The high-tension world portrayed in Robin Palanker's pastel drawings turns with such forcefulness that the objects in it get all bent out of shape.
Dogs scrabbling around the globe race to stay in the same place ("Curvature of the Earth"). Trees lining the long approach to a stately, pale-white building are knotted with pent-up anticipation ("Monument"). A woman absorbed in a riveting private vision pulls her room around her like a spectral cloak ("Transport").
Palanker's are the most immediately riveting of the works by seven Los Angeles artists in "The Mark," an exhibit at Security Pacific Gallery that is supposed to show the "vast differences in appearance, execution and choice of subject matter"--to quote curator Mark Johnstone's brochure--of works that can be called "drawings."
In fact, the approaches to art-making in this show are so diverse that the issue of whether they demonstrate different ways to make one's "mark" on paper (or some other surface) seems irrelevant. More disappointingly, some of the work seems indifferent in any context.
Still, there are some good moments. Hilary Baker's set of odd little gouaches (opaque watercolors) offer spare, linear images of common objects, presented so as to yield wry little notions of one sort or another.
In "People Will Talk," three small mauve-colored telephone poles in the center of a painterly field of brown might suggest the inevitable consequences of being unconventional. In "Queen for a Day," the wire undergirding of a hoop skirt flies horizontally across a white field patterned with irregular blue squares (perhaps a swatch of dress fabric). The fairy-tale unreality of the scene mirrors the dreamlike aura surrounding the housewife's dream of becoming TV royalty.
James Murray's untitled charcoal drawings are meticulously realized landscapes with huge skies and panoramic views heightened with snippets of tiny detail. In one nocturnal image, pinpoints of light--from invisible tract homes, perhaps--speckle the land surrounding a parking lot or sports field. In a daytime scene, great rolling clouds seem to press down on the flatlands below, where the even spacing of supports on a small bridge provides a quiet rhythmic refrain.
Eve Aschheim's huge abstract drawings--made of various materials, layered, scrubbed away and otherwise heavily worked over--are investigations into the interaction of stripped-down forms. Planes turn in space or intersect, arcs are sent on carefully chaperoned journeys, lines are thickened to bold bars or reduced to scratches. The work is serious and searching, maybe too self-consciously so.
Dennis Keeley reworks color photographs with paint, pencil, dyes and metal leaf. Some of the resulting effects are fleetingly attractive (a ghostly Chinese-style landscape with a metallic border, suture-like scratches demarcating fields of intensely saturated color), but in general there seems to be little substance here, apart from watching colors and shapes at play.
What: "The Mark," drawings by seven artists.
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
Where: Security Pacific Gallery, 555 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa.
Whereabouts: Take the San Diego Freeway to the Bristol Street exit. Anton is off Bristol between the freeway and Sunflower Avenue.
Wherewithal: Admission is free.
Where to call: (714) 433-6000.