There's always something unsatisfying about a book exhibition. Rare tomes and manuscripts displayed under glass seem to go against the essence of the book as a hand-held object that one can get lost in.
In "The Book Shop," a breezy summer group show at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, there's a little of that—a vitrine holds two books of which only a few pages can be seen—but the rest of the show plays with the form of the book as sculpture and as ideological snapshot.
Jean Lowe's colorful, papier maché books with provocative titles such as "Filing for Chapter 7.5 Moral Bankruptcy," are barometers of contemporary dysfunction. Even more absurd are Ruth Greene's roughly painted slabs of plywood inscribed with titles like "Napping, An Autobiography." They are an equally wry, albeit more personal comment on the book as a symbol of depth and seriousness. The appearance of words on a book-like object lends heft to even the slightest notions, yet these works are nothing but titles.
The show also includes works by Rosanna Albertini, Nancy Jackson, Tom Knechtel, Grant Mudford and C.K. Wilde, but Cindy Tower's wooden book sculptures, carved with a chain saw in 1988, are surprisingly affecting. Rough hewn, over-sized, and charmingly clunky, they take on a new resonance today, emphasizing a physicality that is quickly disappearing in our age of disembodied electronic text.
Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., B4, Santa Monica, (310) 828-8488, through Aug. 10. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.rosamundfelsen.com