Jim Isermann was among those unusually talented graduate students at Cal Arts in the late 1970’s. From then until now, his work has reflected a profound knowledge about and passion for mid-century modern design. This was not so popular as it is now. Isermann routinely bought pieces by Pantone and Nelson at flea markets for his own collection. His earliest sculptures and paintings acknowledged this debt overtly and though subtler now, the connections remain. He also has done a great deal of public art including the Blue Line 5th St. station in Long Beach, exterior of the Metro Customer Service Center on the northwest corner of La Brea and Wilshire and a wall of the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Texas. But his paintings have always had their own loopy charm and the more recent works are no exception.
On view at Richard Telles Fine Art through May 24 are six not-quite-square paintings, approximately four by four feet. The interior linked hexagonal forms are composed of bands of primary color along with emerald green painted in seven layers for rich tone. The panels themselves are routed physically with grooves in the surface. The shallow grooves, the pattern itself, even the color application are the result of complex computations but Iserman does not disguise his own participation.
The bands of color are executed imperfectly, not by machine, revealed as small splashes and drips. Prolonged attention and the hexagons appear to swell into cubic dimensions or vibrate with intertwined energy. Very much a part of the history of non-objective painting, they are also very much in dialogue with the history of modernism. A suite of his related drawings of delicacy and precision can be seen in Telles annex. For more information, go to tellesfineart.com.
On the topic of public art, Renee Petropoulos has given a bouquet to Santa Monica. On Ocean Avenue, between two shiny new residential complexes, one for low income, one for very high income, her vase of flowers welcomes visitors. "Bouquet (Flower Tower) 'Between Egypt, India, Iraq, the United States, Ethiopia and Mexico,'" 2014. The vase itself is cement gray and gridded in a way that resembles building blocks while the flowers it contains are sharply photographic in their colorful detail as though lifted from a billboard. The outdoor advertising reference is accentuated on the back, which is entirely mirrored and held in place with struts like a stage set or the Hollywood sign. It is a smart and attractive addition to a beach neighborhood that has been turned into a glassy canyon of hyper-development with poor Chez Jay hanging on like the octogenarian auntie at Gatsby's party.
A companion exhibition of work by Petropoulos is on view at the LA Museum of Art -- Not LACMA -- a small wooden structure behind the Echo Park home of artist and curator Alice Könitz. Petropoulos’s Proposal for a Pavilion is on view through June 21. The bouquet will remain in bloom for the foreseeable future. For more information go to losangelesmuseumofart.blogspot.com.
Banner image: Jim Isermann's Untitled (0113/14), 2013-2014 (detail); Acrylic latex paint on cnc milled mdf panel, 48 x 52 1/2 x 2 inches. Photo by Marten Elder. Courtesy Richard Telles Fine Art