Ollman, Leah. “Looky See: A sprawling, satisfying show.” Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2008.


A sprawling, satisfying show

Summer group shows don't have to be like so-called summer reading -- purposely light, unworthy of the serious attention expected during the rest of the year -- but all too many of them are. "Looky See," at Otis' Ben Maltz Gallery, is a refreshing exception. Smart and consistently interesting, it offers plenty of spirited pleasures without ever insulting the visitor's intelligence.

Meg Linton, director of the gallery, organized the show with curatorial intern Nina Laurinolli. They came up with a roster of 28 artists from L.A. and beyond, some with deep local exposure and others with very little, who "draw, cut, film, pin, perforate, perform and journal." Material engagement is largely what unifies the group, which settles thoughtfully into clusters around notions of exuberant energy (Ann Diener, Penelope Gottlieb, Aaron Noble, Erin Marie Dunn, Emily de Araújo, Mindy Shapero), performative gesture (Barbara Berk, Takehito Koganezawa), diaristic notation (Fred Stonehouse, Tucker Neel) and the vulnerabilities of the social/political/religious status quo (Sandow Birk, Joe Biel, Eric Beltz, Richard Keely and Anna O'Cain).

Iva Gueorguieva's "Sprawl" installation is a standout. Layered, raw-edged drawings on paper and canvas spread across a wall, draping small speakers and ending near the floor beside two structures built of wood scrap. Grace and beauty jostle urbanity and contingency to compelling effect. Elizabeth Turk's long vertical scroll drawing of twisting vines is another gem. It unfurls like Rapunzel's tresses from a window near the gallery ceiling, a gorgeous study in persistence.

The luxurious, inexhaustible line also animates Ron Santos' ink drawings, which suggest webs, nets and spontaneous organic complexes. The biological and the botanical thread through the show -- analogues of the determination and generative energy that produced this exciting array of work. Also included are Roy Dowell, Erica Eyres, Claudia Nieto, Chris Oatey, Ruby Osorio, Ebony Patterson, Fran Siegel, Coleen Sterritt, Randal Thurston and Xawery Wolski.
Tucker Neel