San Francisco

Dan Szpakowski

Artists Cooperation, Sacramento

Szpakowski shows both paintings and drawings here. He identifies with that group of Sacramento artists who examine the landscape of the surrounding area with an eye to its structure rather than sweetly describing it. But he varies in that he chooses his subjects from mountain tops: creeping snowpacks, precarious rockfalls and flying wedges of forest. Subjects which offer compelling diagonals in contrast to the endless horizontals of the Valley floor. Szpakowski is at his best in those small drawings where strong oblique lines trace the special flaws in a rock, or a glacier, which are first to fracture under the stress and strain of natural tensions, and where the limitations of the medium control his tendency toward decorative pattern.

In color he often falters in deciding between the rhythmic flow of landscape movement, so easily indicated by his sure draftsmanship, and the chromatic drama of (say) an autumn forest standing against winter’s white. When he does manage this amateur’s delight with a masterful hand, he makes of it a universal statement. While still a regional artist, his is a broader scope than Dangelo and Coates, who preceded him in the gallery. One sees his Muir Mists and Van’s Glacier in mountain ranges around the world. The immediate location is more symbolic than particular.

Elizabeth M. Polley