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"Beautiful Losers" and "Free Basin." What do 14-year-old skate rats have to do with art? Are hip hop and punk kids somehow important in the grand cultural scheme of things? And is it really cool to walk around underneath a swimming pool? "Lots," "Uh-huh," and "Totally" are the answers, all of which you can discover for yourself at "Beautiful Losers" and "Free Basin," two concurrent art exhibits centered around youth and street culture. "Losers" is a collection of visual art documenting the fraught relationship between edge and acceptance: Warhol and Basquiat are represented, as are scrappy locals like Margaret Kilgallen and Clare Rojas and everyone in between. "Basin," a massive sculptural installation, is essentially a re-creation of an empty swimming pool, aka the perfect place to skateboard. Attendees enter the gallery and are funneled in under the bowl as it's being used -- the auditory barrage is part of the concept. Through Oct. 10 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-2787 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed July 14.

"Beniamino Bufano." It's no secret that plenty of adults enjoy entertainment created with kids in mind, which seems fine to us. And we've all known girls who were reading Jane Austen at age 12 -- also OK. But it's something else when a children's museum takes serious art and acts like it's just for kids: That's just plain thievery. All right, we exaggerate. But art lovers with or without kids should know that eight pieces by world-famous sculptor Beniamino Bufano have moved, and they now live next-door to a "Live Animal Exhibit." Bufano's butterfly, mother bear nursing cubs, and regal cat may be cute, but they're still major works. Tours circle the giant granites starting at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday through Aug. 21 at the Randall Museum, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), S.F. Admission is free; call 554-9600 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed July 14.

"Busted: Felipe Dulzaides and Robin Rhode." "Busted" is a breezy summer show, just the ticket for New Langton Arts' sweltering second-story gallery space. The exhibition is dominated by Felipe Dulzaides' Big Surf, in which footage of a water park in Phoenix is projected through a hole in the seat of a full-size lifeguard station, toppled onto the gallery floor. The video's scenario is almost comically banal: a giant pool emblazoned with a Pepsi logo and backed by a painted sunset gets swept, every four minutes, by a uniform wave, to the shrieking delight of the bobbing swimmers. Robin Rhode's Space Drawings, an unassuming installation in the back of the gallery, document the artist's crafty interventions on the urban landscape of Minneapolis. Armed with a bottle of foaming glass cleanser, Rhode made a series of drawings of bicycles and motion lines, then snapped shots of people interacting with them just before the foam dissolved. Through July 24 at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom (at Eighth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 626-5416 or visit (Adrienne Gagnon) Reviewed July 21.

"The Mating Season." Matt Furie's world is the kind of joyful, creepy place we love. The keen fashion sense of his figures, many of them stuffed animals gone awry, doesn't hurt, and neither do the cartoonishly bleak backgrounds full of rocks and scrub grass. The Ohio artist's quirky crayon-colored drawings show such things as baboons in altrock-wear and cute animals making sweet, sweet love to ecstatic birds; you'll also catch the occasional obsessively detailed self-portrait. This new show promises more windows into Furie's strange and charming mind. Through Aug. 14 at the National Product Gallery, 1845 Market (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 255-1920 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed July 14.

"Raggedy Ann and Friends: The Art of Johnny Gruelle." She's 89, he's 84, and their best friends are children and toy collectors. Raggedy Ann and Andy are not your typical seniors, and their enduring charm makes us love them for it. That yarn hair! Those wide eyes! But the famous pair of old-fashioned rag doll characters are not the only creations of illustrator Johnny Gruelle, many of whose other comic strips (Mr. Twee Deedle, Jack the Giant Killer, Brutus) and books are exhibited at "Raggedy Ann and Friends: The Art of Johnny Gruelle" along with plenty of his drawings for magazines and newspapers. Tons of Ann and Andy stuff has been collected by Gruelle-obsessed curator Andrew Tabbat, including dolls, ephemera, and animation art. Through Nov. 8 at the Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), S.F. Admission is free-$6; call 227-8666 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed July 7.

"Tinkering!" The act of taking stuff apart and (optionally) putting it back together is traditionally the province of dads. This summer, though, everyone's favorite science museum is bringing such futzing out of the garage and into the public domain. Women and children, prepare your tool kits for "Tinkering!," an exhibition and series of events designed to give people the "So that's how it works!" experience. (Dad can come along, too.) The exhibit's Take-It-Apart Days feature cars, toasters, bicycles, and other machines just for dismantling. The related display "Cabaret Mechanical Theater" offers a set of hand-carved "automata" sculptures full of gears and other moving parts. And a film series highlights great tinkerers like Grandma Tressa Prisbrey, builder of glass-bottle houses. Through Oct. 3 at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Marina), S.F. Museum admission is free-$9.50; call 561-0360 or visit (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed June 30.

"Yoshitomo Nara: Nothing Ever Happens." Yoshitomo Nara's unruly kids have been corralled together for the artist's first U.S. solo show, opening this Sunday. The Tokyo-based Nara draws on the manga tradition to create an irresistible cohort of wide-eyed children, by turns sweet and saucy. Some doze dreamily in giant sculpted teacups; others sport scowls and curse us out from pages of newsprint. Though they look terrific emblazoned on T-shirts and mugs, Nara's protagonists transcend mere marketing fodder. They remind us, with their sweetly fanged smiles, that it's possible to make mischief -- even when it seems certain that your voice will never be heard. The show runs July 25 to Oct. 31 at the San Jose Museum of Art, 110 South Market (at West San Fernando), San Jose. Admission is free; call (408) 271-6840 or visit (Adrienne Gagnon) Reviewed July 21.


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