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The Valley

Susan Santiago’s portraits of family, friends and collectors are by-and-large of the formula, surface-oriented, flattering variety. Touches of white delineate the hills and valleys of unlined faces, eyes smolder darkly and expression is either muted or exaggerated, but not a key to character.

Bare-chested Kimo and Michael, who hug each other and smile ecstatically for the camera (Santiago works from photographs) have almost clown-like cheerful masks for faces. Young nude Camille, of the loose dirty-blond hair and red fingernails, offers cliched allure with a cat hugged to her breast. Lynne Westmore looks terminally skeptical; Angie Ciavarella in profile suggests a young Shirley MacLaine.

Likenesses these may be on some level, but--like ‘80s perfume--they’re all “top note” without the lasting, underlying resonance of the real stuff. (Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, to Oct. 28)


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