See H.C. Westermann's art for the first time and you might take him to be a self-taught folk craftsman, obsessed with the ravages of war and burdened with a savage sense of humor. You'd be half right. Westermann did fixate on warfare and tend toward satire. But he graduated from art school after serving in World War II and Korea and had his first solo show at LACMA in 1969. Though he's become more obscure since his death in 1980, his redwood death ship and cartoonish scenes of desert battles at Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery are exquisitely made and grippingly macabre. 2902 Nebraska Ave., Santa Monica; through July 7. (310) 586-6886,

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: May 19. Continues through July 7, 2012

LA Weekly