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Cutting-edge visions take shape on paper

January 31, 2008|Lea Lion

ON trash day, you probably join your neighbors in the weekly ritual of wheeling an oversize bin to the curb in hopes of banishing old newspapers, cardboard boxes, junk mail and magazines from your home.

But not all paper products are destined to have such a short and unexceptional life span. Two new exhibitions -- "Paper Passion 2008" at Tobey C. Moss Gallery and "Contemporary Katagami: Works by Jennifer Falck Linssen," which opens at the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Feb. 10 -- celebrate paper as an art form.

Housed in a nondescript white brick building on Beverly Boulevard, the Tobey C. Moss Gallery is easy to miss amid the upscale design stores and high-end boutiques. Inside the gallery, however, "Paper Passion 2008" has transformed three small rooms into a virtual collage of works on paper, including drawings, lithographs and photographs.

"Works on paper don't have the drama of a painting on canvas, but they are much more intimate and accessible," says gallery director Erin Kurinsky. "And you can own a Picasso print for less than a million dollars."

Among the many paper-based works on view are Ruth Asawa's lithograph "Desert Flower," which is reminiscent of her ethereal hand-knotted wire sculptures, and Emerson Woelffer's print "Tri-Color," which looks as if a piece of bright red paper has torn away to reveal a blue background. All of the works in the show are paper-based, but Allen Ruppersberg's "What Is a Print?" most directly addresses its medium. In colorful script, the print asks questions such as, "What is an edition anyway?" and "Where's the original?"

A couple of miles away, the Craft and Folk Art Museum will explore paper-as-medium in a very different way. "Contemporary Katagami" features Linssen's three-dimensional sculptures inspired by the Japanese art of katagami, or the stencils used to print kimono fabric.

"When Jennifer discovered that the stencils are almost an art form themselves in Japan, she decided to learn the carving technique," explains exhibitions coordinator Sonja Cendak. "But she took it a step further by using the stencils as sculpture."

Drawing inspiration from the elements -- earth, air, water and fire -- the Colorado-based artist evokes natural forms such as wind whipping through a canyon or waves crashing on the shore. Linssen carves delicate, weblike patterns into thick, hand-dyed paper and then stitches the stencils to a copper wire frame -- a painstaking process rarely bestowed on a throwaway product like paper.

"When the Chinese invented paper thousands of years ago, it was more valuable than silk. Nowadays, there is paper everywhere," Linssen says. "I am trying to elevate an ordinary object and make it more valuable."

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-- Lea.Lion@latimes.com

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'PAPER PASSION 2008'

WHERE: Tobey C. Moss Gallery, 7321 Beverly Blvd., L.A.

WHEN: Ends March 29

PRICE: Free

INFO: (323) 933-5523, tobeycmossgallery.com

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'THE CONTEMPORARY KATAGAMI'

WHERE: Craft and Folk Art Museum, 5814 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

WHEN: Feb. 10 to April 27

PRICE: $3 to $5

INFO: (323) 937-4230, cafam.org

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