Capsule Reviews 

Our critics weigh in on local art.

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."

Bodyspeak -- The subtitle, Sexual imagery by Debbie Moore, explains the concerns of these 25-plus acrylic-on-canvas pieces simmering with bright colors and bold geometrical shapes. Check out the trippy face composed of a blue penis-nose and red areola eyeballs. Even better, the breast-eyed, muff-mustached belly-face. Plenty of vibrant neon and an incredibly flat two-dimensional quality to the paintings make this show passably entertaining. -- D2 (Through Oct. 31 at Loop Gallery, 6436 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-590-0040.)

Curate This -- Artists from six cultural nodes, including Liminal, 21 Grand, and Ego Park, contribute to this massive, eclectic, and raw show. A lot of non sequitur-type items like unexploded ordnance, pillow bags, mixed-media guns, and traffic signals look as though they came straight from the miscellaneous pile. -- D2 (Through Nov. 5 at Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond; or 510-620-6772.)

Mystical, Magical, Mythical -- Dragons, witches, gremlins, and goblins in a 150-piece multimedia battle royale await visitors to the quaint Frank Bette Center in Alameda. Artisan Bette died in '99, leaving his 110-year old Victorian residence to five friends given post-mortem instructions to create an arts center. The result is a raging, high-ceilinged room adorned floor to ceiling with a mélange of harvest-themed work from Bay Area artists and beyond. Check out the 25-pound green glazed garden dragon by Niqui Hill. Garden gnomes, your days are so numbered. -- D2 (Through Oct. 31 at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St., Alameda; 510-523-6957.)

New Works -- An uninventive title for an unassuming space. Look southwest from where Gilman hits the BART tracks and you see a fenced-off green area. A split boulder of granite spits water at the front entrance as a steel sculpture whirls nearby. "If Danny Elfman had a garden, this stuff would be in it," you think. A New Leaf has hundreds of abstract fountains, whirling kinetic art, and tortured sculptures, all outdoors and ready for your backyard, assuming you have a couple grand to drop. The abstract steel shapes alienate, but the rush of dozens of fountains soothe. Part feng shui, part Beetlejuice. -- D2 (Through Jan. 15, 2005 at A New Leaf; or 510-525-7621.)

Threshold: Byron Kim 1990-2004 -- Kim is best known for his pictures of skin color, without the texture or wrinkles of the real thing. His first solo show is a retrospective look at what this Korean-American artist has been doing since he burst on the art scene in the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Kim has continued to paint in monochromatic fields of color, sometimes placing two colors next to each other, sometimes multiple strips. In many cases, the effects are beautiful. Still, to fully appreciate the images, the viewer has to read the explanatory wall plaques. -- B.K. (Through December 12 at the Berkeley Art Museum; or 510-642-0808.)

War, Peace, and Civil Liberties -- A satirical sniper's nest of antiwar art camouflages itself nicely in Berkeley's Live Oak Park. Once you find the hard-to-see building, you're rewarded with more than 150 multimedia takes on religion and war by 52 artists from across the United States and Canada. Antiwar art always gets heavy-handed, what with all the exploded babies and bomb-fetishes. The subtle stuff is stronger. For instance, Annie Holm's enormous black and white 57"x43" mugshot of a foreign exchange student warms the heart, until you see the mug is composed of more than 4,000 fingerprints from harassed students trying to get into the country to study. -- D2 (Through Nov. 6. at the Berkeley Art Center; or 510-644-6893.)

What's Going On? -- The curators of the Oakland Museum's ambitious new show about the Vietnam War era in California tell not one story but many. Along with a more straightforward chronology of the war itself, the show juxtaposes opposing voices. The accompanying audio tour is crucial to the viewer's appreciation, but sadly, to get to often-riveting first-person accounts, patrons have to listen to a tedious summation of events relayed by an anonymous narrator. -- B.K. (Through Feb. 27, 2005; or 510-238-2200.)


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