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Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.

Geographic Premonitions — The Richmond Art Center has three shows up currently, but the one worth going for is this juried show of the fifteen "best East-Bay-based emerging artists." The smart and eclectic collection of the things emerging artists do — from meticulous and desolate wall-size C-prints to questionably self-indulgent conceptual pieces to naive-art acrylics prominently featuring chickens — provides an engaging melange of genres, forms, and ideas. Sara Thacher's "BARTProjects" offers pamphlets suggesting amusing and employable activities for making the public transportation experience a more pleasant one (including giving clean pillows to sleepy passengers); Tara Daly's "You Don't Have the Answers" is a visually and texturally arresting wall sculpture of boating hardware and outsize metallic bugs; Amy Sollins' smudgy charcoals include images of wire baskets and a pooper scooper. (Through November 11 at 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond; www.therac.org or 510-620-6772.)

The World Domination of Painting (and Drawing) — A group show, with mixed results. Mia Liu's "The Bloom Family Tree," a series of origami boxes laid out as a genealogy, and Robin Ward's watercolors of swimming horses and lounging walruses against textured white grounds are visually stunning, particularly in what they don't show. Ashlee Ferlito's "Mr. Grumps," a sparse sketch of a sad, shy ape and a cartoon heart, is utterly evocative, despite — or because of — its simplicity. Catherine Saiki's careful, nearly photorealist renderings of Christmas bells piercing anonymous skin and a young man in a goatee wearing antlers surprise the viewer, and Laura Ball's watercolors of adults riding merry-go-rounds have a 1970s feel and an edge of violence. Both bring something startling and unnerving to the seemingly banal. Yet John Herschend's works seem little more than a messy accident of color, and Yvette Molina's "Bellwether" is just another cryptic piece featuring stags and their ominous antlers. (At Ego Park, 492 23rd St., Oakland; EgoParkProject.com or 510-839-4667.)

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    Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.
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