But Podoll's attractive, punchy, even fun-loving paintings lack sufficient traction to take their lovely visual appeal beyond lovely visual appeal.
Either too much or too little takes place in a typical painting. The too-littles simply juxtapose a blurry oval of air-brushed color against a sandpapery, nearly monochrome ground. Or conversely, an oval of illusionistic texture is set against an atmospheric backdrop.
In the ones with too much, Podoll lays out 10, 20 or 30 little ovals and sometimes adds a handful of irregularly shaped sections. Each little part features a single painterly technique, rendered in an appropriate palette. These works have the presence of samplers -- mix-and-match attempts to compensate for indecisiveness with multiple choices.
In two small square paintings, Podoll allows elements from some of his otherwise precisely circumscribed samples to breach their borders. The messiness recalls a kid going outside the lines in a coloring book. It's a welcome development in a body of work that feels straitjacketed. One hopes it's also a sign of more messy freedom to come.
Christopher Grimes Gallery, 916 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 587-3373, through July 5. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.cgrimes.com.
A light touch and simple images
Valérie Jacobs' finely detailed works on paper and canvas reveal that art made with a light touch and a heavy heart is far more resonant than any made with a heavy hand. At Bert Green Fine Art, 20 understated images neither clamor for your attention nor aggressively mess with it once they get it.
Instead, Jacobs' supple pictures swim into focus like daydreams that leave you wondering where they came from but knowing right where they take you: back to a familiar world that seems different because you see it with fresh eyes.
Jacobs mixes metaphors as deftly as she mixes media, combining oil paint, pastel crayon, ink, pencil, etching and just a bit of collage.
The works describe simple things, such as old-fashioned hats, boxing gloves and scampering rats, as well as fanciful figures, such as Thai deities, mischievous monkeys and ghost demons.
The best images are the simplest and the most complicated.
A series of seven little drawings, each featuring a common object or two, transforms ordinary things into intriguing talismans, with just the right combination of film noir mysteriousness and everyday plainness. The complex compositions invite viewers to forget about messages, their incompatible elements making poetic rather than logical sense.
Jacobs stumbles when her works convey direct messages about the danger of beauty and the trickery of images. When she avoids conventional symbols, her works lure viewers into a world where everything is just what it is and much more.
Bert Green Fine Art, 102 W. 5th St., (213) 624-6212, through June 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.bgfa.us.