San Francisco

Patricia Oberhaus, Kay Armstrong, Harry Crotty, and Richard McLean

Richmond Art Center

Shades of Arthur B. Davies! Patricia Oberhaus exhibits a large number of small car­toons, elaborately framed and dated circa 1898. As a serious art effort they are negligible, but as humor, whimsy and cornball nostalgia they come off just fine.

Harry Crotty is from the airy cubism (Herbert Ferber) generation of sculp­tors and carries on this style without much feeling, but with considerable craftsmanship and technical know-how. His cut-out shapes are assembled in an architectural fashion and remarkably balanced. The sharp points of the upper pieces are inserted into grooves, this balance being the only thing that keeps the work standing. If these pieces are pushed gently, the entire sculpture moves, lending a whole new, interesting aspect to the work. It is unfortunate that Crotty did not express his ideas in terms of constantly moving parts, be­cause, without motion, this sculpture has simply no life at all.

Kay Armstrong’s sculpture is faintly amusing, but not because it is an off­beat effort with the captivating charm of Patricia Oberhaus’ drawings. It is funny because little clay figures that resemble shmoos are funny and because eight little shmoo-people in a bed is funny. However, this pales quickly and when one turns around to look at the sculpture, there is nothing of interest to find. As for the humor—Al Capp does it better.

Richard McLean cannot seem to make up his mind between Nathan Oliveira, Charles Gill and conventional abstract expressionism. Half his work is deter­minedly involved and half of it is rather detached from the problems of format, imagery, commitment, and intent of statement. He takes up Gorky-oriented and San Francisco-nurtured abstract expressionism only to put it aside for Charles Gill’s draftsmanly approach to painting. He even absorbs Gill’s motifs. McLean seems to be at a crossroads, with one tradition dead behind him and with future possibilities not fully under­stood. This, oddly enough, is the dilemma of almost every painter in the East Bay. Also like much other work from this area, his recent collages are excessively hor­rific for their subject matter.

Joanna C. Magloff