Catharine Clark Gallery
Butterflies build, decorate, and fly about the bodies in Timothy Cummings' clear, vibrant self-portraits, while early American painting meets the Renaissance in their somewhat campy, finely painted and collaged figures. Don't miss The Seamstress' Friend; its rich, stunning surface projects a completely serious, congruous feeling amid an incongruous image of a simply, elegantly cross-dressed young boy. Ted Julian Arnold's sculpture-paintings offer glimpses and pieces from everyday lives being lived. Hats, lips (lots of 'em), eyes, collars, and horse ears -- all are painted on thin bands of wood the artist says are taken from the backs of chairs he acquired while sketching workers in a chair factory. The thickly painted faces and bodies are set off by metallic leafing, some of which on close inspection is revealed to be the product of inspired use of silvery wrappers from Klondike bars. Iris Polos' dense, fearful visual poetry lessons (the poetry written on the wall beneath the drawings) pay homage to William Blake. Richly layered skeletons, bald-headed women, and tigers (tygers!) surround the poker-hot fires of dread and terror. In conjunction with Polos' project, there will be a reading and talk by a Blake scholar on Feb. 28 at the gallery. 49 Geary (at Market), Second Floor. Open Thursday, Feb. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Shows run through Feb. 28. Call 399-1439.
Not that nobody's ever done it before; it's just not done often enough. Geof Oppenheimer, Justin Grahm, and Snowden Becker (the 3 blueLights collective) tracked down the owners of an empty space on 24th Street and begged 'em to utilize it to showcase some fab work. The fruits of their labor is a show to "fill" the empty, commercial space of the former Guadalajara restaurant. The long, wood bar and grill fixture add another layer of movement and meaning to the objects, installations, paintings, and photographs -- 13 artists in all -- that will rest there for the next two months. Look out for Isis Rodriguez's zaftig cartoon cat straddling a semi in space, John Brotzman's floating fat boy, and Kym Kulp's very "spatial" Girlies Were Just Made to Be Loved projected installation. 2981 24th St. (at Harrison). Show opens Friday, Feb. 6, from 7 to 11 p.m., and runs through March. Call 642-7918.
Stephen Wirtz Gallery
There is no place in Todd Hido's "House-Hunting Photographs." The faceless, empty insides and outsides of homes glow by night and day. The large format and graphic nature of these pieces don't exactly give you a "home sweet honey-muffins-baking-in-the-oven-home" feeling, but they do lend themselves to a subtler, and more complex, meditation on domesticity -- something about how the fear of not being let into a warm hearth combines with a contrasting one of being trapped by a constrictive family structure. Collaborators Drew Beattie and Daniel Davidson have been working together since they met as student and teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute in the late '80s. Their recent series of "Hexagon Paintings" features inane, nonsensical characters coming out of overly ordered honeycomb-filled matrices. Airbrushy blushes of heaven and other anonymous color fields peek through the backgrounds. 49 Geary (at Market), Third Floor. Shows open Thursday, Feb. 5, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and run through Feb. 28. Call 433-6879.