Craft Masters

The California College of Arts and Crafts' Institute opened "Undercurrents and Overtones," a show of contemporary abstract painting, last week at the Oliver Arts Center. By the time this exhibit is in full swing the Institute, headed by ex-Berkeley Arts Museum Curator Lawrence Rinder, will be hosting shows in four different galleries, a public lecture series, and artist residencies on both its Oakland and San Francisco campuses.

Although abstract painting and the ideas surrounding it -- its representation of reality, emotion, and space -- have been around since the beginning of the century, they are still heavily debated. This show speaks to some of these issues as well as addressing abstract painting's deep ties to spirituality. In the absence of representational forms, viewers are forced to focus or meditate on the surfaces of the canvas, and the artist's use of space and colors.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an Aboriginal painter, shows her work Yam Dreaming. Thick, lyrical yellow, green, and white brush strokes overlap on a barely seen black background. The result evokes a windblown field of vegetation set against the infinite space of the universe, the color field seeming to exist far beyond the confines of the canvas. A majority of the 11 other local, national, and international artists participating in the show will be speaking on Wednesday nights on CCAC's Oakland campus throughout the duration of the exhibit, which closes Nov. 14. The Oliver Arts Center is located at 5212 Broadway (at College) in Oakland. Admission to the gallery is free; call (510) 594-3650.

-- Marcy Freedman

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