San Francisco

John Ihle, Richard Heidsiek, Metal Arts Guild

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

The quality and variety of John Ihle’s recent works (in the Achenbach Foundation wing), establish him as one of the important printmakers of the West. It is therefore surprising that, although he has been included in many group exhibitions, this is his first one-man show. Formerly an engraver and etcher, he has recently become in­volved with lithography, and in this show has pushed that medium to its extreme so skillfully that technique and image be­come one and the same thing. Ihle does not overlook content, reaching back into cultural anthropology and biology for subject matter and interpreting it with reflection and humor, as in his volup­tuous Eve, offering a very small apple. (Who was interested in the apple, any­how?) And Homo Taurus, a color in­taglio of man as a very weak bull. (Intel­ligence slew the Minotaur.) Or Three Asleep, a delicately-rendered etching of three embryos in their sensitive cas­ings: the child, the chick and the kitten; they are very much alike at this stage. Richard Heidsiek’s watercolors fill the terrace gallery downstairs. Strongly de­signed landscape bits, competently done and pleasantly presented, they make no special contribution to contemporary art and shed no light on the art of the past. They belong in a commercial gallery, not in a museum as important as the Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Jewelry makes up most of the annual exhibition of the Metal Arts Guild, in the lower rotunda gallery. These are origi­nally conceived and expertly finished pieces, sculptural in quality. Contem­porary metalworkers tend toward open work, with an indication of both mass and weightlessness. Margaret De Patta’s silver pin with stone is independent enough to lie on the table as a decora­tion, and Jack Hoag’s little silver masks could be worn as amulets.

E. M. Polley