The arresting idiosyncracies that have powered Roy Dowell’s paintings and drawings and collages and combinations thereof for the past two-plus decades mark him as a California artist. But Dowell’s steadfast allegiance to the collage aesthetic and the principles of abstraction (however he might warp them) betray his ancestry in European Modernism. It’s a great blend, free of attitude and juicy with pictorial exuberance, tinged just the right bit with a sense of good design. Many of these compositions are hard simply to glance at; their tumult refuses to focus. But if you lock onto them, they stop fidgeting and start dancing.
We see some of the same spunk, bristle and attention-splaying compositional dispersion in the art of the late Lee Mullican. Mullican may have been informed by more mystical, less urbane models than Dowell is, but he evolved a style no less distinctive, no less eruptive and no less good-natured. Whether his images are roiling in an earth-toned cosmos, as they do in canvases from the mid-1960s, or dissolving and coming back together (sometimes patterned) in myriad shards, as they did throughout his long career, Mullican made sure he knew what he was doing so he could keep discovering where he was going.
Roy Dowell at Margo Leavin, 812 N. Robertson Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; thru April 15. (310) 273-0603. Lee Mullican at Marc Selwyn, 6222 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru April 19. (323) 933-9911. Herbert Palmer, 9003 Melrose Ave., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; thru April 29. (310) 278-6407.