Your guide to April Oakland Art Murmur

Oakland Art Murmur gets new life with a spring art selection for April’s calendar

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“Storytellers”
If you enjoy people-watching, you will enjoy Jhina Alvarado-Morse’s vintage film-still protagonists in her newest series, “Storytellers,” opening at Manna Gallery on Friday. Our habit of contemplating a person’s life based on a glance causes us to imagine pasts and futures for Alvarado-Morse’s familiar-seeming subjects — and you don’t have to worry about feeling creepy staring at canvases rather than people.

Each subject, paired with minimal surroundings, seems to envisage their futures or desires as realities, causing the viewer to dream for them as well. In “Soaring High,” an aviator rests below a soaring bird. A similarly titled piece, “Flying High,”depicts a handsome man mid-dive with nothing below him save for a shiny thin strip of graphite at the bottom of the canvas. The mid-century styled characters draw faint similarities to John Baldessari’s figures, but instead of amusing or shocking us, they gently endear viewers with their curiosity and earnestness.

The artist, who was named one of San Francisco’s Top 20 Artists by Asterisk San Francisco Magazine, will be present at the gallery from 3 to 6 p.m.

“Vintage Esoterica”
Those looking for an excellent photography exhibit will find one at PHOTO’s new group show, “Vintage Esoterica,” which features iconic photographers such as Walker Evans and Annie Liebovitz. Masters of the last century’s shots will please both newcomers and those with veteran knowledge of photography.

The show demonstrates the visual power of light, shadow and simple subject matter before the dawn of Photoshop’s effects. Both straight and surreal photography, among other styles, make up the relatively new history of photography, and “Vintage Esoterica” celebrates that diversity and reminds us of the possibilities of photography’s future.

“Gathering Gravity”
Mari Andrews’ works demonstrate the paradox of fragility and power that lies in nature. Though she uses wire in many of the sculptures which she describes as “three-dimensional drawings,” much of her art incorporates the environment with its physical use of pods, leaves and reeds, but also more subtly reflects shapes and textures of wild flora.

At her solo show “Gathering Gravity” opening on Friday at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary Gallery, Andrews’ small works as well as larger installations combine the hardness of metal and nature but point out that the harsh metallic materials originate from the earth as well. In “Collected Topography,” iron pockets speckle the wall filled with different-hued soils. We are able to slow down and appreciate a quiet dynamism that we are so accustomed to ignoring.

“Lucky”
Luck is an unexplained phenomena that we both love and hate. Whether we can possibly change our luck or not is a question that eludes our grasp, but in Dave Meeker’s show “Lucky,” about to close at Mercury 20 Gallery, we see the objects of luck and invisible force made tangible.

Meeker manipulates and adds humor to tokens of luck such as clovers, wishbones, lucky charms and dice. “This is Not a Ladder” features three ladder structures lined up with the title phrase carved out of each step, playing with the concept of a ladder a la Magritte.

Though we can sometimes curse luck in the way it can ruin plans, Meeker shows us that without the surprise of chance, the world would be less hopeful, more predictable and less fun.

A.J. Kiyoizumi covers visual art. Contact her at [email protected]. Check her out on twitter at @Ajkazoo.