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Augmented Realms 

When: Sept. 28-Oct. 30 2010

The natural world is the subject of Morgania E. Moore's sculptures and Michelle Stitz's paintings, but not the playground of weekend warrior-hikers. These elegant, meditative works, with their sepia/umber palettes, suggest lost worlds accessible only through the artifacts that they once inspired. Moore's sculptures, fabricated from glass globes and bell jars, plaster casts, metal hardware, and natural objects like branches and coral, suggest scientism and sentimentality reconciled ("Chasing the Weather," "Casting Electricity," "Hive," "Conductor"), an aesthetic ideal as relevant now as during the nineteenth century. Her plaster paintings ("In the Dust," "Geyser," "Moonlight") do this effortlessly. Stitz invokes geological processes as well with her thickly layered oil/resin/encaustic "ClayForest" paintings, suggesting translucent geological matrices imprisoning carbonized branches, or imprinted photographically with bare-treed landscapes. They're particularly effective displayed in series. Augmented Realms runs through October 30 at Vessel Gallery (471 25th St., Oakland). 510-893-8800 or Vessel-Gallery.com.

— DeWitt Cheng

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