It’s refreshing whenever art becomes more ubiquitous than ads on the infinite billboards that are only second to smog in the strata of airborne ailments that afflict this fair town. And so it is with Ashes and Snow, which, at first glance (say, on the side of the Grove) look like pages from the Indian Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue.

Housed in a temporary museum near the Santa Monica Pier, Ashes and Snow is Gregory Colbert’s exploration of the interaction between man and “nature’s living masterpieces.” No, he’s not talking about those flour-dusted humans in Venice that pretend to be statues for a nickel, but, rather, animals.

Combining James Audubon and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment,” Colbert captures such interaction between man and beast as a child reading to an elephant, an adolescent catching a ride on a whale’s tail and a seemingly young Dali Lama meditating in front of an eagle. Repeated throughout the exhibit, and on its Web site, and in the brochure, and in the codex, “None of the images has been digitally collaged or superimposed.”

While usually one would profess this repetition was ad nauseam, here it’s necessary as each of the five-by-eight foot pictures appear impossible. But if art-ads can overtake posters for Failure to Launch, anything is possible.

The Nomadic Museum is located at Santa Monica Pier, in Santa Monica. Hours: Tues.-Thurs. 11 a.m. –7 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. & Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., closed on Mon. Admission price: $15 for adults, $10 for students with ID. Tickets are available by calling (866) 468-7619, at or at the museum box office during regular exhibition hours. For more information, visit