Stephen Olson of Tujunga paints somewhat surreal images of local landscapes, often incorporating roads and freeways in them. Stephen Linsteadt of Burbank creates expressive interior spaces inspired by, among other things, English cathedrals and Russian palaces.
Although their work seemingly has little in common, Orlando Gallery director Bob Gino found their paintings highly complementary. He has put their oil-on-canvas images together in the show, "Interiors-Exteriors." It is the first show in this gallery for both artists.
"I'm very fascinated by opposites," Gino said. "Yet the way they think is somewhat on the same line. They overlap architecturally and geometrically in lines and form."
The exaggerated arch of a freeway overpass is the subject of Olson's "Colliding Curves." Curves, however, are not the only intensified element in his paintings.
In "Wounded Landscapes," he has painted the brush underneath an overpass a vibrant red. In "Passing Through," which contemplates the open road fading into the hills, the roadside landscape is bright yellow. An open road cuts through a two-toned mountain in "Red Collides with Yellow."
"On the surface, it is a painting of the Los Angeles Crest Highway as it meanders through the mountains," Olson said in his artist's statement. Beyond the surface representation of actual locations, he said, his paintings are "symbolic of the opposing forces of man-made structures and natural elements. I see Los Angeles landscape as if it is in constant flux and that the two forces are continually competing for space."
"I like the structure and the directness of his paintings," Gino said. "They say something about California that is such a part of our lives--what man has done in reference to nature. It is as monumental as earth itself.
"His personal expression of color is strong in relation to how he feels about what he sees. He commands an interest of the eye in relation to geometric construction. The road is free and empty--that is an expression within him."
A mysterious quality, generated in Olson's vacant landscapes by his use of light as well as color and composition, also hovers about Linsteadt's colorful, expressive yet detailed interiors. With his use of light and a range of intense colors, he pulls viewers into diverse rooms that seem to hold narratives we can't quite discern. This ambiguity is not frustrating, but intriguing.
His bright "Yellow Kitchen" depicts dishes in the sink and conveys the presence of an occupant we do not see. The energetic "Unknown Woman" portrays a dancer in a room with chandeliers.
In "Transformation of the Virgin," a nude woman stands, her back to viewers, near what appears to be a bunk bed. It seems like there's a body in the top bunk.
In "Dream Series Untitled 1," graffiti surround the entryway to a room with a bed. Figures without heads look at it. One gets the sense that someone has died.
Although not precisely religious paintings, several other images contain the altars and archways of religious architecture. Even "Everlasting Window," surely a theater with its upstairs boxes, appears like a church sanctuary.
"There is a spirituality in his work, which I like very much," Gino said. "It covers a great gamut of feelings."
Where and When What: "Stephen Linsteadt/Stephen Olson: Interiors-Exteriors." Location: Orlando Gallery, 14553 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks. Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, through Dec. 29. Call: (818) 789-6012.