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."
Bubble Trouble in Doubles -- The Rock Paper Scissors gallery at Telegraph and 23rd avenues in Oakland sells homemade hipster zines and lifestyle accessories such as hand-stitched rubber wallets. This week, four installations complement its Generation Y wares. Taro Hattori pins up three-by-five-foot black-and-white poster boards filled with coloring book outlines, then leaves out a bunch of crayons and lets the customers do their worst. Hattori's experiment predictably becomes a Rorschach test for the affluently disaffected, with lots of demon faces and anomie-ridden thought bubbles. Mayumi Hamanaka's glam gun installation outshines that idea. Straight from a mothballed Scarface set, Hamanaka presents a dining room in all-white fur chairs and table with mirrored M-16s and playing cards laying about. More translucent firearms aim out the storefront window and over West Oakland. Snap! (Through December 2 at 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; RPSCollective.com or 510-238-9171.)
The Neighborhood Show -- The two boys at the Boontling Gallery asked their ghetto compatriots for their best work, then dubbed it "The Neighborhood Show" -- featuring thirty pieces of sculpture, painting, and drawings from the 'hood of Telegraph and 43rd. "A lot of it seems to be a reaction against forty years of conceptual art," says curator Derek Weisberg. Indeed, this crew refutes Magritte's "This Is Not a Pipe" principle with representational art both simple and humble. It says, "This is definitely a pipe, and here are some astronauts, fat people, man-giraffe chimeras, crudely drawn skulls, rickshaws loaded with ducks, and African masks made from folded candy cartons." No weird color studies or Duchamp toilets from Home Depot here. This deliberately low-budget work wears its home schooling like a badge of honor (look at me, I can't draw straight!) even as the expensive art schools begin to teach the Mission School of folk art as a genuine movement and the next big thing. (Through December 4 at 4224 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; BoontlingGallery.com or 707-980-1060.)
Red-Color News Soldier -- Preglobalization ignorance must've been bliss. The '60s counterculture could comfortably enshrine Mao as a "power to the people"-type thinker while, meanwhile, on mainland China, terror reigned like reverse McCarthyism on crystal meth (you were busted if you were deemed un-Communist, and the purge lasted ten long years). Aspiring cinematographer-turned-news-flack Li Zhensheng captured thousands of these public shamings, kidnappings, and firing squads in black and white, 22 digital prints of which haunt the drab wood shingle walls of Berkeley's Northgate Hall until December. Zhensheng's newly released photos focus tight on the faces of icon worship and the actions of choreographed spectacle as any good candid should. So understandable, immediate, and outrageous are these images, that if they appeared in contemporary news racks it would warrant foreign intervention á la Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan. You can't just kill thousands of people while the world watches anymore, can you? At least you can't count on the domestic press to self-censor, right? Hmmm. (Through December 17 at Northgate Hall, UC Berkeley)
6X6 -- Alameda installation artist Clint Imboden loves other people's dirty laundry. Not necessarily clothes -- rather, ancient photos, old chest X-rays, and thrown-out letters from abused girls make up this show's bread and butter. A mental health practitioner by trade, Imboden combs flea markets and dumps in his spare time for found objects with some type of emotional resonance. His findings from six years of work appear in this six-piece solo show at the LoBot Gallery this month. Main piece "Search" employs 210 chest X-rays, vintage family portrait slides, and a light projector. Imboden assembles the X-rays into a twenty-by-forty-foot mural of rib cages that is then shot through with the projector light. Behind the mural, the X-rays warp the quaint baby portraits into disturbing kaleidoscopic collages. A similar aesthetic links the main piece with the other strong one, "dys[FUNCTION]," featuring lighted test tubes holding shredded family photos. The wall-hung tubes are intercut with transcripts of a father-daughter correspondence spat from 1950. Imboden has spent years separating the garbage of his career from the aims of his art. Here, the two arenas begin to merge. (Through December 2 at 1800 Campbell St. Oakland; LoBotGallery.com or 510-282-2622.)
The Zine UnBound: Kults, Werewolves, and Sarcastic Hippies -- Do not go to this show without first jacking yourself up on coffee and taking two Valiums. The coffee helps you focus for three hours on the thousands of bizarre drawings, paintings, and installations crammed in here, and the Valium handles the security guards who'll stalk your every move. This isn't a gallery, as in art -- this is an institution, as in commerce. Clueless zine fans who think they can get a free taste are turned away at the door. "It's $4, sir. No exceptions." Yet it's worth it, because behind the velvet rope waits artifacts that will surely disturb future anthropologists. What does a generation with arguably the most time, money, sex, drugs, and boredom since 18th-century Versailles do with its time? Well, little by little it goes insane, and occasionally stops to make homemade magazines. Oakland favorites Hot & Cold contribute their dysfunctional part to this rousing, rambling display of werewolves, nudity, violence, pop culture, color, and collage. (Through December 30 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco; YBCA.org or 415-978-ARTS.)
Culture Spy - April 20, 9:52 AM
Culture Spy - April 13, 12:18 PM