In the Galleries 

Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.

Chino Latino Meets the Angel Baby — This photography exhibit by gallery owner Bob Jew is billed as "The next chapter of the Kai Doy Jook Sing en Mexico series." Even the title leaves viewers feeling a little out of the loop. The first chapter was on display last winter at the Craft and Cultural Arts Gallery in Oakland, and provided a bit more context. This collection of photos, largely reflecting a photojournalist's sentiment, leaves the viewers feeling as if they stumbled into a miniseries half-way through, unsure of the plot line and the characters. After some research, we learn that these photos are from Oaxaca; they typically depict social unrest (a teacher's strike had become a general one, and many of the shots are filled with policemen in full riot gear), or a stark juxtaposition of rich and poor, native and tourist. The most visually arresting image is "Mariachi Wallpaper," a close-up of the torsos of a fully outfitted mariachi band, forming a riot of intricate patterns. (Through May 31 at 35 Grand Ave., Oakland; FrontGalleryOakland.com or 510-444-1900.)

Demolition or "Civic Pride Through Civic Improvement" — This exhibition at the Oakland Main Library commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of urban renewal in Oakland. It features, as a library should, archival documents detailing the many attempts to economically and aesthetically improve the city. From Governor Earl Warren's Redevelopment Act of 1945 to 2005 proposals to improve the waterfront, the exhibit demonstrates that dry mix of hope, financial incentive, competing senses of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement, and ultimate discouragement that characterizes so many not-quite-realized grand urban projects. A 1960s version of a plan for improvement gives us two Oaklands, one of "Observed Major Problems" (Deteriorating Housing, Unsightly New Apartments, Severe Lack of Open Space) and one of "Observed Major Opportunities" (High-Priority New Public Schools, Opportunity for New Marina); both remain. The drawings and photographs of buildings and parks planned (some eventually built, many not) are certainly worth a gander, not least for a glimpse into the imagined futures of yesteryear. (Through September 15 at 125 14th St., Oakland; OaklandLibrary.org or 510-328-3222.)

Measure of Time — Although all the press is focused on the Berkeley Art Museum's Nauman show, there's another exhibit there worth seeing. "Measure of Time" purports to be a meditation on time and duration; viewers aren't absolutely certain whether this is an excuse to bring out some of the museum's permanent collection, or a cohesive thematic. There are some excellent pieces, including Sol LeWitt's "A Sphere Lit from the Top, Four Sides, and All Their Combinations," Jim Campbell's "Shadow (for Heisenberg)," and Shirley Shor's newly acquired "Landslide." Joseph Stella's "Bridge" joins the avant-garde film Manhatta and Max Weber's "Night" in an homage to the speed and density of the emerging urban landscape of the early 20th century. (Through June 24 at 2626 Bancroft Way; BAMPFA.berkeley.edu or 510-624-0808.)

Recovery: Man Over Matter — ACCI Gallery's group show claims to be an homage to recycling in the name of art. All the works use materials that lesser imaginations would consider trash in order to produce often intriguing, sometimes beautiful works of art. Nemo Gould transforms pepper grinders, salad tongs, and vacuum cleaner parts into eight-foot-tall robots, one of which spins its arms as its red eyes glow menacingly. Thomas Pratt's "A Keeper" is a shimmering and lovely fish meticulously made of hand-carved redwood and flattened Heineken bottle caps, a hook and lure hanging from its slightly agape mouth. Dave Meeker's light sculptures include "Dandy," a copper pole atop which sits a bouquet of lighted condoms that suddenly inflate and just as suddenly deflate. Fern Barker's bottles studded with mosaic mirrors and tiles and topped with dolls' heads are at once baroquely elegant and unnervingly creepy. The whole thing is definitely worth the visit. (Through May 5 at 1652 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; ACCIGallery.com or 510-843-2527.)

200 Second Street — It is hard not to be snide about a so-called mural project that is entirely contained within a complex of condos selling for $650 a square foot. Indeed, this "dedication to neighborhood beautification" seems to be entirely for the benefit of those possessing the entry code to this mini-gated community. The art opening for these works, populated by your usual scruffy hipster artists mulling beside besuited millionaires, included a tour of model units. The murals, I suppose, serve as much a selling point as the stainless-steel kitchen appliances and the 114-square-foot decks. That being said, the two murals — if you ever get to see them — are quite nice. Each spans the two floors of wall space opposite the elevators; Andrew J. Schoultz' "Regeneration" is a orchard of trees exploding fluorescent leaves from their branches and severed limbs, while Casey Jex Smith's "Polarized" is a captivating semipointillist work of black-and-white topography, a brightly colored box-kite-like object floating overhead. (Permanent installation at 200 Second St., Oakland, sponsored by Swarm Gallery: SwarmStudios.net or 510-839-2787.)

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  • In the Galleries

    Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.
    • Sep 5, 2007
  • In the Galleries

    Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.
    • Aug 29, 2007
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