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ART : They Do Windows : An all-women cycle of installations keeps the Lankershim Arts Center in the public eye 24 hours a day.

June 19, 1992|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times

When the Lankershim Arts Center sent out its first notices asking installation artists to submit ideas for its front windows, all the responses came from women. Actually, it was no coincidence: Many more women than men work in this art form.

Rather than actively recruit male artists for the center's summertime exhibits, curator Daniel Veneciano and director Joan de Bruin decided to let the series naturally develop as an all-women cycle of installations.

Between now and Sept. 1, an eclectic show called "Looking In/Looking Out" reveals what is on the minds of six culturally diverse, contemporary women artists.

"Women have been brought up by mothers who teach them how to work with space, to design their own rooms," De Bruin said. "Are women taking a traditional role and creating an art form? With the traditional dominance of men in painting and sculpture, are they doing installations because they are not burdened by the dominance of the male artist?"

On Aug. 14, all six artists will gather for a public panel discussion on these questions and to discuss their work.

Now on view on Lankershim Boulevard--even at 3 a.m.--are the first two installations of the series, by KristaK, as she spells her name, and sculptor Betty Tsou Fong.

KristaK's "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" conveys the tension between our natural and technological worlds. Aged tree branches rise out of tall, precisely placed foam rubber stands. This orchard's gardening tools have been fashioned out of computer parts.

"Metal plates have been replaced by circuits; production and labor by technology," Veneciano said. Yet he senses some hope within KristaK's depiction of society's loss of innocence and nature. "The care and attention to detail she puts into her work suggests the persistence of the human spirit," he said.

Fong's untitled, minimalist, site-specific work refers to geometric and architectural shapes, and incorporates an interpretation of the physical characteristics of its window space. Interacting with the ever-changing light, it looks different at different times of the day. "It speaks to you in a quiet way," Veneciano said, adding that some observers perceive a religious, ascension-like quality in the work.

The next two artists in the series will install works that are more personal than the first artists' themes. Sandra P. Hahn's "Fowl Play" comes out of her own East Los Angeles background, and will comment upon survival instincts. In it, an owl and a dove will accompany a woman created from iron and various metals. Her cage-like womb will be made from coat hangers.

Cheryl Dullabaun reflects on her own Catholic upbringing, and religious and patriarchal entrapments for women, in "Sacrificial Daughters," a reference to virgin martyrs. Her installation will include an old altar, photographs and mirrors to draw viewers more directly into it.

Installations by Karen Atkinson and Sandra Rowe complete the series. Rowe's "You Are Here: The Glass Ceiling" will confront the illusion of upward mobility. Atkinson's piece will focus on the languages of tourism and colonialism, their respective evolutions, and their common words, phrases and ideas. "Both installations are politically charged, and will work well together," Veneciano said.

"Looking In/Looking Out" keeps the 2-year-old arts center visible while it is closed for renovations. A former Department of Water and Power facility built in 1939, the Art Deco building with Streamline Moderne features has been declared a cultural landmark by the city. "It was the ideal thing for us to do during this construction period," Veneciano said.


What: "Looking In/Looking Out."

Where: Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.

Hours: Anytime. Installations by Fong and KristaK through June 23; by Hahn and Dullabaun from June 30 to July 28; by Row and Atkinson from Aug. 4 to Sept. 1.

Call: (818) 989-8066.

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