Mitchell Friedman of Sherman Oaks paints high-pitched outdoor scenes irradiated with unearthly brightness and striped with mysterious shadows. In “Harvest,” tongues of light spread over the earth under a streaming red sun. A girl and a bony cipher of a horse pause in front of a spreading landscape dotted with multicolored mounds of wheat. In “The Death of Daniel Boone,” a stylized figure lies next to a campfire near a road lined with sharply lit trees that become energized by arcs of light emanating from the moon. A distant tree casts the shadow of a human figure.
Friedman’s handling of paint sometimes has an unpleasantly spongy quality, too close to the tired styles of latter-day Impressionists. But his strength is the rhythmic feeling he imparts to his canvases and a willed dramatic purity that, for the most part, transforms cliched activities into expressive states of mind. In a group of monotypes, the muscular quality of the rendering--swaths of ink are dragged away to create broad, painterly white outlines--gives images of Death (with long hair and a bow-and-arrow) and baptism (heads bobbing in a raging stream) a primeval forcefulness and truth.
Marianne Cone, who lives in Utah, fashions genial, bucolic landscape constructions with cut-out, painted wooden elements and a grab bag of trimmings. Lengths of plaid cloth stretch across rolling fields in “Hillside Tartan,” a land where diminutive wooden sheep graze and a little wooden truck makes its way up a hill. Several of these pieces include a horizontal strip of wood on which the artist picks out certain features of the scene above; in “Chilham, England,” for example, this strip “reflects” colorful bits and pieces of a pair of thatched houses perched on a somber road. Unfortunately, Cone’s most recent pieces are an unbearably cute set of big wooden cut-out cats lounging on fabric-covered poufs. (Ankrum Gallery, 657 N. La Cienega Blvd., to April 15.)