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Above and Below the Surface: An Atlas 

When: Dec. 12-Jan. 2 2009

Nature, God's masterpiece, enjoyed a couple of hundred years of vogue in the 18th- and 19th-century painters before being largely relegated by 20th-century abstractionists to an infinite storehouse of visual ideas, a copyright-free library of hieroglyphs. Lorrie Fink's oil /alkyd paintings at East Bay Municipal Utility District are her philosophic responses -- exploring "transition, loss and time passages" -- to the Heraclitean flux of seashore and tidepool. While they combine marine motifs (shells, stones, rills, wave surges) with the loose brushwork, heightened primary/secondary palette, and flattened telephoto views of lyrical abstraction, they fall short of integrating their competing naturalist and symbolist elements: they're diffuse. More successful are Fink's works on paper ("No Glory 1," "No Glory 2," "What a Relief," Thrill Seeker"), solid little plein-air studies combining direct painterly gesture and motif-derived color. Above and Below the Surface: An Atlas runs through January 2 at EBMUD (375 11th St., 2nd Floor, Oakland). 510-287-0138.

— DeWitt Cheng


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