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Foreshore
2012
John Zurier
Watercolor on sized paper
13 3/4″ x 17 5/8″

Saboru #5 (detail)
2013
Eleanor Coppola
Archival pigment print on Optica paper
61″ x 25″
Photos courtesy Gallery Paule Anglim

A subtle, restrained lyricism informs the landscape-themed watercolors of John Zurier and photographs of Eleanor Coppola. Zurier is exhibiting seventeen watercolors inspired by his recent travels in Iceland and Scandinavia; if the airy, luminous abstractions do not literally depict the striking northern landscape outright, they certainly suggest, with their dappled blocks of dilute color, the region’s cool light and atmosphere. Foreshore, Grindavik, Mosfellsbaer and Untitled (June 28, 2012), with their feeling of space, expressed within a reductive, monochrome vocabulary, may remind you of Turner’s watercolors or Diebenkorn’s oils; the more assertive shapes and shallower space of House in Winter and Untitled (Budir) incline instead toward pure abstraction. Coppola’s Scrolls series (or, alternatively, Saboru, meaning “truant”) comprises ten hanging scrolls on paper, each five feet long, in the vertical-format Asian style; instead of ink paintings, however, Coppola presents color photographs on Optica paper of misty rural landscapes (some of which might depict the Bay Area), or planar expanses of freshly fallen gingko leaves that are serene meditations on the natural world. In addition, her untitled but numbered scrolls hang slightly out from the wall: suspended by hardware at the top, without a scroll base, appearing to float. John Zurier, “Watercolors” and Eleanor Coppola, “Scrolls” run from April 10 to May 4 at Gallery Paule Anglim.

BATTERIESNOTINCLUDED
2012
Markus Linnenbrink
Epoxy resin, pigments, on wood panel
24″ x 36″
Photo: courtesy Patricia Sweetow Gallery

If dripped paint once betokened Abstract Expressionist angst, it now has other meanings. This is thanks partly to Markus Linnenbrink, whose zippy, lustrous, rivulet-laden paintings, replete with minuscule stalactites, are both beautiful and witty. His new show, “day after day it reappears,” goes beyond the trademark Stripe epoxy-resin paintings (e.g., PLASTICSMILEUNDERPLASTICSUN and SOLARFLAMESBURNFORYOU) to present other aspects of the Brooklyn artist’s work. The Drill paintings are composed of sandwiched layers of pigmented resin that have been excavated with a drill or router to create semicircular dimples that suggest craters or, considering the electric color halation, hallucinatory googly eyes (though concave). BATTERIESNOTINCLUDED, with its lacquer-red background, is a good example. In the Photodrip works, the vertical rain of paint obscures the blown-up photographic backgrounds, as in TIMECAPSULE(NOLOVELOST) and BADREDREPUTATION. New to this viewer are the Reverse paintings, THEMAPOFWHATIS(AFOOLCANNOTWAIT) and THEWALLSOFTHECITYSHAKING, formed of repeated resin pours into gently curved molds that suggest topography, with the ‘hilltop’ colors poured first and the ‘valleys’ added at the end; made in stages, upside down, without immediate visual feedback, these melted-Fauvist landscapes are tours de force. Don’t miss YOYO(YOU’REONYOUROWN), from the Linear series, a taboret-sized resin-block assemblage on casters that fossilizes cultural detritus, or Linnenbrink’s resplendent murals in the mezzanine foyer. “Day after day it reappears” runs from April 2 to May 18 at Patricia Sweetow Gallery.

Docutone Series, Broken Rhythm
2013
Mitch Jones
Oil and mixed media on canvas
63″ x 96″

Swing Shift
2013
Albert Dicruttalo
Steel
48″ x 52″ x 48″
Photos: courtesy Andrea Schwartz Gallery

Proving that postminimalists, too can have soul are sculptor Albert Dicruttalo and painter Mitch Jones. Dicruttalo studied computer-aided design and worked as chief assistant for the veteran sculptor Bruce Beasley, so there’s a shared sensibility in the interpenetrating geometric forms that both artists use: instead of Beasley’s pulled polygons, however, Dicruttalo combines hemispheres and sectioned tubes on his computer screen, as well as in drawings and maquettes, and he fabricates them in his Oakland foundry. Though geometric and abstract, works like Deus Ex Machina have deliberate psychological readings, evoking the human condition without anthropomorphism; they’re intellectual puzzles with a surprising emotional weight. The human factor in Jones’ abstract Rhyme and Rhythm paintings emanates from the collaged elements that he resurrects and recontextualizes: handwritten sheets from old ledger books, newspaper articles, and illustrated pages from ancient books with steel engravings. He cuts these faded documents so that they become illegible, or rotates them, and pastes them into strips suggesting handwriting, or into columns, alternating the monochrome elements with blocks of pure oil paint, which Jones likens to doors or windows, citing the traditional metaphors for pictorial space. From a distance, we read the works as abstractions, or mysteriously coded data: up close, we discern that these “dynamic visual symphonies” to use the artist-musician’s words, are built of scraps of human history. “Dicruttalo/Jones” runs from May 1 to June 14 at Andrea Schwartz Gallery.

Concrete Abstract #2: World Trade Center 2001 – 2012
2013
Shai Kremer
Pigment ink print
Photo: courtesy Robert Koch Gallery

New York City’s urban landscape is the focus of Shai Kremer’s “Concrete Abstract & Notes from the Edges,” depicting, respectively, new construction at the World Trade Center site and Manhattan, capitalism’s world capital, seen from surrounding suburbs. The Israeli photographer, who lives in New York and Tel Aviv, found austere beauty in deserted military sites and targets in the war-torn Middle East and imbued them with a feeling of, in his words, “traumatic historical baggage.” His shots of WTC girders, taken at regular intervals between 2001 and 2012, and digitally superimposed, seem more abstract; forming fractured, semi-transparent planes in grays and browns, punctuated by recognizable details, they suggest photographic versions of Analytical Cubism, which was also about ordering the chaotic flux of reality and sensation; or Futurism, with its delight in modernity, speed and power. Kremer: “It seems as though we are standing over an archaeological mound, except that in this newly created palimpsest, we can now have a penetrating gaze through all of its strata simultaneously.” He agrees with the Marxist philosopher, Marshall Berman: “All that is solid melts into air.” Kremer’s beautiful photographs of unglamorous sites, with Manhattan in the far distance, also express ambivalence about capitalist creative destruction, that article of faith with One-Percenters. “Concrete Abstract & Notes from the Edge” runs from April 4 to June 1 at Robert Koch Gallery.

Baby Blues (still life with endangered California flora and fauna)

2012
Robert Minervini
Acrylic, oil and paper on canvas over panel
24″ x 24″
photo: courtesy Electric Works

If you’re a fan of BBC nature documentaries for their glorious photography and scientific insight (putting to shame our dumbed-down American versions), you probably sometimes suspect that these images will outlive their subjects, as global extinctions continue. For “After Glow: As The Wick Burns,” Robert Minervini adapts a family slogan to reflect on this fading spark of biodiversity: “In Molfettese, my family’s regional language, the expression Sa squagghiate la cer roughly translates as ‘The candle wick is about to burn out,’ meaning our time together is coming to an end.” Minervini’s 13 large acrylic paintings depict endangered California flora and fauna, framed by mullioned window grids and faraway city views. They thus combine the Dutch floral vanitas and i>memento mor traditions, with their tabletop arrangements of flowers (blooming and fading) and skulls, reminding viewers that all things must pass, with a spectacular urban landscape–and maybe the Renaissance window portrait, too–but with a contemporary ecological subtext. There’s nothing overtly polemical about these works, however; with their bursting blossoms, high-key Pop palette, and mixed technique, including collage and spray paint, Baby Blues, Rhizomatistic, Substance is Eternal and The Waning Light make a strong case for both nature and an enlightened, big-picture, global culture. “After Glow: As The Wick Burns” will be on view from May 10 to June 28 at Electric Works.

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Carol Cheh
DeWitt Cheng is a freelance San Francisco art critic and curator who has covered the Bay Area scene for web and print publications, including art ltd., Artillery, VisualArtSource.com, and East Bay Monthly, for 15 years. He is Curator at Stanford Art Spaces, an exhibition program centered in university science and engineering buildings.