The work of artists Lisa Adams and Kelly McLane present dream-like romantically haunting dystopian visions of the troubling social reality we live in.  The viewer is somewhat thrown off balance as the imagery may be perceived as unsettling while being very aesthetically beautiful.

Lisa Adams  “Borderland” 2015 oil on canvas over panel  60″ x 144″

Adams’ representational and surrealistic oil painting style combines finely painted birds, animals and people with geometric shapes and graffiti gestures, which provide “resting spots” within the paintings for one to take in and ponder the distinctly bold elements from a distance.  McLane’s multimedia style of overlaying and obscuring graphic images, energetic mark marking, texturing, and allowing for blemishes requires a much closer look to fully appreciate.

Kelly McLane “Birds Born Blind” 2017 oil, acrylic and graphite on panel with wood cutting and burning 72″ x 72″

Central to all the work is the theme of exposing the destructive actions of humanity against the natural world as well as human constructed environments.  There is a flirt with humor in their works with Adams presenting a more reflective observation of the discord and incongruity of life and McLane offering a more confrontational approach to violence within a vision of apocalyptic hell.  As with dreams, trying to rationally make sense of what one is seeing may be less relevant than taking in the gestalt and exploring one’s own felt responses to the distinct imaginations and metaphors that are presented.

Perhaps the artists’ contrasting perspective may be somewhat revealed through their own words.  Lisa Adams has said “there are things that aren’t apparent in everything we see … there’s a lot of stuff behind it,”  Kelly McLane has expressed her interest in conveying “what I’ve seen, want to see, or what should be seen.” Each artist’s outlook may also be made known in the titles of their work.  Adams seems to be more philosophic with “Life’s a Tickle,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Exploration of Icons,” and “In the Era of Me Too.” McLane offers up the more provocative “Big Bird’s Got a Gun,” “Birds Born Blind,” “A Barcode Baby Ate My Tardagrade,” and a few works that reference the term “peckerwood.”

Opening reception; photo by Michael Baroff

This exhibition, curated by Kirk Pedersen, intermingles the display of each artist’s paintings and drawings to reinforce their common interests and their distinctive styles.

Lisa Adams received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University and has shown nationally and internationally for over thirty years. She was awarded several foreign artist-in-residencies including a Fulbright Scholar in 1996. Her paintings are in the permanent collection of the USC Fisher Art Museum, Long Beach Museum of Art, San Jose Museum of Art, the Eli Broad Corporate Collection and many others.

Exhibition view: photo by Kirk Pedersen,

Kelly McLane received her MFA from the University of California and is currently represented by Denk Gallery, Los Angeles and has shown since the mid-nineties, including a solo exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art and with her work in the collections of many prestigious institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

On View: February 18 – March 28, 2020;

Where: Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery at Santa Monica College, 1310 Eleventh Street, Santa Monica, 90401
Gallery Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 11:00am to 4:00pm and by appointment.