Not Whimsy

Barbara Spring does loneliness, bitterness well

Here, signs warn you away from the ladder, away from the tiny message. Lawsuits. "If she'd done that piece today," Stallings said, "there would be wider steps, railings . . ." Now it's an artifact commemorating a piece of art, and its happy—even subversive, once upon a time—message is there only for people who've read the story. It's like a recent cartoon that showed a velvet rope keeping museumgoers away from a protected work—another velvet rope. Still, it's nice to see. Go, and climb it when no one's looking.

"Barbara Spring Retrospective" and "At the Threshold of the Visible: Minuscule and Small Scale Art, 1964-1996" at Laguna Art Museum, 307 Cliff Dr., Laguna Beach, (949) 494-6531; Open Tues.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; extended hours and free admission on the first Thurs. of each month, 5-9 p.m. Through Oct. 10. $4-$5.
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