Free Range, 2014, oil on canvas, 60" x 40"

Free Range, 2014, oil on canvas, 60″ x 40″

Stepping into the gallery to view new paintings by Jake Longstreth, the first impression is of their atmospherics, which is a bit surprising. Previous work by this Los Angeles–based artist had tended toward bright colors and sharp lines with no visible brush strokes. These new works are much softer by comparison, with more muted, earthy tones. Brushstrokes abound, to such a degree at times, they hint at the pointillist work of Seurat; in other instances, the strokes are more bulbous, recalling those of Philip Guston.

The nine works that comprise this show — all of which are vertical, measuring as large as 60” x 40” and down as small as 17” x 13” — depict naturescapes; there is no sign of human touch. In some works the serenity of the scene is disrupted by a fire, with a large plume of smoke rising into the sky. The works feature either hillsides to mid-canvas or foliage down low; the rest of the picture is open sky.

Common to all of the works is a gentle glow, almost to the point of vibrating. Of special note is Free Range, the title piece of the exhibition, and one of the hillside paintings. Starting at the bottom, the ground changes in patches from a shadowed green, to light green, white, and pink tones — the style brings to mind Wayne Thiebaud. A definitive line marks the transition from ground to sky, the latter gradually transitioning from a hazy white to light blue.

Looking across Longstreth’s work over the past decade, these pieces mark a new phase, demonstrating this artist’s ability to stretch his talents into new styles, with clear success.

Thomas Campbell's "Der"

Yar is a nautical term for “ready,” or “quick and agile.” Being so, Thomas Campbell’s current show, which bears the term as its title, is appropriately named. It’s of the now, and ready in abundance; there are almost thirty works on show. Not overfull, the quantity is in synch with the lively color and ebullient movement of these works. They’re fun, whimsical, and detailed. This show is quick and agile, moving deftly through a variety of materials and forms: bronze sculpture, acrylic, spray-paint, wood cut-out sculpture, sewn fabric, gouache, gourds, prints.
The maritime reference is also fitting; Campbell’s work comes out of surfer/skateboarder culture (he lives in the small coastal town of Bonny Doon, outside of Santa Cruz). He is aligned with fellow “Beautiful Looser” (referencing the groundbreaking exhibition and now documentary film) artists, such as Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, and Mike Mills. Comparisons can also be made to artist Mike Shine, who also resides in a rural coastal town, Bolinas. With them he shares a graphic, bold, illustrative aesthetic. Also common, giving a nod to the graffiti/urban art scene, as well as recalling the 1960s rock posters by Wes Wilson, is the incorporation of words featuring stylized lettering. And like all of these artists, this work moves beyond its initial hit of jubilance, hipster trendiness, and humor (some work of this genre fails to get past this).
The work here is precisely executed and demonstrates a confident and rich use of color, pattern, narrative, form and composition. What points best to this are the two works that stray the most, but are perhaps the best in show: the two bronzes, Charles and Der. ared down to the blue-black color of the metal, each presents a single character. They demonstrate Campbell’s ability to edit and engage formally, seriously, and retain voice and vision; it’s yar.