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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Diverse Picnic

Art Review

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It Came From Out West-well, not all of it, but the bulk of it, which is to say that 90 paintings from mostly Los Angeles-based artists are hanging around Green Gallery East until June 6. Curated by Joshua Aster and Kristin Calabrese, who flew here with four crates packed with paintings, the trove made it through security, maybe because the show's title, "Lovable Like Orphaned Kitties and Bastard Children," wasn't scrawled on the exterior of the crates.

I looked for some common element in the art and the only thing I noted (besides the California connection) was that each effort was no larger than 11-by-11 inches. Calabrese says the mind-boggling assortment is by "the people we know and love."

The show seems to say that price ($60 to $4,000) depends on what's in your wallet, size doesn't matter, and to hell with content and composition… anything goes.

My fancy was trapped by Dead Rat, 2009, a wee oil by Los Angeles' Frank Ryan. "He found the rat dead in his studio," quipped Aster, the cooler than cool co-curator who hours earlier had finished (with Calabrese's help) sculpting what appears to be a couple locked in gray ashes rained forth from the rumbling bowels of an imaginary Mount Vesuvius. Nearby was a really bad painting of a creepy clown (by Ian Hokin) with clotted white eyes-the point being that good paintings of bad, dead clowns are alive and well, and possibly hip.

What a way to celebrate May and where better than in a tiny modernist gallery (a former pizza joint) topped with a big green sign marking a grassy slice of ground at 1500 N. Farwell Ave. Though I failed to find any one element that defines this exhibit as distinctly "West Coast," it's a fine offering-a picnic of the distinctly diverse.