Los Angeles

Fourth Annual of California Painting and Sculpture

The Art Center, La Jolla

The La Jolla Art Center’s annual show, although short on history, was on its way to becoming an important annual event. Open to all, and juried by men artists could accept as competent to eliminate the worthless or frivolous, it has been characteristically excellent. This year’s show consists of two parts. First, an invitational section of twenty-six selected by three-man juries in San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Then an open juried section in which a team formed by one man from each of the area juries ruled on the admissibility of the several hundred entries submitted. This second part of the show is nonexistent. The three-man jury, composed of John Baldessari, Peter Voulkos, and Robert Irwin, rejected all entries.

So there we are. Before proceeding with the Invitational, it seems relevant to mention that the Art Center’s Director avoided the usual “instructions to the jury” and at the cost of considerable personal misery, non-hung this unshow just as it came from the arbiter’s skulls.

In the invitational section, there’s an oil “#1 Ocean Park Series” by John Altoon, one of the few men in the world who can make you believe. One more square inch of pink, one more area of candy, and all the Fizrin in the world couldn’t get you home unaching. But it’s all right, just as it is. Then another oil, Ear, by John Baldessari, fairly large, a part of a head, featureless except for an ear, a painting academically organized toward humor, far less than he’s done before or around. And Little Orphan Annie by Larry Bell, with all the rigidity of his customary genre and none of the puckish sauce that usually makes him a meal. Too often there is 4 the feeling that some of the pros here are taking the afternoon off. Charles Frazier is an example. For all the wit of craft in his Springfield 0 there is no wit of style, and that wit’s the reason you want him around. Robert Hudson isn’t goofing, though. His large, complexly organized web of brightly painted metal, in which things are patched up and pulled apart has a wonderful brio related to that of the old Marx Company enameled toys. It’s a real party, John Mason’s untitled ten foot tall ceramic sculpture is another excellence, and on several levels. Essentially columnar, it avoids the boredom of this shape and violates in a dancing and delicate manner the exigencies of balance inherent in the column (stand straight damn it!) without being in any way insecure or weak. It has a fine complexion also. Mason has kept his fingers out of the glaze bin (hard thing for an ex-potter to do) and has given the piece a chance to live with all its adjustments of irregularity to irregularity without underlining or falsely emphasizing any of them.

Richard Allen Morris shows a huge (120 x 204) triptych From and for Giotto that sprawls and tenses across its great bare canvas, active with scrawled notes and funny birds, a looseness and a true individual kind of fun almost unique in the show. And some more fine oils. Emerson Woelffer not only continues to be formally exciting but is adding the passion of a personal color to his work. Guy Williams’ Pick Slip Station presents an almost too romantically orchestrated chording of rich colors which are suddenly and dazzlingly explained by a quick, white, dramatic, right line in the middle of the canvas.

Peter Voulkos shows a large (187 x 105 x 57) bronze Big Remington III. And of course it should be in the show. Voulkos on a bicycle has a way of getting there roadless. But this piece has a little something taken off.

By and large, the above are the more outstanding and/or characteristic things in the show. In addition, there are oils by Don Dudley, Llyn Foulkes, Fred Holle, Jack Jefferson, Sheldon Kirby, Frank Lobdell, Fred Martin, John McLaughlin, Felix Ruvulo, James Weeks and William Wiley. Ed Keinholz shows one of his assemblages (previously shown at the Dwan Gallery) and John DeWitt Clark, James Melchert, Malcolm McClain, and Manuel Neri round out the sculpture section, which all in all contains few surprises or other excitements. A quirky show. One wonders what it will be like next year.

John Reuschel