Suzaan Boettger

  • Dorothea Rockburne

    The custom of terming the altered focus of an artist’s recent output a “new body” (of work) serves as an exceptionally apposite description for the latest developments in Dorothea Rockburne’s shaped canvases. The intensified radiance of these outwardly geometric compositions, their robust swaths of overlaid hues and their layered angles, catalyze a newly expressionistic physicality within her highly cerebral oeuvre that could easily bedazzle one into focusing on their formal novelty. They assimilate the emotional immediacy of the recent artistic zeitgeist yet provide a timely bridge to the

  • Roberto Juarez

    Most of Roberto Juarez’s large, lushly painted abstractions of vegetative abundance evoke an earthy fertility. Some, with which Juarez seems to have been more intimately connected, also project a more profound sense of fecundity, and the artist’s robust assurance in his own creative—and procreative—powers. These vital compositions appear to have emerged from what Lewis Hyde has called the “gifted state,” in which “the imagination has the power to assemble the elements of our experience into coherent, lively wholes: Juarez’s pictures especially recall Hyde’s syntheses because Hyde views the

  • Irving Norman

    The fact that this show was organized at all is laudable. Whereas so much new art is a novice rendition of the familiar, Irving Norman’s paintings evince a genuine oddness that even exaggerates this art center’s identification as the “alternative” museum. Furthermore, this unknown artist is aged, not youthful; lives on the West Coast, not the East River; and secludes himself in a rural cottage outside a metropolitan art community. Nevertheless, he has gained the support of urban art professionals on both coasts, including the cocurators of this exhibition,writer and arts administrator Michael

  • Scot Borofsky

    Faint, garbled, yet pervasively discernible in Scot Borofsky’s painting and sculpture is a mystical impulse striving to find a contemporary voice. This urge is un usual to current urban culture, and strikingly so when the work is examined with in its immediate context—the East Village, with its often youthfully cynical or callow esthetic, and its literal environment of residential ruins, which one must pass to reach this new gallery at the eastern edge of Manhattan. Borofsky’s previous major work (and the genre with which he is most strongly associated ) was a group of 20 murals on the Lower

  • Raymundo Sesma

    Amid a continuing glut of apocalyptic shrieking—or merely lurid brushwork—by nth-generation expressionists, Raymundo Sesma’s paintings are immediately appealing if only for their subduedness. With their subtle tonalities, finely veined or mottled surfaces, and merger of naturalistic and nonobjective forms, the works’ presence is a reserved one. Inevitably, although seemingly without a dialectical intention, they serve as a counterpoint to the louder personalities of current painting. Yet the artist, a native of Chaitas, Mexico, and a resident of Milan, does acknowledge his works’ spirit by

  • Robert Yarber

    If in the last decade artists have rediscovered painting as a projective screen for personal stories, those works that sustain attention transfigure the narratives into larger-than-(private)-life metaphysical discourses. Robert Yarber’s paintings derive from the realms of fantasy and illusion; they share the fantastic dislocations of figurative imagery that are intrinsic to dreams. Yarber’s theme, repeated obsessively over the past few years and amplified by a flourishing lushness, is a fascination with the “Other” side of quotidian consciousness, where heightened desires, fears, and hostilities

  • Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–80: An Illustrated History.

    By Thomas Albright, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985, 349 pp., 118 black and white and 115 color illustrations.

    THOMAS ALBRIGHT CAME to his role of documenting the postwar history of Bay Area art with all the advantages and impediments of a man writing a biography of his own family: he was intimately informed as well as profoundly opinionated. This history evokes Albright’s personal relationship to local art from the period a few years prior to his graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1956 (with a Phi Beta Kappa in journalism and art history)

  • Stuart Lehrman

    Stuart Lehrman’s work is provocative in its flamboyant hedonism. His wood sculptures are not only polychrome but multifaceted, and each razor-edged plane is handled with such fetishistic finesse that material sleekness could be construed as emotional slickness. In a period dominated by expressions of “down” moods in “dirty” painterliness, Lehrman’s work suggests the upbeat vivacity of an obsessive Mr. Clean. The sheer delectability of the textural effects—both visual and tactile—can appear deceptively as infatuation with the purely visual. In fact, the sculptures’ rich sensuality easily polarizes

  • Milton Komisar

    Milton Komisar’s adaptation of traditional forms is so indirect, his experimentation so flamboyantly original, that his medium evades exact definition. In a period when art is dominated by “historical” materials of oil paint, bronze, wood, and marble, while popular culture is pervaded by rapidly evolving electronics—particularly computers Komisar merges high art with high tech in his computer-programmed light sculpture. His work is admirable simply for attempting to grapple with new technologies in order to discover expressive means that are intimately of our time. His use of the computer in

  • William T. Wiley

    With his well-known persona—the faux naïf from the lotusland of Marin County—and his relentlessly esoteric references, William Wiley seems like a spiritualist who doesn’t want to take himself too seriously. He frequently masks his reverence with a veneer of wackiness in order to remain one of the northern-California good-time boys—along with Robert Hudson, Richard Shaw, Robert Arneson, and Roy DeForest—who make crazy constructions. He obscures his metaphysical concerns by cramming the canvas or paper surface with his signature febrile charcoal line which describes a personal repertoire of symbols,

  • Charles Arnoldi

    Charles Arnoldi engages in “wood play,” as filled with double entendres as it is with sticks, chunks, and panels of wood. The au naturel branches act as asynecdoche for nature itself. Yet the tumble of dark sticks across the surface also suggests the turbulence of heavy brush-strokes, epitomizing the action painting of postwar culture. Updated via mixed media constructions, this Los Angeles artist’s reliefs and sculptures could be considered the West Coast’s answer to New York School painterly abstraction of the ’50s, with actual branches substituting for branched brush-strokes. But the ephemerality

  • John Roloff

    The long process of generating John Roloff’s large-scale outdoor sculpture has substantially stabilized, though it will never be finished, since it incorporates the slow crawl of flowering vines over the latticework of one of its two “ships.” But it is more complete than in May last year, when, during a public gathering at sunset on a bare slope in the grounds of the Victorian mansion that houses this Marin County arts center, Roloff dramatically catalyzed the second, ceramic ship through his characteristic procedure of a lengthy and nocturnal firing in a correspondingly shaped on-site kiln.

  • Lynn Hershman

    “The first interactive laser artdisk” is a claim that cannot be ignored, yet after viewing (playing?) performance artist Lynn Hershman’s piece twice, for extended periods, I still wondered, Where’s the feat? Hershman’s intentions for this branched narrative seem much grander than the means she has provided for their achievement. Lorna (the heroines name significantly almost but not quite an anagram of “normal”) presents a 40-year-old woman who fears everything and consequently has not left home in four and a half years; to compensate for her agoraphobia, she obsessively watches TV. In contrast

  • Ron Nagle

    Both the consistently minuscule dimensions and the precisely painted surfaces of Ron Nagle’s ceramic sculptures evoke an aura of preciousness with which they must inevitably wrestle. In the past, Nagle has fought decorative cuteness by using streamlined architectonic shapes and surface designs that played with and against the form. The silhouettes of his cast-earthenware pieces were inspired by the domestic cup, and variations on their squat, cylindrical, asymmetrical archetype have ranged from irregularly notched three-dimensional “parallelograms” to rigorously cubic upright blocks. Yet the

  • Susan Dannenfelser

    The pivotal issue elicited by Susan Dannenfelser’s recent painted steel sculpture concerns the gains and perils of an intensified expression of emotion. This East Bay artist has always worked metaphorically, originally using ceramics in assemblages exploring states of feeling, personal fantasies, and cultural and religious beliefs. In this show she presented work manifesting two procedures of manipulating welded steel, each producing dramatically different emotive effects.

    Although all the work is from 1984, Torch (Arson) is the finest achievement of Dannenfelser’s earlier approach to dealing

  • “31st ANNUAL”

    The obvious boons and banes of having a regional exhibition curated by an outsider gave an edge to this strong mix of media and styles. Albert Stewart, at the time of the show the director of this art center a little east of San Francisco, chose New York curator Patterson Sims, of the Whitney Museum of American Art, to select work from a California-wide submission of slides. The result was a presentation of many little-known artists and an annual of atypical substance. The freshness and individuality of a large proportion of the works made it astonishing, therefore, that in his talk on the show

  • Roger Berry

    By merging streamlined geometrical form with an environmentally responsive function Roger Berry creates some of the most inventive steel sculpture currently being produced in the Bay Area, particularly in the genre of public art. The dynamism of the work springs from its dualities, chiefly the contrast between the sculpture’s appearance and its interactive intention. Berry’s neo-Constructivist shapes and industrial medium bespeak Modernity. His simple, monumental open circles, spheres, planes, and cones are reductively abstract, while less angular and more lyrical than Minimal art per se. But

  • “The Human Condition: Biennial III”

    With this enormous exhibition of painting, sculpture, photography, and works on paper by over 60 artists from the United States and seven European countries, the Bay Area’s major Modern art museum boldly (and belatedly) acknowledged the international resurgence of expressionism and figuration. The idea of the “human condition” offered a brilliantly apt organizing concept within which to focus on the psychological, social, and political statements pervasive in current art, but the broad theme, and the loose interpretation given it by the show’s curator (and the museum’s director), Henry Hopkins,

  • James Turrell

    This starkly modern multipurpose building, faced with corrugated aluminum and edged with jutting clerestory windows, is the home of an ongoing series of three-month residencies that brings artists to live, work, and create site-specific installations within it. Here, James Turrell recently gave the first local demonstration of his well-known ability to manipulate the perception of a space through the manner of its illumination. His three rooms, although discrete and self-sufficient, offered richer meaning when understood as interrelating and sequential, producing an experience of deepening inward

  • Squeak Carnwath

    The critical response to this Bay Area artist’s paintings (and previously to her ceramic sculpture) displays a common ambivalence toward what art historian Robert Goldwater has termed “emotional primitivism.” Carnwath’s repeated focus on a single female figure, in fantastic environments and surrounded by symbolic elements, exudes a darkly obsessive air which at once suggests an infantile state of self-absorption and the projection of an intelligent artist struggling to clarify her consciousness of being in the world. Those unwilling to delve into the ambiguities of the unconscious or to decipher