//Ad libs: What's new

Monday, August 13, 2007

What's new

It's doubtful that Scarlett O'Hara would have decorated Tara with paintings of melting clocks. But actress Vivien Leigh is surprisingly striking (look right) in the rapid-fire and sometimes surreal brush strokes of artist Gilbert Marosi.

I interviewed Marosi and his son Robert Marosi Bustamante, a fellow artist, at their enormous Los Altos studio last year. Then, Marosi was focusing more on images from the music world, as well as scenes in the Wild West or busy cities. It's interesting to see him going in a new direction with his "Old Hollywood Reborn" series.

And this series isn't just about the classics you think of first. Bogie and Bacall are there, sure, but so are "Young Frankenstein," "The Beverly Hillbillies" and Steve McQueen.

Whenever I've got a free moment I like to check in with some of the people I've profiled in the past. Another visual artist who's always doing something eye-catching is Palo Alto's Kenney Mencher, who was in the Weekly in January.

He's known for his theatrical paintings of people in quirky, perplexing situations (props such as a half-full glass of water can figure prominently). Now his work includes
something different, faces painted in oil on vintage attache cases. Personal trappings are tucked inside the cases: perhaps an antique pen and a letter, or a pair of wire eyeglasses.

The works seem to be piecing together forgotten worlds. And since these personal props are so small, one also feels a pang at how fragile life is, and how quickly it can pass us by.

Pictured is Mencher's work "R.R.Z.," an oil visage on a monogrammed attache case. Inside are what the artist calls "found ephemera": a vintage watch, a Playboy magazine from 1968, receipts from about 1956, and a letter written on stationery from the Vendome Hotel.