Step into the serene Varnish Fine Art, grab a glass of wine, and witness, in close proximity, the end of days according to Frank Garvey, master roboticist and apocalyptic visionary. You'll first notice the paintings in "Children's Crusade," four jumbo panels filled with fiery scenes that echo past centuries' heavily peopled depictions of hell and the endless abominations therein. But Garvey tweaks the idea by including a smoky carnival atmosphere, part modern midway, part ribald medieval festival, with strange skeletal creatures looming over jugglers, tightrope-walkers, skateboarders, and punks. A mushroom cloud anchors Hell on Earth, with pod people hunkered down among clownish, club-wielding men beating each other senseless. Scrawled at the top are the words "When preachers talk apocalypse they lie ... the poor see Hell on Earth before they die."
The series is fascinating, a world of tiny scenes to absorb, but Garvey isn't merely a painter, as the robots scattered around the gallery attest (often loudly). These are a long way from your AIBO; the misshapen, twisted-metal 'bots resemble grotesque creatures, often set upon squat wheels and assigned specific roles: Plowgirl is a junkie, Goboy is a panhandler, and Humper, whose genitals contain a 20,000-volt stun-gun circuit, is a robotic whore. During the closing night's show, Garvey intends to fire up the beasts as part of an Omnicircus performance, which he describes as a "surrealist cabaret ritual with robots, songs, weird movements," and something mysterious called "spoken sword." The closing show starts at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Varnish Fine Art, 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 222-6131 or visit www.varnishfineart.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
See "For Two"
I'm still distraught at having missed the Sunday evening flamenco performances in (dearly departed tapas restaurant) Timo's back room. I'd find myself there, eating dinner and watching the beautiful ladies preparing to dazzle the lucky audience members who'd wisely made reservations; later, by craning my neck, I could sometimes see the flutter of a fringed shawl. One of those ladies was Yaelisa, a dancer whose talent landed her on SF Weekly's cover last year. This weekend, she and her Caminos Flamencos company present me (and you) with a way to right the wrongs of the past: Take in "Flamenco Pá Dos" at 8 p.m. Saturday or Sunday at the Cowell Theater, Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $15-35; call 345-7575 or visit www.caminosflamencos.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Dan's fabulous life
Growing up with his dad, the famed Mexican composer Lalo Guerrero, provided endless inspiration for little Danny Guerrero. What that life inspired was, however, unexpected. Dan fell in love with music, all right, but it was the songs of Judy Garland and Ethel Merman that spoke to him -- and you know what that means. Dan went on to become a singer, dancer, and big Broadway agent, eventually blossoming into a full-on gaytino (or fabulous gay Latino).
Now, at 60-plus years and in his own solo show, he tells the painful, provocative, and hilarious coming-of-age tale of his trip out of the closet. A bilingual father-son story that weaves its way through decades of Chicano history with music and humor, ¡Gaytino! opens Friday night at 8 (and continues through Sunday) at the Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), S.F. Admission is $22-26; call 647-2822 or visit www.brava.org.
-- Karen Macklin
And it's mighty fine
Sure, Mighty stands as the best nightclub Northern California has to offer, and, yes, the Oakland Tribune did just profile the dorky Ecstasy aficionados who frequent the venue. (Drug use in San Francisco? No shit.) But the discothèque nestled under the freeway can now add another talent to its résumé: art house. At the "Mighty Gallery Debut," all sorts of stunning works will be available for your viewing pleasure, from installations to video, conceived by 19 artists, including Dave Schubert, Coro, and Ferris Plock. And in case you're one of those shameless lowbrows who sprint through museums rather than carefully studying the pieces, live music from Clipd Breaks and DJ Jefrodisiac should satisfy your not-so-visual side. The "Mighty Gallery Debut" starts at 7 p.m. at Mighty, 119 Utah (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-7001 or visit www.mighty119.com.
-- Brock Keeling
In an interview with the Polish poet Edward Zyman, Warsaw-born artist Jerzy Kolacz said, "In my opinion, art speaks today in a muted voice. It's appreciated by those who want to listen to it." Kolacz's paintings do indeed demand a properly tuned ear. The boxy shapes in his show "Memory Filter" merely hint at their titles: Suburbs C resembles the outline of a house, and Old Pier appears to be an overhead view of a dock (although with abstraction, you can never tell). A reception starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday (and the show continues through Nov. 19) at the Newmark Gallery, 251 Post (at Stockton), No. 412, S.F. Admission is free; call 392-3692 or visit www.newmarkgallery.com.
-- Michael Leaverton