Light/Dark in Hayward and Berkeley 

Shows at Sun Gallery and Mythos Fine Art run the emotional gamut.

Joe Slusky and Katie Hawkinson are showing together in Interactions, a retrospective in Hayward of the Berkeley couple's sculptures and paintings, respectively, that reveals both their differences and their similarities. Slusky makes welded steel sculptures that draw equally from the wells of cubism, constructivism, and surrealism. Although he had made public sculptures, modest-size pieces are shown here, set atop a forest-like grouping of pedestals that is oddly fun to negotiate (but watch those elbows).

Slusky's oddball aggregations suggest machines and movement, like the absurdist devices of Jean Tinguely, but with a less ironic spirit: Covered with jazzy abstract patterns in auto lacquer as if by some mystical union of Kandinsky, Haring, and tribal/folk artists, these elegantly crafted Rube-Goldberg works, given memorably quirky or suggestive names, and sometimes hinting at fauna and flora, radiate good humor. Don't miss "Ogoki," "Palaz de Hoon," "Chipogolo," "Cakewalk," "Pahoehoe," or "Wamba" — just to mention a few.

Hawkinson also draws on modernist tradition for her acrylic paintings, some of which refer to a spiritualized, visually simplified nature (flowers, landscape, forests, waves, starry skies), while others explore geometric abstraction's link with transcendent states of being. Among the former are her three oceanic wave-form triptychs, "Oceans of Grace," "Currents of Grace," and "Waves of Grace," with their wave forms simplified into oscillating patterns like wood grain or fingerprints, and the Impressionistic "Forest Pond," with its echoes of Monet and Fairfield Porter. Hawkinson depicts psychic states in semi-abstract pieces like "Pure Gold Light" and "Pagan Rite of Spring," and the concentric, geometric targets or mandalas of "Planetary Time" and the synesthetic "Fog Horn," sound made visible. Through February 4 at Sun Gallery (1015 E St., Hayward). (510) 581-4050 or SunGallery.org.

Dark Illuminations: Painting of Mysteries is the paradoxical theme of a Berkeley show featuring Jesse Michaels, Terri Saul, and Karen Zullo Sherr, who come from diverse backgrounds in rock music, literature, and political activism, but who share an interest in narrative. Michaels' mixed-media works on paper explore Film Noir's "world of erotic tension and constant suspicion." The most effective of these eschew modernist fragmentation and embrace pulp tradition, like "City at Night," although  "Raw Deal" and "The Fight" convey anxiety and violence, if more abstractly. Saul's "Nowhere Near Topanga Canyon," "Film Commune," and "Riding the Waves" and Sherr's "Mountain View Cemetery" and "The Dog at Albany Bulb" show both artists at their best when they abandon the literal and literary. Through January 28 at Mythos Fine Art & Artifacts (1747 Solano Ave., Berkeley). 510-528-4291 or MythosFineArt.com

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