San Francisco

John Baxter, Hilda Levy, John Sackas, Geoffrey Lewis, and George Miyasaki

California Palace of the Legion of Honor

Sculpture by assemblage, non-figurative painting, San Francisco genre, moody landscapes and prints by a master printmaker.

In his assembled sculptures, John Baxter refines an idea he has been working on recently, that of combining water-tumbled rocks, sand-scoured wood, and other carefully selected found items into man-made forms that retain their weathered state, thus invoking the ef­fects of the processes of nature as a common denominator. There are figura­tive connotations in his sculptures, though not in the paintings he is show­ing with them, and also poetry, as his titles, sometimes serious, sometimes playful, indicate. The titles may result from an unintended inner content, grow­ing entirely out of form. The vital rhythms of compiled posts, rocks and chains, and the exciting contrasts of textures which set them off, certainly would suggest, to a sensitive observer, many literary allusions. And Baxter is both sensitive and literate.

Hilda Levy stains her more success­ful canvases with rich passages of color and freely shifting forms, then covers them with an amazingly intricate ab­stract pattern of frosty white line. Cre­ating a two-planed picture of varying depths, with allusions to the infinite shadowed forth in something finite. There is a strange affinity between Miss Levy’s lacy surface and the netted texturings of the aborigine’s paintings in the neighboring gallery. Although her inventiveness stems from a far more complex source, resulting in greater sophistication, both she and the Aus­tralian primitive feel the need to elab­orate their thoughts beyond a simple statement. Not all of her works are veiled; some are open statements in deep and glowing color. Yet, while evocative in mood, they lack that qual­ity of mystery which sets the white paintings into a class by themselves.

John Sackas, feeling that the atmos­phere of the old produce district of San Francisco should be preserved for the records, has done a series of genre paintings on the subject. They are pleas­ant renderings of the workaday world.

Geoffrey Lewis, whose works have been shown in small exhibits in the Bay Area before, is here shown in depth, in his first full-scale museum showing. Unfortunately, he is heralded as a “one­man romantic rebellion against the ab­stractionist idiom of his time.” There is nothing in this show, which could have been reduced in numbers, that indicates either “romantic rebellion” or "classic revolt”––and those are strange terms to apply to the same person. However, Lewis comes to the art world with a wonderful background of living; he has been everything from railway brakeman to physics researcher. And his land­scapes show him to be a person capable of many moods. They are richly brushed, simply stated, warm in tone and gener­ally dramatically lighted.

George Miyasaki’s new prints, in the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, contain imagery and symbolism dealing with the forces of nature. They evoke a state of mind, rather than a purely visual response to a picture.

––E. M. Polley