They say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is a sign of insanity, but many artists have created powerful variations on central themes such as rectangles, churches or glass bottles on a shelf. For painter Whitney Bedford, that thing is a storm-menaced seascape. The wide ocean absorbing lightning strikes, roiled by water spouts, darkened by gathering clouds, lit by hazy, dangerous suns or punctuated by craggy bergs is the consistent subject of Bedford's compositions. She has a special gift for flirting with disaster, rendering inky skies and fleshy waters in thick and transparent layers of loose, gestural paint-handling. If it weren't for the insistent horizon line, entire images might well explode or collapse into total abstraction. Instead, they hang together and invite viewers to locate meaning or at least strong emotion in the visual vibrato of their ambiguity. The artist is not only conscious of but deliberate in her infusion of these pictures with allegories of fear, violence and strength. Being in the business of evoking deep feeling through strange, elusive means, in a way it's only natural that, for this show, Bedford collaborated with artist Dane Mitchell and French perfumer Michel Roudnitska to create an original scent, with notes of ambergris and seaweed, to help transport the viewer to the imaginary places contemplated in the paintings and drawings in front of them. Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, 6006 Washington Blvd., Culver City; opening reception Sat., Nov. 12, 6-8 p.m.; exhibit runs Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Dec. 21; free. (310) 837-2117; vielmetter.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Nov. 12. Continues through Dec. 21, 2011