If you can tolerate the clustersuck that describes the traffic whenever there's an art opening at the at Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica, your sense of whimsy -- and horror -- will be gratified if the showing is at the Lois Lambert Gallery.
At last night's event, visitors were treated to goofy mechanized sculptures in the exhibit space, as well as the usual creative constructs in the gallery's functional art room.
Jim Jenkins considered naming his wall-mounted sculpture "It's All About Me," but finally settled on "A Dependent" for the title of this rotating set of demands (feed me, love me, pet me, keep me, hold me), inspired by -- what else? -- a cat.
The unnamed wall lamp thingie by Dan Quick has moved these ladies from their more recognizable home on the mudflaps of good 'ol boy trucks into a neon ring within which they circle endlessly. The room also features metallic brains depicted as spinning gears, and standalone couples literally having mechanical sex (it must be noted that she was doing all the work).
But for my money (if I had any), the real action unfolds in the functional art room, where $14,000 buys you a Jar Chair by Johnny Swing that's more comfortable than it looks, and the matching, sorta, Jardelier for a mere $4,500. A more affordable lighting option catering to the frat-boy market is the Mr. P lamp ($120).
If sorority girls offer crudités on the festive, mass-produced trays bearing the image of two fashionably gloved women and the message "We go together like drunk and disorderly" ($15.50), pledge rejects can serve their revenge, hot or cold, on vintage plates ($35 to $150) repurposed by Angela Rossi, who must be the spawn of Wes Craven and Salvador Dali.
If you like Cyclops guarding your toast points, you probably would like the "Canary Suicides" constructions around the corner by Catherine Coan, little dioramas in which a tidy Victorian bedroom is disrupted only by the dead bird lying feet up between the satin-pillowed bed and the armoire.
I don't know how this passion play is considered functional, and I don't want to. Some truly beautiful sculptures accessorize this space, like the "Baule Colonial Figures" from the Ivory Coast ($450), and the trompe l'oeil shoes that look like suede but are made of cement. For only $120, think of the conversational potential in owning a pair of cement shoes made by an Italian.
I wish my house (and budget) were big enough for furnishings like the woven-rubber baskets, paper-thin bowls made of paper and wine cork coasters you find in abundance here. I like art that puts the fun in functional, and if a dead canary is more disturbing than delightful, well, at least you never have to change the paper in the bottom of the cage.
Photos: Ellen Alperstein