Santa Monica

With skill and panache beyond her years, New York based artist Deborah Brown hurls herself a few notches beyond painterly realism into fresh-out-of-the-tube landscapes that wed hallucination and inspiration. Brown paints La Jolla's craggy, fissured cliffs with exaggerated detail. Red rocks, highlighted in pinks and peacock blues, overlook acidic turquoise oceans or rise precipitously to skies of persimmon or incandescent lemon. Brown adds to the feverish tone with frothy, quick brush strokes and lots of dark shadows, but she keeps the overall look luminous and taut like a technicolor mirage.

Brown handles light with amazing ease. One minute her focus is so acute that it seems illuminated by scorching desert sun, while in works like "Squall" Brown musters up hazy atmospheres in cool midnight blues. The feel of these paintings might come from the fact that Brown first makes plein air studies in water color, then commutes them to oil in her studio. Between the great outdoors and the no-holds-barred territory of Brown's psyche, nature takes on an optical pitch that leaves us wondering what she will do for an encore. (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 1454 5th St., to Feb. 9.)

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