Shadows and Dreams 

With exhibitions exploring everything from food to late-Seventies rock albums, the local art scene offers plenty to see this fall season.

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The potency of the East Bay's visual arts scene is palpable, these days. The monthly phenomenon centered around Telegraph and 23rd, however, gives only a very partial picture. While the Art Murmur circuit of galleries is rock solid, a variety of other spaces around the area — museums, studio spaces and various models of gallery, including a newcomer to Temescal — are enlivening our calendar this fall. Here are a few of the must-sees coming up.

Museums

California's Central Valley has long been a point of paradox: The state owes much of its economic comfort (what's left of it, that is) to this land of agricultural plenty, and yet the texture of life here, hard and poor, stands in direct opposition to the state's projected image of easygoing glamour. In Valley of Shadows and Dreams, the first exhibition in a three-part series exploring California life through photography at the Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St., Oakland), Ken and Melanie Light bring their camera and pen (respectively) deep into the culture of this singular locale. Through December 31. See it, then come back in January for Suburban Dreams. 510-318-8400 or MuseumCA.org

As Barry McGee's distinctive brand of graffiti art drew exposure in the early Nineties, so his role as piquant culture critic came to light. Speaking through his signature cast of homely, down-and-out characters blasted onto paint-splattered walls, McGee articulated troubling realities about the often over-stimulated, under-compassionate nature of inner-city life. His work has since been featured at the Venice Biennale, launching him onto the global stage. Now the artist enters a local institution for his first ever mid-career survey, bringing animatronic taggers and a re-creation of a street-corner bodega, among other things, into the museum. McGee has never been one for institutional boundaries, and this exhibition, though a first of its kind, ought to be no exception. Barry McGee runs through December 9 at the Berkeley Art Museum (2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). 510-642-0808 or BAMPFA.Berkeley.edu

Karen Kilimnik first captured international attention with her painterly explorations of celebrity and pop culture, which, bold in color and uniquely awkward in execution, set the artist apart from her contemporaries. Now, Mills College Art Museum (5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland) presents an exhibition exploring another of Kilimnik's rich, longstanding fascinations: 18th- and 19th-century ballet and theater. The artist has returned to the theme in paint, collage, photography, video, and, more recently, costume design and choreography. Consisting of more than thirty works spanning these media, Dance Rehearsal: Karen Kilimnik's World of Ballet and Theatre documents one of the more compelling contributions to narrative figuration of the past thirty years. From September 12 through December 9. 510-430-2164 or MCAM.Mills.edu

Studios

At more than 8,000 square feet of studio space, The Compound Gallery and Studios (1167 65th St., Oakland) is home base to more than a dozen artists, and a resource to many more. This September, the gallery space will present an interdisciplinary group show celebrating the recent work of its artists, and at the September 1 opening, visitors will have the opportunity to tour more than twenty studios and receive demonstrations in letterpress, printmaking, and ceramics. Make sure to return in November for a solo exhibition of work by Jeanne Lorenz, featuring an impressive installation in paint that merges late-Seventies rock albums and Kabbalistic mysticism — surely a propitious pairing. Compound Group Show 2012 runs September 1-31; Jeanne Lorenz runs from November 10 through December 16 at The Compound Gallery and Studios. 510-601-1702 or TheCompoundGallery.com

Kala Art Institute's (1060 Heinz Ave., Berkeley) outstanding exhibition of work by its 2012 residency fellows, Residency Projects, will close on September 15; if you have not yet stopped in to see Vanessa Marsh's post-apocalyptic photograms and Francesca Pastine's stock market gauge tribal masks (to name two of many successful projects), make a point to do so. Come October, the institute will present Keeping Time (Oct. 4-Nov. 24), an exhibition culled from a local and national call for entries that explore the various modes of tracking time. Then, close out 2012 with Kala's annual exhibition of fresh work from its more than one hundred fellows, artists-in-residence, and staff. Fresh Work runs December 13 through February 2013. 510-549-2977 or Kala.org

Galleries

This September and November, Pro Arts' (150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland) independently curated programming takes the form of the 2 x 2 Solos series: two exhibitions, each divided into two solo shows. In the first (Sept. 4-Oct. 6), Amy M. Ho constructs whole-room installations that envelop visitors in projected light and shapes, while Lordy Rodriguez, in his solo debut, presents a series of reconfigured or imagined cartography inspired by 2011's devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific. In the second (Oct. 30-Nov. 30), Cybele Lyle continues to investigate constructed space and subjectivity through various forms of personal documentation, while Wafaa Yasin explores memory, politics, and the body through various site-specific performances portraying tasks from everyday life. 510-763-4361 or ProArtsGallery.org

In naming her new Temescal gallery, artist and academic Suzanne L'Heureux appropriated a tech term: interface. As an instrument that mediates experience, she thought, an interface makes a good metaphor for art itself. For the gallery's inaugural exhibition, in·ter·face (Sept. 5-30), six artists present work exploring this concept of art, mediation, and communication. In November, Interface hosts an exhibition in conjunction with the organization Food Shift identifying connections between food waste and hunger, with some artists actually intercepting food byproducts from nearby restaurants for innovative use. This promises to be a mediation of a refreshingly bold, direct type. Food Shift runs November 3 through December 2 at Interface Gallery (480 49th St., Oakland). InterfaceArtGallery.com

"Beauty," about as weighty and malleable a word as they come, befits the traditional museum as an exhibition subject. "Cuteness," not so much. Yet, these are precisely the things that Kathy Aoki aims to celebrate when she curates Beauty in Landscape: A Blockbuster Exhibition from the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Historical Makeovers, an institution that exists in the artist's mind and, soon, Swarm Gallery (560 2nd St., Oakland). Brazenly tongue-in-cheek, the showing of faux historical prints, painting, and sculpture is not to be missed. In the project room, Camilla Newhagen will present a video of the artist communicating with various objects in the mode of the wireless age. Runs October 6 through November 11. 510-839-2787 or SwarmGallery.com

Rounding out Traywick Contemporary's (895 Colusa Ave., Berkeley) yearlong fifteenth anniversary series, Wall Works 4 and Materials + Process each focus on a different aspect of the North Berkeley space's program, history, and potential future. Through sculpture and site-specific collage, the artists in Wall Works 4 explore the constraints and possibilities of Traywick's exhibition space. The five artists in Materials + Process, then, will highlight the gallery program's emphasis on nontraditional methods and media through photographs — some of them avowedly "failed" — sculpture, drawing, and collage. Then, it's onward to 2013. Wall Works 4 runs through September 29; Materials + Process runs October 14 through December 22. 510-527-1214 or Traywick.com

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