On the Wall 

Our critics weigh in on local art.

For complete up-to-date East Bay art listings, look under Billboard on the home page for the "Select Category" pulldown, then select "Art Galleries" or "Museums."

The Black Dahlia Show -- Don't worry about possible gore at this tribute to the infamous wannabe actress who got diced in half during 20th-century Hollywood's most famous murder. The 21 Grand crew turns away from the gruesome details toward the kernel of anomie and failed dreams that have made the Dahlia story resonate through the years. Desolate Southern Californian parking lots, yards, washes, and children stare out at viewers in this minor exhibit. Largely photographic and video, the show offers ten prints, three videos, and a palpable sense of dashed dreams and desperation. -- D2 (Through Jan 30., 449-B 23rd St, Oakland; 21Grand.org or 510-444-7263.)

Deconstruction Development -- The roaring traffic and crosswalk chirps of downtown Oakland perfectly complement the gritty, minimalist work of Hugo McCloud currently showing at the Joyce Gordon gallery. McCloud's ten-piece exhibit focuses on the forsaken textures and materials of post industry. Measuring six feet by six feet, the green-rusted Untitled goes for $8,800 and looks as if it weighs that much in raw, corroded copper. McCloud applies road tar, metal grating stencils, and a crisscrossing nylon undercarpet material to the 36-square-foot canvas of copper sheets. Oxidized and charred with tar splashes, the repetitive grate stencils hold the abstract minimalist piece together. It's enlightening art from your own backyard -- assuming you live at an abandoned Caltrans construction depot. -- D2 (Through Jan. 23 at 406 14th St., Oakland; 510-465-8928.)

Grids and Reflections -- Beautiful abstract art hides in the mundane world of everyday objects. The East Bay's Art Levit locates and captures those forms in nineteen color giclée photographic prints of urban scenes and geological formations. Brick facades hold exquisite decomposing linear patterns. Colorful, corroding pipes replace those boring, abstract color swaths in corporate offices. Is there some type of creativity coded into the everyday patterns of our lives? The stacks of wooden pallets and piles of compressed plastic recyclables whisper yes, while Levit is all ears. -- D2 (Through Jan. 22 at the Photolab Gallery, 2235 Fifth St., Berkeley; 510-644-1400.)

What's Going On? -- The curators of the Oakland Museum's ambitious new show about the Vietnam War era in California tell not one story but many. Along with a more straightforward chronology of the war itself, the show juxtaposes opposing voices. The accompanying audio tour is crucial to the viewer's appreciation, but sadly, to get to often-riveting first-person accounts, patrons have to listen to a tedious summation of events relayed by an anonymous narrator. -- B.K. (Through Feb. 27; MuseumCA.org or 510-238-2200.)



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    Our critics weigh in on local art.
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