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The Cabbage Series 

When: Oct. 5-Nov. 1 2011
Price: free

Everyone knows that cabbage and its cousins, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, and cauliflower, are abundantly good for you, if unexciting. Anthony Holdsworth found that painting cabbages had health benefits, too. When his brother died this summer, Holdsworth returned to his Oakland garden and produced seven oils of four cabbage heads at various stages of development. They gradually came to symbolize the four surviving members of his family, with three fortuitous butterflies representing the departed. Holdsworth: "Only afterwards did I realize that they could represent my mother, father, and brother, all now passed on. Of course, I would resist too literal an interpretation." Non-Holdsworthsians will see closely scrutinized plants, graphically rendered with touches of sky blue and sun yellow, more than mere vegetables -- perhaps symbols of nature's resplendent vitality, like the sunflowers and cypresses of that Dutch butterfly. The Cabbage Series runs through Nov. 1 at Caffe 817 (817 Washington St., Oakland). 510-271-7965 or Caffe817.com

— DeWitt Cheng

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