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Review: Mary O'Malley and Laura Sharp Wilson build slow thrills

October 25, 2012|By David Pagel
  • Laura Sharp Wilson's "The Women's Relief Society Absorbs Toxins," 2010, acrylic and graphite on Unryu paper mounted on wood panel, 24-1/4 x 14-1/4 inches.
Laura Sharp Wilson's "The Women's Relief Society Absorbs… (From the artist and Sam Lee…)

The lost art of doodling, along with the disappearing art of architectural draftsmanship, lies behind “Loaded: Drawings by Mary O’Malley and Laura Sharp Wilson.” At Sam Lee Gallery, this felicitous pairing of works on paper makes room for calm possibility.

O’Malley’s three abstractions anchor the exhibition. Larger than any of Sharp Wilson’s page-size pieces, O’Malley’s ink, gouache and gold leaf drawings resemble stylized chandeliers that defy gravity, sometimes hovering like imaginary spacecraft or letting us get lost in their ornate ornamentation. Scale shifts from micro- to macro-, sometimes suggesting cellular structures, beehives, jewelry or city skylines.

Sharp Wilson builds abstract pictures that combine the precision of realistic depictions with the abbreviation of diagrams to keep your eye moving every which way. Their subdued grays, greens and golds, as well as pinks, tans and blues, soften the punch of their Rube Goldberg-style compositions.

Both O’Malley and Sharp Wilson turn away from the eye-grabbing flashiness of electronic imagery for the slow thrills — and long-lasting satisfactions — of handcrafted pictures, where there’s more to the story than immediately meets the eye.


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Sam Lee Gallery, 990 N. Hill St. #190, (323) 227-0275, through Nov. 21. Closed Sunday-Tuesday.

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