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ART : Sculptures' Redeeming Value : A new show combines the works of two artists who find beauty in freeway debris and other discarded items.

March 12, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times.

Two artists meet for the first time in the Orlando Gallery where their sculpture has just gone on display in the show simply titled, "Sharon Weiner, Greg Stogner: New Work."

Gallery Director Bob Gino has brought Weiner's floor pieces together with Stogner's wall sculptures because he saw in them the artists' shared appreciation for the discarded elements of our urban environment. Using debris found alongside the freeway and industrial parts cast off by manufacturing plants, both artists recycle objects into their sculpture to make personal statements about the inherent beauty of materials and their ability to be meaningfully re-integrated into a larger whole.

"Their works are constructed, geometric, architectural," Gino said. "They have a poetic way of putting natural and man-made materials together. They can take something so crude and make it look elegant."

Weiner and Stogner found during that first meeting that their paths to their new work were remarkably similar. Both artists began their art careers as painters. Stogner, a Riverside County resident, was a figurative painter; Weiner, of Los Angeles, painted abstract compositions. But a few years ago, each of them felt the need to move beyond painting, to build works that had more dimension.

"I do a lot of commuting," said Stogner, who has observed plenty of road construction along the way. "I became more aware of concrete, asphalt and tires. The side of a piece of asphalt has real beauty, striations like a cliff.

"I've always been attracted to sculpture. The physicality of it, the weight has more of a permanence" than painting, he said. "I wanted to integrate painting and sculpture. I began to see paint not unlike concrete or asphalt. It could be poured and layered."

And it could be combined into his minimalist geometric compositions--most often of squares--with the tire pieces and mud flaps he uses to draw attention to the traits and patterns of materials.

In "Zones," the curved lines incised in mud flaps and the diamond shapes of tire tread work with poured concrete to add dashes of liveliness to the ordered rectangles of the background board, a die from a paper factory. The tire tread that frames "Black Squares" creates an illusion of charred wood.

Stogner does not restrict himself to car parts though. In "Points," he uses wire, cardboard and leather from tennis shoes to make squares that seem almost to spin around a central square. "Black X" joins roofing tar and black oil paint with shells and a rock Stogner found on the beach in a stable, ordered manner. Perhaps this work is meant to remind us of our complacency with regard to the danger of mixing some natural and man-made elements.

"I take discarded objects, and try to make sense of them," he said. "I straddle the line between where the painting ends and the sculpture begins."

Weiner, who began her transition from painting to sculpture by making collages, said she is drawn to "old, gritty things" that represent to her "discarded people you've given up hope on." She sees possibilities in these anthropomorphic scraps, opportunities to rebuild and put people back together.

She's taken rusted steel pieces and chunks of wood found in riot-torn areas of the city and stood them up together in a salute to hope for society. The titles of these sculptures, "Nela," "Encove" and "Andry"--and the titles of all her works--are not actual words. Rather, the cadence of a title or an impression it conveys is meant to express Weiner's feelings about each piece.

In the totemic "Fiela," a large, frame-like metal rectangle dredged up from a manufacturing company proudly supports painted wood beams that point upward. The piece suggests the vitality of a skyscraper. In contrast, the horizontal "Salim," a painted sawhorse topped with painted wood beams and a metal bar with flowing curves, appears like a jaunty animal.

"I want to communicate, but to also leave something open for people so they can bring their own experiences," Weiner said. She and Stogner "see the natural beauty" in the refuse of our environment "and preserve it," Gino said.

WHERE AND WHEN

* What: "Sharon Weiner, Greg Stogner: New Works."

* Location: Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.

* Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays through March 26.

* Call: (818) 789-6012.

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