Women at Work

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Erin Morrison, "Untitled" (Palm Reader), 2015
Oil and ink on hydrocal, 52 x 86 in. 
Photo courtesy Samuel Freeman Gallery

In Relief, her first show at Samuel Freeman Gallery, Erin Morrison looks to modernist abstraction in handsome and heavy panels of hydrocal, a sort of malleable plaster, embossed and painted in highly original fashion. First, she sews quilts with the desired panels of colored fabric and combinations of stitching, then lays them in a frame and covers them with hydrocal. After it dries, she peels the quilt away to reveal the soft color that has transferred from the fabric as well as evidence of sinuous seams and thread marks. She may add thinned paint or abrade the surfaces.

Erin Morrison, "Solstice Ritual 1," 2015
Oil, gouache, ink, graphite, on hydrocal, 53.5 x 63.5 in. 
Photo courtesy Samuel Freeman Gallery

In works like Solstice Ritual I, (2015), abstracted references to the hand and the eye, makers of the work, also emerge as part of her visual vocabulary. The inviting surfaces, the gentle, antique sense of color belie an admirable solidity in these object-pictures. The resulting works contain both the metaphoric and literal history of women’s work now presented in the larger context of post-modern art. It is on view through April 4.

Erin Morrison, "Untitled" (Double You, See You), 2015
Oil and gouache on hydrocal, 52 x 86 in. 
Photo courtesy Samuel Freeman Gallery

Evelena Ruether at the Samuel Freeman Gallery pointed out that last year, Morrison received her MFA from UCLA in the same class that produced Theodora Allen, whose dreamy neo-symbolist paintings are now on view at Blum and Poe, and Kathleen Ryan, whose tough sculptures are now at François Ghebaly Gallery.

Andrea Zittel, "Flat Field Work #1," 2015
Fir plywood, acx plywood, tung oil, black enamel paint, four hand woven wool textiles, three canvas tarps, 20 plywood panels painted with enamel paint, commercial carpet, found wool blanket, watercolor on paper
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Francois Ghebaly, Los Angeles
Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Kathleen Ryan is in a group show organized by Charlie White called Sculpture (or get the f… out ).The generational leader in this show is Andrea Zittel, who can make weavings and standing plywood walls and simple charts of earthy watercolors look like meditations on materiality and metaphysics. In a video of her work environment, she proclaims horizontal planes to be "energy accumulators." (Not my desk but I can always hope.)

Kelly Akashi, "Ring," 2015
Bronze, rope; 10 x 22 x 21"
Courtesy François Ghebaly Gallery

Much of the other work in the show, on view through April 4, embraces physical contrasts between the fragile and the durable, the light and the profound. Kelly Akashi presents Ring (2015) a disc of seemingly whirling clay cast in bronze and suspended on a rope that is tied in a tidy knot on the opposite side of a wall. It is an intriguing work of contradictions, weight and energy, movement and stasis, with a potential additional reading of the word "ring," and all that implies.

Kathleen Ryan, "Bacchante," 2015
Concrete, stainless steel, granite; 46 x 50 x 65"
Courtesy François Ghebaly Gallery

Kathleen Ryan’s Bacchante (2015) features not the drunken worshipper but just a group of giant grapes in stone held in place with chrome chains on a tall marble plinth. Nevine Mahmoud has cast colorfully striped basket balls and beach balls in solid ceramic clay. Amanda Ross Ho presents her own take on 50 shades with a gray tonal range of women’s underwear on a mannikin. Essays for the show underscore the importance of bringing the distaff to a field historically dominated by men but it is equally useful to consider the best work in this show as an enjoyable extension of the valuable contributions of earlier sculptors like Nancy Rubins and Liz Larner or, for that matter, Zittel, whose show, Aggregated Stacks, recently opened at the Palm Springs Art Museum.