"Misfit Toys." She looks at you through a haze of arrogance and cry-for-help eye makeup that makes you think of Courtney Love, but her cottony hair and huggable body are jarringly cute. You want to hold her even though you know she'd just pick your pockets. She is Jenny Bird Alcantara's Heroin Doll, one of the brigade of questionable characters in "Misfit Toys," someone's fantastically twisted idea of a holiday art show. Alcantara's fucked-up frill joins other pieces that shouldn't come near children: Kal Spelletich's art, for example, tends to feature randomly slashing blades, fast-moving hammers, and other unsafe mechanical contraptions, and it'll be interesting to see his idea of a plaything. Additional contributors include steel-and-glass queen Bella Hagen, trash-revival master Al Honig, and painter/bartender Jack Yaghubian. Through Jan. 8 at Varnish, 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 222-6131 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed Dec. 8.

Also Showing


ArtHaus. "Inside Stories": Group show to celebrate the gallery's new location. Through Dec. 31. 411 Brannan (at Third St.), 977-0223.

ARTworkSF. "Peace, Joy, Love, Art": Group show with the work of 30 artists. Opening reception is Dec. 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. Through Jan. 6, 2005. "Simple Geometry": Group show emphasizing geometric forms. Through Jan. 8, 2005. 69 Green (at Front), 673-3080,

Brian Gross Fine Art. "Recent Work": New work by Phil Sims. Through Jan. 29, 2005. "fire/light/color/matter: paintings and tea bowls from 2004": Solo exhibition by minimalist painter Phil Sims. Through Jan. 29, 2005. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 788-1050.

Buzz Gallery. "John Nielson: From Then to Now": Etchings, paintings, and ink drawings from the past and present. Through Jan. 2, 2005. 2316 Telegraph (at Valley), Oakland, (510) 465-4073.

Cachi Art Studio & Gallery. "Shy Girls": New work by women artists. Through Dec. 31. 312 Valencia (at 14th St.), 863-8312.

The Canvas Cafe and Gallery. "The Gift Giving Show": Original art, priced for gift-giving. Through Jan. 6, 2005. 1200 Ninth Ave. (at Lincoln), 504-0060,

City Art Gallery. "Affordable Art": Group show with more than 30 local emerging artists. Opening reception is Dec. 3 from 7 to 10 p.m. Through Jan. 30, 2005. 828 Valencia (at 19th St.), 970-9900,

Gallery 16. "A Look Forward and Back: Ten Years of Gallery 16": Work by Deborah Oropallo, Rex Ray, Libby Black, Rebeca Bollinger, Harrell Fletcher, Amy Franceschini, Lynn Hershman, Barry Gifford, David Perry, bell hooks, Shaun O'Dell, Scott Hewicker, Cliff Hengst, Wayne Smith, Stefan Kirkeby, Jamey Garza, Michelle Grabner, Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson, Lowell Darling, Carol Selter, Peter Koch, Rudy VanderLans, Jock McDonald, Griff Williams, and others. Opening reception is Nov. 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. Through Dec. 31. 1616 16th St. (at Rhode Island), 626-7495.

Golden Gate Park, Conservatory of Flowers. "Snapshots and Souvenirs: 125 Years of the Conservatory of Flowers": The Conservatory celebrates the innumerable photos taken on its premises with this exhibit, culled from the personal collections of Bay Area residents. Through Dec. 31. Free-$5. 100 JFK (at Stanyan), 666-7001,

Gregory Lind Gallery. "and now they aren't. but they are": Group show featuring the work of Sarah Bostwick, Chris Corales, Sharon Engelstein, Jim Gaylord, Seth Koen, Bob Matthews, Christian Maychack, Stacy Renee Morrison, Asuka Oshawa, Mel Prest, Amy Rathbone, Cristi Rinklin, Barbara Takenaga, Jonathan Tucker, and Frank Yamrus. Through Jan. 8, 2005. 49 Geary (at Kearny), Fifth Fl., 296-9661.

Hang Annex. "Holiday Splendor Group Show": New work by local artists. Opening reception is Dec. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. Through Jan. 3, 2005. 567 Sutter (at Mason), 544-0610.

Hang Gallery. "Recent Places": New work by Tjasa Owen. Opening reception is Dec. 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. Through Jan. 3, 2005. 556 Sutter (at Mason), 434-4264.

In Color 2. "Caitlin Atkinson": Recent large-scale photographs. Through Dec. 24. 2475 Third St. (at 22nd St.), 861-3997,

Jack Hanley Gallery. "Vince Roark: New Work": Geometrical drawings, paintings, and photographs. Opening reception is Dec. 9 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Through Jan. 1, 2005. 395 Valencia (at 15th St.), 522-1623.

James Nicholson Gallery. "Hadi Tabatabai & Dustin Yellin": New work. Opening reception is Dec. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Through Dec. 22. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 397-0100,

Jenkins Johnson Gallery. "Small Works": Group show. Through Jan. 8, 2005. 464 Sutter (at Powell), 677-0770,

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. "Our Mother Mary Found": New work by Beth Grossman. Through March 31, 2005. 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200.

Joyce Gordon Gallery. "Deconstruction Development": Mixed media on metal by Hugo McCloud. Through Jan. 23, 2005. 406 14th St. (at Franklin), Oakland, 510-465-8928.

La Maison des Artistes. "The Rhythm & Culture of Art": Paintings by Bernard-Emmanuel Beneito. Opening reception is Dec. 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. Daily. 333 Hayes (at Franklin), 621-4813,

Lisa Dent Gallery. "Wonderland": New work by Marcia Kure. Through Dec. 30. 660 Mission (at Annie), 975-0860,

Lo-Fi Customs. "Score!": New paintings by René Garcia Jr. Opening reception is Dec. 9 from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Through Jan. 8, 2005. 1776 Mission (at 14th St.), 861-0500,

Lola Gallery. "Dark Skies": New landscape paintings by Ian Sheldon. Through Jan. 22, 2005. "Swank": Group show and art sale. Opening reception is Dec. 4 from 4 to 8 p.m. Through Jan. 22, 2005. 2517 Mission (at 21st St.), 401-6800.

Main Library. "Digging Deep: Underneath San Francisco Public Library": Display of archeological remains pulled from the library site. Through Dec. 31. "Documenting the Damned": Pauline Chu's photographs of China's Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydroelectric project. Through Feb. 3, 2005. 100 Larkin (at Grove), 557-4277,

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