In the Galleries 

Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.

Ear Waves — Next to the Mama Buzz Cafe is a storefront-cum-gallery called Keys That Fit. It claims to be a space to view art "without the social borders that arise from having to enter a space." Currently, Matt Volla's "Ear Waves" graces these windows. Not an unattractive piece, it is, perhaps of necessity, limited. "Ear Waves" consists of a series of ink-drawn waves, the largest of which undulate thanks to a series of electric fans. While Volla has an interest in sound, and while the space is equipped to produce it (the last installation, Joshua Churchill's "By Way of Necessity," relied heavily on sound), the waves are sometimes eerily silent — apparently there is a sound accompaniment; it's just not always on. When all the other galleries are closed, and when you're strolling down Telegraph (say, some balmy Monday afternoon), it's worth stopping by. (Through March 31 at 2318 Telegraph Ave, Oakland;

Green — The Frank Bette Center in Alameda prides itself on its support of community artists. Every group exhibit is selected through an open call based on a particular thematic, and artists come with their paintings, photos, pottery, jewelry, and crafts. Some pieces end up fitting the criteria more imaginatively than others — Terry Telles' photo of a Greyhound bus station sign titled "Destination Greener Pastures" is a particularly creative solution to adhering to the current "Green" theme — and every space in the gallery is filled. As you might expect, some of the artworks are more interesting than others, but many of them are extremely technically adept. Patricia Edith's painterly photos are accompanied by mini-tales of the objects they depict, such as "Susan Found This Partially Burned Gideon Bible on the Street," and are well worth seeing. The center, in addition to selling the works, offers a rental program through which individuals and businesses can rent art for a number of months for a fraction of the sale price. (Through March 31 at 1601 Paru St., Alameda; or 510-523-6957.)

Measure of Time — Although all the press is focused on the Berkeley Art Museum's Nauman show, there's another exhibit there worth seeing. "Measure of Time" purports to be a meditation on time and duration; viewers aren't absolutely certain whether this is an excuse to bring out some of the museum's permanent collection, or a cohesive thematic. There are some excellent pieces, including Sol LeWitt's "A Sphere Lit from the Top, Four Sides, and All Their Combinations," Jim Campbell's "Shadow (for Heisenberg)," and Shirley Shor's newly acquired "Landslide." Joseph Stella's "Bridge" joins the avant-garde film Manhatta and Max Weber's "Night" in an homage to the speed and density of the emerging urban landscape of the early 20th century. (Through June 24 at 2626 Bancroft Way; or 510-624-0808.)

Relations — The story of immigration has been told in all manner of ways, but Michaela Yee chooses here to focus on the sartorial. Her collection of paintings is subtitled "Examining the Chinese American Female," and most of the artworks are images of empty clothes, primarily the pleated jumpers over round-collared white shirts of the properly dressed girls of the 1950s. These dresses are occasionally paired with or replaced by the Chinese style of side-buttoned dress, thus making even more overt the immigrant's uneasy position between maintaining tradition and blending in, as represented by dress. In "Christine," the bodies absent in many of the pictures materialize from rows of lotuses that line the bottom of the painting — an arm emerging, or a face. In "Kam," a formal family portrait in which all the faces are blurred and all the staid clothes are of the same drab color, the figure of the small girl in her Americanized dress stands out. (Through April 2 at Julie's Coffee and Tea Garden, 1223 Park St., Alameda; or 510 865-2385.)

Well Hung Boontling Gallery's "Overhung 3" is up — its third nonjuried show of everything anyone drops off. Every inch of its small space is covered by the 238 works — some, as you would imagine, rather better than others. There are a surprising number of bare breasts (perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise?) and the occasional naked penis, and five black-and-white paintings by Mike Terry taken from Bettie Page's wrestling matches (the "Bettie Battles Gwen" series). Dan Nelson's fur-framed "Self-Portrait with Stella in My Birthday Suit," a photograph of the artist lounging naked with his Siamese cat, is a particularly whimsical version of the skin theme, as is Alex Rosmarin's "Coochie Poochie," a cartoonish watercolor of a nude reclining with her puppy and purple cat-eye glasses. There are also less fleshy pieces — Jorge Mascarenhas' Beauty in his "Beauty and the Beast" gazes at the viewer with a hauntingly empty stare, and Tony Speirs' three paintings eerily display the nightmare side of nostalgia and childhood in a tweaked vernacular of advertising. (Through April 15 at 4224 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley; or 510-295-8881.)


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  • In the Galleries

    Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.
    • Sep 5, 2007
  • In the Galleries

    Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.
    • Aug 29, 2007
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