Bikes of a bygone era


Jeannie Lydon paints pictures of outdated transportation: high-wheel tricycles, velocipedes, and fastbacks. Faster, more streamlined ways of getting around have slowly replaced these clunky old machines, but there's still something timeless, an essential "classy" quality, about them. Technological advances may have made bicycles faster, lighter, and safer, but they also stripped out an element of their character. There's just something about hand-wrought iron that doesn't feel the same when it's translated into aluminum or carbon fiber.Lydon is not only a well-known local artist but also a co-partner in the Door.7.Gallery, a mobile art space that currently lacks a permanent home but has nevertheless garnered a loyal following. Her exhibition opens at EPOCH Frameworks and Gallery (2284 Fulton St., Berkeley, 510-849-4595) on Monday and runs through December 13. It will be followed by a group show featuring local artists Jesse Allen, Adrienne Miller, and Kathleen Flannigan.

Lydon's vivid colors and the relentless focus of her artistic vision make her paintings powerful and unmistakable for anyone else's. She chooses her canvases carefully; often they're thick, almost brick-shaped, evoking something of the heaviness and substantiality of the old-fashioned metal bicycles they depict. They're also a little like time capsules, not only for their container-like shapes, but also for their rough and patchy painted surfaces, as if time and the elements have actually weathered them. Numerals in the background, hand-painted in the shape of antique letterforms, suggest old maps, as do the crisscrossing lines she paints, which don't seem to be tracing routes so much as marking uncharted territory.

The machines recall an era that at first seems impossibly long ago, but was actually more like an antique (but absolutely recognizable) version of our world today; fantastic as it may sound, the first bicycle trip across America was made on an old two-wheeler just like these, with the big front wheel. Lydon evokes an analogous sensation by painting the accoutrements of a time that is bygone, but not so much so that it's impossible to imagine ourselves a part of it. There is a real feeling of excitement in her pictures: a sense of delving into something that is unknown, yet distantly remembered -- something we feel capable of relishing without the least bit of alienation. She suggests a moment in our collective past that was perhaps simpler but nearly as sophisticated, and which, arguably, had a lot more character. Hours: Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. -- Lindsey Westbrook

Sun 11/16

Toy Gevalt

Boomers in toyland

We were gonna put this in the kids' section, but decided against it. After all, the Hayward Toy-Disneyana-Train-Doll-Coin-op Show isn't just greasy kid stuff, although there will be toy parts available. The hyphenated extravaganza will feature special guests Ron Dias (a longtime Disney animator) and Margaret Kerry-Wilcox, the original Tinkerbell; 150-plus tables of wares; a toy buyer on duty, and much more. From 10 a.m. till 3 p.m. at Centennial Hall (22292 Foothill Blvd.); admission is $5. Call 510-886-3125 for further details. -- Stefanie Kalem

Fri 11/14

Helping Havana

Since 1995, the Caribbean Medical Transport (a nonprofit, nonpolitical project of the Oakland/Santiago de Cuba Sister City Organization) has been moving medicine and medical supplies to the island nation, and helping Cuban health-care professionals make contact with their peers outside of Cuba. To bolster their efforts, the group is throwing a dance party at the Fellowship of Humanity (390 27th St., Oakland). Feel the heat of Havana with Katalu, a nine-piece Oakland band made up of local schoolteachers, who will throw down three hours of Cuban and Puerto Rican music, followed by a DJ. The party starts at 7 p.m., and suggested donation is $8. 510-393-5685 --Stefanie Kalem

SAT 11/15

Saturday Night Festival

In Urdu, shabfas is a night festival, and while it's a fitting-enough name for an R&B/blues outfit, it was actually an accident -- the name ShabFas was culled from the first letter of the last name of the East Bay band's seven members. But for the month of September, ShabFas is making Saturdays at John Patrick's (1813 Park St., Alameda) into a soulful night fest, anyway. The band plays from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 --Stefanie Kalem


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