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La Cienega

The Galleries

September 29, 1989|MARLENA DONOHUE

Southwestern art tends to dredge up ideas of fake cow skulls sold on freeway ramps. On the schooled and serious side, New Mexico artist Elen Feinberg paints large- and medium-sized views of the expansive skies and unencumbered horizons that still mark that part of the country.

Able to pull this off without making calendar art, Feinberg succeeds because she avoids strict depiction. A painter's painter, she opts for a Turner-esque approach with well-placed, abstract brush marks that congeal from a distance into emotional views.

In "Stormwinds," gray and magenta clouds painted with a feathery flat touch take up most of the large canvas, casting a desert glow on a thin band of parched soil that Feinberg builds from denser, pitted swaths of earthen paint. "After Spring" shows the extent of Feinberg's knack for grasping the essence of place and time through the pared-down vision of an abstract artist. Of several seascapes also shown, "The Island" and "Sea Storm" stand out. (Mekler Gallery, 651 N. La Cienega Blvd., to Oct. 7.)

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