By Joseph Geha
By Jonathan Kiefer
By Katie Tandy
By Mollie McWilliams
By Jennifer Baires
By Jonathan Curiel
By Sherilyn Connelly
"Marking Time." Ever wondered how many strokes it takes to make a painting? Ask Robert Sagerman. Applying dollops of paint with a palette knife, he keeps track of every color and stroke of each of his dense, multicolored, abstract paintings. Inspired by complex cabalistic readings of Jewish scripture -- in which each letter can also be read as a number -- the works have cryptic titles like 49:7,171 and 37:6,702, where the first number refers to the number of colors in the painting and the second documents the number of strokes. For Sagerman, painting is a ritualistic, meditative practice in which the obsessive recording of each decision and gesture is a way to focus and clear the mind. The resulting paintings are suitably contemplative squares or rectangles covered with overlapping layers of hue applied with machinelike regularity. This evenness is disrupted by the irregular edges of the paint and the eye-bending optical sensation created by intense, vibrating color. The chunks of paint are so thick they cast deep shadows, giving the works not only a sense of depth, but also an almost sculptural presence. The effect is something like gazing at a wall covered in ivy: At first it seems mundane, but on closer inspection it reveals subtly seductive patterns. Through July 2 at Brian Gross Fine Art, 49 Geary (between Kearny and Grant), Fifth Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 788-1050 or visit www.briangrossfineart.com. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed May 25.
"New Work: Marilyn Minter." A single ice-blue eye looks uninterestedly into the distance, surrounded by a thick layer of cosmetic lacquer somewhere between the colors of blood and flamingo. It's a beautiful image, but not a happy one: Has the eye been made up to look injured? The photorealist painting in question, LA to NYC, leaves the viewer confused, but unable to look away. It and a slew of other glittering, color-drenched, large-scale photographs and paintings comprise this show, which will probably net the New York artist a raging horde of devoted S.F. fans. Through July 24 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 357-4000 or visit www.sfmoma.org. (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed April 13.
"Robert Bechtle: A Retrospective." The middle-class slopes of Potrero Hill and the suburban roads of Alameda don't exactly scream with picturesque possibility, but painter Robert Bechtle has spent his life turning them into art. Using the mundane as fodder for his masterpieces, Bechtle finds riveting subjects in the most ordinary of things. The everyday-ness of his paintings brings with it a familiarity that is tangible, but the uncanny exactitude of his lines, shadows, and sun rays is what makes his landscapes so realistic and inviting. A Bay Area native with an artistic career that spans half a century, the 72-year-old painter is now having his first major retrospective here in town. Through June 5 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 357-4000 or visit www.sfmoma.org. (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed Feb. 16.
"Spore." Not content with pencils, charcoal, or chalk, Jim Toia creates ethereal, abstract drawings in a most unlikely medium: mushroom spore. The powdery seeds, in gold or silvery white, create dramatic, smoky trails on the specially textured black paper, suggesting wisps of fog or, more fancifully, a swooping poltergeist. The drawings are also reminiscent of X-rays and sunprints (images made by placing objects on light-sensitive paper that's then exposed to the sun). As direct imprints of organic matter, they're something like a science experiment. Toia forages for the mushrooms himself, and often records the names of the places where he finds them in the works' titles. But the images are more than documents of a mushroom gatherer's fancy; they both reference the natural world and evoke an otherworldly mystery. Some pieces, like Rover (Big Sur), look like ghostly versions of floral patterns or prints, while Beauregard suggests a pile of human skulls. Once in a while an imprint of the ridges on a mushroom's underside reveals the spore's origins, but it could just as easily suggest other natural forms, such as jellyfish or insects. Part Rorschach test, part apparition, the drawings are elegant and surprisingly lyrical, reminding us of the mysterious beauty of nature. Through June 4 at the Haines Gallery, 49 Geary (between Kearny and Grant), Fifth Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 397-8114 or visit www.hainesgallery.com. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed May 25.
"Weedee Peepo: Portraits, Icons, y Gente." This first in a series of exhibits commemorating Galería de la Raza's 35th anniversary is a tribute to its community. Although its title is somewhat unfortunate -- a phonetic spelling of an accented "We the people" -- the exhibit is smartly curated given the broad topic and time frame. Representative works from the Galería's founders and key artists span three decades but are carefully selected and arranged to show a remarkable continuity of style and purpose. A classic of feminist and Chicana art, Yolanda López's 1978 Self-Portrait as the Virgin of Guadalupedisplays affinities with Ester Hernández's pastel drawings of prominent Latino women; Barbara Carrasco's 2004 portrait of labor organizer Dolores Huerta takes its clean, graphic style from the activist posters of the '70s. Among the contemporary works, Gabriela Hasbun's color photographs of older Mission District businesses that have survived gentrification are quirky documents of a changing cultural and economic landscape. But you don't have to set foot inside to see the show's most exciting work: Installed in the gallery's storefront windows, Pato Herbert's lenticular photographs -- the faceted technology that turns kitschy images of Jesus into Mary and back again -- convert his black-and-white images of youth into interactive portraits of racial harmony. From a series titled "No Haters Here," the large backlit faces change from black to Latino to Asian as you stroll by. Through June 4 at Galería de la Raza, 2857 24th St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is free; call 826-8009 or visit www.galeriadelaraza.org. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed April 27.
Amaru Gallery. "Expressionist Contemporary Abstracts": New works comprising carpentry and sewing by Victor A. Roldan. Through June 1. 510 Valencia (at 16th St.), 552-3787, site.amarugallery.com/cachondo.htm.
Ampersand International. "Migration": New works on paper by Dharma Strasser MacColl. Through June 17. "(Art) in Everyday Life": New mixed media work by Maiko Sugano. Through June 17. 1001 Tennessee (at 20th St.), 285-0170, www.ampersandintlarts.com.
Artist-Xchange. "May Art Exhibit": A large group show featuring the work of Bay Area artists. Through May 31. 3169 16th St. (at Guerrero), 864-1490, www.artist-xchange.com.
Artseal Gallery. "Fifth Anniversary Exhibition": Curator Adam Gendell celebrates the gallery's fifth anniversary with a group exhibition. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through June 30. Free. www.artseal.citysearch.com. 1847 Larkin (at Pacific), 567-3523.
Catharine Clark Gallery. "Hot": New work by Ray Beldner. Through May 28. "Ignus Fatuus": New work by Anthony DiScenza. Through May 28. 49 Geary (at Kearny) (Second Fl.), 399-1439.
Chinese Historical Society of America. "Trading on Fear: Chinese Images in American Trade Cards": Exhibition of historical advertising trade cards common in the 19th century. Through July 31. 965 Clay (at Stockton), 391-1188.
Fraenkel Gallery. "Obsessions of the Oculist": Curator Sheri Sheridan exhibits a collection of objects and oddities like eye charts, glass eyes, and signs with eyes on them from the first half of the twentieth century. Included is a survey of the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, a Kentucky optometrist/photographer. Through July 1. 49 Geary (at Kearny) (Fourth Fl.), 981-2661.
Gallery 16. "William Laven: War Models": Photography that features in each piece a miniature version of an actual U.S. warplane currently in use over the Middle East at 1/72 the size of the plane it represents. Through June 3. 1616 16th St. (at Rhode Island), 626-7495.
Haines Gallery. "Elements": New paintings by Darren Waterston. Through June 4. 49 Geary (at Kearny) (Fifth Fl.), 397-8114.
Hang Annex. "Fluid": Multimedia group exhibit. Through May 31. 567 Sutter (at Mason), 544-0610.
Hang Gallery. "Essex Girls": New paintings by Stephanie Jucker. Through May 31. 556 Sutter (at Mason), 434-4264.
Heather Marx Gallery. "all in electric lights": New paintings by William Swanson. Through June 11. 77 Geary (at Grant) (Second Fl.), 627-9111.
Hosfelt Gallery. "José Antonio Suárez Londoño": New drawings. Through June 11. "Reed Danziger": New paintings. Through June 11. 430 Clementina (at Fifth St.), 495-5454.
International Museum of GLBT History. "Sporting Life: GLBT Athletics and Cultural Change From the 1960s to Today": A multimedia exhibit chronicling the participation of gay and lesbian people in a wide variety of sports. Through Dec. 31. 657 Mission, No. 300 (at New Montgomery), www.glbthistory.org.
John Pence Gallery. "Dean Larson": Recent oil paintings. Through May 28. "John Patrick Campbell": New paintings. Through May 28. 750 Post (at Jones), 441-1138.
The Lab. "Recording Carceral Landscapes": Mixed media exhibit by Trevor Paglen. Through May 28. 2948 16th St. (at Capp), 864-8855.
Michelle O'Connor Gallery. "By Hand: Mixed-Media Photography": Through May 29. 2111 Mission (at 17th St.), 314-8396.
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. "Art Without Borders/ Arte Sin Fronteras": Group show of young and emerging artists. Through May 27. 2868 Mission (at 25th St.), 821-1155.
Modernism. "Paintings & Drawings From the Broken Promised Land": New work by Tony Hernandez. Through June 18. "Robert Stivers": New work. Through June 18. 685 Market (at Kearny), 541-0461, www.modernisminc.com.
Newmark Gallery. "Essentialism": New paintings by Krzysztofa Zwierz-Ciok. Through May 28. 251 Post (at Stockton), No. 412, 392-3692, www.newmarkgallery.com.
Nob Hill Masonic Center. "The Universe Within: The Human Body Revealed": A science-educational exhibit featuring 200 former human bodies, preserved through the process of plastination. Daily, 11 a.m. $10-$17. www.theuniversewithin.org. 1111 California (at Taylor), 776-4702.
Octavia's Haze Gallery. "Dana Kawano & Remarque Loy": New paintings. Through May 29. 498 Hayes (at Octavia), 255-6818.
Patricia Sweetow Gallery. "Gene Davis: Stripe Paintings From the Estate": Vintage abstract paintings. Through May 28. 49 Geary at Kearny, 788-5126.
Red Ink Studios. Open Portfolio Night: Artists are welcome to sign up a week in advance of this first come, first served event. Last Thursday of every month. 1035 Market (at Sixth St.), 596-4810, www.redinkstudios.com.
Rena Bransten Gallery. "Oliver Boberg": New photography. Through June 11. "Stratagems for Living": New paintings by Jessica Snow. Through June 11. 77 Geary (at Grant), 982-3292, www.renabranstengallery.com.
Robert Koch Gallery. "Paris During the Second Empire": Group photography show featuring the work of Edouard-Denis Baldus, Gustave Le Gray, Julien Villeneuve, and others. Through July 2. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 421-0122.
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. "Stories of the City": Photography from the Sixth Street Photography Workshop. Through July 22. 401 Van Ness (at Larkin), 554-6080, www.sfacgallery.org.
Sargent Claude Johnson Gallery. "Paul Robeson -- Revolutionary Artist": Group exhibition of art and artifacts honoring the life of Paul Robeson. Through July 22. 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-0623.
SF Camerawork at New Langton Arts. "C5 Landscape Initiatives": Group show featuring digital photographs, sculpture, digital video, and a choreographed walk-through of the gallery using hand-held global positioning system devices. Through June 25. 1246 Folsom (at Eighth St.), 863-1001, www.sfcamerawork.org.
The Simmons Gallery. "Latin Diversity": Group show including work by Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Zûñiga, Francisco Ruiz, and Milton Estrella-Gavidia. Through May 31. 565 Sutter (at Mason), 986-2244, www.thesimmonsgallery.com.
SomArts Cultural Center. "Pirated: A Post Asian Perspective": Group show addressing ideas of ownership. Through May 29. 934 Brannan (at Eighth St.), 863-1414, www.somarts.org.
SoulArch Gallery. "Singularities": Photography by Frank Revi. Through June 25. 4033A Judah (at 45th Ave.), 759-4100.
Steven Wolf Fine Arts. "Airplane Narratives": Conceptual art by Charles Gaines. Through May 28. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 263-3677.
Takada Gallery. "Meditations": New work by Sue Dirksen. Through May 28. 251 Post (at Grant), www.takadagallery.com..
Weinstein Gallery/Geary Street. "The Great Spaces of the Mind": Solo exhibtion of paintings by Gordon Onslow Ford. Daily. "Abstract Surrealism to Abstract Expressionism 1940-1965": The first 25 years' worth of work by Gerome Kamrowski. Through June 6. 383 Geary (at Mason), 362-8151.
Museums Asian Art Museum. "In a New Light: The Asian Art Museum Collection": A display of more than 2,500 objects from the museum's permanent collection explores the major cultures of Asia. Daily. Free with museum admission, free-$10. "Shadows, Masks and Music: Aspects of the Performing Arts in Asia": The museum displays a diverse collection of musical instruments, set designs, costumes, and masks that are used in Asian performances. Tuesdays-Sundays. Free-$10. Gallery Tours: Trained museum docents offer both general introductions to the museum's collections as well as tours that highlight special exhibitions. Tuesdays-Sundays, 11, 11:30 a.m., 1 & 2 p.m. Free with museum admission, free-$10. Architectural Tours: Learn about the transformation of the old San Francisco main public library into the Asian Art Museum's new quarters with this regular tour. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays, 12 & 2:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 12, 2:30 & 6:30 p.m. Free with museum admission, free-$10. Asian Art Museum Storytelling: Each weekend the museum leads a family-oriented tour through a particular exhibit, followed up by a retelling of stories related to the exhibits. Sundays, 1 p.m.; First Saturday of every month, 1 p.m. Free with museum admission, free-$10. 200 Larkin (at McAllister), 581-3500, www.asianart.org.
Cable Car Museum. Permanent Exhibit: Located in a historic cable car powerhouse, the museum displays a variety of cable car gear, historic photographs, installations explaining how the cars work, and several antique vehicles. Daily. Free. 1201 Mason (at Washington), 474-1887.
California Academy of Sciences. "Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme": A permanent exhibition that explores the types of environments in the universe that could support life. Daily. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.
Cartoon Art Museum. "Small Press Spotlight Featuring Graham Annable": Voted Best Unknown Local Cartoonist by the SF Weekly, the self-published comic's exhibit includes his Grickle booklets. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through July 24. Free-$6. "Garfield: Meow and Then": A look back at 27 years' worth of comics about the fat, lazy, cynical orange cat. May 28-Sept. 25. Free-$6. Monthly Cartooning Classes for Adults: An intensive monthly workshop for aspiring comic artists, writers, and fans of the medium, taught by a professional cartoonist focusing on an area of his or her expertise. Fourth Saturday of every month, 1 p.m. $40-50. 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), 227-8666, www.cartoonart.org.
Contemporary Jewish Museum. " Scents of Purpose": The museum showcases more than 90 artists interpretations on the spice box, an item that's used in the havdalah, a Sabbath prayer service. Through Sept. 5. Free-$5. 344-8800. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 591-8800, www.thecjm.org.
Exploratorium. "Traits of Life": A major exhibition area with 30 biology exhibits and demonstrations that help visitors understand the fundamental elements common to all living things from humans to amoebas. Daily. Free with museum admission. "Mural-Sized Hubble Space Telescope Images": Two large images of galaxies far, far away. Through May 26. Free with museum admission. 3601 Lyon (at Marina), 397-5673, www.exploratorium.edu.
The Holocaust Center of Northern California. "Holocaust Center of Northern California": The newly opened center's first exhibit showcases its facilities, including a library with more than 15,000 historical volumes, a reading room for screening documentaries and holding educational talks, and ongoing displays of the center's thousands of photographs and artifacts. Tuesdays, Thursdays, 1-6 p.m.; Mondays, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 777-9060, www.holocaust-sf.org.
Legion of Honor. " Artwear: Fashion and Anti-fashion": A retrospective of wearable art spanning 35 years and more than 100 pieces. The show begins its study with crocheted garments worn by 1960s fashionistas and moves through the decades to modern-day haute couture. Through Oct. 30. $2-$12. "Big Kids/Little Kids": Children aged 3 1/2 to 6 years and their parents take a gallery tour and then participate in a related hands-on art activity. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum admission, free-$8. "Doing and Viewing Art": Kids aged 7-12 and their families tour the Legion of Honor's galleries before taking part in a hands-on creative workshop led by a professional artist. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum entrance fee, free-$8. Ford Free Tuesdays: Get in free to the Legion of Honor every Tuesday thanks to a grant from the Ford Motor Company. Tuesdays. Free. 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330.
Museum of Craft & Folk Art. "Puppets From Around the World": Over 100 puppets from around the world are showcased in this exhibit, including hand puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets, and marionettes. Through July 24. Free-$4. 775-0991. www.mocfa.org. "Sanctuary in an Age of Commodity: The Art of Tobi Kahn": The artist's work for this exhibit is inspired by memorial roadside shrines to accident victims around the world. Through July 24. Free-$4. www.mocfa.org. Fort Mason, Bldg. A (Marina & Buchanan), 775-0991.
Pier 45. "Amusing America": The evolution of modern amusement parks and their effects on the American cultural landscape are examined in this conglomeration of photographs, penny-arcade machines, and other ephemera. Daily, 10 a.m. Free. Fisherman's Wharf (Taylor & Jefferson), 552-1266.
San Francisco Fire Museum. Permanent Exhibits: Included among the items on display at this museum are antique fire extinguishers, old uniforms, cast-iron replicas of historic fire engines, hooks, ladders, and other ephemera. Daily. Free. 655 Presidio Avenue (at Bush), 563-4630.
San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum. "150 Years of Dance in California": The exhibit spotlights over a century of dance in the Golden State with photographs, programs, and other ephemera. Daily. "Painted Men: Chinese Opera Backstage": A behind-the-scenes look at Chinese opera through artifacts such as props, costumes, scripts, photographs, and musical instruments. Through June 4. "Maestro!: Photographic Portraits by Tom Zimberoff": The artist captures a generation of national and international conductors in his portraits. Daily. 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), 255-4800, www.sfpalm.org.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. "Sparks, Waves, & Wizards: Communication at Sea": The permanent exhibit presents artifacts and ephemera exploring the means of maritime communications. Daily. Free-$6. Hyde Street Pier (foot of Hyde near Jefferson), 561-6662.
SF Maritime Museum. Permanent Collection of Ship Models: A big collection of figureheads, maritime paintings, photos, and artifacts. Daily. Free-$3. Fisherman's Wharf (at Polk), 556-3002.
SF Museum of Modern Art. "Picturing Modernity: Selections From the SFMOMA Collection": An exhibition of photographs from SFMOMA's own collection that illustrate a wide range of photographic styles. Daily. "2x4/design series 3": Works from the New Yorkbased graphic design firm 2x4 for clientele including Prada, the Brooklyn Museum, KnollTextiles, Princeton School of Architecture, and Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra. Through Sept. 25. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. Daily. "Image, Body, Text: Selected Works by Gary Hill": The media artist presents works that comment on body image and optical illusions using performance, sculpture, and video. Through May 30. $6-$10. "The Art of Design": A permanent exhibition of works in the museum's architecture and design collection, including works of graphic and industrial design (such as the famous Fillmore rock posters by Bonnie MacLean, Victor Moscoso, and Stanley Mouse). Daily. "Matisse and Beyond: The Painting and Sculpture Collection": Magnificent works of painting and sculpture culled from SFMOMA's own collections provide a quick tour of modern art from Fauvism to Minimalism. Daily. "Between Art and Life: The Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Collection": The ongoing exhibition presents works from SFMOMA's own collections, with special installations on artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Sherrie Levine, Brice Marden, Gordon Matta-Clark, Barry McGee, Bruce Nauman, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kara Walker. Daily. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Galleries. "Perfect Spaces: Pictures and Films by Oliver Boberg": A survey of the German's artist work, in which he photographs his equisitely detailed scale models of industrial spaces, such as loading docks and highways. Through June 26. Free-$6. www.ybca.org. "Visual Aid at Sixteen With David Cannon Dashiell's Queer Mysteries": A retrospective of the work created by artists involved with Visual Aid, a nonprofit that helps artists with terminal illnesses. Its most ambitious work is David Cannon Dashiell's Queer Mysteries, a huge erotic painting that nods to a Pompeiian mural. Through June 26. Free-$6. www.ybca.org. "The Museum of the Last Artwork: New Work by Robert Kusmirowski": A genre-breaking artist from Poland is best known for "falsification" of ordinary objects. Yerba Buena has commissioned its very own "false" site-specific installation for this exhibit. Through June 26. Free-$6. www.ybca.org. 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787.
Zeum. "Toyz": Hands-on activities teach kids about the latest in tech toys. Daily. Free with museum admission, free-$7. 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 777-2800.