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'Girls' Power

May 19, 2000|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The exhibition title "Gino's Girls" may strike you as cheeky or even potentially creepy.

But the truth behind the moniker is much simpler than our wayward imaginations might think.

The Gino in question is Bob Gino, the venerable art gallery owner in the Valley, who has steered the Orlando Gallery through thick and thin and a recent move up Ventura Boulevard, from Sherman Oaks to Tarzana.

Said "girls" are an assortment of artists, most of whom have shown at the Orlando, and all of whom happen to be female. Any other thematic threads are, presumably, purely coincidental.

Among the most impressive works here are simple portraits of kitschy old storefronts, movie marquees and motels by Mary Monge, done up with a style that could be called no-fuss realism.

We even see an oblique view of a nearby liquor store, including a "TIME TO BUY" sign and clock, only a few blocks from the new Orlando location.

On less realistic turf, mythology meets tinges of new age imagery in Tina Atkins' works, with ominous eyes and the occasional dolphin reference, and Bonese Turner's watercolors are desertscapes that take some twisty, surreal turns at times.

Marla Fields' abstractions, richly textured and suggesting the tactility of plaster, seem to allude to natural processes, while Leslie Crofford's maze of images, "Segments," juxtapose an eye, hand, umbrella and other seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected pictures.

*

Bringing It All Together: Collage is the thing, logically enough, in "VIVA-Collage," the current group show at the VIVA Gallery in Northridge. But questions arise as to the nature of that very thing.

Collage aesthetics, the art of culling materials from various sources into a visual statement, have pervaded contemporary art to the point where the influence loses its singular identity. Junk art, fluxus, appropriation and assemblage are but a few of the offshoots and familial links to the central notion of collage.

Aptly, the work at VIVA covers diverse terrain. Surprising spiritual and existential concepts enter the picture, in Michael Hankin's "Lunar Calendar," and in Clover Butte's "Simply Being," with Buddhist-related clippings from periodicals.

Butte's "Auto-Iconography Centerfold" stirs in self-effacing humor.

Mary Banwart's "Waves Laden With Oblivion" is created from handmade paper, echoing cellular life and sea life forms, while Lois Ramirez's "A Slip of the Tongue" finds floating letters and numbers, turning away from meaning and dipping into abstraction.

John Selleck's "The Forming of a Dream" plays up the fragmentary nature of dreams, a natural cross-link to collage, and Ruth Ehrlich's "Napa Valley--Winter" evokes its subject with an ambiguous brown, soggy image on rippling paper.

Beverly Grossman's mixed-media "Pilgrimage to Bilbao" pays homage to the Frank Gehry Guggenheim landmark museum in Spain. Befitting a structure that seems to be an architectural, gravity-defying collage in itself, this piece is a hazy convergence of images, a sketch of the building and other visual angles.

DETAILS

"Gino's Girls," through May 27 at Orlando Gallery, 18376 Ventura Blvd. in Tarzana. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., (818) 705-5368. "VIVA-Collage," through May 27 at the VIVA Gallery, 8516 Reseda Blvd. in Northridge. Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, noon-4 p.m. (818) 576-0775.

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