On The Wall 

Our critics weigh in on local art.

Reviews by David Downs

For complete, up-to-date East Bay art listings, look under Billboard on the home page for the "Select Category" pulldown, then select "Art Galleries" or "Museums."

Joe DiStefano -- Longtime Emeryville artist DiStefano's biggest claim to fame is a fifteen-foot piece of concrete public art at the Oakland Federal Building. This week, the Yale MFA grad focuses his mixed-media talents on paintings -- exhibiting twenty intensely colored and textured abstract works in clay tile he equates to Rorschach tests. His unique process starts with thin sheets of clay, cut and fired into square tiles, lightly painted, glazed, and fired again. (Through April 4 at Turn of the Century Fine Arts, 2510 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; 510-849-0950.)

Garret Izumi -- The final show for the closing Salmon Graphics print shop in Berkeley consists of thirty still-life black-and-white photos and fourteen comics, a treasure hiding in plain sight on the dingy 1700 block of University Ave. Longtime Bay Area comic artist Izumi stresses big, thick black lines and an almost Renoir-like chunkiness to his figures. The subject matter humorlessly dwells on nuclear weapons, the nature of trust and love, and other captioned thoughts that detract from the heavy forms and compelling figures. (Through April 1 at the Salmon Graphics Gallery, 1728 University Ave., Berkeley; 510-548-0293.)

Ritz and Stewart: Two Artists of the Courtroom -- Good ol' Charlie Manson and his crazy-Jesus stare dominates this fun new 36-piece exhibit of court art from locals Walt Stewart and Rosalie Ritz. Manson and his flock get an eighth of the space to themselves, complete with icy in situ poses of Manson in court and group portraits, the best of which feature bizarre composites of "The Family" in hues of red and blue. Patricia Hearst plays second fiddle to the Manson stuff. Her mugs are less recognizable, but more detailed; offering the best in fashion from decades past. (Through March 31 at the Doe Library, UC Berkeley.)

Shadowbox -- LoBot Gallery delights with icy fluorescent-red neon this week, as more than a dozen artists contribute light-based installations that glow in the deliberately darkened 5,000-square-foot warehouse gallery. Shadowbox' pieces can't nullify life's darkness, but they do cast some cohesive thematic light; more than enough of a reason to check out the closing show April 2. For best results, go after dark. (Through April 2 at LoBot Gallery, 1800 Campbell St., Oakland; LoBotGallery.com)

Together We Survive -- Photomontage artist Keba Konte and sculptor eesuu explore and stimulate the emotional response to faces with Together We Survive, an arresting and intriguing exhibit at the Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland. Part photo-real, part primordial, this exhibit dwells almost explicitly on African-American visages: men, women, and children from across the world whispering and shouting at the viewer. (Through March 30 at the Joyce Gordon Gallery; 510-465-8928.)

The Vietnam War -- Cal's Northgate Hall yields black-and-white candids from the hills of Vietnam circa 1967, courtesy of then-21-year-old freelance photographer Catherine Leroy. Expect dying veterans, POWS, great framing, and a tight focus under what looks like live fire. (Through April 29 at the Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley; 510-642-3383.)

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