Los Angeles Times — Sights About Town — Art for Dinner
May 2, 1991 | Josef Woodard | Special to the Times | Ventura, CA.
Maggie Yee’s works at the Gallery Restaurant are conversation pieces, not just the usual pretty wall paper.
What you normally expect from art in restaurants is a harmless complement to the decor, nothing to upset the diner. What you get, refreshingly with the art of Maggie Yee—now up at the Gallery Restaurant in Venture’s Doubletree Hotel—is really suspended and amended. Instead of pretty, inoffensive wallpaper to go with the meal, you get nutty conversations pieces and a deliciously off-center aesthetics.
In this show sponsored by the Ventura Art Assn., Yee fashions her acrylic and mixed -media works after photographs, then lets her imagination run a bit wild. Leaning toward the surreal and the fantastic, Yee uses various means to distort images, create giddy juxtaposition and generally maintain a lightheaded and light-handed approach.
In an artist’s statement, Yee claims to seek the release of “dream souls.” Before you scream “California-ese, though, notice the satirical humor threading through the show. The space cadet in “Circumplanetary Dropout” could be any post-60’s existential drifter with a blissful grin and wreathed with psychedelic frills.
Figures have been splashed with decorative tinsel and swirls, Jackson Polllock-esque drips and multiple icons such as trails of trinkets. Little sea creatures, non-sacred cows and wine carafes float around a tilted image of a Charthouse Restaurant in “Pub Crawl at the Wonton Junction.” Tiny sweaters offer an ironic framing device in “Sweater Maker.” the center piece of which is a sheep’s face peering out benignly in ultra-close- up view.
“Men at Work” is the most peculiar of a peculiar lot. What appear to be five Indonesian dance hall gals sitting on parquet steps for a portrait, surrounded by decorative confetti, may be a drag ball. They’re bating in an aura of twisted festiveness, as are we, the viewers.
Though “Sprits of Fire Water” is not one of the stronger visual pieces on display, the title and the notion may reveal the essence of Yee’s art. There is something slightly tipsy about her take on art. If it all begins to seem normal, you may have ordered one too many.