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Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.

Bay Area Currents 2006 — A riotous collision of rabid, two-headed dogs and gushing blood overwhelms the senses in what should be a tame little juried exhibition in downtown Oakland. Instead, the Oakland Art Gallery picked an Angeleno with an eye for fun to sort through 300 submissions and winnow the bounty down to 13 lucky locals, who each offer just one or two pieces in the 2,000-square-foot space. Everything's got room to breathe and each piece needs it, because this collection feels huge. Ana Fernandez' "Procession" simulates the color and lines of Chinese red dragons from afar, but up close it's ink-on-paper man-dogs and evil jesters, hearts and veins and demons and angels. In the window, little beach crabs crawl over suspended ledges in James Sansing's "Support System," a mixed-media sculpture of concrete, brick, and found objects that ascends through the vertical space of the gallery to the roof. Then out of nowhere, Tabitha Soren of MTV News fame makes an appearance as photographer of oddly loaded domestic scenes. She'll be at the artist talk Thursday, June 15 from 6-8 p.m. (Through June 30 at 199 Kahn's Alley, Oakland;

Gathering Time — Statues, temples, and incense at Angkor Wat and other mysterious Cambodian locales hover in the halls of the Photolab Gallery. Senior photographer Hedi B. Desuyo succeeds in stopping time with these 39, mostly 11"-by-14" black-and-white prints, exquisitely processed, mounted, and framed. The stand-out shot is "Shelter," a wide-format, nearly abstract landscape taken from out in the water. It's a minimalist piece that derives its strength from the interplay of form and tone between the black rippling water and the barren, windswept land. A lone male figure lumbers through the center-top of the frame carrying supplies for a sad little shelter — a thin, thatched hut etched into the bright sand. The art goes for $230 to $340 per piece, which tends to be worth it, given Desuyo's choice of subject, focus, framing, film development, and overall packaging. (Through June 24 at 2235 Fifth St., Berkeley;

Re:Form — Works by Gregg Fleishman — Remember those prefabricated wooden dinosaur models that came precut in a sheet of aircraft wood that you could make into triceratopses and T. rexes? Remember how you could pop out individual vertebrae and slot them into the ready-made hole on the spine? Architectural genius and obsessive Gregg Fleishman elevates the concept to the level of cutting-edge design in this awesomely contemporary show at the Swarm Gallery in Jack London Square. He covers most of the huge front showspace with the footprint of his prefabricated, 150-square-foot hut, which comes in 38 wooden pieces and takes four people five hours to erect. Computer-controlled saws using directions from an AutoCAD diagram precisely delineate the basic geometric forms, which Fleishman notches for doors, stairs, and windows. Several models of the work stand nearby and precut wooden chairs going for up to $1,800 apiece dot the room. Modern materials and fabrication techniques are turning even what could be cheap architecture into a designer's dream. Fleishman is only hinting at some of the possibilities. (Through June 18 at 560 2nd St., Oakland; or 510-839-2787.)


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