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The Valley

This is the age of Shirley MacLaine, past lives and cosmic consciousness, and painter Pamela Mower-Conner is an artist for her times. It’s hip to be transcendental and Mower-Conner’s work plumbs just those places where dream time, real time, the physical and the metaphysical collide comfortably in rainbow-hued visionary scenes that could second as posters for New Age expos were they not so technically masterful, visually fresh and genuinely felt.

To her credit, Mower-Conner was painting this way before the content was “in,” and she says she’s compiling her somnambulist fantasies into “the world’s largest painting” executed in successive adjoining panels. Earlier series were ruddier of palette and more macabre. Current work continues a recent bent toward softer, ecstatic journeys through honey-hued and aquamarine landscapes crammed almost to confusion with big pulsating flowers, nearly-alive rock forms, dried pods, invented vegetation, elfish, half-clad natives in extraterrestrial forests and fantastic creatures (a gargantuan bug-eyed fish and stick creatures wading through pools).

Her message is still that everything--the animate and inanimate, the past and future--is linked up by some common intelligence. Mower-Conner conveys this by painting fire-fly bits of light leaping off objects or bathing whole areas of canvas in etheric, violet-blue clouds. Peering out of her vaporous compositions will be a tiny, delicate face or a view of distant hills. There’s no logic to scale, position or narrative, yet like a powerful dream, we believe every acute, perfectly limned detail. The last painting in this series is an exceptional view into a vast arid, incandescent desert where spindly canines forage and repose.

The work has always been good, but it’s just recently acquired a deserved following as suburbia embraces terrain once reserved for the shaman, the artist or the madman. (Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, to Nov. 25th.)

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