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; www.lagunaartmuseum.org. 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.