Signs and Alarms at Temporary Space LA

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Scott Grieger has a gimlet-eyed view of society in general and the art world in particular. Margaret Nielsen sees the natural world in a less than sanguine manner. The aesthetics of the two artists, each with a lengthy career, are compatible and a reason why curator Peter Frank brought them together in the exhibition Signals and Alarms at Temporary Space LA.

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Scott Grieger, “United States of Anxiety,” 1995
Chalkboard paint on paper, 33.5" x 46"

This is a new venue created by artist Richard Shelton to exhibit and sell work by artists in ways that are controlled by them, a mode of operation quite different from that of a commercial or non-profit gallery. As suggested by its name, the shows will move from neighborhood to neighborhood in future while this particular show is in the mid-Wilshire district.

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Scott Grieger, “Human Scale,” 1973
Photograph, 23" x 24"

Each artist has selected a survey of his or her own art. Grieger's work, from 1969 to 2015, includes his early 70's staged, black- and-white self-portraits conjoined with identifiable Minimalist art. For example, as a skinny young man with the long curly hair of the period, he poses with an array of Donald Judd boxes protruding from his bare chest like ribs. It is a critical yet humorful stance that continues as something of a leitmotif in work of subsequent decades. He seized on the use of emoticons and other computer animated symbols and employed them with skepticism. His most recent paintings, some of his best, play with the lyrics of the Fugs, the word "nothing" repeated over and over as it floats down a background of deep reds. The nihilistic outlook leavened by the sensuality of the representation.

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Scott Grieger, “Nothing, Not a God Damn Thing (lyrics by the Fugs),” 2013
Acrylic on canvas, 57" x 33"

Nielsen's work, from 1970 to 2015, approaches nature, whether the starry canopy, woodsy landscape or individual animals as constantly surprising, also threatening or threatened. Her highly realistic technique, thin paint applied in layers to create depth and dimension, is in service of imagery of enhanced realism. Bears are beings of higher intelligence and galaxies whirl. A noctural installation features a nightscape with a comet shooting down to earth: Here Today. (2015) Mounted on the wall mural is a dark shelf bearing a line of dark ceramic urns, each bearing a picture offering a clue to a larger mystery. On an actual mound of sand, a canoe is overturned.

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Margaret Nielsen, “Game Plan,” 2006
Mixed media on porcelain, 12" x 8" x 8"

But wait, there is more. This is Part 1, closing September 5. Part 2 will include more art by both artists and continue through October. This arrangement, made by an artist for other artists, offers a welcome alternative, especially for mid-career artists overlooked by the demands of a market-driven art scene.

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Margaret Nielsen, “Communion,” 2004
Oil on panel, 16" x 20"