Charlene Steen

  • Critic's Choice

    Just as critics evaluate works of art with an intellectually focused, calculating eye, so do they prefer works created by artists with a similar bent, or so it appears from the very cerebral paintings chosen by the three critics, Fidel Danieli, Kurt von Meier, and William Wilson, whose selections comprise this show. It is a good show. The paintings are almost without exception first-rate. But they are decidedly slanted in approach toward the formal rather than the free; toward the rational rather than the emotional. Most are flat, hard-edged, and if not strictly abstract-classicist, then present

  • Arts of Southern California XVII

    Departing from the traditional media designation theme, this series is aimed at capturing a specific stylistic attitude prevalent among Southern California painters—the personal, often subconscious, individual view. Unfortunately, many of the 16 artists selected don’t fit the bill, and the quality of the work leaves much to be desired. Primarily figurative, the imagery is often strident and obvious rather than introspective and esoteric, or in the more topical examples, doesn’t come through to the viewer. In an effort to display newer or lesser known local artists, the museum has obviously

  • Sixth Annual Juried Show

    Surprisingly well-rounded and competent are the paintings by South Bay artists chosen for this year’s juried exhibit. Judges Lee Mullican, Emerson Woelffer, and Jason Wong have done an exceptionally fine job of selecting works of technical and esthetic merit from the hodge-podge of amateurs and professionals who typically enter such a contest.

    Awards, too, have been wisely given. George Csengeri’s first prize oil, a mauve abstraction with vertical lines arranged asymmetrically over a textured focus, manifests careful selectivity and synthesis of sheer essentials; Mary Zarbano’s second prize “Rain

  • Fourth Annual Southern California Exhibition

    Jurors Warren Beach, Claire Falkenstein and Kenneth Ross did an excellent job in selecting a broad diversity of styles without compromising on the quality of work. Many new faces and surprisingly few old names contribute to the freshness of the show (although there are quite a few familiar-looking selections by unfamiliar people).

    Particularly impressive is the quantity of fine sculptures, ranging from the very basic, symbolic tree stump carving Mother Walking Her Five Corks by Barry McCallion to the completely formal, geometric, symmetrical, colored plexiglass organization of Robert Stevenson.

  • “American Art Nouveau Posters”

    Not often seen are America’s contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, but in this display of about 75 posters from the Library of Congress collection the great activity by artists this side of the Atlantic is apparent. Evidently posters advertising books and periodicals, which permeated the country around 1895–6, were the most popular expression of this style in the United States and served as a foundation-stone for modern pictorial advertising art. Participating in the art nouveau poster movement were both painters and lithographers, among them John Sloan, Will H. Bradley, Maxfield Parrish,

  • Thomas Akawie, Burton Fredericksen and Joan Maffei

    Clearly the outstanding artist of the trio is Thomas Akawie, whose visual effect explorations are channeled into a tight geometric format. Successfully combining elements of the current painting schools, such mundanities as eyeglasses and hearts from Pop art, opposing textures and patterns from Pop art, with overtones of fantasy and occasional whimsy, and utilizing a wide variety of technical devices to produce them, he creates very individual hard-edge abstractions.

    Burton Fredericksen’s paintings are of a wholly different nature. Composed of genre scenes interpreted in a flattened, simplified

  • “Japanese Netsukes and Scrolls”

    Strikingly displayed are numerous beautiful examples of Japanese Netsukes from the collection of L. E. Shepard. The functional toggle ends on the belt cords of traditional garb, netsukes fall into two categories, Manju––flat button type, and Kagamibuta––originally round or square and inlaid with relief carved round plaques. This latter type evolved into much more elaborate forms––complete three-dimensional figures, animals, masks, imaginary mythological images, etc., thus becoming more of an artistic expression than a simple utilitarian item. The exhibit features both the inlaid Kagamibuta and

  • “Five Hard Edge Painters” and Karl Benjamin Retrospective

    The hard edge exhibit features the paintings of Karl Benjamin, whose one-man retrospective is being shown concurrently, plus Florence Arnold, Max Bailey, Rod Briggs, and John McLaughlin in quite a well-rounded view of the differing abstract classicist approaches.

    Clearly the most fundamental selections are those of McLaughlin. Basic rectangular units or vertical strips (rectangular units themselves) almost symmetrically divide up the large, simple canvases. Color is held down to monochromatic black and white with the occasional addition of a single hue. The resultant effect is one of purity and

  • “New Directions”

    This four-man show, featuring works by Marcus White, Gordon Wagner, Jerome Kirk, and Jari Havlena, is both well chosen and effectively presented. Swinging mobiles, standing sculptures and prone paintings combine in a most complementary fashion. The individual selections, however, are of variable quality.

    Strong are the welded and assembled metal sculptures of Marcus White. Completely constructed of automotive parts, they successfully transcend their mundane origins to become cohesive sculptural units, as in the shimmery, undulating, amorphous welded bumper entitled Swing Low Sweet Cadillac, or

  • “Annual Art Rental Exhibit”

    Typical of most group shows of this type, a wide diversity of styles and abilities are shown. Strongest selections are those by John Altoon, Walter Bock, Hilda Levy, James Strombotne, Gerd Koch, Alexander Nepote, and Walter Leather Jones—primarily the more well-known artists.

    Charlene Steen

  • “Photography from Five Years of Space”

    Covering the first five years of NASA’s activity, these photographs are of primarily documentary historical interest. Photographers Allan Gould, Maurice Louis, A.C. Summerville, and George Tames have captured almost all aspects of the space program in their primarily color photos, from genre training pictures to typical rocket blast-offs to scenes featuring various mechanical devices. There’s even an arty shot here and there, such as Bugeyed in the Blockhouse, an oval, distorted view. But these are too few and far between.

    Charlene Steen

  • “Watercolors of the United States”

    A small exhibition of dominantly realistic sea-landscapes, the overall show is somewhat lacking in esthetic merit. Two of the most notable exceptions, however, are a perfectly beautiful Marin seascape and a sensitive little Whistler shop scene. They can almost make one overlook the garbage art of such people as Eliot O’Hara.

    Charlene Steen