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Art review: Amanda Ross-Ho at Cherry and Martin Gallery

November 24, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Ross-Ho install

The potentially exhilarating uselessness of art gets pumped up to delirious proportions by Amanda Ross-Ho. Exhibit A is "A Stack of Black Pants," her engaging new work at Cherry and Martin.

The centerpiece of the installation of paintings, sculptures, drawings and found objects is indeed a stack of black pants -- gigantic, oversized black pants large enough to fit a fee-fi-fo-fum colossus. Everyone needs a pair of black pants, of course, even if the person lives only in the imagination.

Dockers for Andre the Giant, Ross-Ho's stack is casually folded on top of a teakwood cube, part sculpture pedestal, part Donald Judd-style furniture-sculpture and part up-market department store display table. Nearby, an enormous brooch plated in cheesy gold and composed of two theatrical masks -- both depicting tragedy's frown -- is affixed backward to the wall; it's as if Mrs. Andre the Giant, now invisible and enveloping us, had it pinned to her chest.
 
Ross-Ho ricochets around the room with kooky connections such as this -- the brooch's tragedy frowns turning up on the photographed face of a wild-eyed taxidermy bobcat, for example, and pendants from normal-size jewelry pinned on the wall next to a couple of paintings. Those canvases sport cryptic notational markings that suggest outtakes from a notepad on which construction calculations have been made -- the kinds of calculations that might go into a seamstress' project for changing a pattern's size.

Or, into a building project. Indeed, dispersed around the room are drafting triangles, both normal-size and huge, which might have been used to design and build the "staircase to nowhere" climbing one wall. Pencil markings a builder might have made are on walls here and there, echoing the paintings, while tucked underneath the staircase is a teakwood block, roughly the size of a ream of paper, on top of which a bloody bandage is carefully folded.

Nearby, a bulletin board sports diagrams, templates and a folder labeled for the show. Patterns are, in fact, a subtext of Ross-Ho's work -- the patterns of thought by which individuals make connections, deliberate or accidental, between and among disparate experiences and things.

These compulsive connections might seem illogical, absurd or even crazy to another person, but they're ordinary and expected to the person making them. They're also the real subject of Ross-Ho's oddball art. For the viewer, observing the process is strangely satisfying.

-- Christopher Knight

@twitter.com/KnightLAT

Cherry and Martin, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-0100, through Dec. 18. Closed Sun. and Mon. www.cherryandmartin.com

Photo: "A Stack of Black Pants," installation view. Credit: Cherry and Martin

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