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La Cienega Area

Sculptors have lately been fascinated by man’s primitive attempts to harness nature’s elemental forces. This confrontation between the primal and the primary has produced a school preoccupied with basic transformation and sharing equal borders with physics, chemistry and magic.

In her first gallery solo San Pedro artist Liz Larner joins the pack, bringing elements of wryness and rue that are all her own. She shows a little black wheel-and-arm machine that patiently scratches a tear in the pristine gallery wall. “Evaporation” places a 50-cent piece over steam rising from a heated beaker of water. Eventually the shiny coin will tarnish to unrecognizability. (They say if it were real silver the vapor would slowly destroy it.)

“Ball System” is about the human compulsion to organize. It consists of orbs made of plaster, cast iron and wrapped plastic line. They rest in metal-web drawers that can be stored in a serious wooden case. It all seems to speak of how our wonderful ability to rationally classify and sort can be turned into an autistic ritual.

Mark Lere, who has been at this sort of thing longer, shows drawings. Scrubbed gray fields partly hide images of factories while on top float forms that have one foot in geometry and the the other in metaphysics. There is a beehive dome that would serve as a wizard’s hat and a figure eight becoming a double crucible. Lere could be telling us that all that manufacturing technique going on in foundry, factory or volcano is the basis of our belief in the supernatural. (Margo Leavin Gallery, 812 N. Robertson Blvd., to Oct. 15.)

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