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Some Things Old, Some Things New

A Chinese artist and local crafters-at-work are just some of the intriguing talent on view this month



Fields of Salt, by Linda Gass at Art Works Downtown.

Lately it seems the Western appetite for contemporary Chinese art is insatiable, with numerous Bay Area arts organizations doing their part to keep audiences hungry. From major institutions to independent galleries, a host of venues have been bringing both familiar and still-unknown Chinese artists our way in recent months, and San Francisco’s Frey Norris Gallery has a terrific addition to the lineup beginning May 7.

Zhu Hai: Climbing Gold Mountain marks the American debut of Zhu, a young teacher at the prestigious Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in Chongqing. Zhu’s signature motif is a rather scientifically rendered disembodied eye, which he inserts in a broad variety of settings, from a scrambled pile of gelatin pills to billowing clouds. The paintings are beautiful, as is the somewhat unsettling eye: his colors are vivid and his draftsmanship accomplished. As a result, Zhu pulls viewers in and gives them an empathetic sense of the eye’s vulnerability.

The show’s title refers to the legendary Chinese depiction of San Francisco as a golden mountain, ripe with unparalleled opportunity—a depiction designed to lure cheap labor during the California Gold Rush, and one that was unsubstantiated for most who came. Zhu has created six new paintings that explore aspects of this mythic San Francisco, as well as hanging sculptures and a video work, for Frey Norris’s presentation.

Zhu Hai: Climbing Gold Mountain will be on view through June 14, with a catalog by Bay Area poet Paul Hoover. The gallery hosts a public reception for the artist on May 7 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Frey Norris Gallery, 456 Geary St., San Francisco, 415.346.7812, freynorris.com; 11–7 Tue–Sat, 11–5 Sun, closed Mon

From May 21 through June 26 at the San Rafael–based Art Works Downtown, visitors can witness the spectrum of Bay Area fine craft as the Baulines Craft Guild temporarily takes over the gallery. The nearly 40-year-old nonprofit, headquartered in the Art Works building, hosts a master craft show each year to highlight the talents of its members. The 45 pieces in this year’s show, titled Friends Along the Way, reflect a full array of fine craft media, including metal, clay, wood, fiber and glass.

“Each show with the guild is dramatically different,” says Art Works Downtown’s Shari Byrnes, and the variety of artists, media and aesthetics ensures a high level of visual intrigue.

On May 14 and 15, some of the participating artists will be working in the gallery, offering public demonstrations of their craft. The public is also invited to an opening reception for the artists on May 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Art Works Downtown, 1325-1337 Fourth St., San Rafael, 415.451.8119, artworksdowntown.org; 10–5 Tue–Sat, closed Sun–Mon

Kala Art Institute, one of the East Bay’s most venerated art spaces, turns 35 this year, and its anniversary celebration is set to be suitably grand. The centerpiece of the festivities is the unveiling of an impressive new expansion adjacent to the existing facilities, which adds a whopping 6,700 square feet of gallery, studio, educational and administrative space.

Kala was founded in 1974 as a resource for working artists, providing not only studio and exhibition spaces but also specialized equipment and access to invaluable expertise from more established artists as well as those who know the business side of art. Since 1979 the former Heinz 57 plant in Berkeley has been Kala’s home, offering 8,500 square feet where artists could create and showcase their work. The new facilities give Kala room to expand upon its mission; more physical space makes possible more programming, such as larger exhibitions, artist’s talks, a lecture series, performances and screenings.

The inaugural exhibition in the new space, titled re:con-figure, opens May 1 and showcases 11 artists who have been affiliated with Kala’s awards and fellowship programs in recent years: Adriane Colburn, Midori Harima, Randy Hussong, Packard Jennings, Jeff Kao, Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott, Srdjan Loncar, Gary Nakamoto, Leslie Shows, and Bayeté Ross Smith. The artists work in a diverse sampling of media but are united here by their interest in “boundary-blurring experiences” in the hyper-paced 21st century. The public is invited to an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. on May 1.

Kala Art Institute Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510.549.2977, kala.org; 12–5:30 Tue–Fri, 12–4:30 Sat, closed Sun–Mon

George Krevsky Gallery in San Francisco has two treats on tap this spring: a rare glimpse of a German-American maverick and an ode to America’s favorite pastime.

The former is a presentation of works by Richard Lindner, guest-curated by art historian Peter Selz, which runs through May 2. Lindner, who died in 1978, was revered for his ability to fuse influences from a number of different movements—including cubism, expressionism, pop art and surrealism—to create his own unique style. This new show is the first display of his work on the West Coast in more than 30 years. Former chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum, Selz is also something of a Lindner scholar, having helped organize the last major U.S. exhibition of the artist’s work at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in 1996.

Next, George Krevsky’s famous Art of Baseball show returns on May 7 for its 12th year. Born out of owner  Krevsky’s love of the game, the exhibition assembles dozens of baseball-themed works by artists who have shown at the gallery in the past as well as some new to its roster; this year the pieces are grouped around the theme “Everything Old Is New Again.” The gallery hosts an opening reception on May 7 from 5:30 to 7:30; the show continues through June 6.

George Krevsky Gallery, 77 Geary St., San Francisco, 415.397.9748, georgekrevskygallery.com; 11–5:30 Tue–Sat, closed Sun–Mon

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