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Solitary artist, many devotees

September 21, 2003|Suzanne Muchnic

Abstract painter Emerson Woelffer called himself a loner, but he had a lot of friends and admirers. Before his death last February at 88, he was planning two big exhibitions of his work in collaboration with artist curators. Woelffer didn't live long enough to see the finished products, but the shows will go on this fall and catalogs will be published for both of them.

First comes "Emerson Woelffer: Seven Decades" at the College of the Canyons Art Gallery in Santa Clarita. Opening Oct. 1, the 110-piece exhibition was organized by artist Joanne Julian, who directs the gallery. Her checklist includes drawings, prints, collages and paintings spanning the artist's output from his student days at the Art Institute of Chicago to his final years in Los Angeles.

The second big show, "Emerson Woelffer: A Solo Flight," will inaugurate the Gallery at REDCAT at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Nov. 15. The curator is artist Edward Ruscha, who calls his former teacher and longtime friend "an American original" and a champion of abstract painting. Working together, the artists chose more than 50 pieces for the 60-year REDCAT survey.

What Woelffer didn't know is that the celebration of his work would grow even larger after his death. In conjunction with the long-planned retrospectives, two Los Angeles dealers have organized their own exhibitions. The Manny Silverman Gallery in West Hollywood, which represents Woelffer's estate, will launch a selective survey Nov. 1 Three weeks later, on Nov. 22, the Tobey C. Moss Gallery on Beverly Boulevard will open an exhibition of prints from the early 1950s to the early '90s, including lithographs created locally in the '60s at the famed Tamarind workshop.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

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