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Exhibiting an Uplifting Outlook : Show shrugs off the pessimism of the times for a swirl of spirituality and a measure of mysticism.

November 11, 1994|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times

BURBANK — Despite these cynical times, when some people throw up their hands in anguish and declare that people are rot ten, life stinks and it won't get any better, there are still artists who unabashedly reject that attitude. Instead, they depict visions of life full of mystery and possibility.

Painters Merrilyn Duzy and Norma Jean Squires are two artists who subscribe to the notion that there is cause for hope in the universe. They manifest those feelings in the metaphorical and metaphysical images of their paintings. As both women spent part of their time in recent years working at Artspace Gallery in Woodland Hills, they saw that many of the artists whose work was on display there shared their expansive view of the world.

Duzy and Squires decided to curate a show that would present "a variety of cultures and belief systems, everything that has to do with something beyond (the artists) themselves," Duzy said.

"Angels, Ancestors & Spirit Guides," their multimedia show of work by 20 artists, is on view at Mythos gallery in Burbank. It is part of "Towards a Greater Realm," a series of 11 exhibits taking place this fall throughout Southern California that focus on spirituality, myth and inner journeys evident in contemporary art.

We "can look and understand that although we come from many difference places, it all adds up to the same thing--a grand spiritual overtone permeating everything," Squires said.

"Each of these artists is an island lost in the great sea of Los Angeles," said Glen Doll, Mythos gallery director. A painter and photographer, he has five works in the show. "They have so much in common even though the styles are different. There's no shared belief, (but) a shared desire. (The art) talks more about the journey than the arrival."

Both Duzy and Squires travel through spheres of science as well as art in their own work. Unlike some artists and curators, Duzy, Squires and Doll believe that the two fields are not mutually exclusive. As Doll said, "Art and science are both means of grappling with what is, and dealing with it."

Duzy has derived the whirling shapes and colors of her painting "Maya"--which means illusion in Hindi--from an image she created on a computer. The foundation of the computer image was a photograph of Duzy twirling around in a cape, which she scanned into the computer.

The painting, though, with its glittery matter sprinkled about to convey a buoyant, starry atmosphere, presents a tangible texture that is not available from a computer image.

Squires absorbs in her mind's eye images from sources including photographs, charts, graphs, books on physics and astronomy and incorporates them in her paintings. "Peripheral Vision," with its eye-like center cut in two, surrounded by light and color and limitless dimensions, suggests a human connection with a vast but nonetheless spirited deep space.

In another approach to the blending of science and art, Rufus Snoddy rings his classical style Venus painting with actual computer circuitry in his work "Venus, Circa 2000." In contrast, the most significant objects of Ron Pippin's intricate sculptures come from nature. A dead bird is the focal point of "Saint With Bird."

Natural landscapes serve as spirit guides for Vern Wilson. His wood engravings depict Colorado River rapids and a waterfall, moonlight and a mountain trail.

Jorge Sicre's vibrant "Earth Angel" results from his interest in American Indian and Asian mysticism. Lynn Small and Dennis Paul pay tribute to an Israeli weaver by interpreting the letters of the cabala with mixed media collages for each letter. Scott Canty uses Christian biblical references to define the angels of his mixed media works on paper. The women of Gloria Longval's paintings are based on her mother, grandmother and aunts, who were healers and spiritualists in their native Cuba. Barbara Yates-Penny's wood-carved totem, "Know Myself," symbolizes a compatible melding of icons from various cultures and religions.

Squires sees this diverse presentation of art and ideas as a "dialogue that is so desperately needed in today's world."

Other artists in the show: Young Joo Choi, Sydney Cobb, Cecilia Davidson, Amani Fliers, Annelise Hansen, Leslie Klein, Midge Lynn and Joseph Piasentin.

Where and When

What: "Angels, Ancestors & Spirit Guides."

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

Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Ends Nov. 23.

Call: (818) 843-3686.

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