“If I buried a doubloon there, I’d want you to be able to find it.” So says Victor Schiro of his commitment to accuracy in landscape painting. Whether or not his works could guide a viewer to locate such a hypothetical hidden coin, Schiro’s paintings are no generic approximations of scene, but rather specific visual events conscientiously dramatized in paint. His current exhibit at the Delphine Gallery focuses on the stretch of oceanfront around Point Conception known as the Cojo Ranch since being deeded in 1837 to Anastico Carrillo by Governor Juan Batista Alvarado.
Schiro has taken a historical interest in the site, and a map of the original tract accompanies the exhibit. But the paintings in this suite are as much about the ocean as the land. Taken together, they form a record of the experience of approaching the sea, each view inviting a response specific to a phase of the encounter. This is a presentation of personal, ephemeral history, referenced almost ironically to the record of conquest and ownership.
In “Windmill Canyon,” the ocean is a distant smear, merging unpretentiously with the sky. In “View from Black Canyon (pictured above),” it is barely a line, punctuating the space between hills. “View from Point Conception” provides the overview-the full exhilaration of arrival. In all, the interaction of land, water, and sky is documented in constant motion.