Photo Finish 

Photography, straight and assisted.

Photo-Synthesis aptly entitles a three-person show exploring how elements of the natural world can be reborn via photography. Stephen Galloway digitally scans mosses arranged on white tables, creating large, detailed color photographs reminiscent of Irving Penn's 1970s monumental studies of cigarette butts, but imbued here with a new ecological subtext: Are those angry bees in "Swarm"? Young Kim in her Calligraphy and Leaves series of photos discovers brushwork and abstract pattern, respectively, in random or arranged garden clippings. Penny Olson digitally photographs flowers and extends certain pixels horizontally and vertically to create softly glowing atmospheric grids: plaid light, Mondrian (briefly a flower painter) via Rothko. Photo-Synthesis runs through July 23 at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary Gallery (480 23rd St., Oakland). 415-577-7537 or ChandraCerritoContemporary.com.

The Fukushima headlines may have subsided, but the tsunami/nuclear disaster continues. From Japan to Japan: Images of Japan by American Photographers benefits a nation that was generous to quake-struck Californians in 1989: 25 percent of proceeds go to the Fortunate Blessings Foundation, which has assisted northeastern Japan's children during this crisis. On view are Judy Dater's street scenes and studies of playing children; Whitney Vosburgh's Impressionist-focus studies of Shikoku religious pilgrims at Honshu's Mt. Koya; LeRoy Howard's Noh-masked nudes; Anthony Delgado's images of Tsukiji Fish Market; Alan Mandell's and gallery co-owner Henry Bowles' landscape abstractions; Ari Salomon's 360-degree panoramas (both horizontal and vertical); co-owner Irene Imfeld's studies of tree foliage; and John Watson's digitally interwoven picture pairs. From Japan to Japan runs through July 30 at PHOTO (473 25th St., Oakland), with a reception on Friday, July 1, 6-9 p.m. 510-847-2416 or PhotoGalleryOakland.com.

Finally, two shows that end soon explore objects in their dual natures as unchanging ideal entities and artifacts charged with human history. Pamela Merory Dernham's Cubist/anthromorphic bottle/vase wire sculptures and Nikki Schrager's digitally enhanced prints of her minimalist wire-grid sculptures show the viability (even immortality) of modernist abstraction. Dernham/Schrager runs through June 25 (closing reception 1-4 p.m.) at Cricket Engine (499 Embarcadero Ave., Bldg. 3, Oakland). 415-240-2220 or CricketEngine.org. In Origin Stories, Mercedes Dorame photographs the shards, arrowheads, and jewelry that she finds at archaeological digs as a Native American monitor. She provides new contexts for these mute objects by enlarging them photographically and placing the photos with family heirlooms set atop shelves and tables or suspended with yarn, and amid cinnamon, fragrantly evoking her grandmother's kitchen in the hills above Malibu. Origin Stories runs through July 2 at Smokey's Tangle (4709 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 510-928-7479 or SmokeysTangle.com

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