Four Exhibitions That Made Me Happy as a Clam

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When I make my weekly rounds of Los Angeles, I don't mind encountering a few exhibitions that make me yawn, as long as I come across at least one good show. Imagine how I felt last Saturday when I came across not just one but a whole cluster of intriguing exhibitions, an experience that made me happy as a clam.

Let's start with the show of Lee Mullican drawings at the Marc Selwyn Gallery. I thought I knew the works of this well-known Los Angeles painter, who died in 1998 at the age of 80, but I was in for a surprise. Representing a fifty year span of his career, there were at least two dozen excellent drawings I'd never seen before, each bearing a cluster of simple geometric marks flying across the white expanse of paper like a flock of birds. Or think about the visual equivalent to the waves of hypnotic music by Philip Glass.

At the nearby cluster of galleries at 6150 Wilshire Boulevard, I started with an exhibition of young L.A. artist Tomory Dodge at the ACME. This is the first Los Angeles solo exhibition for this recent graduate of Cal Arts. His large, dreamy landscapes have a surprising variety of themes, from a darkly romantic excursion into the woods, to a dumpster-like hillside with an abandoned sofa in the foreground. It's surprising to find so much confidence in the works of such a young artist. Energetic, wide, horizontal brush strokes give his compositions a clear and infectious rhythm. And it's obvious that Tomory Dodge doesn't discriminate against any particular color, which gives his paintings an unexpected note of optimism, even when the subject may be as gloomy as an abandoned tunnel with empty beer cans scattered on the ground. I thought that I'd never seen his work before, but I was reminded that last July, while reviewing a huge exhibition of over 100 graduates from various Southern California art schools, I had actually mentioned his name among eight artists who I thought were the best in the show.

Climbing to the second floor to see the exhibition by Mari Eastman at the Karyn Lovegrove gallery, I immediately recognized her works though it's her first solo show here. In the current exhibition at the Hammer Museum, Mari Eastman is one of 23 artists selected to represent the most interesting trends in contemporary figurative painting here in the U.S. and in Europe. In her watercolors on paper and acrylic paintings on canvas, she makes her misty images appear as though they're enveloped in a vapor of color, to which she adds a delicate sprinkling of glitter.

The attention-grabbing display of large color photographs by Jill Greenberg at the Paul Kopeikin gallery is a show-stopping series of portraits of our primate cousins. Prepare to be startled by the depth and variety of their emotions. Looking at these images you'll understand why I was so deeply moved by them. As an evolved human species, we rarely, if EVER, express our emotions in such a pure and disturbingly naked manner. As they say: "there is no business like monkey business"