On The Wall 

Our critics weigh in on local art.

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."

Effacements: An Exploration in Portrait -- Maverick East Bay curator Joyce Gordon should've called this exhibit Defacements after taking one look at the spot-on caricature of a raccoon-eyed Michael Jackson figuring prominently in this twenty-painting show by Oakland's Ali Dadgar. The Iranian-born veteran artist mixes pop iconography with Islamic symbolism and a fair amount of his own cryptic musings, resulting in a distinctly dark yet capricious tone. -- D2 (Through May 7 at 406 14th St., Oakland; 510-465-8928.)

Labyrinth -- The goal of this show's eight collaborating artists is to shatter the comfort zones of a normal art opening by plunging viewers into abject darkness, jarring them with thundering atonal noise, and making them grope their way around on their hands and knees to the paintings and installations. The space begins with a two-story wooden edifice composed of wooden pallets, furniture, and other regional scrap screwed and nailed together. Tunnels and hanging rope ladders set the heart rate for the exhibit. Amy Frieberthauser's maze section uses huge sheets of beige, skinlike nylon fabric that has been safety-pinned and tied into crawlspaces that digests viewers like food in an enormous alien intestine. Eric Groff continues the tunnel motif with a claustrophobic nest of dense, dark, low passageways containing lighted installations. Groff's work spits people out into a final, barren topiary garden, the work of J. Neson and Rob Streff. -- D2 (Through May 24, with another terrific, atonal musical extravaganza May 4 at LoBot Gallery, 1800 Campbell St., Oakland; LoBotGallery.com)

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