Kelly Tunstall's whimsical, seductive paintings are all about what makes weird women hot. Upon checking out the plethora of leggy, pillow-lipped ladies on her Web site -- from pantyhose-wearing goddesses to conjoined twins with impeccable sartorial taste -- you're struck by the loopy beauty and playfulness of Tunstall's vision of femininity. Tunstall writes that she has her "own little world when dealing with girls, a very separate internal language that I use with them." It's a language rich with urban sprites, sensual hues, and a cartoonish sensibility that's a cross between surrealism and Sailor Moon. Now the artist covers new ground in her latest exhibit, "Old Soul," a collection that brings to life some of the most prominent female singers of soul music. Drawing on the typography of classic soul albums, Tunstall captures the spirit and defiance of icons like Billie Holiday and Aretha Franklin. While the painter's signature delicate swoops and curlicues fill the canvases as usual, something brings an earthier tenor to this body of work. Maybe it's the spray-can pixilation of her larger-than-life renderings, which gives viewers a taste of the urban. Or maybe it's Tunstall's obvious aesthetic decision to refrain from girlie pastels and opt for brassy browns and fearless reds. Whatever the case, the pieces pop off the canvas with a bold swagger that reveals both a fresh power and Tunstall's standard quirkiness. The opening reception takes place on Thursday at 7 p.m. (and the exhibit continues through Aug. 10) at Future Primitive Sound, 597 Haight (at Steiner), S.F. Admission is free; call 551-2328 or visit www.futureprimitivesound.com.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
Operation Boy Band
Wartime protests aren't usually the most happening events. But now the drag king band the Transformers has put together the activist group Boy Bands Against the War, and tonight the pacifist gender-benders protest the occupation in Iraq with "Rally the Troops," an anti-war extravaganza that calls music, glitter, and pyrotechnics its weapons. In addition to the Transformers' heart-melting harmonies, butch vaudevillians Boi-lesque promise man thongs and sequins, and campy dance troupe the Fly Guys brings pom-poms and tap shoes. The Nappy Grooves' Micia Mosely MCs the event beginning at 9 p.m. at the SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is $5-15; call 864-4124 or visit www.thetransformers.org.
-- Jane Tunks
"Sprawl" is aptly named, given that it involves an unusually large number of organizers and participants. Three curators, two galleries, and 16 artists are likely to overstep some boundaries. The exhibit's coordinators -- Robert Gutierrez, Amanda Hughen, and Jennifer Starkweather -- have put "Sprawl" together to showcase creative visions on the theme of suburban and urban landscapes. The artists include local jack-of-all-art-trades Clark Buckner; the works are a mixed-media smorgasbord. The opening reception starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Haley Martin Gallery, 101 Townsend (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 543-1550 or visit www.haleymartin.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Did you know that Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie, co-creator of danceable altrock classics like "Add It Up" and "Blister in the Sun," is also accomplished in the Zen-like art of playing the shakuhachi, the Japanese bamboo flute? Yeah, neither did I. But he is, and after the Violent Femmes perform their hits for the masses at the Black & White Ball earlier in the week, you can catch Ritchie in a soothing solo flute concert. He puts the bass back in its case and whips out his flute at 8 p.m. at Suginami Aikikai, 141 11th St. (at Mission), S.F. The concert also features guest performers Kiku Day. Admission is $10; call 777-2833 or visit www.suginamisf.com.
-- Brock Keeling