Ava Jancar

"Bernd & Hilla Becher: A Survey - 1972-2006"

Simultaneously operating within a system and outside a system
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REVIEW The problem, or perhaps the benefit, of a survey of photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher in an environment like the Fraenkel Gallery is the institutional quality the space projects onto the work. Read more »

No mere ornament

"Birth of Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury"
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REVIEW In Mary and Russel Wright's Guide to Easier Living, first published in 1950, the designers instruct the midcentury housewife to avoid the "deeply carved wooden chair" in favor of a "contour design" to "simplify cleaning." This form-follows-function approach to design reached its height in the mass market in 1950s and '60s, most notably with the introduction of the stacking, molded fiberglass chairs of Charles and Ray Eames — which can still found, en masse, in libraries throughout the University of California system.

Initially fuele Read more »

"Held Rectangles"

Artist John C. Fernie jumps on the frame
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REVIEW In Lawrence Weiner's 1968 piece, A 36" X 36" REMOVAL TO THE LATHING OR SUPPORT WALL OF PLASTER OR WALL-BOARD FROM A WALL, the title functions as a set of instructions for a physical action that must be performed to complete the work. Like a number of Weiner's other pieces in the same vein, the result varies based on where the piece is installed and/or executed, making for a work of art that is difficult to re-create identically. For these reasons, Weiner's art seems to defy substantive definition. Read more »

"Form +"

Art with a sense of history
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REVIEW With the evolution of the gallery into a white, blank space, the artwork displayed within its walls has metamorphosed as well. The first-floor exhibit at the Meridian Gallery, "Form +," — curated along with two adjacent shows, "Franck André Jamme: New Exercises" and "Dhyana" by California College of the Arts dean Larry Rinder — call into play both of these factors.

In its very nature, the three-story Victorian that houses Meridian already opposes the clean lines most contemporary art galleries aspire to. Read more »

The Bewitching Mary Blair Project

Disney's right hand shines in "The Art and Flair of Mary Blair"
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REVIEW Beginning in 1940 and continuing through the '60s, Mary Blair was a key contributor to the Disney aesthetic. As one of Walt Disney's right hands, she was responsible for the design of both the It's a Small World and Alice in Wonderland rides at Disneyland, as well as numerous large-scale tile murals that adorned the exteriors of Tomorrowland and still grace the lobby of the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort in Florida. Not only is her work part of the Disney canon but she also created illustrations for the classic children's Little Golden Books. Read more »

"Pablo Guardiola"

Photographs that prove deceptive yet captivating
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REVIEW Although, on entering Little Tree Gallery, it seems that Pablo Guardiola's show consists of only seven photographs, that small collection forms the crux of a multidimensional presentation. The images have slight subjects and document the finite and the ephemeral. In Much More Than a Brand of Crackers, a Beer, a Malt Beverage and a Legendary Taino Leader (2007), a bottle cap is captured after being flung onto an asphalt surface. Read more »

"Android"

Ray Potes pays homage to the history of film-based photography
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REVIEW In the grand scheme of things, the mission of Hamburger Eyes is an admirable one: to perpetuate the life of film-based photography, its processing, and its printing. Read more »

"Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper"

Constant plasticity comes to the fore
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REVIEW Dada artist Kurt Schwitters maintained that formal elements were second only to an art object's ability to remain in flux — in spite of the static qualities inherent in his own work. No completed artwork could ever be fully finished but rather was kept open for future reinvention. In the current exhibition at the Legion of Honor, "Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper," which includes an approximately 5-by-7-inch collage by Schwitters, this constant plasticity of the art object seems to have come to the fore. Read more »