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ART : Capturing 'Bodies in Motion' : A photographer and a painter exhibit works expressing the movements of the human form.

June 30, 1995|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times

BURBANK — The human body has always been one of the great subjects of art. In one sense, there can be nothing new in contemporary renderings of the figure. And yet, today's figurative artists still have particular stories to tell through the form.

In the Mythos gallery show "Bodies in Motion," photographs by Michael Philip Manheim share the theme of movement with Shanna Galloway's paintings and drawings. Both artists collaborate with models who continually move while the artists capture the feeling of the action. But their images reflect varied personal concerns and life experiences.

When Galloway was a child, her mother played piano for dance classes. She observed the sessions. After her mother died, she was raised by her sister. Her sister's husband was a diving coach.

"I grew up watching people move," said Galloway, who has taught figure drawing at Los Angeles' Otis Art Institute for the past eight years. "If my work has a story, it's to understand and honor the wisdom and resilience of the human body."

Galloway knows more than most of us about the body's resilience. At age 6, she contracted polio.

"Having recovered from being totally paralyzed does something interesting to your psyche," she said. "You end up with an optimistic attitude. You think you can do anything. People who have had polio are very different than people think they are. You're trained to push as hard as you can. Pushing will work."

It is the dancer's movements that "communicate to me," Galloway said. Not ballet, but modern dance, including the leapfrogging, hopscotching and the like that Twyla Tharp has incorporated in her choreography. The sense of movement in Galloway's oil on canvas, "The Re-Construction and De-Construction of Venus," and several drawings is based on the very physical dancing of Los Angeles dancer / choreographer Karen Goodman.

"The word draw is a magic word for me. It's used in terms of 'I'm drawn to that person,' " Galloway said. "It implies connecting."

The geometric illustration of dynamic symmetry--a pattern existing in natural growth--in "The Re-Construction and De-Construction of Venus" "exposes a metaphysical force," she said. "It is a way of getting into the substance, the forces behind the forms."

Manheim, the photographer, goes out of the studio to record humankind's connection to the tangibles and intangibles of nature. By making multiple exposures of a nude figure or figures among natural elements and layering the exposures in carbon pigment prints, he creates a picture of a moving figure. The images have been described as "romantic and lyrical or tribal and terrifying," he said.

In a series of these prints, "Under Nature's Canopy," the identities of the models are concealed among the abstractions.

"None look like my people," Manheim said. "They became gods and goddesses, creatures of the animal world."

Manheim sees his artistic process as a way of "finding some nests in nature," he said. "I could never do the vast landscape, but we're all a part of that. I find the places where people just fit in."

"The irony of this show," said gallery director Glen Doll, "is that the body is used as a way of looking past appearances."

WHERE AND WHEN

What: Shanna Galloway and Michael Philip Manheim: "Bodies in Motion." Location: Mythos gallery, 1009 W. Olive Ave., Burbank. Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Ends July 15. Call: (818) 843-3686.

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