San Francisco

“Young Artists”

University of California at Davis

Recent works by a northern California group, mostly from the Sacramento area. Although including proven artists as well as those unknowns who so often add a certain freshness to exhibitions, it is not extraordinary in quality.

Its main appeal is the revelation of some special trends of today’s youthful painters: their derivations, their patterns of change, their search for individuality within the shelter of the herd. Perhaps its most important achievement is in pointing up the need of the University for an adequate gallery at Davis. Small paintings and sculptures are displayed in a long galley-way, in itself a good exhibition wall, but the larger pieces are carried over into the distracting surroundings of a lounge, a cafeteria, and a study center. Breaking it up in this manner has shattered what continuity it may have had. Some individual works suffer. The small, unframed, black-and-white paintings of Robert Hudson, (which he calls drawings in the current manner of using that term loosely), are not hurt by the close scrutiny enforced upon them along the narrow galley. But the ebb and flow of Mickey Kane’s separating and dissolving Apostasy and the ruptured placental edges of his Biogenesis, both big canvases, are stifled by the too-close quarters of an ell in the lounge.

Some significant changes are apparent among the northern Californians. Kane is now intent upon disintegrating the free-flowing shapes he created a year ago. Don Reich has developed a rapturous linear pattern which comes dangerously close to decoration. Gary Pruner moves in a new direction by dividing his big abstraction vertically to leave a nebulous grey margin on the left. Dan Szpakowski makes the greatest departure from his former mode of expression, heretofore strongly romantic in mood with landscape elements suggested by horizontality. His work is now concerned with fluid shapes moving irresistibly across the canvas, suggesting neither integration nor absorption, but replacement.

The sculpture is generally derivative, yet presents some personal aspects worth mentioning: James Balyeat reflects on the bewilderment of the mid-century in his untitled roboture which, performing on a regulated washing-machine cycle, spasmodically flashes eccentric patterns of small lights and feebly waves a bunch of buddy poppies aloft. David King exploits the awkward grace of childhood in a ring-around-the-rosy group with a stout wood sculpture which will probably outlast most of the works in this show.

E. M. Polley