Santa Monica

Spiritual issues are the theme of most of Sharon Landis' three-dimensional mixed-media pieces, but their fabrication seems slapdash and imprecise, as if vague hints of imagery were enough to sustain the viewer in search of personal interpretations.

Shells form a little grotto for an image of the crucified Christ in "Reliquary Album," which is also trimmed with junked architectural fragments, shards of glass, trickles of paint, a doll's leg, an open book and an old photograph of two women in front of a house. Combining a seemingly extremely private point of view with a disconcerting lack of formal rigor, the work simply doesn't tempt the viewer to stick with it and try to figure it out.

Landis seems to be borrowing approaches from gestural painting that just don't work in the realm of the baldly three-dimensional object. In "Night Madonna," Landis works with somewhat stronger formal means: S-curves of twin pink-painted pieces of wood, a wheel, a piece of white-painted metal. But the viewer is left with an elusive jumble of images that don't really come together.

The artist's works on paper also tend to meander. In "Diary of Her Bed," a hint of monstrous faces at the foot of the bed and a bloody trail of paint on the black recumbent figure are initially of some interest. But the work is awfully wispy.

Judith Spiegel's abstract paintings are most effective when they offer jaunty, repetitive patterns, as in "Serpentine and Jacaranda." Broad, curving passages of rose-colored paint and repeated hints of flower imagery give the piece a snappy rhythmic flow. Elsewhere, Spiegel seems to be working overtime trying to invent interesting shapes, and they sometimes sit uneasily next to one another. (Merging One Gallery, 1547 6th St., to Aug. 18.)

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