What's Happening in East Bay Art 

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."

Bubble Trouble in Doubles -- The Rock Paper Scissors gallery at Telegraph and 23rd avenues in Oakland sells homemade hipster zines and lifestyle accessories such as hand-stitched rubber wallets. Four installations complement its Generation Y wares. Mayumi Hamanaka pins up three-by-five-foot black-and-white poster boards filled with coloring book outlines, then leaves out a bunch of crayons and lets the customers do their worst. Taro Hattori's glam gun installation outshines that idea. Straight from a mothballed Scarface set, Hattori presents a dining room in all-white fur chairs and table with mirrored M-16s and playing cards laying about. More translucent firearms aim out the storefront window and over West Oakland. Snap! (Through December 2 at 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; RPSCollective.com or 510-238-9171.)

The Neighborhood Show -- The two boys at the Boontling Gallery asked their ghetto compatriots for their best work, then dubbed it "The Neighborhood Show" -- featuring thirty pieces of sculpture, painting, and drawings from the 'hood of Telegraph and 43rd. This crew refutes Magritte's "This Is Not a Pipe" principle with representational art both simple and humble. It says, "This is definitely a pipe, and here are some astronauts, fat people, man-giraffe chimeras, crudely drawn skulls, rickshaws loaded with ducks, and African masks made from folded candy cartons." (Through December 4 at 4224 Telegraph Ave., Oakland; BoontlingGallery.com or 707-980-1060.)

Rebirth: New Photos of Armenia, Georgia, and the Former Yugoslavia -- Eastern Europe is the new Western Europe: cheap, inviting, and stocked with young blond locals long gone from convalescent homes like Paris or, egad, London. Vaughn Hovanessian stokes Berkeley's wanderlust for the Easy E with more than two dozen digital prints from parts once behind the Iron Curtain or recently cluster-bombed. Unfortunately, he almost entirely ignores the people -- who are rumored to be both limber and friendly -- for architecture studies that would be laughable had they not looked great and sported awesome names like "Ljubljana Bridge, Dubrovnik," "Mostar Bridge, Bosnia," and "Zagreb, Croatia." Hovanessian gets the best of what these war-torn cities have to offer; now he needs to go back for some people. (Through January 8 at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St.; BerkeleyPublicLibrary.org or 510-981-6100.)

Red-Color News Soldier -- Preglobalization ignorance must've been bliss. The '60s counterculture could comfortably enshrine Mao as a "power to the people"-type thinker while, meanwhile, on mainland China, terror reigned like reverse McCarthyism on crystal meth (you were busted if you were deemed un-Communist, and the purge lasted ten long years). Aspiring cinematographer-turned-news-flack Li Zhensheng captured thousands of these public shamings, kidnappings, and firing squads in black and white. (Through December 17 at Northgate Hall, UC Berkeley)

6X6 -- Alameda installation artist Clint Imboden loves other people's dirty laundry. Not necessarily clothes -- rather, ancient photos, old chest X-rays, and thrown-out letters from abused girls make up this show's bread and butter. A mental health practitioner by trade, Imboden combs flea markets and dumps in his spare time for found objects with some type of emotional resonance. His findings from six years of work appear in this six-piece solo show at the LoBot Gallery. (Through December 2 at 1800 Campbell St. Oakland; LoBotGallery.com or 510-282-2622.)

Trees: A Favorite Subject in Japanese Art -- Auteurs like the Wachowski Brothers (The Matrix) and Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack) love to rip off the visual tropes of traditional Japanese naturalism because of one word: specificity. These more than two dozen old-school Japanese woodcuts aim at one thing per print -- a moonlit stream, a snow-covered bridge, the contrasting patterns of light in a bamboo forest. Action directors love this kind of object fetishism because it's evocative even without the presence of people or action. The Scriptum-Schurman gallery strips away the bullets and bushido blades from pop conceptions of Japanese art, and what's left is just as dynamic and enthralling. (Through December 31 at 1659 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley; Scriptum.com or 510-524-0623.)

The Zine UnBound: Kults, Werewolves, and Sarcastic Hippies -- Do not go to this show without first jacking yourself up on coffee and taking two Valiums. The coffee helps you focus for three hours on the thousands of bizarre drawings, paintings, and installations crammed in this rousing, rambling display of werewolves, nudity, violence, pop culture, color, and collage. (Through December 30 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco; YBCA.org or 415-978-ARTS.)


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