LA Times
Friday March 11, 2005
by David Pagel

The dark side of life takes shape in Eve Wood's exhibition at Western Project. Even the Pretty Trees Have Guns combines 12 figurative paintings and 14 mostly abstract sculptures. Neither body of work is adequately resolved or fully developed, but there's enough cock-eyed idiosyncrasy to suggest that an original visoin is brewing.

Wood's canvases resemble children's storybook illustrations. Imagine an emotionallyscarred decendant of the Brothers Grimm whose goal is to share her pain with other sensitive souls.

In four works, a single horse dies in the grass, is choked with a lasso, stares stoically from a burning forrest or, like a malformed unicorn, has a giant human hand growing from its head. In two other images, a dead bunny in fed to a lion and devoured by a falcon perched atop a man who covers his eyes in despair. Using the style of storybook illustrations to show that life is uglier than it's often made out to be doesn't take viewers far beyond the obvious. This faux-niave style is overused by artists whose good intentions are greater than their technical skills or power of invention.

In contrast, three pictures of stumpy trees with vine-wrapped limbs holding handguns poignantly embody the quiet desperation that suffuses Wood's show. Point and Shoot, Hopless Magnolia, and, Something Happened on the Way to the Dream Factory, leave cliched sotries of victims and victemizers behind to tell heart-wrenching tales of assisted suicides.

Wood's sculptures are either too literal or too abstract. The ones that combine rocks with taxidermy deer legs, a stuffed quail, plastic vertibrae and steel handcuffs require too little imaginative investment. The others, which consist of rocks through which Wood has drilled small holes, wrapped threads and struck with sewing needles, reveal too little. But both suggest an outlook in touch with the trauma of our times.