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The Ilan-Lael Foundation, a local nonprofit organization...

The Ilan-Lael Foundation, a local nonprofit organization whose purpose is to encourage and promote the exchange of ideas by people sensitive to the aesthetic potential of San Diego, is presenting “Sculpture San Diego 86" with co-sponsor Circle Gallery in Old Town (2501 San Diego Ave.).

The exhibition is the second such annual event designed to survey sculpture being made in San Diego. This year’s jurors were La Jolla resident and philanthropist-collector Barbara Walbridge; Terry Whitcomb, University of San Diego art historian and head of campus art acquisition, and Tamara Thomas, a Los Angeles corporate art consultant.

Experienced jurors almost invariably select the same works independently of one another, so we can be confident that the exhibition fairly represents what in their collective opinion are the best works from among those submitted. That is not to say, however, that the exhibition surveys the most important sculptures being made in San Diego. It does not, for example, include works by Kenneth Capps, Jay Johnson and John Rogers. Nevertheless, it does include works of great beauty and presence and few works of trivial interest.

Mike Conlen’s painted steel “Red Arc,” composed of a vocabulary of contemporary abstract forms, is masterfully assembled and evinces the maturing of the artist’s personal style. Michael O’Brien’s “Play with Me, Baby,” which was exhibited for some months in the Grand Concourse, is also distinctive. Large vertical elements--a yellow oval, a blue zigzag and a black twist with a red disc like a hat--each supported by a heavy-duty spring, may be set in crazy motion by viewers. It’s a kinetic piece of considerable charm.

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Among other large works in the exhibition, Norman Ridenour’s mixed-media “The American Way” stands out for the elegance of its composition and the power of its threatening message.

Among large wall-oriented works, Daniel Britton’s mixed-media “Male,” a work of great complexity and beauty whose interest is as a painting as well as a sculpture, and Lane Scott Campbell’s cast concrete “Demonstration of Intent Through Will” in seductive desert colors are outstanding.

Jay Nicholas Whaley’s “Anvil” presents a paradox of a tough form with virile historical associations made of delicate materials--silkspan on a birch frame enclosing a neon tube. Ellen Phillips’ small works, both titled variations of “Threshold-Passage,” suggest danger and the ephemeral in their combination of photographic film and barbed wire.

The exhibition also includes weak works by artists of proven talent, rip-offs of significant artists, works of technical finesse but little aesthetic interest and works probably included to represent their medium because nothing else does. Nevertheless, it’s worth a visit before it closes Sunday.

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Quilt San Diego, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of quilts as an art form, is presenting an exhibition in the lobby areas of the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza during the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s inaugural production “Quilters.” Included are two antique quilts as historical references for the roughly two dozen contemporary quilts displayed.

The quilts exhibited represent traditional patterns; original, contemporary designs, and hybrids. They also represent quilts as both wall-hangings and bed covers. Most were made by local quilters; a few came from as far away as Somerset, Mass.

All of the works are beautiful, and there is enough variety that everyone will find a quilt to enjoy studying, from the most traditionally decorative “Poppy Wreath” by Shirlee Smith to the abstract complex color compositions of Michael James.

“Virginia Reel” by Michiko Rice is traditional in inspiration but with simple, dark interlocking forms, which do indeed seem to dance, on a white field; it also could be appreciated as a work of reductive art. One of the wonders of the piece is that a medium as subtle as stitching reads strongly across a considerable distance.

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Rice’s “Baltimore Album” combines American tradition with her Japanese heritage.

Patricia F. Smith organized the exhibition, the first of a series of special visual arts events to take place in the Lyceum Theater’s lobbies, with arrangement by San Diego Rep Special Projects/Events Director Phyllis Hoffman.

The quilt exhibition continues through July 6 during regular intermission hours. It also also be open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 3 and 5 and noon to 3 p.m. July 6 free of charge.

Inside (715 8th Ave.) is hosting “Women in Architecture: An Exhibit . . . Then and Now,” featuring the work by past and current San Diego women architects. The exhibition, organized by the San Diego organization Women in Architecture in conjunction with “San Diego: By Design” week includes photographs, drawings and a model.

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The works of Hazel Emma Wood Waterman and Lillian J. Rice, representing “then,” possess that artistic integrity and beauty that gives you shivers of pleasure. Among the architects representing “now,” Guiti Kardan, Lucille Hodges and Lynn Walters look outstanding.

The exhibition continues through July 6.

Correction: The Sushi reception closing its monthlong performance festival, “Neofest,” and honoring installation artist Janet F. Colby is scheduled for 10 p.m. to midnight Saturday.


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