In the Galleries 

Our critic reviews local visual arts exhibitions.

The Art of Food — K Gallery, in Alameda's newly opened Rhythmix Cultural Center, is hosting a food-themed exhibit. Works by six artists are on display, some tending more toward grotesque fascination than reverence, some purely irreverent. Janet Delaney's photographs bring into focus the abjection of food: discarded bits of chopped meat, a spoon digging into disturbingly fleshy fruit. Gail Skoff's black-and-white photos of produce call to mind those inelegant human zones we tend to keep covered up. And yet the lushness of the objects is also fully apparent, and Delaney and Skoff's eye for light and texture draws you into these gorgeous grotesqueries. Guy Diehl and Wendy Yoshimura show, on the other hand, a reverence for fruit's ripe beauty — Diehl's in homage to Renaissance still life, Yoshimura's through shimmeringly rendered watercolor prints of fruit in glass bowls. Charlene Milgrim's piece brings the most irreverent of foods into the gallery, displaying four Jell-O molds of the continental United States (one bright blue, three lurid red) atop a map of the world. (Through July 29 at Rhythmix Cultural Center, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda; or 510-845-5060.)

Black/White and Color — The current show at Esteban Sabar Gallery features Douglas Light, Michele Hofherr, and Albert Hwang, all of whose works do, indeed, play with the question of color — or the lack thereof. Hwang's pieces are composed of thick layers of blacks, whites, silvers, and radiant color, splattered and streaked across the canvas like some far corner of the universe. "The Chaotic Nuance" — featuring stripes of black and white with touches of silver — is a cross between a blurry film strip and time or space standing still. Hofherr's black-and-white photographs feature intimate images of flowers; while it might seem a little too Georgia O'Keefe at first, the clarity of the prints allows the floral equivalent of warts and all to be brought into relief. Light layers over the clean lines of geometric shapes with the untidiness of dripping paint, all in vivid reds, oranges, and pinks. (Through July 2 at 480 23rd St., Oakland; or 510-444-7411.)

Constructions — Each artist in this Berkeley Art Center show uses a combination of found objects and the usual artists' tools (gesso, paint, acrylics) to create pieces that speak to "memory, loss, whimsy, regret." Thomas Morphis creates a layered effect by attaching images atop and behind thick glass panes, producing what he terms a "subtle 3-dimensionality." The strong verticals in his works allude to the struggle that the series is named for: "Peniel" — the site where Jacob wrestled with the angel. Some of Marya Krogstad's pieces are almost lovely in their sarcasm (the sculptural "Pouring Strings" is a sensuous waterfall of polypropylene film, fishing line, and cotton string), but the clanging note of anger that underlies her pieces can be a bit like fingernails on a blackboard. (Through July 1 at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., Berkeley; or 510-644-6893.)

Demolition or "Civic Pride Through Civic Improvement" — This exhibition at the Oakland Main Library commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of urban renewal in Oakland. It features archival documents detailing the many attempts to economically and aesthetically improve the city. From Governor Earl Warren's Redevelopment Act of 1945 to 2005 proposals to improve the waterfront, the exhibit demonstrates that dry mix of hope, financial incentive, competing senses of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement, and ultimate discouragement that characterizes so many not-quite-realized grand urban projects. (Through September 15 at 125 14th St., Oakland; or 510-328-3222.)

Excavations — Johansson Projects, the newest gallery space in downtown Oakland, hosts this homage both to nature's infinitely complex creations and the infinite imagination of the artist. Misako Inaoka's moss sculptures — the green and pleasant land of "Moss Ceiling" and the fuzzy tactility of "Moss Block" — are both attractive and slightly creepy, as are her Frankensteinian birds, which include those double-headed or double-tailed, or with flowers or push pins sprouting from their heads, tweeting tinnily as you walk by. Scott Oliver's "The Valley" is a gorgeous if unwieldy piece. Formed entirely from an overstuffed chair he found at the dump, it features a studiously rendered wall sculpture of Hetch Hetchy. The innards of the chair form the striated cliffs, the faded green fabric is torn into tiny trees, and all spill from the destroyed chair that almost invites you to take a seat. Also worth the visit are Yvette Molina's oil renderings of flora painted onto sheets of aluminum and Andrew Benson's acrylic landscapes patchworked into chaos. (Through June 30 at 2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; or 415-999-9140.)

Excavations, continued — Johansson Projects' "Excavations" show continues into Ego Park's gallery space, featuring works by Mark Brest van Kempen, John Roloff, and Lewis de Soto. These artists take aim more pointedly at municipal "nature" projects. Van Kempen's more-tongue-in-cheek work includes "Bad Weather Zone," a model for an area in which bad weather — complete with lightning, thunder, and downpours — would suddenly and periodically unleash itself on motorists, and "Free Tree." The latter is a small tree in a wooden box on wheels, a small notice declaring that it has "had all legal ownership relinquished and does not belong to any person or entity." De Soto and Roloff's work includes plans for the Estuary Lake Merritt Channel Project (which have been submitted as part of an actual proposal), and includes a tank with reflected roman lettering, sediment, and a barnacle or two. (Through June 30 at 492 23rd St., Oakland; or 415-999-9140.)


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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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