In the Galleries

Our critics review local visual arts exhibitions.

The Art of Food — K Gallery, in Alameda’s newly opened Rhythmix Cultural Center, is hosting a food-themed exhibit. Works by six artists are on display, some tending more toward grotesque fascination than reverence, some purely irreverent. Janet Delaney’s photographs bring into focus the abjection of food: discarded bits of chopped meat, a spoon digging into disturbingly fleshy fruit. Gail Skoff’s black-and-white photos of produce call to mind those inelegant human zones we tend to keep covered up. And yet the lushness of the objects is also fully apparent, and Delaney and Skoff’s eye for light and texture draws you into these gorgeous grotesqueries. Guy Diehl and Wendy Yoshimura show, on the other hand, a reverence for fruit’s ripe beauty — Diehl’s in homage to Renaissance still life, Yoshimura’s through shimmeringly rendered watercolor prints of fruit in glass bowls. (Through July 29 at Rhythmix Cultural Center, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda; or 510-845-5060.)

Bridal Fantasies: The Fashion of Dreams — Lacis Museum is not precisely a museum — it is a shrine to all things lace: a shop, a library, an exhibit hall, a history lesson. Playing on a small screen is a video, How to Make a Victorian Corset; lace doilies and veils shroud the walls; tatters tat away in a library nook; and tucked away in a back room full of delicate wedding laces is the current exhibit. A dozen wedding dresses and accoutrements outline a bridal history from the 1850s to the 1930s. We learn that Queen Victoria was the first to wear what we now think of as a traditional white wedding gown (in 1840); gaze upon folds of luxurious cloths and the sparkle of thousands of tiny beads; and glimpse wedding-night garters, bras, and intricate silken robes. These garments are as much testimonies to painstaking work and delicacy of craft as they are to the questionable power of the bridal fantasy and the price one will pay to live out one’s own. (Through August 4 at 2982 Adeline St, Berkeley; or 510-843-7290.)

Demolition or “Civic Pride Through Civic Improvement” — This exhibition at the Oakland Main Library commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of urban renewal in Oakland. From Governor Earl Warren’s Redevelopment Act of 1945 to 2005 proposals to improve the waterfront, the exhibit demonstrates that dry mix of hope, financial incentive, competing senses of enfranchisement and disenfranchisement, and ultimate discouragement that characterizes so many not-quite-realized grand urban projects. (Through September 15 at 125 14th St., Oakland; or 510-328-3222.)

Flags and Anthems — Jeff Ray and Katrina Lam have collaborated in Keys That Fit’s latest display. Based on observations the two made of New York’s Roosevelt Island and our own Treasure Island, they are attempting to explore the idea of patriotism on one of its smallest scales — the sense of belonging and loyalty one has for an island in the midst of a city. While this concept is rife with possibilities, Ray and Lam have not much capitalized on them, and the early version of the show consists of a haphazard and rudimentary island constructed of plywood, a few proposed flags, and a handwritten project proposal taped to the window. The artists promise to expand their piece, adding elements throughout its tenure, including “site notes, correspondence, scores for anthems, etc.” and culminating in a musical performance of anthems of the artists’ own composing on July 21. (Through July 27 at 2318 Telegraph Ave., Oakland.)

Nancy Flores — No, you haven’t walked into an exhibit of Jack Vettriano’s lesser-known works. Java Rama Coffee Shop is showing Nancy Flores’ paintings, which demonstrate her fascination with glamour and a dancer’s appreciation for the svelte and muscular female form. The subjects of the paintings fill the frames but never look directly at the viewer, thus drawing your attention to a well-formed back, the trim outlines of a tiny belly, or the streamlined shape of a deceptively powerful calf. (Through August 31 at 1333 Park St., Alameda; 510-523-2116.)

Paved Paradise: Perspectives on (Human) Nature by Contra Costa Youth — The Bedford Gallery in Walnut Creek is showing all entries in this open art contest for Contra Costa County high school students. Predictably, there is a hefty contingent of knowing critique of capitalism, racism, and environmental degradation — the blue-and-green Earth makes frequent appearances as victim in parables of human nature’s more destructive tendencies. Yet, there are some mature and impressive works from these young artists. Juan Becerra’s “Skyline Past” uses the brightest of cherry reds in his juxtaposition of the tail-end of a Nissan Skyline and the Aztec pictographic wheel depicting the creation of the world; Caroline Grape’s video essay “Parallel” showcases impressive production quality as it pairs images of first-world wealth and consumerism (a smiling white nuclear family with mini-mansion and lush lawn) with third-world penury and want (an African family clustered among lean-to shelters and dust). (Through July 22 at 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek; or 925-295-1417.)

Revisions/Recoverings — At the Magnes Museum, Amy Berk has transformed her grandmother’s table linens into glinting canvases of a melancholy nostalgia. She has taken tablecloths and stitched together napkins and stretched them over frames as if creating canvases awaiting the brush. Yet the images are already there on the surface — silken glimmers of floral designs, repeating monograms, and lacy patterns, as well as the irregular mottling of ancient food and wine stains. Berk likens these to the marks of the potter’s hands, calling the ghostly participants of long-ago suppers to their place as artists of everyday life. Her pieces are juxtaposed with two artifacts from the museum’s collection, a festival Kiddush cloth from 1745 and a Torah binder from 1814; she also calls our attention to the stains on these fabrics — not as blemishes, but as marks of living history. She wants to remind us that “art-making [is] inseparable from living … the line between the sacred and the profane is threadbare.” (Through August 5 at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St, Berkeley; or 510-549-6950.)

Summer Breeze in Paint — The two-year-old Artscape is located in a small house with a large backyard. This “gallery and sculpture garden” doubles as a high-end art shop, and thus leans toward interesting but largely unchallenging works. Leslie Safarik’s clay cats are scattered about the place, as are Mitch La Plante’s oversize glass fruits and vegetables and Archie Held’s $8,000 fountains. There are also nice surprises, such as John Oldani’s found-object art, and David Mudgett’s steel spiders. (Through August 9 at 1161 Alpine Rd., Walnut Creek; or 925 944 1544.)

Three — Berkeley’s Guerilla Cafe is showing works by emerging Bay Area artists Samira Idroos, Sylvia La, and Chun Mui Miller. La’s largest portrait was one of the standouts at Pro Art’s Open Studios preview. It shows a young Asian woman surrounded by hazy icons of Chineseness: a junk, a jumping carp, small lotus flowers, etc. Idroos’ abstract paintings are awash in black, with white tally marks scratched into the thick paint. The largest has small streaks of whites, grays, and yellows, and shapely details that vaguely represent the feminine form. Miller’s black-and-white photos of China feature scenes that are simultaneously desolate and claustrophobic, while retaining a worn beauty. In one we see a cluttered alleyway with a small barefoot child receding into the distance; another is an image of an elegant, pagoda-roofed gateway opening onto a field empty but for its patches of weeds. (Through July 29 at 1620 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; or 510-845-2233.)

Support the East Bay Express, local news, donate

Newsletter sign-up

eLert sign-up

broken clouds
53.9 ° F
57 °
52 °
76 %
75 %
63 °
61 °
61 °
59 °
56 °