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Valley Life | art review

Gallery Renaissance

March 10, 2000|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The San Fernando Valley's most venerable private art gallery has been reborn in a new location. The 41-year-old Orlando Gallery has returned to action after a brief hiatus.

Late last year, the gallery moved a few miles westward from its Sherman Oaks location to an unassuming block in Tarzana.

The new space was formerly home to a dress shop and a psychic's practice, and the interior has been suitably refitted for gallery functions. Not all traces of the former identities have been lost, though. The wooden framing in the front window remains half revealed, a la Frank Gehry.

As co-owner Bob Gino said, "We thought it looked very modern, so we left it."

Along one wall, several niches that formerly served as dressing rooms are now little inset spaces, further defining the exhibition area. Just add track lighting, floating walls, and voila, a gallery is reborn.

Traditionally, the Orlando has offered two-person exhibitions, changing monthly, a schedule they'll be back on by next month. For now, the new gallery space hosts a free-for-all loosely dubbed "We Are Back," comprising works from founding co-owner Bob Gino's collection and some new pieces.

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It's an introductory offer worth checking out. Little rhyme or reason governs the art hanging at present, but there are small pleasures amid the throng. Echoes from art history reverberate, including Renee Amitai's warm, Rothko-esque abstractions and Jenik Cook's post-Picasso-ish biomorphic concoctions.

Small packages hold large allure, such as Judy Fiskin's tiny deceptively bland but strangely affective photographs of rectilinear apartment buildings, circa the '70s.

Also included in the group are George James' pop art-y watercolor of shiny bread packages on a shelf, Dion's paintings, informed by a chic, angst-flecked comic book sensibility, and David Hidalgo's painting "Forces of Nature," which cleverly melds a quirky portrait of a sly, knowing nude and garish floral complements.

It's interesting, too, to see artists who have shown at the old Orlando on the verge of new developments. Diane Manchen is still intrigued by spoons and other household objects, but they've been further abstracted in a scheme with a decorative, gold-flecked palette and tactile surfaces. Call it mystical utensil art.

Another Orlando veteran, Don Lagerberg, is represented by an intriguing vertically pitched painting in his '70s-era "bikini series." Art is fashioned from the cheeky stuff of a bikini-clad woman and the explosion of ocean spray, a tidy metaphorical image of beach-town abandon.

Giving lie to the notion that a gallery cannot survive for any length of time on this side of Mulholland, the Orlando Gallery saga continues. Stay tuned.

BE THERE

"We Are Back," group show at Orlando Gallery, 18376 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (818) 705-5368.

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