Total Recall

Canvas? and Terry Kim remember the good 80s

Spider plants, old boxing magazines, skateboard decks, other people's porno Polaroids—everything is art now. Which says a lot about "Canvas?" at Cordell Surfboards in Costa Mesa, and "Une Femme Est Une Femme" at the Artery in Costa Mesa—two shows in two places that, once, never would have been.

Cordell Surfboards has an anteroom the size of a South County walk-in closet. It's all back room, which is where they actually make the surfboards. This, plus the fact that art was once hard to think of in the same sentence as surfboards, makes "Canvas?" only Cordell's second show in eight years. More should be forthcoming (a third is set for this fall), which is swell because manager Tom Reese's brother Rick, a part-time art instructor at Cal State Long Beach, has a keen eye.

As the name implies, none of "Canvas?" is on canvas; its score of works appear on the bottoms of skateboard decks, which are sans trucks and wheels. This is only mildly off-putting. The works are so varied as to make you forget your embarrassment over gaping at the backside of a plebian entertainment device. And, sometimes, there's beer.

Start with the Reeses of Laguna Hills—Rick and wife Marie, a graphic designer, both of whom show pieces here. His Totem Pole—a selection of various line-drawn heads, none of them pretty—instantly recalls Twist's (Barry McGee) gawky, ballcap-ridden trucker heads. Here, they're perfectly hideous: near perfect. Marie Reese—like Niki Zink, whose decks hang nearby—recalls '80s Colorforms graphics from Gotcha and Maui and Sons with her delicately colored stencils of fish and other essential life forms. Zink: there's a time warp. His decks are all chewed on the edges; they've actually been ridden, the way we did in the '80s (they're wide enough to be Roskopps), and the colors in his abstracts are blindingly vivid. It's nice.

Elsewhere, Lori Werstein delivers a Silence of the Lambs clip (sorry) with her resined-on black-and-white photos of pupae and caterpillars—yum! They're the show's only photographic element, and your eye needs time to adjust. OC Weeklycover artist Robert Pokorny offers up some of his finely detailed dachshund art in Skate-N-Sniff, a wraparound wiener dog (sorry!) smelling himself, and a flock of cartoonishly purple bats with Tex Avery eyes, and, in one case, a pink human tushy. Everyone likes nakedity. And the single-named Adrien delivers paintings of more kinda creepy creeps—guys with snaggle teeth and bloodshot eyes, painted over vintage post cards and New York City maps (shout-out to Rikers Island). They're all but untitled (Board 1; Board 2) but hard to forget.

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The same is true of Terry Kim's show at the Artery—which later this year will expand from one to three shipping containers of art gallery for a total of 960 square feet of magic. You'd expect much from Kim, an Orange Coast College student, simply because he works in large scale. And his oils live up to that promise largely because they're unfinished—deliberately—making you project your memory upon them. Spend your '80s in a coked-out haze? Okay. Bought the first minivan (Chrysler) and lived in a townhouse? Fine. Don't care about the '80s? No problem. There was no soundtrack the day I visited (may I suggest Robert Palmer? "Simply Irresistible"?), but none was needed. The paintings were loud enough.

Like the late Patrick Nagel, Kim never met a contrast he didn't like. His haughty women demand your obedience—to say nothing of your money—in flowy, flouncy, solid-hued dresses and tops, punctuated by the occasional dot print or cascade of necklaces down an athletic décolletage. (Think Charlie Sheen in Wall Street asking, "Do you work out?") But do they see you through their milky, cataract lenses? Like his backgrounds, Kim leaves their pupils unfinished, so you will never know. Perhaps it's better that way. Their clothing is dead-on, a high-style redux that is as now as it is then. Their perfectly highlighted skin—so detailed it seems airbrushed—their imperious manner and their titles (especially, of course, Isabella Rossellini Part 2) bring back the Reagan years in Technicolor. But only the good stuff, like coke and working out. No deregulation, no arms-for-hostages, no Morning in America. And no "Mommy."

"CANVAS?" AT CORDELL SURFBOARDS, 785-D W. 17TH ST., COSTA MESA, (949) 645-1497. OPEN MON.-FRI., 1-5 P.M.; CLOSED SAT.-SUN. THROUGH SEPT. 10. FREE. "UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME" AT THE ARTERY, THE LAB, 2930 BRISTOL ST., COSTA MESA, (714) 966-6660. CALL FOR HOURS. THROUGH SEPT. 4. FREE.

 
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