A hundred years ago, Jean Arp introduced chance into his art-making process, dropping bits of colored paper onto a sheet and collaging them, more or less where they fell. Meg Cranston's high-tech equivalent is an Intenet random noun generator, which spit out the words she used to launch the work in her current show, "Pizza, Bagpipe, Carburetor," at Meliksetian Briggs gallery.
Two printed illustrations of a pizza that look like they were cut from a home-delivery box face off atop a bed of bubble wrap in one piece. In another, a papier-mache bagpipe, painted pale pink, sits on a tabletop like a bloated blob of flesh, surrounded by paper doll cut-outs of young women. The bagpipe is a punchline in itself, especially with its striped-straw blowstick, even if the rest of the joke has gone missing.
The show is a scatter of slight gestures and variably clever appropriations from the prolific and often provocative Los Angeles-based artist. "Yellow Cyclone Gray," a painting collaged with photo-reproductions, bounces refreshingly with visual puns and rhymes. On the more static end, four grid paintings, all wobbly aqua lines against white, contribute little of consequence to that esteemed genre.
The zinger is "Clock with Left Missing," a little panel (11 by 14 inches) painted with a diagram that Cranston plucked from an unknown source. Numbers on the clock, shaped like a backward C, start at the top with 2. Then comes another 2, and the digits proceed around the curve, with 11 and 12 floating bereftly in the void, beyond the clock's perimeter. As an image, it seeps with pathos. As a conception of time, it feels no more random than the one we live by.