Luis Jimenez's huge cast fiberglass sculptures are sampled in yet another spinoff of the County Museum of Art's current Hispanic exhibition. "Orca" is a tremendous whale nestled in a conch like Botticelli's Venus, and "Howl" is a glistening, over-life-size wolf baying carniverously at the moon. In smaller scale and lesser hands, these might be swap meet fare, but enlarged and energized by Jimenez's jagged figuration, they're anything but tacky. Jimenez comes from a long line of craftsmen. This show demonstrates his strength as a draftsman.
A dozen lithographs reflect study of the Mexican muralists and their strong, linear figuration. Mexican dancers, Indian warriors and buxom Mayan maidens look more chiseled than limned. His draftsmanship raises patronizing nostalgia to poignant narrative in "Bordercrossing" (a beleaguered campesino bearing his shawled heroine on his shoulders). The same goes for other lithographs in which winged Indians with females sprawled over their arms represent the elements, as in the majestic "Cloud and Mountain." He's just as comfortable moving down from Olympus into the sweaty city streets, as the excellent "Honky Tonk" or "Rose Tattoo" demonstrate.
In contrast to Latino artists touched by the barrio, Jimenez's fellow Texan Rolando Briseno's art seem aristocratic and continental. Considerable European influence laces his shaped paintings. A tendency toward abstraction runs against the Mexican figurative tradition. Briseno's formal tie to Italian Futurism shows in massive, frenetic sketchy nudes built from quick, dark strokes. A shaped painting in molten red offers up a coil of bodies that can be read as either stroboscopic views of a single gyrating figure or an entangled mesh of wrestlers. Still-life platters holding egg plants, bananas, fowl and odd TV screens airing silly soaps have a contrived "rawness" we simply cannot believe. (Maloney/Butler, 910 Colorado Ave., to Feb. 23.)