While there is quite a lot going on in Stephen G. Rhodes’ current show, the main focal points are two videos, each depicting a duel. One showdown is between a man and a woman, the other between Rhodes’ father and his uncle. Both projections are shown on a double-sided screen where you see one person with a gun pointed at you, and the other on the opposite side. The soundtrack for the video is quite extraordinary; each screen has a single instrument playing in the background so that together they create an odd kind of orchestration, composed of a piano sample from Barry Lyndon, accordion, harmonica and trombone. Rhodes also shows two large sculptures made out of carved foam to resemble brick ruins often seen in Louisiana, where Rhodes grew up. They stand at opposite ends of the room, furthering the theme of a duel, and each is anthropomorphized with subtle elements: a glove, an eyeball, a single clown shoe. Rhodes also shows a hall of portraits reminiscent of something found in the haunted mansion at Disneyland. He is ambitious in the sense that he is obviously prolific, and he is able to sustain a complex tension with a deceptively simple concept.
6693 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd. | (323) 464-3600 | www.overduinandkite.com | Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Through October 17
Ruben Ochoa’s recent investigation into the urban landscape of Los Angeles focuses on the ficus tree. As a nonnative species, the tree is constantly on a quest for water in the Southern California desert climate. Sidewalks and streets are torn apart by its determined root system, and, despite its displacement, the tree is quite abundant and hearty. Large-scale photographs of ficus trees’ impact on the city sidewalks are shown, while Ochoa’s large installation consists of giant concrete rebar sculptures showing the internal structure of concrete tree stumps on wooden palettes. One whole room of the gallery is filled with a complex linear working of the rebar that Ochoa has formed into an intricate grid; it feels like one is voyeuristically peering into the fragile insides of something monolithic.
5795 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City | (323) 933-2117 | www.vielmetter.com | Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. | Through October 20