Review: April Street conjures gritty romanticism in ‘A Vulgar Proof’

April Street's "Fomalhaut (the chameleon's temper)," 2014, black nylon over acrylic, pastel and hosiery, 45-by-30 inches.
(From April Street and Carter & Citizen)

The rough and tumble side of romanticism takes spirited shape in April Street ’s exhibition at Carter & Citizen. Taking its title from the Elizabethan term for a common experience, “A Vulgar Proof” shows the L.A. artist to be an ingenious repurposer — a clear-eyed alchemist who doesn’t suffer foolishness yet holds onto the hope that magic happens.

Torn nylons, silk ribbons, starched collars and birthday-cake candles are the materials Street starts with. She transforms the nylon fabric into pictorial elements of four abstract compositions, sometimes stretching it taut over shallow, shadow-box-style constructions and at other times letting it hang loose, so that it resembles expressive brushstrokes.

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Street is at her best when she cuts little holes in the top layer of nylon, creating shimmering glints of whiteness that put you in mind of star-filled night skies. The shift in scale, from the human body to heavenly bodies, nips narcissism in the bud. It makes for paintings that have more on their mind than personal expression.


The collars and candles Street casts in bronze embrace a similar sort of fugitive beauty. Hinting at things, rather than laying them bare, her two sculptures embrace incompleteness.

The bright light of reason, not to mention the spotlight of fame, shines far away from Street’s deepest interests. Shadows serve her well, as do darkness and the fleeting dreams it gives flight to.

Carter & Citizen, 2648 La Cienega Ave., (213) 359-2504, through Feb. 15. Closed Sundays and Mondays.