Los Angeles Times

P. F20 
November 24th, 1994

Doodling Everything: 

By Susan Kandel

Russell Crotty is the Ur-doodler of our time, someone who can turn a mindless preoccupation, performed in a semiconscious haze, into something akin to a religion. His obsessiveness is a fine and awesome thing to behold.

For several years, Crotty “has been producing, grids of up to thousands of tiny images, each one scrawled in ball-point pen. These are intensely focused and slapdash at the same time.

Best known are his multitudinous surfers, triumphantly riding waves or ignominiously wiping out, each tiny image a spiraling line jammed into a horizontal pile, or a zigging mark zagging right out of its allotted spot, like a libidinous jolt of inky energy. 

Crotty’s new work, which inaugurates the Dan Bernier Gallery, turns from the ocean to the stars, toward Mars, Jupiter and Venus. Crotty’s astronomical observations have produced the artist’s usual, ample yield. 

These include rhythmic grids and stacks of ink and tinted gesso drawings of the planets, seen in different lights, from different angles and at different focal lengths. Each image is both a relic of what is seen and an emblem of what can never be known, for a technologically assisted view is inconclusive at best. 

Crotty’s work aligns with a particular strain of 1970s Conceptualism, which purportedly recorded everything about everything. In this vein are Ed Ruscha’s “Every Building on the Sunset Strip” and Douglas Huebler’s plan to photograph everyone alive. 

These artists were making a point about the fallacy of objectivity and totalizing systems. Crotty is onto something quite different. He is mesmerized not by ideas, but by things. This lends his work a certain naiveté completely at odds with Ruscha’s and Huebler’s cynicism, as well as a formula for a self-sustaining system that just could prove them wrong.