Squeak Carnwath

David Beitzel Gallery

O-o-oh, California, la-la-la. . . .

Squeak Carnwath’s paintings speak clearly of that other coast, at least to a provincial New Yorker who knows of it only what he reads. She also makes me think of Joni Mitchell circa 1971: not yet completely posthippie, but with a gorgeous command that clashes with her pose of naiveté. Carnwath, I suspect, knows that her nonart ideas—her philosophical thumb-suckers, her Eastern mysticism, her fretting over ecology, her generalized upset with violence, misogyny, intolerance, and the whole caboodle of things she calls “bad stuff”—demand some kind of subtlety of presentation if they are not to seem hopelessly adolescent. Her solutions: on the one hand, an oil-and-alkyd lushness; on the other, a willed flower-child clunkiness. The buttery surfaces of this artist’s work are something to see. As for the words painted into them, and the deliberate, again childlike

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