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Downtown

Steven Josefsberg’s grainy, watercolor-tinted photographs of dead fish stacked in Oriental food market displays are as much about abstraction as they are the diversity of the sea. The close-up images of glassy-eyed haddock, multilayered fillets and the rolling coils of a bundled-up octopus are all done in a high-contrast, gum bichromate process that eliminates detail and gives the artist great control over the photograph’s texture. With this control, Josefsberg is able to give some fish the silky wetness of viscera and others the brittle quality of fossils from an archeological dig. As the subtle detail is leached out of the print, much of the image goes with it, emphasizing the patterning inherent in close-ups of mounds of fish packed together like sardines awaiting a can.

Josefsberg’s strength is that he can make this kind of photography repeatedly interesting. His sensitivity to the design possibilities as well as the otherworldly beauty in these denizens of the deep is keen enough so that each image remains fresh.

Perhaps it is not surprising that, after a fire in the late 1970s wiped out much of the early OP art painting that had launched his career, local artist Ron Briggs’ newer realist paintings would be tinged with a clear sense of things passing away. His current exhibition of scenes around Long Beach show changes in the aging neighborhood as urban renewal breathes new life into old houses and converts others into store fronts. Briggs bathes his scenes in a bright, glorifying light and he treats signs of age such as paint peeling on a street post with loving attention. Even three oil platforms that dot the slickness of the ocean and run off into the sunset are rendered in romantic, softness--quietly noting the new horizon of the ‘80s.(Koslow Rayl Gallery, 2538 W. 7th St., to Oct. 29.)


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