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Wilshire Center

If you agree with the notion behind an exhibition called “Art as Religion,” that art is a way for individuals to contact something greater than themselves, you may come to this group show expecting some kind of revelation. If so, you’ll be disappointed. There are no revelations here. But it’s the concept not the art that’s at fault. Theme shows tend to use art to illustrate a point only peripherally related to the work itself.

There are solid and evocative pieces in this show, but the context makes the them come off like pseudo relics from a quasi religious art community. There is the monkish asceticism of Lance Letscher’s lead covered “Table, Bowl And Spoon” and the contemporary ritualized garments of Craig Roper’s midwestern polyester leisure suit. Burial crypts that taunt death are suggested by Yolande McKay’s sealed cement boxes.

Raymond Petibon tackles all the theological-cum-art-world conundrums in his amusing installation. Cameron Shaw turns a bottled inner tube into a venerated assemblage relic. Liz Young’s macabre humor deals with the sordid side of religion, pushing penance into physical torture. David French debunks the sacredness of the all hallowed object with a rip-off and a price tag.

The show at least puts us in touch with newcomer Lori Precious’ untitled bottled baby series and her long steel bird house with its icon altar of bird wings. As venerations of the fragile side of life, her aesthetic is as sensitive as Annette Lemieux’s museum love story is refreshing. (Richard/Bennett Gallery, 830 N. La Brea Ave., to Feb. 3.)

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