Santa Monica

It seems amusingly apt that Ripley M. Van Wagoner's work is in the collections of several local movie theaters. It's hard to figure anywhere else where his predilection for natural disasters, his choice of materials (velvet and vinyl rate high) and his monotonously slap-dash style would find a congenial home.

In these busy, glitzy works slathered with paint, volcanoes explode, rivers of fire run rampant, water bursts from unseen sources, comets fly, cities burn. Among the few signs of human life are three sleeping--or dead--figures who are mere linear traceries in "Arches," a universe of gloppy gold arches, a fizzing volcano, spongy rose-and-purple earth and blue-painted vinyl sky.

Somewhere in all of this youthful fervor there seems to be a serious notion of modern-day doom. In "Tenses," an upper tier of calmly painted landscape gives way to the image of a nocturnal city divided into a sparkling grid, with sparse skyscrapers and a distant raging fire. Below, broken pieces of metal and clumps of grass suggest an ecological theme. But it is all too shrilly and ponderously conveyed, like a sci-fi chiller pitched to 12-year-olds. (Boritzer/Gray Gallery, 3110 Main St., to Aug. 13.)

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