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Review: 'The View' at Steve Turner Contemporary

December 11, 2008 |  4:45 pm

'Cypress Trees, Point Lobos'

“The View,” like its television namesake, stages a dialogue among women. A fine, modestly scaled group show at Steve Turner Contemporary, it presents work by four contemporary L.A. artists “in concert” with a selection of drawings and paintings from the 1930s by the pioneering modernist Henrietta Shore.

Shore’s drawing of a pair of leafless cypress trees renders them engaged in some sort of muscular ballet. Her colored pencil interpretation of the cliffs of Point Lobos swells with eroticism. If the work brings to mind the sensuous natural forms of Edward Weston, it is not because Shore was derivative but rather because she was a key influence on the far better-known photographer.

The contemporary artists in the show resonate variably with Shore’s aesthetic of distilled form and organic rhythm, her fusion of representation and abstraction.

Like the tree trunks and rocks in Shore’s work, Ellen Birrell’s photographs of the quirky, gnarled shapes of deformed lemons invite bodily associations. Pearl C. Hsiung’s landscapes veer toward the synthetic, garish and frivolous.

Megan Williams’ installation of a dozen canvases in a gallery corner looks like a scattering of body parts — mossy, messy, fleshy, a cartoonish, exuberant approach to the isolated natural form.

The artist most akin to Shore in terms of elegance is Tia Pulitzer, whose two lovely, petite ceramic sculptures of slightly distorted deer, one finished with an automotive paint shimmer and the other with a transfixing white gold luster, make easy bedfellows of the beautiful, innocent and strange.

-- Leah Ollman

Steve Turner Contemporary, 6026 Wilshire Blvd., (323) 931-3721, through Dec. 20. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Image: Henrietta Shore's "Cypress Trees, Point Lobos" (circa 1930-1933). Credit: Steve Turner Contemporary

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