Chicks Awry 

Extra spice at Oakland Art Gallery


The Oakland Art Gallery's "Out of Line" exhibition will feature six Bay Area artists, all female and all irreverent, ingenious, and "out there." Underneath their varied media and styles, they share a common disdain for the conventions of fine art and female stereotypes, incorporating elements of lowbrow, outsider, folk, and funk into each of their working processes. You can tell that they've been heavily steeped in popular culture, and probably appreciated cute and girly things from an early age. Isis Rodriguez specifically mentions Hanna-Barbera cartoons among her primary artistic inspirations, and Nancy Mizuno Elliott was raised to share her mother's penchant for such traditionally female crafts as sewing and knitting. Constance Maher's single-frame vignettes, featuring a pigtailed girl and her bunny, are structured much like individual frames from a comic strip.

But none of the finished works are as darling as they might sound. Maher's rabbit and girl, for instance, are always caught in the middle of some insane act of mayhem. Chainsaws, axes, bondage gear, knives, and penises appear everywhere. Whips crack, blood flows, and it's more painful than funny or cute (unlike, for instance, a Roadrunner cartoon). Blood drips all over Katy Krantz' canvases, too. Her "Ladylike" series features not only roses and lace, but also all kinds of messy bodily fluids. Krantz is ostensibly trying to dress them up (putting angel's wings on pubic hair, or arranging fallopian tubes into heart shapes), but underneath it all she's really reveling in the uncontainability of women's bodies, despite our culture's desperate efforts to keep them pristine and controlled.

Krantz is also commenting more generally on the ridiculousness of most cultural constructions of femininity. She accomplishes it through the simultaneous use of shock and humor; it's a combination that runs through many of the other works in the show, especially those by Nancy Mizuno Elliott. In addition to organizing the exhibition, Elliott will be making two Sharpie drawings directly on the gallery wall: I Promise to Make You Feel More Alive will be a picture of a prom couple with the boy holding a knife to the girl's neck, and Gender Outlaws with Abandoned Dogs will be a self-portrait with her boyfriend when they were young and, she says, "very androgynous."

There's an opening reception Thursday between 5 and 8 p.m., and the show runs through Aug. 23. The Oakland Art Gallery is located at 199 Kahn's Alley. 510-637-0395. -- Lindsey Westbrook


Hippie Hills

WorldFest in Grass Valley

Grab your tie-dyed socks and chrome bong, man, it's time for California WorldFest, the annual woodsy world-music walkabout descended from the Chico World Music Festival, Thursday through Sunday at the fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Camp out under the dark stars and catch the vibe with bluesman Robert Cray, African salsero Ricardo Lemvo, Balkan Cabaret, Mamadou Diabate from Mali, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser, the acoustic Waifs, and tons more. Massage and tai chi too. Tix from or 530-891-4098. -- Kelly Vance


Totally Organic

Dr. Lonnie Smith traded in his Apple cap and double knits for a turban and maharaja threads, but he never lost his facility with a groove. Joey DeFrancesco (right) jammed with and challenged his fellow Philadelphian Jimmy Smith, past master of the Hammond B-3 organ, and finally proclaimed himself The Champ. The B-3 is an instrument for showoffs and cutting contests are part of the scene, so when the Guru of Groove meets the Goodfella in a heavyweight organ bout, look out. Dr. Lonnie and Joey go eight rounds with each other Thursday through Sunday (two shows per day) at Yoshi's, backed by guitarist Craig Ebner and drummer Byron Landham. 510-238-9200 or -- Kelly Vance


Board of Art

As skateboard wheels worked the pavement outside downtown Napa's Off the Preserve! gallery, en route to Napa Skatepark, gallery staff's wheels started turning, too. The result is The Board Show , a summertime showcase for surfboards, snowboards and, of course, skate decks as art. Entries come from artists and enthusiasts as far away as Van Nuys (dude), and collectors Kevin King, Jock McDonald, and Frank Davi Jr. have loaned works. There are plenty of events associated with the show, which runs through August 10, including tonight's skater flick screenings from 6 to 9 p.m. Off the Preserve! is located at 1142 Main St., Napa. Call 707-253-8300 for more info -- Stefanie Kalem


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