Lean times or not, new galleries are still opening. Berkeley's new Alphonse Berber Gallery features, in its second show, a 21-artist extravaganza of more than one hundred artworks in drawing, painting, photography, mixed media, sculpture, video, installation, jewelry, and fashion. With that diverse smorgasbord, the works are understandably arranged somewhat haphazardly among the three galleries, so it can be a bit confusing. Nonetheless, the casual visitor will find plenty to peruse, only a fraction of which can be discussed here.
Gregory Euclide crafts diorama-like reliefs that combine drawing and sculpted paper elements to create poetic 3D evocations of landscape — world and memory preserved like flowers under glass ("In What the Mist Had Bloomed"). David Chapman Lindsay deconstructs the stretched canvas: "4 Cardinal Directions" is a gilt-framed oil portrait of a young girl seemingly jammed perpendicularly halfway into the wall; the male subject of "Tension Portrait" is painted on curved wedges of wood and canvas that coalesce into a rough segmented dome. Ryoko Tajiri's oil paintings derive from the Bay Area figurative tradition, though she employs a more subdued palette than we generally associate with that school; her pensive women are absorbed into the painterly, almost abstract compositions ("Woman at White Table," "Day Dream," "Girl in Back Light"). Steve Kim may work from photographs, but he edits and reinterprets them to create obscure and sometimes humorous narratives ("Kitsune Noir Diorama," "Dolly and Burt," "Octobaby"). Justin Margitich makes etchings depicting the activities of the Friends of the Urban Forest (a real tree-planting nonprofit based in San Francisco) like alfresco assemblies of benign druids ("The Friends of the Urban Forest Have a Meeting," "The Friends of the Urban Forest Enjoy Their New Lake," "The Friends of the Urban Forest Meet Again"). The absurdist universe of Timothy Kadish's paintings is exemplified by the inventory of motifs in "Three Waldos, Four Parachute Men, Seven Mushrooms, Eight Tanks, and Four Turtle Doves." Mitsuko's comically grotesque ceramic portrait busts suggest melting snowmen studded with bits of crockery. Lastly, Benjamin Crowden makes ingenious kinetic sculptures: in "Eating My Cake and Having It Too" a silicone tongue controlled by a lever licks a rotating lollipop; in "Some People I Don't Know," abstracted human figures engage in ritualized crank-powered dances — like the planetary systems in gear-driven Victorian orreries. You, Me and Everyone We Know runs through June 6 at Alphonse Berber Gallery (2546 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). AlphonseBerber.com or 510-649-9492.
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