Sketches Offer an Artistic Travelogue


With his show "Place Settings" at the Buenaventura Gallery, David James Smith generates his version of an artistic travelogue. Last year while abroad, mostly in Italy with his family, Smith sketched scenes he found enticing.

Then back in the home studio, the artist elaborated on his sketchbook entries with larger, color versions of the sketches. The exhibit offers both the before and after depictions of his travels.

There are no real epiphanies to be found here, but the results of the exhibition are frothily charming, with works that serve as cheeky, neatly rendered little souvenirs.

Comical twists brighten the way. In an image of the famed opera house, La Scala, a cut-out image of the proverbial "fat lady singing" stands in the foreground.

Modernity meets antiquity in "Cosa Natale Di Leonardo," a depiction of an ancient villa with a hang glider--sign of the 1990s--afloat in the blue sky. "Neighborhood Boat Yard" turns a sly eye on the periphery of the famed Venice canals, where, instead of the familiar gondola traffic, the boats rest.

In the remainder of the back gallery, Smith shows a hodgepodge of artworks, the most endearingly peculiar being the fastidious drawing "Whose Range Is It?" In this example of nudge-nudge surrealism, a bemused astronaut surveys a lunar surface that is home to grazing cattle.

From the evidence here, Smith has both a sense of humor and clarity about his art--at home, on the road and back again.

* "Place Settings," by David James Smith, through June 8 at Buenaventura Gallery, 700 E. Santa Clara St., Ventura; 648-1235.

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