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Review: Michelle Andrade's notes to self at Charlie James

June 21, 2012|By Leah Ollman
  • Detail of Michelle Andrade's ink drawing, "Surrender Michelle."
Detail of Michelle Andrade's ink drawing, "Surrender Michelle." (Charlie James Gallery )

"Are there scholarships to rehab?" Michelle Andrade endearingly asks in "Surrender Michelle," the most absorbing and among the largest of her drawings at Charlie James. Andrade nearly smothers the 31-by-50-inch sheet of paper with inked ramblings, doodles, intricate patterns, propositions, reflections and self-doubts: "I have the best taste in music....I am still filled with Catholic guilt....My mind races....Don't get too close....Want to come to the Verdugo tonight?"

Andrade's drawings meld teenage exuberance with adult anxiety. The combination works, for the most part, but better in the torrential stream of consciousness that is  "Surrender Michelle" than in the single-phrase, notebook-page drawings whose zippy palette and bubble letters nod nostalgically to the '70s. The statements in the smaller pieces express preoccupation -- delivered with the inflection of a middle schooler -- with how much one likes and is liked. They issue slightly snarky prods, as well as sobering references to medical travails: "Now Comes the Biopsy;" "Hospital Waiting Rooms Should Have a Bar."

 Many of the drawings are dated, and some even include the time of day, a telling indicator of the short shelf life of some of the sentiments declared. Every entry in Andrade's decorated diary is set within an ebullience of spirals, arrows, flowers and other designs, whatever the mood reflected in the words themselves. This generates a little bit of friction, an uneasy conflation of private and public that might render these psychic spills cathartic for more than just the L.A.-based artist herself.

Charlie James Gallery, 969 Chung King Road, (213) 687-0844, through July 14. Closed Sunday through Tuesday. www.cjamesgallery.com

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