"Intricacies of Phantom Content" and Trickle-down: Yours for the Mining

Diamonds are certainly Hilary Pecis' and Elyse Mallouk's best friends

REVIEW Diamonds are certainly Hilary Pecis' and Elyse Mallouk's best friends. But even though the sparklers in their complimentary exhibits at Triple Base Gallery let off a familiar, enticing shine, do they reveal new facets?

Like antlers, rainbows, and feathers, gemstones and crystal-inspired geometric forms have bobbed to the surface as a motif of the zeitgeist, as seen both on gallery walls and the loud prints and new rave colors that adorn the merchandise at Urban Outfitters (not to mention Lady Gaga's day-to-day wardrobe). I don't fault Pecis' art for its timing. Her untitled ink, collage, and acrylic laden panels, which intertwine black and white geometric patterns, gems galore, and cutout twists of metal and hair into eye-shredding nebulas, are indeed beautifully executed and easy to get lost in. But I wonder if their very au courant palette doesn't time-stamp them to their disadvantage. Her acrylic paintings — all kaleidoscopic close-ups of Krypton-like surfaces, mostly in shades of gray — make a stronger case with their restraint. The continued influence of the original class Mission Schoolers (Alicia McCarthy, please raise your hand) have on younger local artists is striking.

One has to descend into the bowels of the Earth, as it were, to see Mallouk's punnily-titled video installation Trickle-down: Yours for the Mining. A bare bulb scarcely illuminates a stack of diamond drawings (which viewers are invited to take). With the flick of a switch, the drawings come to life as the blackened space suddenly, literally, drips in a video projection of sparkling animated stones. Like the rhinestone cascade in the opening credit sequence of Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life — itself already redone by filmmaker Matt Wolf in the sweet short Imitation of Imitation — Mallouk's diamante mirrorball cannily reflects the emotional and material investments we make in artifice; art itself notwithstanding. Space may be the place upstairs, but I'm gonna side with Etta James on this one: in the basement, that's where it's at.

INTRICACIES OF PHANTOM CONTENT AND TRICKLE-DOWN: YOURS FOR THE MINING Through July 26. Triple Base, 3041 24th St., SF. (415) 643-3943. www.basebasebase.com

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