San Diego

In a one-man show of recent works, at Orr’s Gallery, Missourian Kent Addison seems more like several sculptors than one; his widely different structures range from the purely decorative to the powerfully dramatic.

In the former, Addison plays with black welded steel, shining solid brass and rare crystals (amethysts mostly, and white quartz and pyrite) to form birds, flowers and fish that need only the addition of paint to grow gaudy. They are, however, fascinating for the clever way in which the sculptor has combined stone and steel with marvelous natural textures and color tones and has balanced both slender and stout forms. “Three Flowers” is especially interesting and graceful. Its tall, slim stems sway with even the slightest man-made breeze.

In rather different veins are “Seventh Day of Jericho,” three stylized horn-blowing figures of welded steel and sprayed copper, “Scale,” a huge, golden, brass structure splendidly balancing two calcite crystals and blending strength with delicacy, and “Vertical Growth,” a high, nicely textured and shaded abstract wall sculpture of brazed steel.

Most intriguing are Addison’s latest creations, eight pieces of patinaed cast copper, each composed of small (six-inch tall), stick-like, gravity-defying nude female figures which belong to a sort of circus of the future. These slim ladies, cast separately and then welded together, engage in mathematical-acrobatic exercises, coming up with intricate formations that currently can’t happen. Beautifully balanced, with straight or arched backs and out-stretched arms, they are brilliantly arranged, right side up, upside down, sideways, in joyful, delicate balancings that provide their titles: “Upward and Outward,” “The Tree,” “Full Moon,” “The Column,” “Attention” and “Involved.” Their delightful designs look so easy, one wishes one might join in the fun. And one day-who knows? The Third Annual National Exhibition of Small Paintings at the Flea Market West is a show of compacts, organized by the Tour Gallery of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and juried by artists John Hultberg and Frank Lobdell. Unhappily, it contains a goodly number of works that are insignificant as well as small. Nevertheless, there are enough little saving graces, many of them by California painters, lurking about to make the exhibit worthy of note.

A particularly pleasing piece is Gwen Stone’s predominantly blue cloth “Collage B-6.” Other collages deserving attention are the delicate “Witch Box” by Keith Martin and Jay Hannah’s colorful “Number Three.” Among the mixed media and assemblage works, the most striking are Max Cole’s “Haiku,” Peter Shoemaker’s “Figure,” Henry Schmidt’s “Patchwork” and the entertaining, decorative polychrome “Mexico” by Jacqueline Klopholz.

Of the tiny temperas and oils, several abstract paintings would be equally, if not more, intriguing as considerably larger works. These include Fannie Hillsmith’s first prize-winning “Composition,” Nancy Wildermuth’s thickly textured, vigorously rendered “The Guardian Plant,” David Friend’s lively “Spanish Temper,” Glenn Bradshaw’s vibrant “Dune Fire,” and Nancy Coppens Corrigan’s earthy, richly textured “Dusk in Coal Mine Canyon.” Best of the realistic pictures are Bill Hoey’s detailed, vertically arranged “Still Life,” John Wayne McClurg’s humorous “Man Wearing a Hat,” John Ashley Bellamy’s moody and poignant “First Pregnancy,” D.M. Merrick’s bright “Persimmon and Pear,” the shrieking, umbrella-toting woman of Gerald Purdy’s “Through The Looking Glass,” and Carl Young’s delightful “Good Grief!” This last, a painting within a painting, depicts a strolling museum employee startled by a gigantic abstract on the wall.

At the Southwestern College Art Gallery is a Polychrome sculpture show in which color is the only thing these hitherto unseen works by 30 artists (the majority of them San Diego sculptor-painters) have in common. Under the bright or modified hues of paint anything goes-steel, scrap metal, string, sponges, sawdust, carpets, old clothes, plaster, plastic, pulverized pottery, bits of bottles, battered fenders, fur, furniture and almost everything else that is animal, vegetable or mineral. There is quality as well as novelty here; while there are some sophomoric items, in most instances there is solid, often splendid, sculpture under the rainbows. The objects run from the almost classical through more or less “established” contemporary abstract shapes to the garish corn of Pop and the intriguing illusions of Op. Color accentuates form in some of the pieces while in others color helps make form.

Joe Nyiri’s “Osterderm II” is a graceful steel abstraction reminiscent of David Smith’s soaring yet solid structures. John Rogers’ “Two-Faced Ram” is an interesting, textured, semi-traditional creature and Dick Robinson’s “Antique Wall For Young Lovers” is structurally superb. In these three, color is subtle and slight. There is far more food for thought in such flatly and boldly painted pieces as Ronald Grow’s “Self Portrait With Base Thoughts,” James Bradley’s “Laughing Piece,” Don Hughes’ “L-Shaped Womb” and Hugh Duckworth’s big white and orange “Crybaby” who wears his bleeding red heart on his sleeve.

Paint and metal combine with delightful delicacy in works by Joe McShane and John Manno, and John Baldessari’s long, rambling, sort-of-mobile entitled “The Color Cannon” invites viewers to playtime. There’s more good sport in Robert Matheny’s “Pails of Plaster (and paint),” Jack Boyd’s black and grey “Summer Storm” which broods under moving red, yellow and orange rays, and in the checks, stripes, circles and squares of Russell Baldwin’s optical “Geometric Smokey· Stover.” Some of the Pop pieces are gruesome, but Ed Carrillo’s “True Love” is devastating; two grotesque, larger than life-sized heads stare blankly at each other—without a hint of communication.

An exhibition of wonderfully preserved and superbly displayed ceremonial bronze wine vessels, vases, beakers, daggers, knives, tallies and butter lamps are shown at the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, in a gathering of new acquisitions and Chinese bronzes. Both graceful and sturdy, they combine splendid shapes with beautiful stylized surface decorations of birds, dragons, the cicada and the tiger, and symbols of water, thunder and human forms, many of them related to the fertility of the land. Gathered from the gallery’s collection and private collectors, these large and little bronzes were used in the religious rites of the early Chinese dynasties and, dating from 1776 B.C. to 1874 A.D., encompass the Shang, Chon, Han, T’ang, Sung Ming and T’ung periods. The forms and designs of the pieces from the centuries after Christ are more graceful than the archaic ones, but the earlier bronzes, thickly coated with the patina of age, are the more forceful and vital.

The gallery’s potpourri show of new acquisitions includes a little of just about everything, from sculpture to silver and silk: There are numerous small objects of Chinese and Indian antiquity, late 18th-century silk Kashan rugs from Persia, Roman glass bottles, old Venetian glass, Early American silver by Hester Bateman, and Henry Moore’s small bronze “Family Group.” The new paintings range from ancient to modern, from a Chinese scroll painting of the Ming period and 17th-century Persian opaque watercolors to little fine-line drawings by Pissarro, Modigliani and Henry Moore and a small gouache by Marino Marini. Outstanding among the larger paintings are a delicate, sketchy landscape by Berthe Morisot, a dramatic, somewhat pointillistic one by Henri Martin, a huge, vigorous and brilliantly hued abstraction by Eric Bass, two tremendous portraits, “The Gypsy” and “Portrait of Mademoiselle Lapojnikoff,” by Nicolai Fechin; a gay Dufy watercolor, “Carnival at Perpignan,” and “EI Sonambulo,” a vibrant abstraction of a red and blue armored figure by Mexico’s Rufino Tamayo.

––Marilyn Hagberg