Who knew violence could be so pretty? British painter Margaret Harrison takes a new approach to this difficult subject, coming at it from a global, research-driven, and somewhat detached perspective. Her current exhibit, appropriately titled "Beautiful Ugly Violence," is sure to throw the viewer some curveballs. It's a field day of juxtapositions, as the bright and almost cheery colors of her paintings counter the often subdued and sometimes deadly topic: the various means of committing violence against women. In a way, Harrison may be Britain's artistic response to Eve Ensler. But her work is subtler than that of The Vagina Monologues' playwright.
Seemingly simple and almost innocuous, Harrison's images feel less like a political stance and more like still lifes of frigid objects: open steel scissors with a bright orange handle, a dark gray handgun left alone on a crumpled yellow piece of cloth, or a heavy hammer causing a deep depression in a piece of red fabric. These are hardly random subjects for the artist; her entire suite of new oil and watercolor paintings is presented alongside information about the weapons, instruments, and ideologies used to hurt women worldwide. The show is complemented by a number of events, including screenings, readings, and a talk with Harrison titled "Politics in the Paint." The opening reception is tonight at 6, and the show continues through May 8, at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-2787 or visit www.theintersection.org for a complete schedule.
-- Karen Macklin
Animated movies, dramas, and a picture called Enter the Mullet -- all these and more are featured at the Women of Color Film Festival. Filmmakers appear in person at each of the six themed screenings (among them "The Secret Language of Youth" and "Truth Has a Perfect Memory"); the first night's, "Laughter and Activism," is free. It features a profile of two Asian-American DJs, a look at changing roles for Chinese women, and The Color of Funny, a documentary about a group of African-American stand-up comics, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft (at Bowditch), Berkeley. The fest continues through March 14. Admission is free-$8; call 642-0808 or visit www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Just one look at the vast secondhand bazaar that is the White Elephant Sale can make thrift-store habitués swoon. Row after row of immaculate vintage clothing? Piles of antique linens? Art deco jewelry and furniture? This is the score of a lifetime, as the massive pre-opening line of thrifty consumers and hungry resellers attests. The pickings, mostly the castoffs of upper-crust types, never disappoint. Proceeds benefit the Oakland Museum of California. The frenzied purchasing begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday at the White Elephant Sale Warehouse, 333 Lancaster (at Glascock), Oakland. Admission is free; call (510) 238-2200 or visit www.museumca.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Santa Cruz is known for surfers and pot smokers, and yes, those are venerable cultural traditions in the beachside burg. Less well known but more interesting is the community of book- and papermakers whose members make their homes there. "Fateful Attractions: Fine Printing and Bookmaking in Santa Cruz" showcases the work of UCSC's Cowell Press, Lime Kiln Press, and other quirky groups. Individual artists include William Everson, Ruth McGurk, and our favorite, one-time Guillermo Gomez-Peña collaborator Felicia Rice. The opening reception is this evening at 6 (the show continues through May 14) at the S.F. Center for the Book Gallery, 300 De Haro (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 565-0545 or visit www.sfcb.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser