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Nothing 'Black and White' About Art

April 18, 1993|EMILY ADAMS

Think for a minute: How many times have you gone into a gallery or an art museum, looked at a large canvas in front of you and thought, "What the heck is that?" More than once, we bet.

Considering the range of interpretive, conceptual and just plain weird art out there, we don't usually think of artists as great literalists. More often, artists are known for taking a basic theme or image, then twisting it to meet their particular visions.

So when Kamran Assadi gave notice that he was looking for entries to a juried exhibition at the Long Beach Arts Gallery entitled simply, "Black and White," he was expecting any number of images and ideas.

He was expecting work dealing with racial issues, with anger, with severe contrasts. He was hoping for artistic commentary on our divided, and often divisive, society.

He cast his net wide--to artists from California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona--in hopes of attracting diversity.

What he got was a lot of pieces that were, well, black and white. Color and absence of color.

"They just followed the rules," Assadi says of the artists who entered the show.

No race. No injustice.

But he's not disappointed, really.

The show became a kind of happy accident, he says. Assadi speaks in reverential tones about the way the disparate works form a whole.

Because each piece springs from a monochromatic base, the photography, acrylic on canvas, mixed media, or video play off of each other, Assadi says.

"There's something mystical about it," he adds. "The lack of color makes everything tie together."

So Carol Ann Klimek's 11-foot-by-11-foot white-on-white piece entitled "2,000 Babies," which is 2,000 molded baby dolls attached to four panels, works with Daniele Alberghetti's portrait of a woman in acrylic on paper.

And Joe Flazh's series of seven small black-and-white photos of his daughters, a couch and dog do not seem out of place with Alberghetti's large format, acrylic-on-canvas painting of a homeless person sleeping on a bench at night in some nameless city.

The show, which has been up since April 3, has been such a success, Assadi says, that he plans to have another one next year.

Only next time, he may include a note to those entering work that racial and social issues would be a welcome element.

No need to take chances with artists. They can be so conservative.

"Black and White" will continue through Saturday at the Long Beach Arts Gallery, 447 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach.

The gallery is open noon to 4 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Information: (310) 435-5995.

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