LA Art Exhibitions: Familiar and New Names

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Last week was good for gallery hopping, with a number of interesting new shows popping up all over town. Given the art world propensity for the discovery and promotion of fresh young talent, it was especially satisfying to find an exhibition celebrating the sophisticated art of one of LA's most renowned sculptors, John Mason, who turns 80 years old next year. But considering the originality and buoyancy of his new works at the Frank Lloyd Gallery and his trademark interest in pushing the definition of ceramic sculpture, we ought to refer to him as an artist who is soon-to-be 80 years young. His new medium-sized sculptures, made out of fired clay, at first glance appear to be a symmetrical combination of basic geometric forms, but the artist manages to coax them into an amusing, dance-like rotation.

I was glad to see that the gallery thought to include in the show the striking monumental sculpture that John Mason made in 1973. Titled "Grand Rapids" and measuring 25 feet long, it consists of hundreds of fire bricks lying on the floor in a deceptively simple rectangular formation that morphs right in front of your eyes. Check out the KCRW website to see for yourself the elegance and complexity of John Mason' sculptural forms. Better yet, visit the gallery.

At the nearby Shoshana Wayne Gallery, I saw a rather enticing exhibition of three emerging sculptors; all natural entertainers, all young, all fond of working on a grand scale. But it's the chaotic and cacophonous installation by Angela White that steals the show. Spread out on the floor are a dozen or so old-fashioned turntables, each with a ceramic figurine spinning on its surface. While spinning, these figurines constantly bump into fragments of broken ceramic and glass vessels that are suspended -- every which way above them -- by hundreds of threads. The resulting sound has a titillating combination of anarchy and harmony, as if Philip Glass had written the score. The overall effect of the visual and aural components of this seemingly haphazard installation is deep satisfaction at the discovery of a poetic rhyme and reason behind the chaos.

At the ACME Gallery, I saw the paintings of a young Los Angeles artist, Tomory Dodge, in his second solo exhibition at the gallery. When two years ago, I went to a huge exhibition of over a hundred graduates from eight southern California art schools, I spotted and talked in this program about eight promising artists, among them Tomory Dodge, a graduate of Cal Arts. His canvases still demonstrate his love of energetic, wide brush strokes, but these days, the references to the real world are almost gone from his predominantly abstract compositions infused with bold colors. It's not that often that one can find in the work of a young artist such an explosive combination of form and color harmonized with such élan and assurance. I was not surprised to learn that the exhibition was sold out prior to its opening.

"John Mason: Sculpture 1973 and 2006"
Frank Lloyd Gallery
On view until February 3

"3D News"
Shoshona Wayne Gallery
On view until February 3

"Tomory Dodge: New Paintings"
ACME Gallery
On view until February 3