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Retro meets rustic in a funky Los Angleles landscape

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Painter Kenny Scharf considers his backyard in Culver City, Calif., a sculpture garden for his work. Succulents are part of the low-water garden design.

Photos by Ken Hivlely/Los Angeles Times

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Artist Kenny Scharf's hilltop garden is no Monet masterpiece. It is more like a Georgia O'Keeffe -- rocks and concrete pavers set among colorful succulents and exotic cactuses that look like stones and desiccated brains. At one end of this primitive landscape, two sun-bleached imitation-Saarinen dinette chairs stand in a bed of gravel sprinkled with colored glass, beckoning visitors to sit and contemplate the 1988 Scharf bronze "Space Travel."

The juxtaposition of "Jetsons"-style furniture and statuary in a "Flintstones" setting is particularly apt for Mr. Scharf. The 50-year-old painter and sculptor first shot to fame in the New York City street art scene of the 1980s with paintings that incorporated his favorite characters from those Hanna-Barbera cartoons.

"Barberadise," Scharf's first Los Angeles-area show in four years, will continue this exploration of prehistoric and futuristic forms. It opened Sunday and runs through Oct. 31.

In many ways, Scharf's backyard is an ongoing art installation that incorporates found objects, salvaged plants, and hand-painted planters perched on tree stumps. A casual observer might find that it looks rustic bordering on ramshackle. But the artist considers it a sculpture garden for his work, which includes the bronze water feature "Fountain of Life" and a stack of giant fiberglass "Madglad" teacups with grinning and snarling faces.

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