In many Asian cultures, hungry ghosts are fueled by lives of greed and jealousy, driven mad by insatiable cravings, and doomed to roam the earth in search of something — traditionally, human flesh or feces; currently, everything from drugs to tennis shoes — to fill the cavernous emptiness. It never works. They make themselves known in mass tides of violence, bigotry, and craven self-obsession. They often appear as creatures with distended bellies, withered limbs, thin necks, and pinhole mouths. But they have oh-so-many manifestations: For "Hungry Ghosts," 15 artists — from comic book artist Ka Yan Cheung to ceramics artist Nicholas Oh — have been invited to act as artistic mediums for these restless wraiths. From the political, such as Juliana Kang Robinson's ruminations on hoarding and food scarcity in North Korea, to the personal, such as Manon Bogerd Wada's depiction of an avalanche of wine bottles hurtling toward an empty chair, each piece gives voice to the darkest side of need.
The "Hungry Ghosts" opening reception starts at 6 p.m. and the exhibit is open 1-6 p.m. through April 29 at the International Hotel Manilatown Center Gallery, 868 Kearny St., S.F. Free; 415-399-9580 or aawaa.net.