Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

"Beaut Brute." Al Pacino's Scarface would approve. Taro Hattori's latest installation is a gangster's dream décor. The walls are lined with a row of assault rifles painstakingly constructed out of see-through plastic. In the center, two more rifles, of mirrored glass, lie casually atop a card table, also mirrored and trimmed in shaggy white fake fur. Above, the wall is draped with bunches of equally reflective, oversized grapes on fuzzy white vines, a cheap, disco-ized nod to the superabundance and amorality of Roman antiquity. The only thing missing is a few lines of coke. You could read Beaut Brute's exaggerated tackiness as a critique of the glamorization of violence, if the installation itself weren't guilty of same. By turning weapons into objets d'art, Hattori reminds us not only how we aestheticize mayhem, but also that guns are consumer goodies like anything else. Perhaps if the execution were a bit more streamlined, a little less funky, Hattori's intent would be clearer. The guns hover somewhere between coldly beautiful art and water guns on steroids. This ambivalence may ultimately be their message. Such products are really just exquisite toys for overgrown boys -- as in "Say hello to my little friend." Through Jan. 31 at Rocketworld, 660 22nd St. (at Third St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 318-8258 or visit www.rocketworld.org. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed Dec. 28.

"Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005." Step up to a Chuck Close painting and you'll see squares filled with abstract shapes, a precise arrangement of dots, or some other technique in miniature. Step back and you'll see Chuck Close. For nearly four decades the artist has rendered his own head, moving through styles but always retaining his signature mug-shot angle. Featuring more than 80 works, this show traces the arc of his astonishingly single-minded career. Since 1967 Close's stuck to his technique, laying a grid over a photo and painstakingly transferring the data in each square to a 9-foot-tall canvas with an airbrush. But along the way the grid itself started showing up, scoring the portraits with crosshatched lines, and Close began filling the squares with shapes, dots, and other designs. In 1988, he experienced chest pain while attending an arts ceremony at Gracie Mansion; by the end of the night he was nearly paralyzed. In rehabilitation, he strapped a brush to his wrist, trained his arm to do the work of his hand, and never looked back. Through Feb. 28 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$12.50; call 357-4000 or visit www.sfmoma.org. (Michael Leaverton) Reviewed Nov. 16.

"Dispersed: African Legacy/New World Reality." If you worried that the Museum of the African Diaspora might be the latest incarnation of dogmatic political correctness, fear not. This sophisticated inaugural exhibition of contemporary art asserts that African-American identity is a slippery, multifaceted thing. The featured artists explore diverse cultural and political histories with varying degrees of success, but their works all defy easy categorization. Most compelling is Safe House by San Francisco's Mildred Howard, a dainty house frame made of butter knives and carpeted with piles of silver -- dishes, platters, tureens, and the like. Toward the front of the house the objects are shiny and polished, but toward the back they're increasingly battered and tarnished, snaking out behind the house, where the butter knives become carving knives stuck violently into the wall. It's easy to read the piece as an allegory of the distance between master and slave, but it also eloquently suggests the oppression of women's domestic labor and the disparity between public face and private tragedy. Brazilian artist Marepe's installation of monk's robes -- an ambivalent attempt to redeem the Catholic missionaries who helped colonize much of the Americas -- is unnecessarily large and a bit obtuse. While Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons' video installation exploring her Afro-Cuban identity is multilayered and evocative, it never quite achieves the poetry it strives for. But perhaps more important than their individual merits are the ways in which these works defy stereotypical motifs and attitudes to honor the complexity and richness of the African-American experience. Through March 12 at MoAD, 685 Mission (at Third St.), S.F. Admission is free-$8; call 358-7200 or visit www.moadsf.org. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed Dec. 28.

"The History of Photography Remix." With this exhibit, Kota Ezawa has achieved the South Park-ification of history. He subjects iconic photographs from newspapers, TV shows, movies, advertisements and art to the same process of tracing and redrawing -- remaking each in generic, flat solid colors. Beyond that, the only thing the images have in common is that they resonate in the popular consciousness: Marilyn Monroe, the atomic bomb, John and Yoko, the first Polaroid camera, Cindy Sherman, JonBenet Ramsey. Although the show includes images framed in lightboxes and re-created as paper cutouts, the pieces are most effective in a slideshow format. As the pictures flicker by, one by one, you gradually realize that all photographs are the same. They're all made the same way, regardless of whether they tell the truth. This idea is most forcefully expressed in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 16mm film loop splicing together animations of the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln and JFK. The former is from a cinematic re-creation; the latter is the home movie footage we're all familiar with. Divested of contextual details and rendered in Ezawa's reductive shapes and colors, both sequences look cartoony and strange, almost comical. There's no real difference between the re-creation and the "real" footage -- they're both representations. In reducing all images to the same style, Ezawa levels them, calling into question our ascription of "reality" to certain images and "pretend" to others. Through Feb. 11 at Haines Gallery, 49 Geary (at Market), Fifth Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 397-8114 or visit www.hainesgallery.com. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed Jan. 25.

"Rachel Weeks." Rachel Weeks is a big girl. Her photographic self-portraits feature her nude, zaftig body in poses by turns classical, coy, and self-conscious, at times hardly distinguishable from the Victorian erotica they mimic. Weeks uses a vintage photographic process to make her pictures look tarnished and milky, with aged, wavy edges. Reclining on a bed, kneeling with her back to us on a sofa, or seated, draped in fabric, her body is presented for our delectation. The gallery's notes state that by virtue of being self-portraits, "the inclination to see women as victims and the object of the male gaze is challenged." While they might make us reevaluate our stick-figure notions of beauty and sexiness, the photos don't go far enough to make us uncomfortable as voyeurs. If anything, their small size (4 by 5 inches) and antique processing make looking at them feel intimate and private, rather than exposed. They'd make a stronger statement without the Victorian veneer, which softens the challenge that Weeks' Rubenesque body poses to standard notions of desirability. Still, their matter-of-fact quality wavers between porn and fine art and something else -- something more personal, like looking at oneself in the mirror. Through Feb. 11 at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, 49 Geary (at Market), Third Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 433-6879 or visit www.wirtzgallery.com. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed Jan. 25.

1751 Social Club. "Art Soiree and Open Mic Night": A new exhibit each month; meet the artists and enjoy an open mic and drink specials. Fourth Monday of every month, 5 p.m. 1751 Fulton (at Masonic), 441-1751, www.1751socialclub.com.

33 Grand. "Virtual Intervention": New work by David Hamill and Shawn Smith. Through Jan. 29. 33 Grand (at Broadway), Oakland, 510-866-9501, www.33grand.com.

Richmond Art Center. Add Your Voice to "Richmond Stories": Contribute to this ongoing art and oral history project by e-mailing answers to the following questions to connection@therac.org: How did you or your family come to Richmond in the first place? What are your happiest memories here? What have you liked most about your community? What historic events stand out most in your memory and your family stories? What stories seem to capture Richmond's essence? What issues and challenges have you faced here? What are your dreams for Richmond's next 100 years? Daily. 22540 Barrett (Civic Center Plaza), Richmond, 510-620-6772.

Precita Eyes Mural Center. "Adult Free-Play Art Time": Ongoing drop-in workshop with instructor Kristin Olsen; no experience necessary and no one turned away for lack of funds. Wednesdays, 7 p.m. $12. 348 Precita, 285-2287.

AfterModern. "Out of Doors": Through Jan. 28. 445 Bryant (at Second St.), 512-7678, www.aftermodern.com.

The Ames Gallery. "Jim Bauer: Whimsical Illuminated Sculpture": New work made from recycled kitchenware. Through Feb. 18. 2661 Cedar (at La Loma), Berkeley, 510-845-4949, www.amesgallery.com.

Ampersand International. "Spring": New drawings and installation work by Megan Wilson. Through Feb. 17. "Wonderland": New mixed-media work by Albert Reyes. Through Feb. 17. 1001 Tennessee (at 20th St.), 285-0170, www.ampersandintlarts.com.

Arspace Gallery. "The Landscape of Pleasure": Recent work by Julia Petho. Closing reception is Jan. 29 at 4 p.m. "The Landscape of Pleasure": New paintings by Julia Petho. Through Jan. 29. 1286 Folsom (at Ninth St.), www.arspace.org.

Aspect Gallery. "A Rare Look at San Francisco: Interpretations Through Current Photographic Media": Group show of new work. Through Feb. 16. 731 Polk (at Willow), 606-7170, www.framingaspect.com.

Baxter Chang Patri Fine Art. "The Contemporary Landscape": Group show featuring work by Lisa Blatt, Matthias Geiger, Bill Jacobson, Stephen Joseph, Kim Keever, Richard Lohmann, Chris McCaw, and Denny Moers. Through Feb. 2. Hotel Nikko 222 Mason (at O'Farrell), 397-2000.

Brian Gross Fine Art. "Andrea Way": New drawings. Through Jan. 28. "Ricochet: New Paintings": Recent work by Amy Trachtenberg. Through March 31. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 788-1050.

California Academy of Sciences. "Hotspot: California on the Edge": Through Aug. 31. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.

Southern Exposure. Call For Proposals: SoEx Offsite: The gallery is moving outdoors temporarily while its building is retrofitted; submit proposals for an outdoor show. Application forms are available on the Southern Exposure Web site. Through Feb. 28. 401 Alabama (at 17th St.), 863-2141, www.soex.org.

City Art Gallery. "Affordable Art": Exhibit of art priced at $150 or less. Through Jan. 29. 828 Valencia (at 19th St.), 970-9900, www.cityartgallery.org.

City Hall. "Saint Francis Memorial Hospital: 100 Years of Caring for San Francisco": Photographs, artifacts and memorabilia from the hospital, collected over the past 100 years and curated by Gladys Hansen. Through March 31. 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl. (at Fulton), 554-5184.

Creativity Explored. "Drawing the Line": Exhibition of works in charcoal, pencil and graphite by artists with developmental disabilities. Through March 2. 3245 16th St. (at Dolores), 863-2108, www.creativityexplored.org.

Gallery 16. "13 Big Western Landscapes": Photography by Rudy VanderLans. Through Feb. 17. 1616 16th St. (at Rhode Island), 626-7495.

Hackett-Freedman Gallery. "The Seven Laughters of God": Through Feb. 25. 250 Sutter (at Kearny) (Fourth Fl.), 362-7152, www.hackettfreedmangallery.com.

Heather Marx Gallery. "Histories": Through Jan. 28. 77 Geary (at Grant) (Second Fl.), 627-9111, www.heathermarxgallery.com.

Jack Hanley Gallery. "Saskia Leek: Points of Vanishing": New paintings. Through Jan. 28. 395 Valencia (at 15th St.), 522-1623.

The Lab. "Fabulandia: Fauna": New work by Donelle Estey, Mandy Greer, Tim Jag, Daniel Ross, and Tara Tucker. Curated by Lauren Davies. Through Feb. 11. 2948 16th St. (at Capp), 864-8855.

Lincart. "Earth Things and Other Things": New work by Johanna St. Clair. Through Feb. 18. 1632C Market (at Rose), 503-1981.

Lucky Juju Pinball/Art Gallery. "Millions Return to Oz": New work by John Sheridan. Through Jan. 31. 713 Santa Clara (at Webster), Alameda, 510-205-9793, www.ujuju.com.

Main Library. "P3: Our Ongoing Journey in Pilipino American Design Aesthetics": Work by Christian Alcala, Bren Bataclan, Eduardo Datangel, Gloria G. Galang, Spike Lomibao, Al Perez, Alberic Rivera, Mark Santa Ana, Gerard Talampas, and Raymond Virata. Through Jan. 31. 100 Larkin (at Grove), 557-4277, www.sfpl.org.

Main Library, Jewett Gallery. "On the Road: The Jack Kerouac Manuscript": Through March 19. 100 Larkin (at Grove) (Lower Level), 557-4200, www.sfpl.org.

Meridian Gallery. "A Sense of Wonder: The Memorial Retrospective of Robert Kostka": Paintings and drawings from 1950-2005. Through March 18. 545 Sutter (at Powell), 398-7229.

ODC Theater. "Todd Brown": Mixed-media work. Through Feb. 12. 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), 863-9834, www.odctheater.org.

Pro Arts. "Claim the World of Art as Our Domain": The Pro Arts annual juried exhibition, this year helmed by Michael Wilson of Artforum. Artists' talk Feb. 4 at 1 p.m. Through Feb. 26. 550 Second St. at Clay, Oakland, 510-763-4361, www.proartsgallery.org.

Robert Koch Gallery. "Larry Schwarm": New large-scale color photographs. Through Feb. 25. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 421-0122.

Rock Paper Scissors Collective. "View Units, Boiling Points and Unnatural Disasters": Through Jan. 27. 2278 Telegraph (at West Grand), Oakland, 510-238-9171, www.rpscollective.com.

Root Division. "Inside Out": New work by Melissa Hutton and Dennis Mcnulty. Through Jan. 28. 3175 17th St. (at South Van Ness), 863-7668, www.rootdivision.org.

Sculpturesite Gallery. "Geometry Transcended": A retrospective of work by sculptor Clement Meadmore. Opening reception is Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. Through Feb. 18. 201 Third St. (at Howard), Suite 102, 495-6400, www.sculpturesite.com.

Shooting Gallery. "Portrait of the Artist": Group show of portraiture by Lisa Alisa, Van Arno, Shawn Barber, Wesley Burt, Sean Cheetham, Coro, Curve, Carl Dobsky, Kirsten Easthope, Natalia Fabia, Korin Faught, Shepard Fairey, David Flores, Helen Garber, Aaron Hawks, Mercedes Helnwein, Jessica Holmes, Andrew Jones, Eric Kroll, Henry Lewis, Kevin Llewellyn, Anne Faith Nicholls, Joshua Petker, Joey Piziali, Lee Harvey Roswell, Isabel Samaras, Patrick Segui, Morgan Slade, Anthony Sortillon, Jeremy MF Thompson, Miles Thompson, and Andrea Wicklund. Through Jan. 31. 839 Larkin (at O'Farrell), 931-8035, www.shootinggallerysf.com.

SomArts Cultural Center. "Dual Resonance": New work by Anders Barth and Phe Ruiz, curated by Carlos Loarca. Through Jan. 26. "Contemporary Art of El Salvador": Curated in El Salvador by Francisco I. Zayas. Through Jan. 26. 934 Brannan (at Eighth St.), 863-1414, www.somarts.org.

Steel Gallery. "Hope": Work by James Jarrett, Brigitte McReynolds, and Merti Walker. Through Jan. 28. 3524 Sacramento (at Laurel), 885-1655, www.steelgalleryinc.com.

Stephen Wirtz Gallery. "Three New Photographers": New work by Apollonia Morrill, Paul Schiek, and Rachel Weeks. Through Feb. 7. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 433-6879, www.wirtzgallery.com.

Steven Wolf Fine Arts. "Pentominoes": Site-specific mural by Doug Holst. Through Jan. 28. "A Searing Lesson Every Girl Should Know": New installation work by Tami Demaree. Opening reception is Jan. 5 at 5:30 p.m. Through Jan. 28. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 263-3677.

Urbis Artium Gallery. "Private Transits": Video, sound and mixed media installations by Nate Pagel and Randall Heath. Through Feb. 24. 49 Geary (at Kearny), Suite 202, 369-9404, www.urbis-artium.com.

Wattis Institute's Logan Galleries. "Capp Street Project: Jeanne Dunning": New photography. Through Feb. 21. 1111 Eighth St. (at Hooper), 551-9210, www.wattis.org.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. "New Work by Cornelia Parker": Through March 5. "Recent Work by Wang Du": Large scale sculpture. Through March 5. 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787, www.ybca.org.

Asian Art Museum. "The Poetic Vision of Abdur Rahman Chughtai (1897-1975)": A selection of fourteen paintings by Abdur Rahman Chughtai is on display in the South Asian gallery. Through April 2. AsiaAlive: Live artist demonstrations, including embroidery and calligraphy. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Feb. 26. 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. Lunar New Year Self-Guided Treasure Hunt: Wend your way through the galleries in this interactive treasure hunt. Jan. 29-Feb. 19. "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 with museum admission. "Traditions Unbound: Groundbreaking Painters of Eighteenth-Century Kyoto": This exhibition celebrates the individuality and originality hidden in the minds of eight extraordinary artists living in Kyoto during this period. Through Feb. 26. "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. 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. 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. 200 Larkin (at McAllister), 581-3500, www.asianart.org.

Berkeley Art Museum. First Impressions: Free First Thursdays: Check out a world of art and film with free entry to the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive each month. Thursdays, 11 a.m. Free. "Study After Untitled": through April 2 at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2575 Bancroft (between Telegraph and College), Berkeley. Admission is free-$8; call (510) 642-0808 or visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.

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. Hands-on Science: Visitors of all ages can examine microscopic aquatic life or study adaptations of marine animals with Academy docents and interns. Wednesdays-Fridays, 4 p.m. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.

Cartoon Art Museum. 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. "Gross, Gruesome, and Gothic": This horrifying display features over 50 original cartoons from a wide array of artists and comics. Through March 12. 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), 227-8666, www.cartoonart.org.

Chabot Space & Science Center. Discovery Lab: Intended for kids aged 3-7, the Discovery Lab contains hands-on science experiments that illustrate scientific phenomena like wind and moving machines. Wednesdays-Fridays, 1 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.; Sundays, noon. free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Destination Universe": Take a virtual journey from the sun to the end of the cosmos with exhibits on nebulae, space travel, black holes, and moving galaxies. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. Garden Days in the EnviroGarden: Explore the mysteries of planet Earth with hands-on activities, including worm composting, hiking in the forest, or building mini-volcanoes. Saturdays, noon. "Escape From the Red Planet!": The hourlong simulated mission on Mars casts kids as the crew on a struggling space shuttle. Saturdays, 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Mars Encounter": The National Aeronautics and Space Administration sponsors this exhibit on travel to Mars, which includes data on current and past missions, a giant tactile Mars globe, and Martian meteorites. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "One Giant Leap: A Moon Odyssey": Take a simulated moonwalk, try on a space helmet, climb into a space capsule, and virtually land a lunar module in this exhibit. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Astronomy in California 1850-1950: Telescope Makers, Telescopes, and Artifacts": Take a look at California's rich history in astronomy with this display of telescopes, astronomy history documents, and other ephemera. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Skywise -- Astronomy Cartoon Exhibit": Help your child understand that vastness and majesty of space with this exhibit of astronomy comic strips. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. 10000 Skyline (at Joaquin Miller, in Joaquin Miller Park), Oakland, 510-336-7300.

Conservatory of Flowers. "The Modern Art of Orchids": A new "abstract" flower exhibit that includes hundreds of blooms. Through Feb. 26. 100 JFK (at Conservatory, in Golden Gate Park), 666-7001, www.conservatoryofflowers.org.

de Young Museum. Ancestry in Progress: Sharon Virtue will be demonstrating her artistic process from conception to completion. Wednesdays-Sundays, 1 p.m. Continues through Jan. 29. "Re-Classifying History: Catherine Wagner": The work of Bay Area photographer Catherine Wagner will be the inaugural installation in the Connections Gallery of the new de Young. Through Feb. 12. "Personal Perspectives: Aspects of American Photography": A survey of major American photographs from the museum's permanent collection. Through Feb. 12. "Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh": The exhibit highlights the art created during the glorious reign of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. Through Feb. 5, 9:30 a.m. "Jasper Johns: 45 Years of Master Prints": "Jasper Johns: 45 Years of Master Prints" inaugurates the Anderson Gallery of Graphic Arts, a gallery dedicated to installations of modern and contemporary works on paper at the de Young. Through Feb. 12, 9:30 a.m. "Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh": Free, 50-minute docent tours of the exhibit. Through Feb. 5, 11:30 a.m. free with museum admission. Friday Nights at the New de Young: Designed to focus on the special exhibitions and permanent collections, Friday Nights features live music, artist demonstrations, films, dance performances, lectures, and tours. Visit the Web site for the schedule. Through June 20, 6 p.m. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden (at JFK), 863-3330, www.thinker.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. 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. Free. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 777-9060, www.holocaust-sf.org.

Contemporary Jewish Museum. "Intersections: Reading the Space": Through Feb. 26. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 591-8800, thecjm.org.

Judah L. Magnes Museum. "Case Study: Emanu-El Sisterhood": Group show reflecting the history of changing social roles of California women in the 20th century. Through Feb. 5. Free. "Houses and Housing": Group show on portability in Jewish art. Through May 15. Free. Larry Abramson: Work from the show "Searching for an Ideal City." Artist's talk on September 11 at 2 p.m. Through Feb. 19. Free. 2911 Russell (at Pine), Berkeley, 510-549-6950.

Lawrence Hall of Science. "Prove It -- A ChemMystery": Kids and adults attempt to solve crimes using the basic forensic skills they learn step-by-step at the exhibit. Daily. Free with admission, free-$8.50. "Forces That Shape the Bay": The museum's permanent science park exhibit explores new ways to understand the bay. Daily. Centennial & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, 510-642-5132.

Legion of Honor. "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. "After The Ruins": Through June 4. Free-$10. "Connoisseurship and Commerce: The Legacy of R. E. Lewis": This exhibition recognizes the late Raymond E. Lewis (1923-2005), one of the most distinguished art dealers in the United States. Through Feb. 19. "Politics and Wit: The Comic Genius of André Gill": In the waning days of the Second Empire, in 1860s France, an artist emerged of originality and satiric bite whose caricatures of the leading politicians, actors, writers, and artists were the talk of Paris. Through April 30. Ford Free Tuesdays: Get in free to the Legion of Honor every Tuesday, thanks to a grant from the Ford Motor Co. Tuesdays. Free. 100 34th Ave. (near Clement), 863-3330, www.thinker.org.

Museum of the African Diaspora. "Linkages and Themes in the African Diaspora": Along with "Made in Africa," the inaugural exhibit of this new major museum. Through March 12. St. Regis Hotel, 685 Mission (at Third St.), 358-7200, www.moadsf.org.

Pacific Heritage Museum. "Rustic Splendors": Ceramics from China. Through March 25. free. 608 Commercial (at Montgomery), 399-1124.

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.

Randall Museum. "Drop-In Art and Science Workshops": Each week kids and parents can participate in artistic activities that illuminate some aspect of science. Saturdays, 1 p.m. $3 per person. "Saturdays Are Special": Ongoing weekly drop-in, hands-on art and science workshops. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Free-$3. 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600, www.randallmuseum.org.

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 Maritime National Historical Park. "Sparks, Waves, & Wizards: Communication at Sea": The permanent exhibit presents artifacts exploring the means of maritime communications. Daily. Free-$6. Fort Mason Building E (Marina & Buchanan), 561-7000.

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 and programs. Daily. "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 Jose Museum of Art. "Inside Out: Selections From the Permanent Collection": Highlights of the museum's 35th-anniversary exhibition include Mildred Howard's Abode: Sanctuary for the Familia(r), a chamber built of blue glass bottles, and Brian Goggin's Desire for the Other, a couch stuffed with household appliances. Daily. Free. 110 South Market (at San Fernando), San Jose, 408-271-6840.

SF Maritime Museum. Permanent Collection of Ship Models: A big collection of figureheads, maritime paintings, photos, and artifacts. Daily. Fisherman's Wharf (at Polk), 556-3002.

SF Museum of Modern Art. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. 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. "Richard Long: The Path Is the Place Is the Line": Long assembles elements that document and reflect on a recent three-week walk he took along the Pacific Crest Trail in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Through April 25. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.

SF Museum of Modern Art. William Kentridge: An artist talk by South African artist Kentridge, who creates profound works using charcoal drawings as the basis for animated films. Thu., Jan. 26, 7 p.m. $8-$10. 151 Third St. (between Mission & Howard), 357-4027.

SF Museum of Modern Art. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. 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. "Richard Long: The Path Is the Place Is the Line": Long assembles elements that document and reflect on a recent three-week walk he took along the Pacific Crest Trail in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Through April 25. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org. SF Museum of Modern Art. Art and Conversation: Curatorial Associate Ruth Keffer presents a lecture about significant moments in contemporary architectural photography, concluding with images by Todd Eberle, whose work is currently on view. Fri., Jan. 27, noon. free. "1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures": "1906 Earthquake" explores a variety of photographic responses to the disaster, with professional views of the destroyed city, such as spectacular panoramas by the firm Garrison and Huddleston and glass lantern slides by Arnold Genthe. Through May 30. "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. Spotlight Tours: These innovative tours bring artists' voices directly to visitors, beginning with a short video clip of a featured artist, then moving into the galleries for viewing and discussion. Fridays-Sundays, noon. Art:21: Stories: Kiki Smith: The 15-minute film plays daily except Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Through Jan. 29, 2 p.m. Kiki Smith: "Kiki Smith: A Gathering" presents an array of Smith's work -- including sculptures, works on paper, prints, and paintings. Through Jan. 29. "Architectural Abstractions": Through March 7. Stones & Flies: Richard Long in the Sahara: A film by Philip Haas. Jan. 30-March 2, 2 p.m. free. "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. SFMOMA Collection Highlights: In addition to spotlighting photographs, paintings, and sculptures in the SFMOMA collection, this audio guide includes a musical tour. Daily. $3. "Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005": An exhibit corresponding with the publication of a book by the same title. Through Feb. 28. "Wangechi Mutu": Through April 4. "Double Feature: Steve McQueen and Peter Sarkisian": Exhibtion of the artists' work. Through May 21. "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. Daily Tours: Topics change daily for these free tours led by SFMOMA docents. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays, 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 & 2:30 p.m. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.

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. Hands-on Science: Visitors of all ages can examine microscopic aquatic life or study adaptations of marine animals with Academy docents and interns. Wednesdays-Fridays, 4 p.m. Snake Feeding: Watch whip snakes feed off fish. Fridays, 2 p.m. free with museum admission. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.

Zeum. "Toyz": Hands-on activities teach kids about the latest in tech toys. Daily. 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320.

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