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Karen Carson Just Wants to Have Fun : FACES

ART WORLD

April 22, 1990|SHAUNA SNOW

For some artists, their work becomes more serious as they mature. But for Karen Carson, who had her first solo show here in 1969, the time has come to have some fun.

"I think I'm at that point in the art world where I can do anything I want; I can afford to be funny," says Carson, 45, whose show "Hot Flashes/Dangerous Drawings" runs through May 19 at Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

Included in the show are eight of her large mirror-filled abstract paintings--which for the first time in "10 years or more" include clear representational images such as snakes, spiders and butterflies--as well as 12 smaller ink drawings--depicting societal ills such as drunk-driving and cancer--behind colored plexiglass.

"My work is real accessible at the moment. There are no hidden meanings. I think anybody who walks in here can understand it almost immediately," says Carson, as she walks through her spacious, light-filled Santa Monica studio. "I have no desire to court the art world. I don't want to speak about \o7 art\f7 ; I want to speak about \o7 life\f7 ."

Carson says that while her drawings represent "the worst in our culture," her paintings are all about humor and passion. She refers to them as a kind of "tourist curio" that can make the unfamiliar become friendly. One, entitled "Wise Blood," is autobiographical. Filled with images such as a heart, a clock, an artist's palette and a raging fire, Carson said the piece shows that her heart is in her work, that there is time only for work, and that to create art takes bravery.

As part of that bravery, Carson, who teaches art courses at various universities including UCLA, has become more risky with her work.

"I would never have taken the risk of putting either mirrors or clocks in my work five or six years ago because I was so dead-on serious," she says. ". . . But that's part of Los Angeles--we have to be humorous to live here."

THE SCENE

Christopher Grimes Gallery is moving a few blocks down the street and opens a new location on Thursday with paintings and works on paper by Bay Area artist Frank Damiano. Grimes said the new 1,900-square-foot space, at 1644 17th St., Santa Monica, is almost twice the size of the old space on 12th Street. "We're really excited," Grimes said. "But the hard part is getting everything ready in time (for the move)."

A 40-year retrospective of the works of 96-year-old self-taught artist Jon Serl will be the inaugural exhibition for Marquardt Gallery, which is opening at 76 Market St., Venice. The opening reception for both the gallery and the Serl show is on Tuesday from 7-9 p.m.

Emerging Venice-based artist Deyo is offering a $200 reward for his painting, "The Last Wave," which disappeared last month from the Ace Marketplace on Winward Circle in Venice. Police are investigating the theft of the 8-foot by 5-foot painting, which depicts a wave crashing down on the Venice boardwalk. Anyone with information is asked to call the artist at (213) 399-6465.

OVERHEARD

It seems that real estate agents are trying to cash in on the rush to Santa Monica by galleries from La Cienega, Wilshire Center and other areas. "I laugh when the real estate agents call and tell me that \o7 they've heard \f7 we've been looking for a Santa Monica space," said a woman from a La Brea Avenue gallery. "I tell them, 'No. We're not looking. We're staying where we are.' "

CURRENTS

The Spanish-American War Memorial in Pershing Square, which is believed to be the oldest work of public art in Los Angeles, has been declared a Historic-Cultural Monument by the L.A. City Council. It marks the first time that a public art work has received this designation. Said Michael Several, of the L.A. organization Urban Art Inc: "The declaration . . . has established a local as well as a national precedent in extending the blanket of municipal protection over unique and threatened works of public art." The statue--which honors 20 Southern California soldiers who died during the war--was created by an unknown artist and depicts a life-sized soldier standing at parade rest. It was completed in 1900.

HAPPENING

Opportunities for visual artists to participate in the Los Angeles Festival's Open Festival will be discussed on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in rooms B and C of the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. The Open Festival is part of the Sept. 1-17 Peter Sellars-directed L.A. Festival and is open to all artists willing to self-produce their shows. Information: (213) 315-9444.

The San Diego Museum of Art's annual fund-raiser, "Art Alive," will be held Tuesday-Thursday at the museum. The event features floral interpretations of the museum's masterpieces by local and national floral designers. Also planned is an opening night gala, special tours, luncheons, fashion shows and lectures. Proceeds go to the museum. Information: (619) 232-7931, Ext. ART.

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