Metropolis: Prospects & Observations
The works on view in Metropolis: Prospects & Observations explore the experience and substance of the modern metropolis through the eyes of five artists working in a variety of media. Auto-Portrait L.A., Srboohie Abajian’s series of large scale mixed media monotypes, highlights the sometimes adversarial relationship between cars and pedestrians in Los Angeles. Abajian grew up in a city where streets teeming with people allowed for serendipitous social interaction; this body of work laments the pedestrian as an unwelcome visitor in our land of automobiles. Renée Azenaro’s work represents the experience of navigating through the alternately mundane and remarkable world around us. The installations and sculptures on view here are constructed with steel wire and convey both strength and fragility. The works have an ethereal, almost liquid quality, in direct contrast to the rigid forms—like chain link fences and window guards—the material typically takes in the urban environment. Matthew Cramer’s paintings and drawings document the mark of human activity on the landscape. Canvases that depict shipping containers at the Port of Los Angeles or city busses spread across an endless asphalt parking lot capture a beauty and serenity often overlooked in our day-to-day experience of chaotic city life. His satellite drawings upend the perspective of the traditional cityscape, highlighting pattern and structure in our industrial complexes. The photographs in Don Saban’s Los Angeles After Dark series are all taken between sundown and sunup, but most often in the early hours of the morning when the streets are nearly deserted. Using digital photography and heightened color Saban depicts known and less familiar landmarks in an eerie state of unpopulated repose that is equal parts beautiful and disquieting. John Smith uses a large format camera, long exposures and slow speed black and white film to create his masterfully composed urban landscapes. Smith likes to shoot in the quiet hour just before the sun rises, when the contrast between light and dark is heightened and the dense black curve of a freeway against the soft gradient gray sky evokes longing and mystery. Similarly the silvery blur of traffic or a barreling subway train is a beautiful abstraction that prompts the viewer to contemplate humanity’s rush toward an unknown future.