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Renderings From Within : The introspective exhibition 'Stillness' encourages viewers to ponder their personal inner worlds.

July 22, 1994|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

BURBANK — Peace and quiet and time for reflection often elude us in our volatile urban environ ment. Artists, however, manage to remove themselves from the fray and contemplate the world.

Out of that musing may come various artistic expressions, from angry, tumultuous commentaries on personal and social problems to introspective and metaphorical visions that take viewers away from the hubbub and cause them to pause in thought.

The 58 images by three artists at the Mythos gallery in Burbank are of the latter kind, meditative works that transport one into the emotional and intellectual as well as aesthetic realms of the artists. Additionally, they encourage viewers to ponder their own inner worlds.

In the show, titled "A Stillness," Mythos presents watercolors by Elizabeth Ranelagh, pastels by Barbara Kolo and photography by Valerie Gates.

"Stylistically, they are not the same, but each artist's (works) exhibit a quietness and stillness," said gallery director Glen Doll. "For me, there's a psychological depth to them. They have that in common."

Doll also said they demonstrate the artist's command of medium and technique. "I have a predilection for work that has some skill of hand, some mastery," Doll said.

Ranelagh's watercolor series presents mostly images of a nude male and female in richly colored, natural but stylized environments. Sometimes the figures languish on the green, reading a book or newspaper. They might share the rather idyllic landscapes with a dog, birds and sometimes fish. In some images, the woman is obviously pregnant.

"It's remarkable to me how expressive her faces are without much detail. I think it's a very neat trick," Doll said. He sees the "thoughtfulness of the people in her works. They seem to really have something on their minds."

That is especially true of the man and woman in "River Walk." They stand facing the viewer but are unconcerned with the outside world. Their lower torsos are submerged in deep blue, still water, the water a "metaphor for the unconscious," Doll said.

This couple appears almost to be in motion through the body of water, but the movement is not really physical, but psychological. He seems to want to lead and to be hesitant about doing that. She's not comfortable with the situation. Some viewers will consider this image a good example of the quandaries men and women grapple with in partnerships today.

Barbara Kolo creates unusual, poignant images of flowers. Cut from their stems and vines, they are still beautiful but their beauty is of a less vibrant nature than the typical depictions of cut flowers. These are mature flowers. In fact, they embody feelings of aging, and death not far away. They've seen better days but they still appeal to us with their sensuous colors and textures, their complexity.

Ironically, "White Rose Dark," the one flower image of Kolo's that conveys the more commonly depicted vitality of fresh flowers, is not of a real flower, but a flower pin--a piece of costume jewelry that remains forever young.

Several of Valerie Gates' black-and-white photographs recall the pictorial images of the early part of the 20th Century. But with her well-composed, slyly humorous tableaux, she strives to make them more than a rehash of previous techniques. As with Ranelagh and Kolo, one of her concerns is our relationship with nature.

"These works all have a life of their own," Doll said. And "they have the ability to elicit a wide range of ideas."

WHERE AND WHEN

What: "A Stillness."

Location: Mythos Gallery, 1009 W. Olive Ave., Burbank.

Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment. Ends Aug. 6.

Call: (818) 843-3686.

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