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Joan Tanner

No paint is apparent in Santa Barbara artist Joan Tanner’s installation “On Tenderhooks”; unfinished plywood and various forms of plastic predominate. Every shape, every object, has been found in the street, appropriated from the store shelf or fabricated in the studio — or a combination thereof. The scale jumps from the looming and immense to the intimate and tabletop, but it’s the smallest things that speak of the largest entities. Tanner brings together her accretions of vessels and racks and all manner of once-functional objects so that they suggest cityscapes, while the comically irregular crates she’s built lean pathetically against the wall or stand empty on the floor. As we navigate Tanner’s arrangement, we are thrown off not by physical impediment but by the indescribability of what we’re passing through. Is “On Tenderhooks” something? Or is it somewhere? You may think of, say, Rebecca Stockholder’s carpentered spaces; however, not only can we orient ourselves in these with bright colors, but also Stockholder’s architecture is tight and oriented to the body, almost like furniture. Tanner gives us no such somatic support; we float through her sea of droll and menacing moments, their scalar discontinuities heightening our unease, leaving us, yep, on tenterhooks. Otis College’s Ben Maltz Gallery, 9045 Lincoln Blvd., Westchester; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Thurs. to 7 p.m.); thru Sept. 23. (310) 665-6905.

—Peter Frank


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