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John Vias 

When: Dec. 28-Jan. 22 2012
Price: free

BayVAN has begun exhibiting in the pristine lobby gallery of a new downtown apartment building. Its current show features John Vias' elegant night photographs depicting silent, deserted EastBay locales. The satisfying compositions and saturated color from his long exposures -- matters of informed guesswork and fallback bracketing -- in pieces like "Large Boat Winch," "Wall and Hedge," "Fairy Tale Benches," "Tracks and Field," "Shiny Door," and "Bench and Poles" are theatrical and romantic despite the apparent human absence. Vias: "Night brings on a curfew, emptying streets and sidewalks. The even sunlight of the day gives way to dramatic pools of light, creating impromptu stages where the actors never arrive. ... Time is compressed, movement is frozen. What's left is stillness and quiet." As he notes, the resulting scenes are familiar, yet strange. Maya Kabat's urban-abstraction paintings are also on view. John Vias runs through Jan. 22 at Domain (1389 Jefferson St., Oakland). 510-689-1866 or BayVAN.org

— DeWitt Cheng

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