Art review: Liz Craft at Patrick Painter Inc.


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

The Industrial Revolution did many things, not least of which was to make room for an abundance of tchotchkes. Across Europe and the United States, wage-laborers allayed the drudgery of their workaday regimens by collecting cheap trinkets and handcrafting singular mementos.

At Patrick Painter Inc., Liz Craft’s new sculptures – in bronze, yarn and fiberglass – slam together the impersonal nature of industrial production with the touchy-feely uniqueness of specially made treasures. Titled ‘Death of a Clown,’ her fifth solo show in Los Angeles is a volatile cocktail that plays fast and loose with distinctions between individuals and industries. It makes a place for contemporary art in a post-industrial world in which it’s hard to tell the difference between public and private, sincerity and sarcasm, intimacy and anonymity.


Three funky clown faces hang on the walls. Each is made of a 5-by-4-foot steel mesh panel to which Craft has welded cast-bronze serving dishes, vases and candlesticks. These household items serve as the clowns’ eyes, noses and mouths. Thick and fuzzy lengths of brightly colored yarn stand in for hair, beards, makeup and tears. Craft’s oddly cobbled clowns have the feel of industrial-strength macrame, misbegotten hybrids that are out of place everywhere.

In the middle of the gallery, three free-standing sculptures create an image of domestic tranquility, complete with a life-size woman sleeping on an enormous pink couch, a rug too beautiful to walk on and an end table on which a monochrome gnome perches. But Craft’s multilayered sculptures never let viewers rest with first impressions. The more time you spend with them, the stranger they get, taking your imagination on a surreal trip that melds Egyptian sarcophagi, William Morris decor, grandmotherly crafts and Jonathan Borofsky high jinks. All the while, you never leave Craft’s astute loopiness behind.

– David Pagel

Patrick Painter Inc., 2525 Michigan Ave., Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, (310) 264-5988, through May 1. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Images: ‘Candy Colored Clown (Lemon Eye Zig Zag Teeth)’ and ‘Nicole Couch (Pink, Fuchsia, Orange),’ 2010. Image credits: Fredrik Nilsen / Courtesy of the Artist and Patrick Painter Inc.