Through December 6 - Lowell Darling: How I Learned to Draw at Random Parts. This wonderful small gallery in Oakland is a new discovery for me, exactly the sort of artist-run space that I always find highly inspiring. One wall of the gallery is currently occupied by a spectacular collage that melds childhood drawings by Darling's daughters with work that he augmented for them as they slept in his self-described role as the "art fairy." Those freeform pieces contrast beautifully with a series of compact, dark drawings Darling made while hiking the Sonoma County forest, each one sized to fit in his shirt pocket. A scarecrow that Darling fashioned for his daughters stands at attention near the gallery door and ties the two halves of the show together quite nicely.
Through December 6 - New Bed at Krowswork. Speaking of the best of what Oakland has to offer, Krowswork is one of the few galleries in the Bay Area that consistently shows challenging multimedia work. A visit there often requires time and attention from the viewer, but it is so so worth it. This current group show, featuring individual installations and video by Sanford Biggers, Roderick Kiracofe, Karen and Malik Seneferu, and Nicole Shaffer, demonstrates brilliantly what can result when artists bring the personal into the public eye. Curator and gallery director Jasmine Moorhead designated Robert Rauschenberg's groundbreaking 1955 piece Bed as the starting point for the exhibition, and indeed beds and the quilts that lie on them make several appearances throughout the works in the show. Themes emerge around love, community, and marriage, as well as the ability of a quilt to offer solace and catharsis. Heartbreaking, uplifting work.