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FROM THIS EPISODE

Russell Crotty is well-known for a style of drawing that involves hundreds and hundreds of small marks to represent the larger natural world. In the 1990's, as a devoted surfer, he used ballpoint pen, not usually a tool in fine art practice, to draw scenes of huge waves and small surfers. He then became so interested in astronomy and the movements of the solar system that he had a small observatory built behind his studio. There, he was motivated to create hanging spheres covered in his detailed drawings as well as giant hand-drawn atlases of the sky or the landscape.

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Russell Crotty, "Outpost Two," 2014
Ink, acrylic, plastic, bio-resin, fiberglass on paper
Framed: 55" x 55" x 2 3/4"
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

All of this drawing, however, took its toll on the muscles of his hands and arms, which forced him to find a new method of working. His latest exhibition, Another Green World at Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica through October 31, turns out to be a marvelous solution.

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Russell Crotty, "Pier Two," 2014
Ink, acrylic, plastic, bio-resin, fiberglass on paper
Framed: 55" x 55" x 2 3/4"
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

Using sticks dipped in ink, he carefully articulates structures along a vacant horizon that resemble the piers or oil derricks off the coast of Santa Barbara, not far from his home in Ojai, though they could also be landing craft for Mars. The dark-edged schematic renderings are painted in part with a translucent bio-resin that adds atmosphere, soft, at times bilious color and slick surface. Crotty attaches flattened clear plastic containers, the kind used for berries, to frame parts of the drawings, which also include his tiny written statements. The use of the plastics and bio-resins reflect the growing masses of toxic trash found in the ocean or the skies. Here, they also act as lenses of a sort, bringing a viewer in for a closer look. Despite the sensitive execution, it's hard not to come away with thoughts about the sinister implications of industrial development for our oceans or skies.

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Russell Crotty, "Outpost Four," 2014
Ink, acrylic, plastic, bio-resin, fiberglass on paper
Framed: 55" x 55" x 2 3/4"
Courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery

Meanwhile, at Christopher Grimes Gallery in Santa Monica, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, the Spanish conceptual artist, has felt the pain of drought stricken California. The gallery walls are lined with shelves bearing clear glass gallon jugs of water drilled from a well in New Mexico. The large containers that transported the 500 gallons of water and a proxy of the shiny metal drill that was used stand as sculpture in the center of the gallery. An attendant will pour you a glass of this fresh water and it is delicious.

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Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, "Well 34°01'03"N - 118°29'12"W," 2015
500 gallons of water from Santa Clara Pueblo, glass bottles, shelves and pump
dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

The well is a permanent work of land art that was installed in Santa Clara Pueblo for Site Santa Fe's 2014 Biennial. Once the pump is used to draw water from the aquifer, its meaning is complicated and politicized with regard to earlier works of land art and its function today.

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Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, "Well 38°58”16’N–106°05”21’W," 2014
(Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, Santa clara Pueblo, NM)
Courtesy of the artist and Christopher Grimes Gallery

The installation at Grimes is crisp, cool and reductive in keeping with the artist's always elegant aesthetic sensibility but the import is intense. How will our increasingly depleted world resources be deployed? Who will suffer and who will prosper? Will we change our habits or face a drastically altered world? Even with an awareness of these questions, which are addressed in the daily news, a visit to see this artist's exhibition has a surprising and moving impact. Well 34°01'03"N - 118°29'12"W is on view through October 24.

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