This oddly-shaped space is directly across from the Oakland City Hall and a few steps from the 12th Street BART station. Aimee Reed juried this selection of a dozen local artists, who work in a rich mix of mediums. "Sophie" and "Elizabeth" (both 2008) are Andrea Land's two c-prints of girl children on the verge of adolescence, caught in an instant of some foreboding. "Complicated and somewhat troubled," is the way Land describes these models; the girls recline or stand, clutching small, indistinct, caterpillar-like dolls. Three vibrant woodcuts by Alexis Babayan are homey East Bay landmarks: advertising signs of a defunct hamburger joint, a liquor store's metal standard, and a haircut joint from the ‘hood. Steve Allen's "Sisyphus" goes right on the nose political, with a ceramic Gulf War soldier rolling a jumbo globe up a pile of scarred, discarded helmets. My political sympathies with the piece aside, it had a regional tang to it, considering how a large Native American shellmound was once a feature of the East Bay. At first glance, the mountain looks like a hill of mollusk shells.
Sculptor Jessica Pezalla's three abstractions from nature include "Chimera" a driftwood, wire and epoxy clay antler shape evolving into a lacy outline, perhaps of a many-lobed cactus.
Alanna Risse's two oil paintings address the riddle of the disappearance of the bees, with hazmat-suited figures posed against patterns of honeycombs and lavender skies. And in the corner, Bill Domonkos' sci-fi landscape DVDs play in loop. "Wormhole" has an inconsolable space girl weeping, as toy cars race around her on an autopia of the future. The artist says this piece demonstrates his "affection for the ineffable, " an affection all these artists share.
*Images: from top to bottom, Photograph of the exhibition, Jessica Pezalla, "Driftings, 2007," driftwood, epoxy clay, 26" x 26" x 4." Noah Sakamoto, "Monte, 2007," torn paper on wood, 4' x 6.' Images in panel, from left to right by artist: Alanna Risse, John Lasey, Bradley Hippa, Jessica Pezalla.
All images courtesy of the artists and Oakland Art Gallery.