IMG_0048He reduces buildings to a rectangular lace-like pattern, as if studying the details of the city under a microscope. The flat skeleton of a once hefty edifice is reduced to light, air, and form. Placing these paper grids together in a variety of hanging sculptural configurations, Pereira creates a sophisticated ghost of Rio.

Andrea Brown deals with domesticity. Rendering a magical place, Brown seems to peer into the window of our inner universe. With everyday still lifes of a plant in a paint can, she renders the background of repeated patterns with precision – leaves, tiles, and flowers – a throwback from the ever-present colonial era. In front stand bulldogs or chirping birds, while miniature combat planes zoom in all directions. These are not to be taken literally. The birds and other symbolism reside in the beseigned woman’s thoughts; the hullabaloo of a small home full of children and domestic needs. Similarly, “Na Sala” pairs precise leaves and patterns against a tiled background. In a quadriptych, she dispels precision with a room strewn with stuffed toys and clothing. It is another depiction of daily living, a mix of organized intentions and disorganized reality. Renato Bezzaro De Melo moves back in time and creates a disposal world with obsolete objects – rulers, tracing paper, stencils, carbon paper and big pens filled with ink – memories of once universal materials that are no longer needed. With them he renders the density of Rio, including its cemetery. The task, in today’s high speed era, is for De Melo a form of meditation, a trade-off that seemed to Andrea Brown, “Norma,” acrylic on canvas, 39 x 36”, is currently on view at Salt Fine Art. take him forever to accomplish (Salt Fine Art, Orange County).  RC

The gallery is full of unusual forms that grow, morph, and in the case of “Ristra” by Meriel Stern even hang from the ceiling. The group show, which in addition to Stern also features Ann Bingham-Freeman, Kerry Kugelman, and Jaime Sweetman, was assembled by curator Quinton Beemiller based on the artists’ shared interest in organic and mutation-like qualities. Bingham-Freeman works with the human form in a loose manner as a starting point by capturing the contours of the body through nervous line work that emblazes the subjects with dizzying energy. In works like “Proof Big Floater” the skin of the seated woman flaps uncontrollably as if floating in space. Kugelman’s imagery by contrast is much more mysterious. A mixture of pigments and mixed media, the results suggest the cosmic and otherworldly. Whether the subjects are microscopic bits of DNA or distant galaxies, they appear to be growing and expanding on the canvas.

Stern’s sculptures are the most engaging of the bunch as they reach out from the walls. Her wire and fiber forms resemble nests, pods, and other natural forms. However, the industrial materials seem at odds with the forms, which create an enjoyable juxtaposition. Lastly, Sweetman’s layered drawings of the human anatomy are often mixed with limbs from plants and roots. A good example is “Bone Grapevine,” which appears plantlike at the bottom and proceeds to become a spine at the top of the composition. The intricate design looks scientific because of Sweetman’s attention to detail. As these mutations come to life, they read as a cross between medical illustrations and a botany textbook. While the aesthetics of each artist differs significantly, the shared concepts are enough for this show to really grow on you (W. Keith & Janet Kellogg Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona). G. James Daichendt

When we say something is grounded, we mean it’s firmly fixed and stable. That makes it something reliable and something safe. When we say a person is grounded, it also refers to someone stable and solid, immovable and without lofty ideals or conceit, but in this case, those traits can be limiting. IMG_0058Chaos is the breath of life and when anarchy unearths and destabilizes, the world becomes exhilarating, even terrifying, and when one is untethered, the vast unknown can become known, and what lies ahead is neither predictable nor safe. These dual qualities of solidity and maelstrom can be found in abundance in Karen Kauffman’s “Grounded,” where the line between grounded and unhinged is often blurred. In her large-scale geometries, we find black and white circles and squares that chime equal parts earthly sediment and cosmic dust, and yet the exact nature of this rule/rebellion dichotomy is somewhat elusive. If one were to consider Kauffman a type of archeologist, Karen Kauffman, “Corollas Bloom,” 2013, acrylic on panel, 48 x 48”, is currently on view at Main Street. however (and it seems that the goal of some artists is to urge an excavation of your soul via a mining of their own), we begin to piece together the evidence of her enterprise – but is she exhuming, or is she concealing? Whatever is present, whatever is presented, seems to be just a part of the picture, a piece of her journey. Fragments and movement might denote beginning or ending, and it’s quite probable that what we experience through her brash strokes and diffused layering is actually the middle. And the middle can go on forever.

This feeling of defragmentation of time and space makes large exhibitions of her work such as this one feel profound. Chunky petals of ink and ivory vibrate life and beckon exploration; luminous spheres and shadowy boxes echo the Alpha and the Omega, reflecting a boundless world, eternal and unbroken. Pieces can be puzzled together or apart, even within their own framework, and each configuration creates a blueprint for a cycle of life: choppy waves of iridescent paint chips are both primordial soup and glistening 23rd century puddles; tendriled orchids warp and cling to forgotten wastelands as well as to worlds unborn.

Through them all, there is a sense of center and truth that can be directly related to the Hindi “Om.” Kauffman is a conduit for this ancient incantation, and regardless if her works are the result of subconscious evasion or exclamation, they are always enlightenment. (Main Street Gallery, Pomona).
Stacy Davies

January 2014 ArtScene

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