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This year, L.A. show covers the landscape

October 09, 2003|Duane Noriyuki | Times Staff Writer

In the context of this year's Los Angeles Art Show theme, "Old Masters to Cutting-Edge Contemporary Including Photography," the masters include Picasso and Bierstadt, while the cutting edge is represented by the likes of Judith Schaechter and Gottfried Helnwein.

Helnwein's 20-by-60-foot outdoor installation "Modern Sleep 2003," as well as photographs from his collaboration with Marilyn Manson, are included in the show, which opens with this evening's gala and is open to the general public Friday through Sunday at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar.

"Modern Sleep 2003" (digital print on vinyl) is the latest in a series dating back to the 1980s and reflects Helnwein's use of children in questioning the human condition. It includes two images of a girl. In one, her skin is pale white, and she is dressed in black. In the other, she is black, dressed in white. In both images, her expression is death-like.

"They have open eyes, so modern sleep doesn't mean they are just sleeping," says Helnwein. "It might mean something else."

Helnwein, who moved to Los Angeles two years ago, says his recent work reflects newfound freedom. "This is the biggest melting pot I know. Any ethnic group, anything is present here in total chaos, but it works.... I feel a freedom I've never felt before.... I don't feel controlled."

He says he enjoys doing public installations because it reaches a wider audience. "I like to show my art in public spaces to reach people who have no idea about fine art, who have no intent of going to galleries or museums. I want to confront people who are unprepared."

Schaechter, who works in stained glass, is represented by Claire Oliver Fine Art in New York, whose first-year participation reflects organizers' attempt to broaden the scope of the show to include more contemporary work.

Schaechter describes herself as a "fairly normal human specimen." In a statement about her work, she says: "My main interests are sex and death, with romance and violence the obvious runners up. I'm trying to be as cliche, sentimental and decorative as possible -- not as a strategy for ironic commentary about how stupid sentimentality and cliches are, but because this is the stuff, that time and time again, I am obsessed with, in love with, and that I have faith in."

The show, sponsored by the Fine Art Dealers Assn., is in its ninth year. It will include more than 3,000 museum-quality offerings from more than 50 art dealers, most of them outside Southern California. Participating museums include the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Art, Autry Museum and the Museum of Latin American Art.

"It's really a national show that happens to take place in Los Angeles," says spokeswoman Mary Lou Rutberg, who describes the show as an opportunity for art enthusiasts, buyers and sellers as well as novices wanting to learn more about art.

There will be a three-day art and design symposium as well as a series of six decorating sessions illustrating "the pleasures of collecting and living with fine art," says Rutberg.

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Los Angeles Art Show

Where: Barker Hangar, Santa Monica Airport, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica

When: noon to 8 p.m. Friday, noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $18

Info: (323) 857-6149

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