One thing the show makes clear is that much of the time in training, the first responders we come to rely upon are also dealing in images: cardboard criminals, dummy accident victims, hollow props, empty storefronts and red-paint blood. That said, when we encounter a sign advising recruits to "train like your life depends on it -- because it does," it's clearly no joke. These images have real-world counterparts and thus have serious consequences.
Center for Land Use Interpretation, 9331 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (310) 839-5722, through July 18. Closed Monday through Thursday.
Weathered but living ghosts
The photographs in Ori Gersht's current exhibition at Angles Gallery, drawn from a recent series titled "Ghost," are deeply reverent portraits of very old trees.
Gersht, who has lived in London for the past 16 years, returned to his home country of Israel -- specifically to the ancient olive groves of Galilee -- to make the works. The trees are more than 500 years old and look much as you'd expect them to after a lengthy tenure in violently disputed soil. They're low to the ground, thick around the middle and painfully gnarled, with twisted branches and spare, dry foliage.
Centered individually in Gersht's 4-by-5-foot prints, they're rather beautifully ugly, each perfectly unique and saturated in the character of the place.
What's remarkable, however, is Gersht's peculiar manipulation of light. Working at the height of midday glare, he overexposed each image by several stops, then delicately resurrected the washed-out traces in the darkroom.
The result is a strange, ghostly quality, hence the show's title, that makes the images look like negatives or X-rays in some places and like paintings in others.
Some have an almost holographic presence, as if fragments of the image were suspended in clear resin. The palette, meanwhile, is reduced to a dusty spectrum of pale grays, greens and lavenders, with touches of yellow, including a burning ochre sky in one of the most dramatic.
One senses, in this strenuous but poetic exercise, a desire to capture time as the trees themselves experience it -- in protracted waves of sun, dust and wind rather than chronologies of elections, news reports and death tolls.
Angles Gallery, 2230 and 2222 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 396-5019, through June 26. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Extending off into the horizon
"Sight Lines," an exhibition at the Happy Lion Gallery featuring three young L.A. artists, is a handsome show filled with clean lines and good intentions. But it doesn't add up to much more than the sum of its parts.
The most striking single work is Rachelle Rojany's "Cornered Infinity," a pair of 22-foot wood planks that reach from the floor to one corner of the gallery's ceiling, diminishing at the top as though toward a vanishing point. Several smaller wood sculptures have a similarly sharp look, but they communicate very little.
Patrick Lakey's works span three different media -- photography, bronze and vinyl wall text -- and come across as frustratingly fragmented. They're more like intriguing pieces of larger projects than complete works unto themselves.
Brian Wills' vertical stripe paintings are the most satisfying, with a lively sense of pattern and snappy color. But they also feel at risk of falling back on their own prettiness.
It is young work, on the whole, more attractive than deep. Each of the three clearly has the motions down, but it's not yet clear what they're trying to say.
Happy Lion Gallery, 963 Chung King Road, Chinatown, (213) 625-1360, through July 3. Closed Sunday through Tuesday.