You wouldn't think a bunch of self-published magazines sitting in a glass cabinet on the sixth floor of the Main Library could contain anything terribly threatening or wild. But where the exhibition "Before Jello Biafra or Green Day San Francisco Gave the World Anna Banana, Ms. Ann Thrope, and Irene Dogmatic" does not provide as exhilarating an experience as a Dead Kennedys show, it does give viewers a peak into the beginnings of S.F.'s do-it-yourself punk, zine, and international mail-art movements. Participating artists -- including Bill Gaglione, Tim Mancusi, and Mr. Industrial Music Monte Cazazza -- were a part of Bay Area Dada, a group from the '70s and early '80s dedicated to the idea of mainstream agitation via absurd activity. The relics from this era have a gorgeous, graphic savviness to them. Dense layers of fuchsia, red, turquoise, and black give the color-copied calendars produced by Barbara Cushman a kind of crazed volatile aliveness. The show's a little thin on chronology and context, but curator John Held Jr. will flesh the subject out when he leads a panel discussion with some of the original Bay Area Dadaists Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Main Library. "Before Jello Biafra ..." is up through Sept. 12 in the Main's Skylight Gallery, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277.
At a "recycling show" at the Boulder Museum this summer Christian Spruell showed some compelling work. He cut the noses and mouths out of student yearbook photos and transplanted them onto others' faces. The results were disturbing and funny enough for him to blow up two of the silliest ones real big (4 feet high) and add them to the craziness that is his massive, wall-sized painting.
It seems like none of the sections of Neighborhood Noses should work together. Not the patch of safety orange, red, and charcoal striping; or the drably patterned wallpaper; or the tiny photograph of a finely decorated Eastern religious man; or the dark rust and yellow layers; or the constellation of dots with names or words (Shelley, Pablo, Jesus, sex) attached. But they do. Spruell precariously but successfully unites the sections with a few broad scribble strokes that flow through the piece in a boldly charged rush. The result is a colossal work that teeters on an almost ugly/almost divine edge. It is on exhibit as part of "The Young and the Restless ... Again," up through Sept. 1 at Bucheon Gallery, 540 Hayes at (Octavia), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2891.
-- Marcy Freedman