The only thing more fun to fantasize about than the circus is pirates, so a show that promises art inspired by both is irresistible. The San Francisco artists known as the Oyster Pirate Collective take their name from the down-and-dirty 19th-century practice of pilfering from oyster farms, back when such enterprises dotted the bay. In "Vehicles of Emancipation," James Lichnovsky, Joel Mejia, Michael Page, Christian Rothenhagen, Shawn Webber, Jason Wheatley, and Sri Zeno Whipple steal elements from fact and fantasy, history and horror, and serve them up in large collaborative paintings. In one corner, a suspicious crow eyes a zebra; in another, a lurid blue lotus floats above a pop-eyed octopus. Each painting is a three-ring presentation of surreal dream life, with colors as bright and sugary as cotton candy. As with any good circus, there's a little nightmare thrown in for flavor: here a skull, there a monstrous hand. The only ringmaster is your own imagination, which may be apt to create storylines for the paintings fit only for the ears of a privateer.
Dec. 4-Jan. 10, 2008