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Creative Clutter

Artists take 'messy desk' approach with their paintings.


The two artists showing at the Brand Library galleries come from the school of art grounded in the "creative minds are rarely tidy" philosophy.

Neatness of execution and cohesion of ideas are the furthest from their minds. Exploring ideas still in progress is key.

Both Kurt Kornacki and Mark Hix work as scenic painters when not pursuing their work. They bring to their fine art a loose, carefree approach and take glee in leaving their work unfinished.

The investigative spirit is infectious.

Kornacki's work in the Brand's Atrium Gallery is presented under the telling title, "Fun for All & No Harm Meant," but we sense some vague harm is lurking in the periphery. There's a party going on, but also darker or possibly sinister things, as well.

The best work is a triptych called "Entertainments," but the fun seems flecked with danger. There are clowns and a forbidding barricade reading "Closed, Private Party," among other rough, overlapping images. A certain chaos threatens to take over.

Some of his titles bask in paradox, as in "Buzz Languor," a not-quite-composed portrait in a style between Francis Bacon and Walter Lantz. The tilting assembly of shapes, text and imagery in "Spring Loaded" seems to play off the pun, ripening with vernal color and full of tense, pent-up energy.

In the large Skylight Gallery, Mark Hix's sizable paintings and relief works lay claim to the art of the unfinished. He mixes traditional and odd materials in a series of abstractions with paint and stucco on wood panel. In "Tree," large chunks of paint have been chipped away to reveal the wood surface below.

Still-life elements as conventional as fruits and plates and as quirky as a length of chain protrude into three dimensions in "Cusp," on the cusp between the real and the representational. Historical art references slip into the mix with the surreal, Max Ernst-like "Blue Apple and Noose," and a more literal reinvention of pieces based on work by Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso, whose Cubist images of guitars are replaced with the real thing.

Neither Hix nor Kornacki worry much about polish or focusing their conceptions. What counts is a quality of disturbing yet comfortable preconceptions about art and the world.


Kurt Kornacki, "Fun for All & No Harm Meant," and Mark Hix, "Projecting Relief," through Dec. 2 at the Brand Library Art Galleries, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale. Gallery hours: 1-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 1-6 p.m. Wednesday, 1-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday. (818) 548-2051.

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