Ancient Iranian heroes stand shoulder to shoulder with hip-hop superstars in Ala Ebtekar's ghostly, sure-handed line drawings. At his eponymous solo exhibit, the artist uses centuries-old motifs drawn from the culture of his parents, such as the cloud curls and flowers and sad dark eyes of traditional Iranian work. The baseball caps and sneakers, rendered no less respectfully, come from his own world: He's from around here. "I'm trying to find a visual glimpse of a crossroad where present-day events meet history and mythology," Ebtekar explains in a segment from local PBS art-TV show Spark. The result is a meditation on the "idiomatic gestures and poses," as he calls them, of both modern music scenes and long-ago wrestling gymnasiums. In those drawings the Stanford MFA student's flawless eye for line is thrown into splendid relief against sandy base colors. An interest in handwriting means Ebtekar's work gains another layer of meaning and of visual rhythm, and represents another power-meeting of antiquity and reality.
Aug. 3-Sept. 1