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    L.A. Confidential
by Michael Duncan
Constantine Kakanias' new collection,
at Works on Paper
Chris Finley
Untitled (Changing Table)
at Acme
Steve DeGroodt
The Supreme Perhaps
at Heller
David Grant
Sinus Nubium
at Newspace
Sandeep Mukherjee
at Margo Leavin
Sandeep Mukherjee
at Margo Leavin
Despite all those glitzy pieces in the fashion magazines, you still may be wondering just who is "The New Collector." And, more importantly, what makes her get out her checkbook? As portrayed in artist Constantine Kakanias' latest drawings of his ever-trendy alter-ego Mrs. Tependris, this season she's gone totally L.A., sporting a Raymond Pettibon t-shirt, Charles Ray fantasy handbag and op-ish Capri pants by Jim Isermann.

Kakanias' sweetly funny show at Works on Paper, Inc., chronicles Mrs. Tependris' full dip into the L.A. art pond as she dutifully pays homage to West Coast art celebrities past and present. The irrepressible maven stacks Gucci boots in front of the Bel Air gates in the style of Eleanor Antin, gobbles hot dogs à la Paul McCarthy, stares deadpan into David Hockney's pool and even incises the word "Chic" on her breast in a Cathy Opie-like confessional fit. Prices range from $300 to $6,000; the show's on view until Oct. 21.

While Kakanias fans the home-team flames, some of L.A.'s most consistent talents continue to sizzle. Across the alley at 6150 Wilshire, Acme presents a dazzling show of new sculptures by Chris Finley. Taking a break from his wildly ambitious eight-part series of shows based on the structure of a video game, Finley delivers five pristinely organized, discreet wall and floor pieces made from an absurd mix of store-bought doodads and gewgaws. The Master of Wal-Mart here combines golf tees, ant traps, baby nipples, bungee cords and fishing lures to create conglomerations that reflect the weird machinations of suburban living. Finley's handsomely designed assemblages are a kind of Home Depot Dada, arranged with a killer eye for detail, color and design (closed Oct. 7; priced from $4,500 to $7,500).

Recently added at Richard Heller in Bergamot Station was an exhibition of sculptures and works on paper by the underrated mid-career artist Steve DeGroodt, whose startlingly subtle, lyrical sculptures and reliefs are made from cardboard and fabric detritus. Here DeGroodt shows floor-works cobbled together with fabric and string and inspired by the writings of Samuel Beckett. Also on view are a group of painted drawings elegantly augmented with bee pollen (prices: $1,200-$3,000). While evoking the tentative motions and contradictory impulses of the antiheroic Irish writer, the works' simple geometric shapes and lush colors conjure their own plainspoken truth and plaintive beauty.

In his third exhibition at Newspace, artist David Grant continues to skewer sculptural conventions. Here he shows a group of large wall reliefs made by fixing stretch fabrics over armatures that have been variously augmented with oddball accoutrements like cake molds and electric fan blades. Titled after moon craters and rugged geographical sites, the lumpy-textured reliefs are upholstered, with tufted buttons keeping their structures taut and pristine. Grant adeptly varies the fabrics, including examples of both butch rawhide and femme velvet (until Oct. 14, priced from $6,500 to- $7,200).

Finally newcomer Sandeep Mukherjee unveils gorgeous works on paper and vellum in his much anticipated first exhibition at Margo Leavin. Titling his show "Redolence," the recent UCLA graduate animates his works with delicate, lightly drawn, nude self-portraits arranged in clusters. His frolicking, floating, and tumbling selves spread over their paper fields in a kind of literal stream of consciousness.

At times barely discernable, the works defy photographic reproduction, coaxing viewers into close-up contemplation of their intricate designs. Against acrylic and colored pencil fields of gray blue and lime yellow, several drawings feature pinprick and incised ornaments of leaves and whirlpools. Reminiscent of the lyrical intimacy of the drawings of Tom Knechtel, Mukherjee's works thrive in a fantastical realm of esthetic play and abstract feeling (closed Oct. 7; price range was $3,500 to $8,500).

MICHAEL DUNCAN writes on art from Los Angeles.