Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

"The Three Gorges Project: Paintings by Liu Xiaodong." To make way for China's Three Gorges Dam, thousands of villages will be submerged and more than a million people displaced along the Yangzi River. Liu's massive paintings of the region are suitably panoramic, but their balance of carefully observed detail and symbolic elements reveals not just the vast scope of the project, but also its darker human toll. In Displaced Population, six tired-looking men stand above the valley where the dam is being built holding a long metal rod on their shoulders. Composed of four panels, the image is slightly misaligned at each seam so that the rod shifts upward from left to right. Presaging the rising level of the water, it also charts a quietly building emotional tension. In the background, we see the transition in more literal terms: The gray ruins of a demolished city give way to a riverbed dotted with bright blue construction tents. Newly Displaced Population tracks a generation gap, juxtaposing wayward little boys with toy guns, disaffected teenagers, and lonely middle-aged men. Tumbling improbably through the dull sky above them is a duck that looks as if it's just been shot, a crystallization of latent violence. Throughout, Liu's loose, casual brushwork makes the works feel like snapshots of a transitional moment, capturing the evanescence of an old way of life and the brutish birth of a new one. Through July 16 at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 581-3500 or visit www.asianart.org. (Sharon Mizota) Reviewed April 26.

Also ShowingGallery Openings Amaru Gallery. "Orgullo": Through July 22. 510 Valencia (at 16th St.), 552-3787, www.amarugallery.com.

City Hall. "1906-2006 Rebuilding: Then and Now": A collection of historical and contemporary photos of workers constructing and reconstructing San Francisco. Opening reception is July 5 at 5 p.m. Through Aug. 25. 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl. (at Fulton), 554-5184.

Lisa Dent Gallery. "Summer Group Show": New work by Sean Horchy, Candice Lin, and Tim Sullivan. Opening reception is June 29 from 6 p.m. June 29-July 28. 660 Mission (at Annie), 975-0860, www.lisadent.com.

Needles & Pens. "Grand Re-Opening Benefit Art Show": Through July 29. 483 14th St. (at Guerrero), 255-1534, www.needles-pens.com.

Richmond Art Center. "4 Ways: Art from the Emerging Teen Artists Program": Mixed media exhibit of work by high school students. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. "Microcosm": Group exhibition including work by Sydney Buffman, Reed Danziger, Alison Foshee, Benicia Gantner, Dee Hibbert-Jones, Seth Koen, Seth Minor, Sean Olson, Mel Prest, Nomi Talisman, Victoria Wagner, Alexis Weidig, and Renee Whitworth. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. "Eighth International Juried Enamel Exhibition": Exhibition of contemporary enamel work. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. "Cast-Offs": New work by James Gouldthorpe. Opening reception is July 8 at 2 p.m. Through Aug. 13. 22540 Barrett (Civic Center Plaza), Richmond, 510-620-6772.

San Francisco Art Institute. "San Francisco Art Institute Exhibitions": Ongoing student exhibitions change weekly, with opening receptions on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. Daily. 800 Chestnut (at Jones), 771-7020, www.sfai.edu.

Intersection for the Arts. "State of the Nation: Intersection's Summer Art Auction": Benefit auction featuring work by Kim Abeles, Brad K. Alder, Conrad Atkinson, Amy Berk, Claudia Bernardi, Sandow Birk, Carlos Cartagena, Victor Cartagena, May Chan, Scott Chernis, Chris Cobb, Ali Dadgar, Binh Danh, Lauren Davies, Lewis deSoto, Ala Ebtekar, Amanda Eicher, Tia Factor, Erez Golan, Jesse Gottesman, Robert Gutierrez, Paul Hayes, Jonn Herschend, Su-Chen Hung, Chris Johanson, Monica Johnson, Kathryn Kenworth, Noah Lang, Richard Lang, Judith Selby Lang, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Ken Light, Leslie Linnebur, Bernie Lubell, Scott MacLeod, Kara Maria, Sean McFarland, Julio Morales, Elizabeth Moy, Abner Nolan, Patrick Piazza, Maria Porges, Rigo 23, Brion Nuda Rosch, Favianna Rodriguez, Rebeka Rodriguez, Jos Sances, Andrew Schoultz, Luc Schwab, Winston Smith, Tracey Snelling, Heather Sparks, Stephanie Syjuco, Megan Wilson, Christine Wong Yap, and Rene Yung. Live auction is June 29 at 7:30 p.m. Through June 29. 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311, www.theintersection.org. Asian Art Museum. "The Three Gorges Project: Paintings by Liu Xiaodong": A series of monumental paintings by one of China's leading artists chronicling the Three Gorges Dam project, a massive 17-year effort to dam the Yangzi River. Through July 16. "From the Fire" and "The Elegant Gathering": Through Sept. 17. "Elephants on Parade": Highlights include an elaborate silver howdah made for a raja's use in ceremonial processions, sculptures of caparisoned elephants, and British and Indian paintings. Through Aug. 6. "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. "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. 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. "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. "Family Art Encounter": Drop in to make arts and crafts pieces related to the museum's current exhibits. First Saturday of every month, 1 p.m.; First Tuesday of every month, 11 a.m. Free with museum admission. Target Tuesday Family Program: Each month this special family program presents an activity connected with Asian art and customs. First Tuesday of every month, 11 a.m. Free with museum admission. 200 Larkin (at McAllister), 581-3500, www.asianart.org.

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