Holiday Gallery Hop

By Alan Bamberger

In an artful frame of mind? Here are some must-see shows that run through the most stressful (er, wonderful!) time of the year. Partake in a welcome escape.

Berggruen Gallery

A fulfilling three-fer opens with paintings by Christopher Brown in the main floor gallery. His unanticipated amalgams and captivating off-kilter observations on everyday life will engage you from the get-go. Also on the docket, see Sam Messenger’s gossamer abstracts on the second floor, and select color prints from the ’80s and ’90s by Richard Diebenkorn in the subterranean suite. Runs through December 23.

Haines Gallery

Two contrasting bodies of work—serene coastal scenes and Center City density—are on exhibit in John Chiara’s current show, “Lands End: California at Larkin.” What distinguishes Chiara’s work from that of other photographers is that his images are all unique, photographed directly onto hand-cut oversized sheets of photo-sensitive paper, and created with jumbo cameras that he builds himself and hauls around on the back of a flatbed truck. Exceptionally long exposure times ratchet the atmospherics into realms of magical reality. Runs through December 23.

Modernism Inc.

This one’s all about candy, Coke, cheesecake and superheroes—plus a martini and golf ball to top it all off. Mel Ramos has been spinning out the hits for over 55 years now and he’s just as good as ever. Pep up any circumstance with his paintings and sculptures; he’s a master at finessing his Pop Art homages and alluring erotica with finely honed contemporary flair. “Sirens & Heroes” runs through January 13, 2018.

Elins Eagles-Smith Gallery

Veteran San Francisco artist Gustavo Ramos Rivera paints in a classic abstract expressionist manner, but admirably updated and with a consequential kick. His vibrant energized canvases and works on paper are guaranteed to breathe life not only into the environments where they are displayed, but also into all those who behold them. Runs through December 16.

Jack Fischer Gallery at Minnesota Street Project

King-sized commentaries by Juan Carlos Quintana on the state of the world today are as irreverent as they are relevant. The good, the bad and the hilarious combine for a rollercoaster ride through the chaos and cacophonies of modern-day life. There’s no clear-cut agenda other than to pick your pleasure and leverage whatever advantages you can. “Hoodwink by didactix” runs through December 30.

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