The Irvine Museum typically presents exhibits so inoffensively pretty that my eyeballs slide right off of them. When I heard the title for their current show—"All The Water That Will Ever Be, Is, Right Now"— the strangled phrasing got my hopes up that maybe this time we were in for something more exotic. But I was dejected to arrive and find that the exhibit really is just a bunch of paintings featuring water. I wish I could say it was all as invigorating as a splash of sea foam to the face, but the sad fact is it's mostly just... soggy.
Ah, but then there is Mischa Askenazy's Sunset Boulevard. A sadly underrated artist (the poor guy doesn't even score his own entry on Wikipedia,) Askenazy's modernist imagery features rich yet melancholy colors and gorgeously fat, chunky brushstrokes. In Sunset Boulevard his paint seems to spatter and drip across the canvas like rain running down a window. The streets are slick from the downpour, you'd have to be nuts to make a right turn up that steep and winding road. Most of the pieces in this show depict a place with fidelity. Askenazy makes you feel a place. You can almost hear the splats and splashes of those fat drops hitting the pavement. You want to pull your coat tight around you... until you remember that it's like 78 degrees outside.
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"All The Water That Will Ever Be, Is, Right Now" @ Irvine Museum 18881 Von Karman Ave. Ste. 1000, Irvine, (949) 476-0294. Through January 17th.