Local Angle 

Twenty-five artists do This Town.

Recently the San Francisco Chronicle ran a host of puffy lifestyle articles to showcase its new version of Herb Caen's beloved fishwrap. A whole week on the fog (in literature, in movies, in mixology), however, seemed excessively self-congratulatory — even for SF's anxious navel-gazers. Really, folks, the "Best Place on Earth" is not so bad; stop protesting so much. Astonishing natural beauty, a diverse mix of races and cultures, an innovative/creative spirit, and a live-and-let-live attitude — what's not to like? Get over yourselves.The spirit of place is in no way the theme of This Town, now at Eclectix Gallery, much less boosterism, but the show does provide a snapshot, albeit subjective, of the locale and its denizens. The region is depicted in Don Albonico's architectural photos; Alicia DeBrincat's oil still life; Larry Jones' humorous, mysterious photos; Eric Joyner's street scene oils; Joanna Kate's watercolor of foliage and pavement; Boris Koordrin's panoramic but deliberately anti-"scenic" oil and acrylic, with houses, trees, bridge, and mountains and sky depicted as overlapping planes, like stage flats; John Seabury's satiric silkscreen depiction of the nightly San Pablo flesh parade; Strephon Taylor's oil of a drive-in burger joint near the Grand Lake Theater; and Katherine Westerhout's digital photos of abandoned industrial buildings. Pride of place goes to Paul Graf's relief sculpture, You've Been Framed," with its matrix of half-excavated "Noirville" fossils: lottery tokens, insects, guns, Legos, saw blades, keys, and tiny anonymous human figures — along with what appears to be a Maltese Falcon statuette. Bay Area people are portrayed in Crystal Morey's elegantly eccentric ceramic nude figures; Strephon Taylor's dark, congested fantasy acrylic paintings of Anton Lavey, founder of the Church of Satan in San Francisco, playing the organ surrounded by pet lion and snake, and in a Hell's Angels bar scene imagined by, say, Hunter S. Thompson and Ivan Albright; Cynthia Tom's feminist-surrealist acrylic about floating uprooted and rootless; and Peter Tonningsen's black-and-white photos of a refined art lady, Latino cowboys,  a bike messenger, and a bare-chested rocker. Also showing: Tonningsen's Flotsam & Jetsam, scans of objects scavenged from the beach and sorted by color or function into 3x3 tic-tac-toe arrays: nostalgia meets conceptualism. Both shows run through August 16 at Eclectix (10082 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito). Eclectix.com or 510-364-7261

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