Kala Art Institute’s latest off-site exhibit is a group show at the Berkeley Central Arts Passage (2055 Center St.) titled Belewe, which roughly translates in folk etymology to “to betray.” The show brings together artists who investigate things that stray from the norm, venturing into the interstitial mental spaces that are so often ignored. One of the most eye-catching works is Nyeema Morgan’s “Untitled” (from the installation I, Rhinoceros), which features three cast resin hands emerging from a patterned wall and holding out white ceramic vases. Morgan, who is based in New York, is interested in epistemological hierarchies and the way that cultural knowledge is passed on to viewers through artifacts. Julia Goodman’s hand-made calendar is made from rough paper pulp with protrusions that represent the moon cycles of the months following her father’s death. Ben Bigelow’s contribution is a startling large-scale light box that features a cherry pie smashed against glass, effectively pranking the viewer with a pie to the face. Other artists include Matt Chavez, Veronica Graham, Boris Scherbakov, and Lucy van Limburg Stirum. Altogether, the works lead the viewer through an exciting array of unusual observations.
Exhibitions at the David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way, Berkeley) consistently situate artists as the mediators between citizens and economic and environmental issues. The gallery’s third annual juried exhibition, Reimagining Progress, features works that examine the current state of our system of consumption and the potential for more sustainable alternatives. While many of the works are visually gripping, those with applicable concepts underlying their form are the most thought-provoking. Kathryn Kenworth’s “Trade-O-Mat” is a reimagined vending machine that facilitates a bartering economy. A collection of local artworks is featured in five windows, each with a slot below that invites viewers to submit a card with their offer of a service in exchange for the piece. After the artist determines a fair exchange, the two will meet to make the trade. Aviva Knox’s “Authentic Apparel” features white T-shirts made by different companies, each with a tag that outlines the actual circumstances of labor that went into their production. Although Knox uses a shorthand that’s similar to that of normal tags, her tags hang twice as long as the shirts themselves. Collectively, these works impressively push the notions of production and offer an optimistic view of the potential for change.
Oakland failed to attract competitive bids for its garbage franchise and is now pushing a proposal that critics say includes exorbitant rate hikes, weak local job protections, and an inadequate composting plan.