Growing Landscapes and Melting Towers

        
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            The work of Preston Daniels and Patrick Strand shines in a sparse space like the Phantom Gallery in Long Beach.  White and airy, with windows on every side and an industrial feel, this gallery works well with most contemporary works, but these ones seem to fit especially well. 

            The Sixpack curating group seems to have their work halfway done for them with such great work and a great space, and yet that is always the job of curator: matching up the right elements to make a great show.  This area of Long Beach has been struggling to put together an art walk, but so far not much has come of it.  This seems ironic in a city with such a vibrant art scene and one of the best art colleges south of LA, but there it is.

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            The last time I saw Strand’s work it was crammed into the tiny East Gallery at CSUF, and the effect in this gallery was shockingly disparate.  Here his work seems to stretch out and embody the landscape it imitates.  The effect is to make his large works feel tiny, as if you could climb up and hang out with the hilltop houses.

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            It is Daniels’ work that dominates the space, though.  The lighting and spacing are excellently placed to maximize the effect of his works.  At a distance, glimpsed around a corner or behind someone, they are all the more alien and Tolkien-esque, appearing like nothing so much as some wicked tower growing from the ground.  His paintings make a nice accompaniment, although as always his strength is clearly in sculpture.  His pieces this time around are slightly sinister, seeming to be melting and oozing toward the gallery floor.

            If there is any hope for the Long Beach art walk talking off, galleries like the Phantom Gallery are their best bet, as they are bringing fresh work from interesting artists to an area that desperately needs some revitalization.

IMG_0984-Andrea Magee Steedman, Art Historian and a Founder of The Rogue Art Research & Writing Journal (rarwart.com)  All photos copyright the writer.

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