Elizabeth M. Polley

  • Cordoba Bienal

    30 paintings by 20 artists from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, selected by Paul Mills, curator of the Oakland Art Museum, Lawrence Alloway, curator of the Guggenheim Museum, and Robert Wool, president of the Inter-American Foundation for the Arts, from the Second Bienal Americana de Arte held at the University of Cordoba, Argentina, last fall.

    The South American artists are apparently an eclectic group. In some cases they have achieved a syncretistic style in which their obvious borrowings have been made to serve a new and personal purpose. And in other cases one searches

  • Genevieve Edwards and more

    An astonishingly weak selection of 28 paintings. For some obscure reason a jury comprised of Elmer Bischoff, Paul Mills and Wally Hedrick rejected 388 of the 416 paintings and drawings submitted for this year’s annual, to come up with a show that resembles a high school annual more than the sophisticated work one has a right to expect from an area supporting some of the better known artists in the state.

    Insecure jurors can create a minor scandal, and at the same time buy a cheap reputation for having ’’tough eyes” by this process of mass rejection. The West Coast has seen a rash of such jurying

  • Jose Posada

    A selected group of 100 wood engravings by a printmaker who, for the better part of his life, was a salaried employee of a Mexican publisher and conducted a sort of picture journalism of his own for the illiterate peons of his time. It is estimated that he produced more than 20,000 engravings, with a single design running in some cases to as many as 5 million prints.

    In using his work to satirize contemporary Mexican life, Posada wielded a forceful and vitriolic weapon. As a prophet of revolution he paralleled Spain’s Goya and France’s Daumier. The limitations of the medium plus the vehement

  • Ronald Dahl and Carl Jennings

    Paintings and drawings of figures in a strange state of weightlessness, and decorative iron works that have the feel of honest craftsmanship and the look of beauty.

    Dahl has his own ideas on subject-matter and has painted in a style strongly influenced by Frank Lobdell, which would indicate a thick, painterly surface and wonderfully plastic composition, with shape defined by sinuous brush-stroke. Despite its suggestion of Munch and Kokoschka, Dahl’s idiom borders on Surrealism: floating figures of fantastically colored dogs and people (in that order of importance) held in suspension just above

  • Wayne Thiebaud, Tony DeLap, Jerry Silva, Anthony Berlant, Ralph Goings, David Dangelo, Darrell Forney, Alan Post, Gregory Kondos, William Wiley, Gary Pruner, Walter Ball, Larry Weldon, Dan Shapiro, Irving Marcus, Jack Ogden, Mel Ramos and more

    Collector Malcolm Weintraub and Robert Else, Professor of Art at Sacramento State College, have selected 60 works by 31 artists of the immediate area in a show that is of much higher calibre than one might expect from a city too far away to be part of the Bay Area metropolitan complex of galleries yet too close to be wholly independent of it.

    In a strange sort of dual role, San Francisco has been both a boon and a curse to the outlying cities. Too often unforgivably parasitic, city fathers of perimeter metropolises are apt to take a dim view of building museums or developing art centers since

  • Marjorie Ehlers

    The first one-man show of oils and drawings by an artist of great potential whose brushwork and whose design is nearly flawless, but whose symbolism is so personal as to need her special interpretation. Which limits viewer participation. In short, she prefers monologue to dialogue.

    Miss Ehlers has chosen to speak through the human figure as it is involved with a group. The central figure in each picture is part encapsulated in broad black line, and is presumably herself. The major part of her show is a sort of charade about one important event in her life. But what the event was and why its echo

  • William Morehouse

    In a gallery far too small for its stock and much too cluttered for comfortable viewing, Morehouse’s measured landscapes still show to advantage. He is exhibiting mostly small things in which his ability to state and support eloquent space is clearly revealed, although his tendency lately to break the frontal plane of the picture with an ox-bow line is tricky and unfortunate.

    Morehouse has recently enriched his palette by extending the range of color to include more reds, a condition benefiting such small pictures as “Black field,” which is best in the show here, and in harmony with the thick

  • Roger Baird

    The 44th National Exhibition of the California Watercolor Society stresses an astonishing range of technical approaches to the handling of a medium that was probably in use before man had a spoken language. One sees here the full spectrum—from the transparent to the opaque, from the objective to the non-objective. The jurors, Jonathan Scott, Leonard Edmondson, Noel Quinn, Clem Hall, and Hilda Levy, apparently placed but one requirement upon an accepted work: that it stand as a painting. They have admitted very few duds. Yet despite the depth of subject matter and the general excellence of

  • Robert Hartman and Richard Wagner

    Mixed media paintings expounding the romance of the aviator, and constructed metal sculpture playing weight against measure.

    Hartman scrubs his canvases with subtle variable grays and into this nebulous background he photo-screens sepia-toned pictures of early-day biplanes or monoplanes in pairs, multiples in tight formation, and occasionally a single plane in lone-eagle concept (although there is no special reference to Lindberg). By keeping them compartmented in white rectangles he isolates them from the elemental sky area and suggests the artificiality of the flying machine despite its marvelous

  • John Mancini

    Mancini’s division of the canvas into large uncluttered areas of strong color and his ability to summarize trees and houses by means of reducing them to simple volumes give a quiet power to his paintings. Recently he has turned from the quiet serenity of understated landscape to the quiet serenity of understated urban scape—thereby escaping the threat of monotony which sometimes menaces his shows.

    Elizabeth M. Polley

  • Warren Parker and Victor Heady

    The Vido is Sacramento’s newest gallery, located in Town and Country suburb. Its current exhibition roster indicates that it will cater to the more plebian tastes of the suburbanite. Which confronts Heady and his partner, Don Wilson, who own the gallery, with a problem of policy: determining their responsibilities as tastemakers as well as merchandisers.

    This small opening show features an exhibition of works done in the past three years by Parker, a young man of very irregular performance, and a token show by Heady, himself. Since the gallery is small (though tastefully appointed) and emphasis

  • “Chinese Art Treasures from the National Palace and the Central Museums of China”

    Rich in variety in everything from tapestries to teapots, the Chinese Art Treasures from the National Palace and the Central Museums of China have arrived at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, to make their last public appearance in the United States before returning to Taiwan. Included are sanctified bronze vessels derived from lowly kitchen utensils used in ancient Chinese homes, priceless pottery and art objects, and some of the most famous paintings surviving from the Tang, Five Dynasties, Sung, Yuan and Ming Dynasties (618–1644 A.D.). These are the Chinese ming-chi, or “

  • Jack Jefferson

    An eight-year retrospective of Jefferson’s work, beginning with canvases characterized by an overall complexity and including his latest Embarcadero series. In these latter he is concerned with the central image, suggesting geographical location by means of color and what seems to be a waterfront profile. In a series concerned with Mission Street, beginning in 1957 and developed concurrently with another series on Jackson Street, Jefferson often used dark and murky colors, with the brush stroke pacing the eye up and across the canvas. These were the moods of the streets.

    The Embarcadero series

  • “Asian Art”

    The 40 pieces of Oriental art from the collection of members of the Society for Asian Art came down to make room for installation of a photographic exhibition discussed elsewhere in this issue. A small, choice selection of paintings, sculptures, ritual vessels, and Haniwa figures, covering periods from the third century B.C. to the 19th century A.D., it was the first of a series planned to present selections from members’ collections, and fortunately for reviewers, subsequent shows will be devoted to more specific themes.

    Almost lost in this exhibition of more exotic items were two wonderfully

  • Frederick Hammersley and Julius Wasserstein

    Polarities of abstraction here. Hammersley, a pure geometrist, has a gay and colorful show with aspects of a signalman’s washday. The canvases line the walls in an array of classically ordered, clearly defined, flat-colored geometric shapes: triangles, rectangles, circles in triangles, circles in rectangles, even double circles with interlocking parabolas. His idiom seems to have been born of the same need for clarity in art that prompted David to lead the return to classicism and order at the turn of the 19th century. Everything is controlled: by direction and counter direction, position and

  • Samuel Marsden Brookes

    Still lifes by an artist celebrated in his own time as a painter of fish and fruit, although his income was mainly from portraits until he came to California in 1853. Three late portraits, imitative of photography, are included in this show. They do not add to the artist’s stature. The still lifes fall into two distinct groups: the “nature morte” of bric-a-brac and pantry items, which are less than mediocre, and the “Stilleben” of freshly picked fruit or still warm game, which are very good and sometimes cruelly beautiful. Brookes (1816–1892) was at his best with birds and fish. He was a past

  • Geoffrey Bowman

    Jewel-toned amoebic shapes in infinite variety, floating in and through translucent glowing space, alternately tiring and refreshing the eye and the senses. Bowman is one of those loners in Bay Area art, and since there is no one pushing him in his own mode of expression, one wonders if his work will become ingrown. Certainly his particles and cells have divided about as far as they can go without dissolution, but the process furnishes endless entertainment and the results are worth the risk. Cole shows Bowman to special advantage, selecting and presenting his work sparingly and dispensing it

  • Raymond Howell

    Howell has gained in technical skill, but lost his boyish sincerity since those days when he painted San Francisco’s “hungry i habitues” and had his first one-man show at Maxwell’s. He was consistent then. Too many influences are now pulling him too many ways—there are at least three distinct styles, plus their variations, in this one show. The best of them is found in “Streets of Tomorrow,” imbued with a sort of West Side Story surrealism.

    Elizabeth M. Polley

  • Laureen Landau, “Sacramento Group Show,” and “Eskimo Prints”

    Landau’s abstractions suggest associations with nature, making an interesting foil for the new selection of Eskimo prints from the Lilly Weil Jaffe collection, also abstract and also derived from nature associations. Dwight Eberly, Archie Gonzales, John Mancini, Harry Troughton, Don Wisks and Farrar Willson, who range between figurative invention and abstract simplification in style, make up the Sacramento group showing.

    Elizabeth M. Polley

  • Lionel Talbot and Daniel Mendelowitz

    Talbot’s first one-man show, of children and their pets in intimate settings. Although not actually derivative, there is a suggestion of both Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec in Talbot’s intimisms, and even a bit of Soutine in one picture of a knowing old butler serving a sippy. It is Mendelowitz’s eighth solo show in San Francisco and presents his impressions on a recent trip to Italy. To accommodate atmospheric changes he adopted a free-floating style of application that has cost him his usual crispness.

    Elizabeth M. Polley