San Francisco

Group Show

Berkeley Gallery

There has existed in the Bay Area for some time a considerable group of talented painters and sculptors who, for one reason or another, have never associated themselves with the established galleries, and whose work, while well-­known to other artists and more serious collectors, appears only rarely in public exhibitions. A goodly number of these have been gathered by this new, much­-needed and extremely attractive gallery, including Mel and Karla Moss, Bruce Breckenridge, Harry Lum, Charles Gill, Robert McLean, Richard McLean, Stefan Novak and Morris Yarowsky, among others.

A good deal of work in this first group exhibition is not very exciting; many of the artists have not as yet developed a personal way of putting a statement across. Shapes and lines too often are dropped on a canvas with no attempt to relate them, and flashy colors, used over an entire painting, compete with the large form that is supposed to be the center of interest. Too many virtu­oso techniques often jostle one-another in the same painting.

Often, the weaker work does damage to the better. Bruce Breckenridge bal­ances a simple centralized square against huge, sweeping brushstrokes, but his reduced image suffers when it is placed in the same room with other, indifferent, abstract expressionist paint­ings. For all their somber colors and lusty techniques, Breckenridge’s work is intimate and requires special seeing conditions.

Neither Morris Yarowsky nor Clayton Pinkerton understand Pop Art, but Pink­erton at least restrains his canvas by setting two comic-seductive eyes against simple horizontal fields. Yarow­sky throws bright colors, a toothpaste paint edge, a red lightbulb (which lights) and facile forms into one painting, and, in general, assumes that many childish tricks make a more powerful statement than a few of them. Mel Henderson’s wooden Ball Machine is now broken and, silenced, resembles monkey-bars with a gear box in one upper corner. He has no new concept of machinery to offer here, but this sculpture is sensi­tive to the spatial element in arrange­ment. Howard Margolis works with na­ture-shapes reminiscent of Dove and Avery, but he glazes his small canvases, which cheapens his message.

The sense of a general insecurity about art which hovers over the exhi­bition may reflect the concerns of many of the exhibiting artists, who seem to wish to give the impression of a sar­donic dance of death being done around “period pieces” in styles that have lost their living interest.

––Jo­anna C. Magloff