienega Blvd., to March 5.)