reviews

  • Vaea

    Berkeley Art Center

    At the beginning of Vaea’s exhibition at the Berkeley Art Center he stretched a black plastic drop-cloth across the floor and unloaded a truckload of nice damp clay carefully worked and ready for a ceramics operation. He worked on the show each day for the duration of the exhibition, and at the end he cleaned up his clay, dumped it back in the truck and took it away. Firing the clay into more or less permanent ceramic pieces was not part of the idea. Hardness removes from clay its tactile liveliness, and this show was to demonstrate just that: it is easy to work, takes many forms with great

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  • Gurdon Woods

    Bolles Gallery

    Most people in urban places are involved (if only their ears) with the infernal and unending breaking of the old structures and the rebuilding of the city. Having replaced bird song and talk with the noise of hammers and scrapers of all dimensions it could be expected that someone would notice the transient beauty and expressive force of some of the breakage before it is carted away. Gurdon Woods’ sculpture at the Bolles Gallery is a consciously-made replica of just such forms. Separate fragments of concrete are fastened together by structural iron which comes out of the chunks just as though

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  • Claudia Chapline

    Humbolt Gallery

    The actual found object has been pressed into service again in the work of Claudia Chapline with the difference from the usual collage being that her found object is concealed and utterly changed. An object which might be a shaman’s marvelous wand is revealed to be a garden cultivator woven and wound with woolen yarn, fringed and knotted with magic complexity, or a scythe transformed to a harp. Her work at the Humbolt Gallery looks a bit like a dancer’s props, so it came as no surprise that she was into dance, too.

    Knute Stiles

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  • William Soghor and James Prestini

    Quay Gallery

    At the Quay Gallery William Soghor’s bags of a metallic-colored plastic breathed on a twenty minute schedule. There were a half dozen of them, all hanging. The act of expanding was perhaps their most interesting aspect. In the pneumatic state they are bloated bladders which vary from hamlike to symmetrical. They make a very otherworldly room. To be among them makes you conscious of yourself as a thing of bladders, lobes and appendages. The metallic element in the color specifically undoes any organic symbolism of the form. The forms do not go up like some balloons but hang down. The forms change

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  • Hassel Smith

    Suzanne Saxe Gallery

    A show of Hassel Smith’s paintings from 1963 and 1964 has turned up at a new gallery, the Suzanne Saxe Gallery. These paintings have never been exhibited before, perhaps because they are quite free, loose and gestural after the manner of an earlier Smith phase, whereas the paintings that I recall from that period were more architectural. One is like a fireworks display, but in cool colors; another has objects that seem to have broken through from the subconscious: stocking, deer, and in another a laughing boyish face, never refined or perfected but accepted as a revealing accident. Smith has

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  • James Johnson

    St. Mary's College

    James Johnson is a hard-edge painter who often works with two panels. One such duo (in his show at St. Mary’s College) actually forms a trio of forms when brought together, the third member being parts of each panel which finally obscures the separation. The muted and harmonized colors are so balanced that the vibrant action which could obtain with some of the color relationships do not produce the expected after-image ghosts; for example, blue-purple-gray steps in one painting are contrasted with a brown-gray on the risers of these steps which hover right on the point where brown is almost

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  • Joe Oddo

    Joe Oddo Studio

    I went to Joe Oddo’s studio. He had mentioned that the work in a group show at the Oakland Museum earlier this year was a couple of years old, and that it was hard for him to think about it because he was so thoroughly into his new work. I wanted to know about that so I persuaded him to take me to see the new work. I can’t reproduce a picture because nothing is finished and decisions for major changes are still coming up. He is working with both spray gun and brush and is carefully eradicating evidence of undercoats with each change of mind. The description I will make is tempered by the knowledge

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  • Bernice Bing

    Bernice Bing Studio

    I knew that Bernice Bing’s paintings had altered to a new course so I invited myself to her studio. She spent a year at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur doing a Jungian, mystical, encounter group period of study. The prototype comes from there. It is like a Chinese landscape with subtle painting in concert with rough and feathered brushiness, but foggy stripes keep a figure entrapped in an unknown space. Bernice Bing puts her life wherever it takes her into her paintings, and back in San Francisco the prismatic stripes cross a mask-like face of pipe smoking placidity, but with bullets in its

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