Spokane-based Tom O’Day has it all figured out: If you can’t show or sell it, destroy and remake it. O’Day hates the term “recycle,” as he considers the reformulation of old art into new simply an efficient means of disposal — saving not objects from extinction but ideas from entropy. Various examples of O’Day’s excursions, both performative and substantive, comprise this microspective (complete with detailed, if somewhat obscured, timeline). O’Day refuses the Baldessarian approach of simple immolation; his conflagrations are complex, even pyrotechnic, and his nonflammatory solutions do indeed invent new works from old, often with our help.
Louis Hock’s recyclings make a far different point; many of his images reuse night-vision photographs, and he’s reconformed a stack of strawberry cartons — the same iridescent green — into a model of an Aztec pyramid. Indeed, Hock, based in San Diego, is aesthetically addressing the emigrante situation, using these found objects, images he’s shot himself and even depictions of the desert appropriated from popular — well, commercial — sources (everything from Toyota ads to Road Runner cartoons).
Back in the ’60s another Southern California issue, pumpin’ fer oil, got a Southern California solution when the oil platforms off Long Beach’s beach were all gussied up as some sort of Jetsonesque floating suburb. They’re still out there, twinkling incongruously in the sunset, and if you can make out the details from shore, they seem at once alluring and forbidding, like when you did Disneyland on psilocybin. Turns out that Tomorrowland vibe isn’t just a flashback; the platforms are masterpieces of “themed landscape” — i.e., hyperdeveloped amusement parks and masked utility buildings — by several geniuses of this distinctly postwar, distinctly ’fornian genre. Tom O’Day at California State University Northridge Galleries, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, Mon.-Sat., noon-4 p.m. (Thurs. to 8 p.m.); thru Oct. 7. (818) 677-2226. Louis Hock and “Fantasy Islands” at California State University Long Beach Art Museum, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach; Tues.-Sun., noon-5 p.m. (Thurs. to 8 p.m.); thru Oct. 15. (562) 985-5761.