Imagine an alternate ending in which Little Red Riding Hood, Grandma, the Woodsman and the Big Bad Wolf join forces in a sewing circle to create an army of spawn from the detritus of the urban/industrial world encroaching on their simple way of life, and you might get an idea of what glares at passersby from the window of David Salow Gallery in Chinatown. Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor doesn’t lend such allusion to her works, preferring to call her larger-than-human, dog-headed anthropomorphs “No Names,” but she does so knowing that the sculptures themselves are richly allusive. Playful, and even daring to be cute in a way that disarms viewers but in instances disarms the work, O’Connor’s horde calls to mind Disney’s perpetual promise of “dreams come true,” as well as Mary Shelley’s words describing the dream that inspired her to write Frankenstein. “Frightful must it be,” she wrote, “for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” There’s no shortage of Frankensteinian endeavor here, as O’Connor stitches, stuffs, binds and ratchets into form her characters from scrap fabric, upholstery and padding over makeshift armatures. There’s also a lot of humor, as when, suggesting they’re walking pincushions, O’Connor leaves a large needle stuck in one’s nose, or provides another with a plushie animal slipper fashioned from a gutted teddy bear. At times it all feels a little too fluffy, but in her more compelling turns, discovered piecemeal as you mull through the show, and resulting largely from smart uses of material and skillful handiwork, O’Connor turns her mockery into an engaging dark farce.
David Salow Gallery, 977 N. Hill St., L.A.; Tues., Wed., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; through March 14. (213) 620-0240 or www.davidsalowgallery.com.