This Thursday the San Francisco Art Dealers Association (SFADA) has turned its annual "Introduction Shows" into a larger affair, dubbed "A Summer Evening Art Walk." The event includes shows and artists talks at 21 different galleries and nonprofit spaces in the downtown area. Things get under way at 5 p.m. at the Jewish Museum, 121 Steuart (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-7498. One of the most interesting shows of the walk is at Stephen Wirtz Gallery (49 Geary, 433-6879). In Jennifer Starkweather's paintings, repeating grand arcs, squiggles, and crazy-eight shapes look like they were inscribed by a spinning top. Her demure palette -- the fading blacks and grays of printers' inks and beeswax -- marks the artist's Shadow Series, which abstracts the images of tree shadows from photographs. Starkweather breaks away from these faint, almost blurred conceptions in a few of her large-scale drawings, using both bold and fading blues on paper. Also in the show: new work from Kevin Jones. Both exhibits are up through Aug. 1.
Two great shows that aren't part of the SFADA walk take place Thursday night. Both are at younger galleries that've chosen to remain independent of the SFADA. Hosfelt Gallery (95 Federal, Second Floor, 495-5454): Although he's German, Stefan KYrten creates a picture-perfect window onto our contemporary suburban landscape. Using a background of wallpaper patterns, KYrten overlays smallish glimpses of treeless suburban manses and puffy sports cars and SUVs; the result is a simultaneous looking-out-from and looking-out-at suburban existence. His deep teals, faint blushes of yellow, phosphorescent greens, and grape purples have a sophisticated tie-dyed feel. Ben Prince continues to shroud and enlighten us with new tidbits of things that he's been going through in his new show of works on paper titled "For Painting Lessons Call: Vinnie 718.802.1386." Prince paints the backgrounds of these small pieces with a mixture of muted yellow, pink, and green ink and acrylic wash, the colors of a clothesline full of faded baby laundry. Decorative motifs and goofy, creepy bunnies and elephants precariously hang out all over the landscape. Flames fly out of buildings and off the sides of letters to spark the imagination, while destruction haunts the work in the form of decay and dirt (like icky hair strands). If you see the show and get the urge to uncover more about this postmodern fable, you can get some additional critical (and humorous) commentary by calling Vinnie at (718) 802-1386. Both exhibits are up through Aug. 15.
Refusalon (20 Hawthorne, 546-0158): Although Refusalon has never joined the SFADA, its high-minded, pun-definitely-intended aesthetic is the equal of anything in that bunch. The group show "Open Container" brings together eight artists whose work shares the concept of creating meaning amid a hallowed cultural landscape. In the heated local debate between conceptual and representational art, Guy Overfelt brings a bit of each to his post-studio, formalist, gag-centered oeuvre. A recent performance began with Overfelt, with his car at the side of a freeway, pouring bleach on the asphalt and then peeling out, raising a bitchin' cloud of smoke in the process. Overfelt actually got busted by the pigs! and went to court. He turned the entire experience into his current show here, complete with a videotape of the freeway burnout, a stack of copied "Notice to Appear" citations, and even watercolor sketches from courtroom artists he hired for the occasion. "Open Container" is up through Aug. 29.