San Francisco

Fritz Scholder, Willis Nelson, and Alden Mikkel­sen

Barrios Gallery, Sacramento

Two painters one of whom makes judicious use of happy accidents, one who explores techniques, and a potter of extraordinary competence. It just could be that Scholder generates the accidents which lend spontaneity to such paintings as Red Stream. His cloth-on-cloth collages and use of sym­bolism (Mesa Stripe, Life Windows) indicate that he knows exactly what he is doing.

Nelson builds up high relief surfaces with scorched and painted styrafoam in dioramic landscapes resembling open pit iron mines––cratered, mineral, man­eroded. Emphasis is on technique more than content, even when titled Night Pit. A causative technique, which sets up more reaction than the painter prob­ably intended. Like stimulating specu­lation on the aftermath of a gigantic holocaust.

Nelson’s scoria surfaces make an in­teresting complement to Alden Mikkel­sen’s earth glazed ceramics, which re­state the premise that the main function of wheel-thrown pottery is to be a ves­sel, that imagery is secondary. 

E. M. Polley