10/19/2010 12:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Current California Exhibitions You Should See

Our editors and critics have selected these current California exhibitions that will most reward a visit.

Will Rogan, "Universe Party," 2010, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20", at Altman Siegel Gallery.

Continuing through November 6, 2010
Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco, California

Will Rogan presents quietly intricate photographs and sculpture that continue his pursuit of finding the extraordinary in his everyday urban surroundings. This provides him a path by which he explores themes of time, impermanence, relationships, and fragility. Similar visual elements also repeat: eyes, light reflected off shiny surfaces, portraits.

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- Chérie Louise Turner

Jordi Alcaraz, "Exercicis de Desaparicio ll," 2010, 67 3/8 x 87", at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts.

Continuing through November 30, 2010
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles, California

In his first American showing, Jordi Alcaraz introduces a sensibility well calibrated between the playful and the profound in a series of large and small scale works that reveal themselves in layers. Books appear in this work literally and metaphorically as props to make you think as much about what you don't see as what is visible.

Frames are routinely made and integral part of the physical presence of this work. Their Plexiglas, normally present only to protect the art from dust and probing hands, is selectively melted to drill holes onto the surface or into the very heart of some pieces. Just as frequently the glass is nearly invisibly melted so as to cast shadows that are clearly intended as a drawn element, often echoing forms painted, drawn, or appearing in relief. One mirrored surface draws your eye to a single scarification, which sucks your reflected image down its drain hole as you move towards it.

The blacks and grays of the cast shadows reflect Alcaraz' dominant color palette. The effect is to keep you focused on the interwoven layering of the formal elements, which might otherwise be drowned out in a cacophony. Surfaces are active, compositions are lyrical, but a good deal of more or less open space lends permission to linger on the details and marks. Cardboard segments stapled together convey rapidly worked urgency and a desire to know what might otherwise be revealed beneath the paint and its support. The interaction gives you plenty to work with, but the holes in this work are not only of a sort to pull you into the depths but to generously release you into your own imaginative pursuits.

- Bill Lasarow

Holly Boruck, "Untitled 034," 2010, mixed media, 20 x 24 x 54", at Angel's Gate Cultural Center.

Continuing through October 25, 2010
Angels Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, California

Gardens bring the bewildering abundance of the natural world into the balance and containment of the domestic sphere. In doing so, they straddle the nature/culture division that has operated in Western thought since Aristotle. "Thickening the Plot" -- an exhibition ostensibly about gardens -- allows diverse artists to investigate how nature and culture are perceived, whether it be as opposing forces, as separate realms, or as ideological constructs to be radically reconfigured in our postmodern, post-oil spill world.

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- Betty Ann Brown

Teresita Fernández, "Nocturnal (Rise and Fall)," solid graphite and pencil on wood panel, 2 panels, 48 x 72 x 2" each, at Anthony Meier Fine Arts.

Continuing through October 22, 2010
Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, California

Although Duchampian conceptualism has evolved into the theoretical basis for a major part of contemporary art, the freedoms it allows can easily lead astray artists lacking firm convictions, strong personalities and a wide perspective on art. There is nothing unresolved, tentative or unintentional, however, about Teresita Fernández, a much-praised New York conceptualist and winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant. Judging by the half-dozen mixed media works and installations here, the accolades are well earned.

Graphite is that semi-metallic coal-like form of carbon used in pencils, lubricants, arc lamps and carbon fiber. Graphene is a derivative, and it was reported in the news this week to promise a combination of lightness and strength that was previously inconceivable. Fernández' use of the material is similarly astonishing. She covers wooden panels with the slate gray material, achieving smooth, matte finishes that look machined. These are punctuated by starlike nodes and wavelike striations in low relief that are polished to a high gloss. While the palette and effect look subdued, at first glance, the works become deeper and richer as you explore their subtle changes. The three "Nocturnal" pieces, each a different size with distinct proportions, depict three registers of texturally delineated landscape (rocky pier), seascape (bark-like waves) and night sky (studded with stars) are particularly satisfying -- minimal or abstract versions of a Van Gogh nocturne at the De Young Museum in the current Post-Impressionism show. Her sfumato installations mount small lumps of granite, affixed to tiny magnets that adhere to recessed screw heads, on the wall, centered over vertical smears or smudges, or shadows. Using the language of photography, these smears are lens flares with reversed values. This is elegant, intelligent, lucid work fusing conception and perception.

- Dewitt Cheng

DeWain Valentine, "Vertical Skyline 005," 2008, acrylic on acrylic sonstruction, 72 x 48 x 3 1/4", at Scott White Contemporary Art.

Continuing through November 6, 2010
Scott White Contemporary Art, San Diego, California

Although the Light and Space movement that emerged in Los Angeles in the 1960s is no longer "new," the pieces in "New School Cool" illustrate that it is still exceedingly "cool." True to form, DeWain Valentine's recent "Skyline" pieces are atmospheric in mood. But, rather than being sculptural, they are more suggestive of paintings. Each construction has a slot cut in a large panel that is attached to a backing-box. It feels like something should be in that slot, something that slides back and forth. The dearth of color -- he goes for only the most subtle tints -- and the emptiness created by the slot elicit thoughts more about what is not there than what is seen.

Eric Johnson's abstract forms are less ethereal. Both "Madame X Marble" and "Pinkie on the Bob" twist fluidly and symmetrically. The muted red, gray and off-white mottled surface of the former brings to mind the texture of sinewy muscles; the monochromatic black installs a simple elegance on the latter. Peering into the depths of the deep blue of "Andre" prompts reminders of dark Arctic water beneath the ice cap.

- Judith Christensen

Ester Partegás, "Studies on Mysticism," 2010, graphite and acrylic on paper, 22 1/2 x 20 x 2", at Christopher Grimes Gallery.

Continuing through October 30, 2010
Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, California

Ester Partegás is a Spanish (born in Barcelona) artist now living in Brooklyn, NY whose past work has been concerned with consumer culture and advertising. In her current show she has wallpapered the gallery walls with floor to ceiling black and white images of graffiti strewn facades that recreate the grit of the urban environment. Hung on top of the black and white backgrounds are colorful images that at first glance appear to be torn wall posters. They are in fact collages made from magazine pages. The scale and size shift -- what was assumed to be large, but what is in fact small creates meaning through juxtaposition. The fact that we are not looking at the detritus of urban communication, but a carefully composed abstraction, devoid of language meant to simulate the sensation because it is hung against the wallpaper, elevates Partegás installation from a formal to a conceptual investigation. The idea of double-take is further explored in her sculptures of pizza boxes and plants covered by plastic bags, again seemingly the real thing, yet obviously hand made. Also on view are numerous works on paper in which Partegás images vibrant packaging for consumer products devoid of product labels. Like in her previous installations, Partegás' work incorporates sculpture, drawing and photographic processes to speak to what is seen in abundance in contemporary culture.

- Jody Zellen

Andrew Schoultz, "Ruins, A Re-Occuring Theme in History (Landscape)," 1748/2010, acrylic on found antique metal plate, 15 3/4 x 30".

Continuing through October 23, 2010
Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, California

San Francisco artist Andrew Shoultz's newest work comes at you like an explosion. It's big, bold, and colorful. It's also serious, playful, and chaotic. The show features collage and acrylic paintings, monotypes, and large-scale sculpture. Throughout, Shoultz utilizes graphic/illustrative imagery regularly featured in past work as well as his exquisitely detailed line work. In every piece there is more than a lot going on. They work on numerous levels, foremost hovering between representation and abstraction. They are a brightly twisted playground for the eye and the mind, a trip down the rabbit hole with serious social commentary.

Schoultz reworks the same images over and over, in the same manner that tags are repeated again and again on the street. For Shoultz, this repetition serves two purposes. It's a form of storytelling: "In stories," Schoultz said in a 2006 interview with Fecal Face, "characters reoccur and build themselves. I like the idea of developing a character or an image." He also notes that by painting the same subject year after year, it slowly changes and finds fresh meaning.

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- Cherie Louise Turner