Santa Monica

A trio of shows introduces three painters in their 30s. Michael Chapman, who lives in Fullerton, turns out tranquil, sunny landscapes dotted with plump vintage cars, dozing white buildings and small traces of benign human activity. In "Exotic Landscape," a fellow in a homburg takes his Scottie dog for a seaside walk, a tiny guy flexes his muscles on the beach and two sailboats can be spotted in a skinny strip of ocean. The flat, mildly decorative application of paint works well with this clean-scrubbed, style-conscious view of the world.

In James David Thomas' minuscule, thinly painted landscapes on panel, the grain of the wood support shows through like a kind of underground force. The moon in the night sky is a favorite subject; "Elegy for Ryder"--an homage to the simplified, dark landscapes of the American 19th-Century painter Albert Pinkham Ryder--contains only a sloping ridge of chocolate-brown earth, a paler brown sky and a gold-leaf moon.

Thomas' use of gold and microscopic details (like the ceremonial objects in "Ritual") verges on affectation. But some of the images are quite lovely--like the finely delineated silhouette of the landscape and hazy color effects in "Painting for Corot"; the silhouetted Inness-like image of a tree against a red background in "Cycle," and the way the figure is reduced to the status of a tiny protrusion on the hilly horizon in "Figure in a Landscape."

Tim Schiffer paints humdrum arrangements of fruits and vegetables--"Apples and Asparagus," "Oranges and Lemons"--that seem like a cross between the upbeat food prints people buy for their kitchens and the naive still lifes of the 15th Century. The textures and colors are all nicely rendered but without a hint of the allegorical content of the originals. The net impression is of an ingratiating decorativeness that shows off technique without having anything to say. (Tatistcheff Gallery, 1547 10th St., to Aug. 19.)

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