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"Get Together!" Smart and modest at the same time, "Get Together!" ditches the pretensions of typical gallery art and puts together some good old-fashioned fun — with an edge. Sarah Applebaum's installation of rainbow-colored afghans in the storefront windows sets the tone. Viewers can shed their shoes and climb into the cozy setting, even talk to each other through the lengths of plastic dryer hose connecting the windows and the balcony above. Alex Clausen raises a flagpole (or two, or three) — random broomsticks, painters' poles, and pillow cases — lashed together in the best Eagle Scout tradition. A nearby table offers materials and instructions so that we can do it ourselves. Jonn Herschend brings romantic literature into Chuck E. Cheese's, as the winds begin to blow and the words flash by in an up-tempo PowerPoint narration titled Why This Is Not Going to Work So Well.Videos by Sean McFarland and Lindsay White strip the medium to its bare essentials, capturing time in a way that takes us back to when we were children. In the diaristic accordion book Israel 2005, Ashley Neese shares her emotional reunion with her Naval Academy brother, who took the blurry and evocative photos that color our experience of the trip. And perhaps the most modest yet kinkiest stars of the show are Keri Oldham's small-scale sculptures; by turns endearing and ugly, they're sea creatures you've never seen before, made from cast aluminum and plaster, leather and stuffed fabric. It's a heartwarming hoot in a welcoming place. Through Jan. 13, 2007, at the Hardware Store Gallery, 3824 Mission (at Richland), S.F. Admission is free; call 839-6404 or visit www.hardwarestoregallery.com. (Lea Feinstein) Reviewed Nov. 29.

"A Flight." Birds of every feather transform this tiny gallery into a cabinet of curiosities that would make surrealist Max Ernst and shy fabulist Joseph Cornell feel right at home. The 32 small works evoke fluttering wings, soft coos, and high-pitched calls in this remarkable silent show. Caleb Duarte, an artist/carpenter, presents tiny flocks of airborne geese on broken drywall fragments. Like pentimenti (the ghostly preparatory drawings for frescoes), his lyrical flocks are almost shadows. Matt Furie, toy sorter at the Mission District's Community Thrift Store, employs his stuffed-animal finds as models for his meticulous, incised drawings. Miranda Maher depicts the distribution patterns of pigeons on the wing and gives her prints pseudo-scientific titles. Gina Pearlin's realist oil painting transforms a battered metal shelf into a delicate blue sky and a trompe l'oeil window. A hint of bird — all beak and wing — escapes at upper left. Lucy Gaylord-Lindholm alters her astonishing copy of a somber Velasquez portrait as a thrush emerges from his ear, its open beak emitting a silent cry. In a tour de force, Gaylord-Lindholm turns the sitter's hair into stylized, pink-tipped pin feathers. Other standouts are Deborah Barrett's pair of earthbound velvet collage chicks, Vahakn Arslanian's Japanese Love Birds, and Sindy Lutz's quartet of bird/man fusions. What is a bird — symbol of the soul or the holy spirit? Why do angels have wings? What is "A Flight"? Magic, and another top-notch (and affordable) selection from the aerie on Geary. Through Dec. 31 at Jack Fischer Gallery, 49 Geary (at Grant), Suite 440, S.F. Admission is free; call 956-1178 or visit www.jackfischergallery.com. (Lea Feinstein) Reviewed Dec. 27.

"How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later" and "Radical Software." The most stringent social criticism today seems to be coming from artists, and this pair of thought-provoking exhibitions showcases some prime examples. Solmaz Shabazi's film Tehran 1380, part of "Universe," is a must-see. A documentary critique of urban planning in modern Tehran, it highlights the Navvab Housing Project, 100,000 inhabitants on a site 5 kilometers long and 100 meters wide. What goes wrong when structures are built disregarding local customs and traditions — and human needs — is exemplified in tragicomic interviews with ordinary citizens and government architects ("That is the role of the architect ... forcing people to get used to new living conditions"). Expanding on the theme of social space and its creation are drawings by Shaun O'Dell, William Scott, Andreas Dalen, Toby Paterson, and Rick Guidice, and videos and photos by Gitte Villesen, Jakob Kolding, Bonnie Ora Sherk, and Nate Boyce. Improved labeling would make this display easier to navigate. In an adjoining room, Michael Stevenson's Capp Street Project recreates The Moniac, a humorous Rube Goldberg-esque watermill — a metaphor for cash flow at the Central Bank of Guatemala. "Radical Software," in the upstairs gallery, reopens a chapter of history from the '60s and '70s, charting the beginnings of anti-corporate free/open-source culture, especially in the Bay Area. A series of contemporary videos shot by a 6-year-old Danish girl encourages the empowerment of kids and raises questions about who has access to the media. The accompanying catalog expands the history and the inquiry. Through March 24, 2007, at California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St. (at 16th St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 703-9548 or visit www.cca.edu. (Lea Feinstein) Reviewed Dec. 27.

Adobe Book Shop. "Where We Have Been Where We Are and Where We Are Going": New work by Joe Armin, Nicholas Mohanna, Brian Bellot, Donal Mosher, Chris Corales, Mat O'Brien, Mark DeLong, Kelly Ording, Chris Duncan, James Orlando, Sacha Eckes, Kottie Paloma, Amanda Eicher, Amy Rathbone, Joseph Hart, Kyle Ranson, Kira Inglis, Dave Schubert, Kyle Knobel, Christine Shields, Paula Malesardi, Johanna St. Clair, Sean McFarland, Judd Vetrone, and Jason McLean. Through Dec. 30. 3166 16th St. (at Valencia), 864-3936, www.adobebooks.org.

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