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Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.

The Art of Living Black 2006 Group Show -- More than a hundred artists ponied up $80 to show at this unjuried group exhibit with the feel of a swap meet. Eyeballs can't help but stick to Shawn Weeden's playful, orange-drenched "Boogie Woogie." Weeden uses nine square feet of interwoven line lattices that are slightly offset to scramble retinal signals until the thing vibrates on the wall. Bright colors in bold forms also fuse with a graphic novelist's layout and design sensibility in Malik Seneferu's "Omnipotent," where twin tapestries of FedEx arrows frame a cityscape dominated by a male silhouette. Keep in mind that the cream of the TAOLB 2006 crop is scattered throughout ten other East Bay galleries. (Through March 19 at the Richmond Arts Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond; www.therac.org or 510-620-6772.)

Building City Beautiful: Mayor Mott's Oakland -- Century-old photographs, news clippings, telegraph transcripts, and book excerpts tell a tale of corruption, hope, and fire in early-20th-century Oakland at the Oakland Public Library. Timed to coincide with the centennial of Mayor Frank K. Mott's reign (1905-1915) and the San Francisco earthquake and fire (1906), the ironically named exhibit leaves a lot of questions unanswered about the place that was once called the "Carthage of the Pacific." How did a place built on "culture and commerce" end up lagging behind a neighbor that burnt to the ground, discharging 165,000 smoky refugees? (Through April 15 at the Oakland Main Library, 125 14th St., 2nd floor; OaklandLibrary.org or 510-238-3134.)

Dreaming California: Ruth-Marion Baruch, Bill Owens, and Larry Sultan -- The West Coast is not yet settled. Wild hills abut SFO airport. Coyotes can still be seen in North Beach. (Scientists have actually tracked them crossing the Golden Gate bridge late at night from Marin County.) The coyote has long been known as a trickster demigod; legend says it can take any form in order to divert unsuspecting people from their true path. The coyote can put you in a dream trance that you can never wake up from. Dreaming California conjures some of the dream states endemic to this wild state, and in this case it's hippies, porn stars, and the denizens of suburbia. (Through May 21 at the Berkeley Art Museum; BAMPFA.berkeley.edu or 510-642-0808.)

Esteban Sabar Gallery Artists' Reception -- First-time visitors to the 2,500-square-foot, newly opened gallery walk around in awe of its sheer size, diversity, and professionalism. More than sixty pieces both abstract and figurative, classical and edgy hang in the multiroomed, labyrinthine facility that is bathed in warm track lighting. The first of these attractions is two pieces from Bethany Ayres: "Booze Bacon and Blueberry Pancakes" arrests people with its outline-heavy graphic style depiction of a maiden in bed, attended by cherubs and concessions. It has a sense of mirth and playful movement also seen in young up-and-comer Eric Helsley, arguably the most talented painter in Walnut Creek. Helsley fuses tagger flow with a cartoonist's color wheel and an art designer's layout in Bodhi Tree, the four-by-three-foot acrylic-on-canvas painting. (Through March 2 at 480 23rd St., Oakland; EstebanSabar.com or 510-444-7411.)

Lewis & Clark: The Corps of Discovery -- Tattoo Archive takes us back to a time when face tattoos on chicks were hot and faux-hawks could get you killed. The little ink-hole on San Pablo doesn't look like your traditional tattoo shop, what with all the bookshelves and evidence of scholarship. And it isn't. Owner C.W. Eldridge is a Berkeley tattooing legend, writer, and scholar. In commemoration of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, he threw together a little exhibit of Indian ink on the south wall. (Through July 31 at 2804 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; TattooArchive.com or 510-548-5895.)

Re Claim -- This "found-art" show dominated by random pictures and trash from the freeway-eviscerated neighborhood of North Oakland suggests erroneously that the only hope for the area is for it to be razed. A shrine of plastic bags cradles a framed emergency-room treatment release for COCAINE ABUSE in bold letters. Nice work, Tracy Timmins. A note to all curators: If it looks like learning-disabled kindergartners could accidentally make the entire show, just let them and raise money for charity. (Auto Gallery, 3321 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; Freewebs.com/autoartgallery)

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