Balancing of Styles : In a bid for diversity, Brand gallery counters a stark, photo-based exhibit with a display of complex, mixed-media assemblages.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford is a regular contributor to The Times

The dramatic images--messages presented by two artists this month at the Brand Art Gallery--will confront viewers with diverse ways of seeing. There are Steven Peckman’s large, abstract, photo-based works of stark blacks and whites, explosive scenes that suggest heaven and hell. But the mixed-media work of K. L. Wilder remains closer to earth, making pointed explorations into the endless complications of male-female relationships.

The two very different art forms have been joined in a dual exhibition as part of the gallery’s continuing effort to present a diverse view of art to the local community, according to gallery director Cindy Cleary. “Part of it was the simplicity of his work with the complex messages of hers,” she said of the two artists. “I thought they would blend well.”

While much of the work on display was completed within the last year--and in Wilder’s case, the last few weeks--the artists were actually scheduled more than two years ago, a result of the Brand’s long waiting period for gallery space.

In Wilder’s newest work, created under the overall title “The Ragged Edge of Desire, Series II,” the conceptual artist has created a series of pieces that at times probe her own romantic history. She has surveyed 100 men, ranging from a supermarket box-boy to a corporate executive, on their personal preferences and desires regarding women.


One resulting work from the survey includes “Little Black Book,” which presents rows of the notorious little black telephone books, but with handwritten messages inside that lend some doubt to the old stereotypes.

“I thought it would be really interesting to find out what men really want,” said Wilder of the survey. “Out of the 100 men, only two wanted the blue-eyed blonde.” She added, “They were more interested in the heart than in looks.

“They all had a different point of view and a different story. It really changed my perspective of men.”

Also in the show is Wilder’s series of 17 cigar boxes, each one mounted to the wall and containing a poem and object representing a romantic episode in her life. The series begins with a remembrance of an episode from age 4, and continues with boxes representing her “Dear John letter” episode, and a piece titled “Broken Engagement,” which includes the necklace and butterfly pendant her fiance gave her.


“It’s been on the drawing boards a couple of years, while I’ve been working on the poems and ideas,” said Wilder, who lives in Echo Park, and now teaches graphic design at Woodbury University in Burbank. “I wanted it to be very simple, with one simple item that you could identify with. When we go through emotional pain we always think it’s just us. That’s what I wanted to say: We are not alone.

“In the course of my lifetime these are the men who had the greatest impact on my life, the men I’ve been in love with.”

Peckman’s 21 massive monoprints, collectively part of his “Silence” series, utilize the photographic process, but to dramatic painterly effect. The works are created with a combination of chemical light manipulations against large pieces of light-sensitive paper.

“I started out doing photography and painting, and I wanted to find a way to blend the two together,” said Peckman, who lives in Los Feliz. “Instead of taking pictures, I make pictures.”


The large scale of the works--ranging from 50-by-43-inches to 95-by-50-inches--is designed to involve the viewer physically. But the scale does have its drawbacks, as when Peckman had to store many of the pieces in the small apartment he shares with his wife, landscape painter Marina Moevs, who had her own paintings stored there. He says jokingly, “We’re thinking of getting a place for ourselves.”

Peckman said he has always been intrigued by the “magical and mysterious” quality of photo-processing in the darkroom, watching an image slowly emerge from a blank sheet of paper. That combination of darkness and light is the central ingredient to his large “Silence” pieces at the Brand.

“For me, the work is about becoming,” Peckman said. “All things begin and end in silence. The darkness is what everything comes from.”



What: Exhibit of photo-montage by Steve Peckman and assemblage by K. L. Wilder.

Location: Brand Library and Art Galleries, 1601 W. Mountain St., Glendale.

Hours: 1 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends Sept. 20.

Call: (818) 548-2050.