The Watts Towers Art Center may be Los Angeles' most off-the-beaten-track gallery, but happily the gallery is equally as far off the beaten political and ideological track. For his inaugural exhibition, director Mark S. Greenfield chose not February, Black History Month, but March, Women's History Month. The show, running through April 2, is entitled "As We See It," and the women in the show--black, white and Latino--see nearly everything with a measure of wry humor.
Consider "Game Tables," a set of several collages-under-glass by Kathi Martin. Each joins an assembly of old game boards and playing cards--old enough to make an adult viewer think of childhood as well as of hazard--to a story from the "Daily Mirror, the paper that dares to add realistic dimensions to TV's pounding perfection." The Mirror story built into one collage deals with "Flat-Faced Companion," a service offering "fantasy meetings" via television:
"The ache of loneliness can now be curbed by use of your television! Subscriptions to a new service, 'Flat-Faced Companion,' offer a wide array of programs for your fantasy entertainment. First, the viewer chooses a friend, a favorite actor, musician or Tarot card reader that they are particularly fond of. Then for a nominal fee, the viewer can purchase a 'party kit.'
"The kit consists of a script and video tape of their idols. They have a long, breezy, intense conversation, and the dinner that matches that of the screen actor! The lonely person actually has a meal with their favorite actor, conversation and all. Add the Sideways Dimension Video Kit, and their experience is spliced together so that they may keep forever a tape of the two humans together. Yes, it's the visual karaoke of the New Age. For a small fee, a director will come to your home to set up your living room for the taping."
The media, ah, the media! We are all victims of the media, imprisoned for our seven daily hours with the "flat-faced companion." Or are we? Martin, several of whose companions in this show politely but firmly decline the victim's role, seems to have no trouble laughing old Flat-Face back to where he belongs. We take her not just as an enjoyable artist but also as a slyly reassuring clue.