California Dreamin’

Liz Craft · Chris Finley · Pentti Monkkanen

This exhibition features paintings and sculptures by three emerging Los Angeles artists.

Los Angeles-based writer, curator and critic Michael Darling wrote the essay in the accompanying gallery guide.

The three artists in this exhibition are among many from the West Coast School who are garnering critical and commercial support for their work.  In the face of globalization and its concomitant homogenization, authentic, regional idiosyncrasies have become recognized.  One of the defining characteristics of Los Angeles art in particular is its insistent playfulness and reliance on humor to jumpstart aesthetic discourse.

Each of these three artists reach back to the more innocent time of childhood and adolescence, when play was an integral, if unrecognizable, mode of development and acculturation, to find models of perceptual and even moral learning.  The lighthearted veneer of their works effectively disarms viewers, making them more receptive to the respective message without lessening its import.  Such serious fun is a hallmark of a great deal of the art that has come from Southern California over the past forty years, and more than lives up to its increasingly desirable label: “Made in LA.”

In the work of Liz Craft, simultaneity is a crucial component in her sculptural objects - the viewer is put in a position of trying to find narrative closure in works that are constantly beginning and ending at the same time.  Her concerns are environmental - how everything inhabits space, whether the interior space of a radiant mind or an apartment, or the exterior space of a garden.  Craft, born in Los Angeles, holds an MFA from UCLA. 

Chris Finley, who currently resides in Petaluma, California, received a BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.  Finley has been exploring the expansive visual parameters of electronic cyberspace, chronicling the new territory almost simultaneously as it opens up.  A computer metaphor, whereby files are clicked open to reveal further files within, which in turn contain still more information, guides his thinking, and bodies of work evolve like software updates.  

A transplant from Minnesota, Pentti Monkkonen, with a BA from UCLA, lives and works in Los Angeles.  Monkkonen has fashioned motorized sculptures that, while initially appearing whimsical, soon impart narratives regarding time and perception.  And his See Saw preys on our hard-wired recognition of and longing for good clean fun, while suggesting that split second between active and archived vision.