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"Facing the Mask." What is a face? Deborah Barrett never tires of the question, cutting up her own exquisite portrait drawings and reassembling them to create new personages. Profoundly asymmetrical, her rearranged physiognomies are strangely lifelike. Instinctively, we recognize that real people's faces are composed of dissonant features. Like Harry Harlow's monkeys — the 1950s psychologist found that primate babies formed attachments to dolls with the most minimal facial features, just button eyes and mouths — we accept even the most peculiar "face," and our brains struggle to hold the image together. Barrett is a master of the visual double entendre; in a related series of collages, she places fragments of antique engravings within a standard profile. These are odd, soft-featured females, pictures that at second glance reveal a sideways George Washington, the curls of a French dandy, or the drapery of a Greek philosopher. The eye switches back and forth between the two readings, amused and disturbed, calling to mind the famous visual pun of a young Victorian woman whose neckband becomes the mouth of an old woman. A trio of small-scale oil portraits with scribbled and hesitant strokes rendered in a palette of ochres, greens, and grays shows Barrett to be a sensitive painter as well as a collagist. She's also a sculptor, having created a colony of small fantastic beings in plaster whose sole features are their staring glass eyes. The modest scale of the works belies their power — and Barrett's fine artistic intelligence. Through Oct. 21 at Jack Fischer Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), Suite 440, S.F. Admission is free; call 974-6273 or visit www.jackfischergallery.com. (Lea Feinstein) Reviewed Sept. 27.

"For Instance" and "Red Ribbon." One artist's cute toy is another's creepy nightmare or social commentary — just ask painter of big-eyed children Margaret Keane and her irony-drenched imitators. Liliana Porter at "For Instance" and Gideon Rubin at "Red Ribbon" (companion art exhibits) explore this seesaw effect. Porter's photos, prints, and fabric works often feature casts of tiny porcelain figurines against deep, monochromatic backgrounds. Their positioning and relationships say plenty, none of it probably intended by the original manufacturers of rosy-cheeked girlies or glossy penguins. Rubin's pale, washy paintings of toy soldiers and lonely dolls sleeping have a different feel. In his statement on the gallery's Web site, he suggests that his sadness at having been in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, is partially visible on his canvases. Through Oct. 14 at Hosfelt Gallery, 430 Clementina (at Fifth St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 495-5454 or visit www.hosfeltgallery.com. (Hiya Swanhuyser) Reviewed Aug. 30.

"The Louisiana Project." Carrie Mae Weems is a photographer and poet, with an archivist's bent for unearthing trenchant historical documents. Her complex multipart exhibition, dealing with racial, sexual, and social roles in historic New Orleans, includes an original film with voice-over, a wall-to-wall installation of related film stills on large canvases, and three series of photographic narratives. In all the narratives she puts herself into the picture, and, like a poet, uses recurring rhythms and repetition to make her points. Each photograph acts as a stanza; the combined whole creates visual poems. In this exhibit Weems has created a template for a story that should be told and retold. Her gifts for poetic narrative and historic reconstruction create different, questioning ways of looking at our common past. Ideally the artist will be commissioned to return to New Orleans to ponder at length, and in greater depth, the course of history. Through Oct. 9 at the Museum of the African Diaspora, 685 Mission (at Third St.), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 358-7200 or visit www.moadsf.org. (Lea Feinstein) Reviewed Aug. 30.

"Nostalgia." For a group exhibit with this title, Lisa Kokin certainly nailed the theme. Her sewn-together pieces made of found photos and buttons will send you into reveries, from the dizzying accumulation of portraits in Best Wishes, carefully stitched into something like a family bush (rather than a tree), to her crazy button shapes, in which Kokin links the tiny items by the hundreds to form human and animal shapes. Lauren Gibbes, in turn, offers colorful, retro diptychs pairing dissimilar images that beg for connection. Phase 7 matches a glowing beauty queen with a glistening horse, and in Dirty South Part II, a shirtless man ravishing a buxom woman sits alongside a tall, erect, nearly throbbing farm silo that brings to mind a ... well, you get the idea. Also features work by Andrew Phares and Lisa Solomon. Through Oct. 14 at AfterModern, 445 Bryant (at Second St.), S.F. Admission is free; call 512-7678 or visit www.aftermodern.com. (Michael Leaverton) Reviewed Sept. 13.

"The Red Sweaters Deployment Project." Past wars affected American civilian life in the form of shortages, rationing, and proactive responses like victory gardens and can drives. We haven't been asked to sacrifice or contribute anything in response to the war in Iraq — we're encouraged to blithely continue business as usual while the far-off quagmire claims thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi ones. Inspired by the lack of an acknowledged home front to this war — and by WWII propaganda posters encouraging civilians to "Knit for Victory!" — S.F. artist Nina Rosenberg began a campaign to knit one small red sweater for each American soldier killed in the war. Now gathered together and hung as an art installation, the tiny objects form an odd, poignant plea to recognize the death toll (nearly 3,000 U.S. lives at press time). Television viewers haven't seen a single coffin return from the Middle East, but one look at these thousands of little crafts, contributed by Rosenberg and concerned knitters around the world, acknowledges the tragedy by paying respect to both the loss of individuals and the numbing horror of a senselessly mounting body count. Through Oct. 28 at the Hardware Store Gallery, 3824 Mission (at Crescent), S.F. Admission is free; call 642-1505 or visit www.hardwarestoregallery.com. (Frances Reade) Reviewed Sept. 13.

"Sarah Cain: I Believe We Are Believers." Sarah Cain paints light. But instead of rendering the effects of light falling on objects — a traditional subject for painters — she dissects the spectrum. In a series of large-scale paintings on paper, the artist (a 2006 SECA award winner) uses a battery of techniques to explore, and reveal to us, the rainbow that makes up white light. In her work, "color" is ribbon and tile and leaves, not just pigment. Her paint — latex, acrylic, gouache, watercolor, Sumi ink — is sprayed, dripped, splashed, and painstakingly applied. It's both reflective and matte, transparent and opaque. Her art-supply store is the dime store. Cain organizes her paintings off-center, zooms in and elaborates a passage, then pulls back and renders broad swaths. She plots points, then establishes relationships between the points on the surfaces of her paintings — as well as between her canvases and points around the room. In these pieces there is a compelling tension between the accidental and the intentional, between areas of loose handling (sprayed lines) and areas of tightness (ruled lines), between small details and large, open, white fields. Cain isn't afraid to make "ugly" work that dances to no one's tune but her own. Because she applies small bells, ribbons, mirrored fringe, and glass beads to her surfaces, her pieces also sing. Richard Tuttle (a favorite of the artist) is visible as an influence — both in terms of his legendary attention to the relationship of forms and his choice of throw-away materials. Through Oct. 20 at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, 1969 California (at Octavia), S.F. Admission is free; call 351-1400 or visit www.anthonymeierfinearts.com. (Lea Feinstein) Reviewed Sept. 27.

111 Minna Gallery. "Flesh": Through Sept. 29. www.dandelionblack.com. 111 Minna (at Second St.), 974-1719, www.111minnagallery.com.

Precita Eyes Mural Center. "Adult Free-Play Art Time": Ongoing drop-in workshop with instructor Kristin Olsen; no experience necessary and no one turned away for lack of funds. Wednesdays, 7 p.m. $12. 348 Precita, 285-2287.

Andrea Schwartz Gallery. "John Belingheri": New work. Opening reception is Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 27. 525 Second St. (at South Park), 496-2090, www.asgallery.com.

Multiple San Francisco locations. APAture: Through Sept. 30. $10-$20. www.apature.org. multiple addresses within San Francisco.

City Hall. "It Won't Hurt": Through Oct. 17. 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Pl. (at Fulton), 554-5184.

Creativity Explored. "Solo Duet": Through Sept. 28. 3245 16th St. (at Dolores), 863-2108, www.creativityexplored.org.

Dolby Chadwick Gallery. "Excerpt": New work by Jim Phalen. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 30. 210 Post (at Grant) (Second Fl.), 956-3560, www.dolbychadwickgallery.com.

Galería de la Raza. "African by Legacy, Mexican by Birth": An exhibit of photography by Ayana V. Jackson and narratives by Marco Villalobos. Through Oct. 14. 2857 24th St. (at Bryant), 826-8009, www.galeriadelaraza.org.

Gallery 16. Alex Zecca: Daily. "Crazy Horse": Through Oct. 14. 501 Third St. (at Bryant), 626-7495.

Gregory Lind Gallery. "Grand Apartment": New drawings by Sarah Bostwick. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 14. 49 Geary (at Kearny), Fifth Fl., 296-9661, www.gregorylindgallery.com.

Haines Gallery. "Ancestral Altars": New work by Binh Danh. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 14. 49 Geary (at Kearny) (Fifth Fl.), 397-8114.

Hang Gallery. "Where We Live": New paintings by Ines Kramer. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. Through Sept. 30. "Unframed": Group show of new work on paper. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. Through Sept. 30. 556 Sutter (at Mason), 434-4264, www.hangart.com.

Hua Zang Si. "Exhibition of Twenty-one Categories of World-Class Treasures": Work by Master Wan Ko Yee (Dharma King Yangwo Yisinubu Wan Ko). Through Nov. 9. 3134 22nd St. (at Capp), 920-9816.

Jenkins Johnson Gallery. "Constructed Illusions": New photography and painting by Lori Nix, Julie Blackmon, and Francesca Sundsten. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 30. 464 Sutter (at Powell), 677-0770, www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com.

Lucky Juju Pinball/Art Gallery. "A Royal Flush": New drawings by Paul Purcell. Opening reception is Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. Through Sept. 26. 713 Santa Clara (at Webster), Alameda, 510-205-9793, www.ujuju.com.

Michelle O'Connor Gallery. "Home Ec": New work by Sarah Applebaum, Elide Endreson, Sherry Koyama, Christina La Sala, Julia Petho, and Allen Stickel. Opening reception is Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. Through Sept. 28. 2111 Mission (at 17th St.), 314-8396.

Newmark Gallery. "Public Space/Private Space: A Journey Through Drawing and Painting": New work by Larry Morace. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. Through Oct. 28. 251 Post (at Stockton), No. 412, 392-3692, www.newmarkgallery.com.

Patricia Sweetow Gallery. "Pyramid Dreams": Through Oct. 14. 49 Geary at Kearny, 788-5126.

Paul Thiebaud Gallery. "Michael Tompkins": New works on paper. Opening reception is Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. Through Nov. 4. 718 Columbus (at Filbert), 434-3055.

Presidio Officers' Club. "Plants + Insects: Art + Science": Through Nov. 19. 50 Moraga (at Arguello), 561-5500, www.presidio.gov.

Rena Bransten Gallery. "Amagansett": New work by Joseph Park. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 14. "Visionary Output": Group show of work by artists associated with the Creative Growth Arts Center. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 14. 77 Geary (at Grant), 982-3292, www.renabranstengallery.com.

Robert Koch Gallery. "David Parker": New photography. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Oct. 28. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 421-0122.

SF Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery. "Livia Stein, Mary Oros & Gustavo Rivera": New sculpture and paintings. Opening reception is Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 29. Fort Mason, Bldg. A, (Marina & Buchanan), 441-4777.

Southern Exposure. "COMMONspace": Through June 29, 2007. 2901 Mission (at 25th St.), 863-2141, www.soex.org.

Stephen Wirtz Gallery. "In All Probability": New sculpture by Shawn Smith. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 30. "Interior Spaces": New mixed media work by Hadi Tabatabai. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 30. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 433-6879, www.wirtzgallery.com.

Steven Wolf Fine Arts. "The Odyssey": Through Sept. 30. 49 Geary (at Kearny), 263-3677.

Toomey Tourell. "Off-Bite": New mixed-media work and handmade books by Heather Wilcoxon. Opening reception is Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 30. 49 Geary (at Kearny) (Fourth Fl.), 989-6444.

Urbis Artium Gallery. "Peach Vejvi": New work by Zane Peach and Torbjörn Vejvi. Opening reception is Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m. Through Sept. 29. 49 Geary (at Kearny), Suite 202, 369-9404, www.urbis-artium.com.

Asian Art Museum. "In a New Light: The Asian Art Museum Collection": A display of more than 2,500 objects from the museum's permanent collection explores the major cultures of Asia. Daily. Free with museum admission. "Shadows, Masks and Music: Aspects of the Performing Arts in Asia": The museum displays a diverse collection of musical instruments, set designs, costumes, and masks that are used in Asian performances. Tuesdays-Sundays. Free with museum admission. Gallery Tours: Trained museum docents offer both general introductions to the museum's collections as well as tours that highlight special exhibitions. Tuesdays-Sundays, 11, 11:30 a.m., 1 & 2 p.m. Free with museum admission. Architectural Tours: Learn about the transformation of the old San Francisco Main Public Library into the Asian Art Museum's new quarters with this regular tour. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays, 12 & 2:30 p.m.; Thursdays, 12, 2:30 & 6:30 p.m. Free with museum admission. "Asian Art Museum Storytelling": Each weekend the museum leads a family-oriented tour through a particular exhibit, followed up by a retelling of stories related to the exhibits. Sundays, 1 p.m.; First Saturday of every month, 1 p.m. Free with museum admission. "Family Art Encounter": Drop in to make arts and crafts pieces related to the museum's current exhibits. First Saturday of every month, 1 p.m.; First Tuesday of every month, 11 a.m. Free with museum admission. Target Tuesday Family Program: Each month this special family program presents an activity connected with Asian art and customs. First Tuesday of every month, 11 a.m. Free with museum admission. 200 Larkin (at McAllister), 581-3500, www.asianart.org.

The Beat Museum. The Beat Museum Grand Opening: Enjoy readings and stories from Michael McClure, Al Hinkle, Magda Cregg, Wavy Gravy, John Allen Cassady, and Jack Hirschman, along with an artist exhibition and appearance by Stanley Mouse. Wed., Sept. 27, 7 p.m. 540 Broadway (at Columbus), 399-9626, www.kerouac.com.

Berkeley Art Museum. First Impressions: Free First Thursdays: Check out a world of art and film with free entry to the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive each month. Thursdays, 11 a.m. Free. 2626 Bancroft (at Telegraph), Berkeley, 510-642-0808, www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.

Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture. "Between Science & Art: Work in Botanical Illustration": A collection of art created in the San Francisco Botanical Garden's botanical illustration courses taught by Mary Harden. Oct. 1-Dec. 30. free. Strybing Arboretum & Botanical Gardens (Golden Gate Park, Lincoln & Ninth Ave.), 661-1316, ext. 303.

Cable Car Museum. Permanent Exhibit: Located in a historic cable car powerhouse, the museum displays a variety of cable car gear, historic photographs, installations explaining how the cars work, and several antique vehicles. Daily. Free. 1201 Mason (at Washington), 474-1887.

California Academy of Sciences. "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries": An exhibition that shatters many preconceived notions by presenting some of the most recent dino discoveries in the fields of paleontology, biomechanical engineering, and paleobotany. Daily. Docent Highlight Tours: Tours given by Academy docents highlight the HOTSPOT exhibit and Steinhart Aquarium. Ask the Information Desk for meeting place and times. Wednesdays-Fridays. "Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme": A permanent exhibition that explores the types of environments in the universe that could support life. Daily. "Illustrating the Sierra's Wildlife: The Artist's Studio Live": See first-hand the process of creating a field guide to more than 1,200 species of plants, fungi, and animals of the Sierra Nevada. Naturalist Jack Laws creates scientific illustrations inside a specially designed studio within the HOTSPOT exhibit. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. African Penguin Feedings: Watch an Academy biologist enter the penguin tank to toss vitamin-stuffed fish to the African penguins. Visitors can ask questions and talk to the birds' caretakers during the feeding shows. Daily, 11 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. Snake Feeding: Watch whip snakes feed on fish. Fridays, 2 p.m. free with museum admission. Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day: Participating museums nationwide will open their doors free of charge to the magazine's 7.1 million readers and their friends. Sat., Sept. 30, 10 a.m. free. "Hands-on Science": Visitors of all ages can examine microscopic aquatic life or study adaptations of marine animals with Academy docents and interns. Wednesdays-Fridays, 4 p.m. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.

Cartoon Art Museum. "Cartoon Tunes: Capturing Music in Comics": Examines the love affair between comics and music through more than 40 pieces of original artwork on themes from biographies of legendary jazz and blues musicians to childhood musical memories to illustrated song lyrics. Artists include R. Crumb, Lloyd Dangle, Gene Deitch, Eric Drooker, Gary Dumm, and many others. Through Oct. 15. Monthly Cartooning Classes for Adults: An intensive monthly workshop for aspiring comic artists, writers, and fans of the medium, taught by a professional cartoonist focusing on an area of his or her expertise. Fourth Saturday of every month, 1 p.m. $40-$50. 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), 227-8666, www.cartoonart.org.

Chabot Space & Science Center. "Astronomy in California 1850-1950: Telescope Makers, Telescopes, and Artifacts": Take a look at California's rich history in astronomy with this display of telescopes, astronomy history documents, and other ephemera. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Skywise — Astronomy Cartoon Exhibit": Help your child understand that vastness and majesty of space with this exhibit of astronomy comic strips. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Destination Universe": Take a virtual journey from the sun to the end of the cosmos with exhibits on nebulae, space travel, black holes, and moving galaxies. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Mars Encounter": The National Aeronautics and Space Administration sponsors this exhibit on travel to Mars, which includes data on current and past missions, a giant tactile Mars globe, and Martian meteorites. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. "One Giant Leap: A Moon Odyssey": Take a simulated moonwalk, try on a space helmet, climb into a space capsule, and virtually land a lunar module in this exhibit. Daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. Discovery Lab: Intended for kids aged 3-7, the Discovery Lab contains hands-on science experiments that illustrate scientific phenomena like wind and moving machines. Wednesdays-Fridays, 1 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:30 a.m.; Sundays, noon. free with museum admission, $9-$13. "Garden Days in the EnviroGarden": Explore the mysteries of planet Earth with hands-on activities, including worm composting, hiking in the forest, or building minivolcanoes. Saturdays, noon. "Escape From the Red Planet!": The hour-long simulated mission on Mars casts kids as the crew on a struggling space shuttle. Saturdays, 12:30 & 2:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. free with museum admission, $9-$13. 10000 Skyline (at Joaquin Miller, in Joaquin Miller Park), Oakland, 510-336-7300.

de Young Museum. "Armando Rascon: Naco Nocturnes": Rascon uses museum and other personal artifacts as a platform to engage individual memories that redefine cultural perspectives. Through Nov. 5. "Since 2001: Recent Prints by Ed Ruscha": The approximately 25 prints featured in this exhibition are recent additions to the Edward Ruscha Graphic Arts Archive, a body of work that was acquired by the Fine Arts Museums in 2000. Through March 4, 2007. "The Quilts of Gee's Bend": The quilts of Gee's Bend make San Francisco the final stop in their widely acclaimed nationwide tour. Through Dec. 31. "Chicano": Through Oct. 22. "Highlights of the Art and Architecture of the New de Young": Enjoy a 50-minute, docent-led tour. Through Dec. 31, 10:30 a.m. "Introduction to the Masterworks of the New de Young Collections": Enjoy a 50-minute, docent-led tour. Through Dec. 31, 12:30 p.m. "Friday Nights at the de Young": An art-focused happy hour, with special performances and hands-on activities plus cheap admission. Fridays, 5 p.m. $5. 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden (at JFK), 863-3330, www.thinker.org.

Exploratorium. "Traits of Life": A major exhibition area with 30 biology exhibits and demonstrations that help visitors understand the fundamental elements common to all living things from humans to amoebas. Daily. Free with museum admission. 3601 Lyon (at Marina), 397-5673, www.exploratorium.edu.

The Holocaust Center of Northern California. "Holocaust Center of Northern California": The newly opened center's first exhibit showcases its facilities, including a library with more than 15,000 historical volumes, a reading room for screening documentaries and holding educational talks, and ongoing displays of the center's thousands of photographs and artifacts. Tuesdays, Thursdays, 1-6 p.m.; Mondays, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 777-9060, www.holocaust-sf.org.

Lawrence Hall of Science. "Forces That Shape the Bay": The museum's permanent science park exhibit explores new ways to understand the bay. Daily. "Prove It — A ChemMystery": Kids and adults attempt to solve crimes using the basic forensic skills they learn step-by-step at the exhibit. Daily. Free with admission, free-$8.50. Centennial & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, 510-642-5132.

Legion of Honor. "Big Kids/Little Kids": Children aged 3 1/2 to 6 years and their parents take a gallery tour and then participate in a related hands-on art activity. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum admission, free-$8. "Doing and Viewing Art": Kids aged 7-12 and their families tour the Legion of Honor's galleries before taking part in a hands-on creative workshop led by a professional artist. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum entrance fee, free-$8. Organ Concert: Weekly organ concerts. Saturdays, Sundays, 4 p.m. free. Ford Free Tuesdays: Get in free to the Legion of Honor every Tuesday, thanks to a grant from the Ford Motor Co. Tuesdays. Free. 100 34th Ave. (near Clement), 863-3330, www.thinker.org.

Museum of Craft & Folk Art. "Menagerie: Artists Look at Animals": An exhibition that focuses on contemporary representations of animals created by artists from throughout North America. Through Oct. 22. 51 Yerba Buena Lane (at Mission), 227-4888, www.mocfa.org.

Museum of the African Diaspora. "Carrie Mae Weems: The Louisiana Project.": Through Oct. 9. "Patterns: Traditional West African Textiles and the Art of Gee's Bend Quilts": Combines work from the west coast of the African continent with quilts by a creative community of women in Gee's Bend, Alabama. Through Oct. 16. Conversation with the Artist - Carrie Mae Weems: Carrie Mae Weems discusses "The Louisiana Project." Sat., Sept. 30, 1 p.m. St. Regis Hotel, 685 Mission (at Third St.), 358-7200, www.moadsf.org.

Oakland Museum of California. "Oakland to the Rescue!": Exhibition of items from the 1906 earthquake. Through Dec. 31. "Video Work by Bill Viola": Newly acquired video work by the internationally known artist Bill Viola. Through Dec. 31. 1000 Oak (at 10th St.), Oakland, 510-238-2200, www.museumca.org.

Randall Museum. Amy Meyer: Join Amy Meyer, author of New Guardians of the Golden Gate #208 How America Got a Great National Park, for a special evening presentation. Thu., Sept. 28, 7:30 p.m. free. "Magnificent Magnifiers": See hand-crafted antique microscopes on loan from Technical Instrument San Francisco, along with two giant microscopes. Through Oct. 16. School Days: After the Quake: This kid-friendly, interactive exhibit features historical photographs, objects, and a full-scale reproduction of a refugee shack, a hovel that became home to many families after the devastating 1906 tremor. A working seismograph will also intrigue any kid or science nerd interested in knowing more about the technical aspects of tectonic-plate shifting, which cause our really cool and quite frightening earthquakes. Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 21. free. "Saturdays Are Special": Ongoing weekly drop-in, hands-on art and science workshops. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Free-$3. "Drop-In Art and Science Workshops": Each week kids and parents can participate in artistic activities that illuminate some aspect of science. Saturdays, 1 p.m. $3 per person. 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600, www.randallmuseum.org.

San Francisco Fire Museum. "Permanent Exhibits": Included among the items on display at this museum are antique fire extinguishers, old uniforms, cast-iron replicas of historic fire engines, hooks, ladders, and other ephemera. Daily. Free. 655 Presidio Avenue (at Bush), 563-4630.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. "Sparks, Waves & Wizards: Communication at Sea": The permanent exhibit presents artifacts exploring the means of maritime communications. Daily. Free-$6. Fort Mason Building E (Marina & Buchanan), 561-7000.

San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum. "150 Years of Dance in California": The exhibit spotlights over a century of dance in the Golden State with photographs and programs. Daily. "Maestro!: Photographic Portraits by Tom Zimberoff": The artist captures a generation of national and international conductors in his portraits. Daily. 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), 255-4800, www.sfpalm.org.

San Jose Museum of Art. "Inside Out: Selections From the Permanent Collection": Highlights of the museum's 35th-anniversary exhibition include Mildred Howard's Abode: Sanctuary for the Familia(r), a chamber built of blue glass bottles, and Brian Goggin's Desire for the Other, a couch stuffed with household appliances. Daily. Free. 110 South Market (at San Fernando), San Jose, 408-271-6840.

SF Maritime Museum. Permanent Collection of Ship Models: A big collection of figureheads, maritime paintings, photos, and artifacts. Daily. Fisherman's Wharf (at Polk), 556-3002.

SF Museum of Modern Art. "The Art of Design": A permanent exhibition of works in the museum's architecture and design collection, including works of graphic and industrial design (such as the famous Fillmore rock posters by Bonnie MacLean, Victor Moscoso, and Stanley Mouse). Daily. "Matisse and Beyond: The Painting and Sculpture Collection": Magnificent works of painting and sculpture culled from SFMOMA's own collections provide a quick tour of modern art from Fauvism to Minimalism. Daily. "New Work: Phil Collins": Collins' video installation dünya dinlemiyor (the world won't listen) features young people in Istanbul, performing karaoke versions of tracks from the eponymous album by the Smiths, recorded with musicians in Bogot. Through Jan. 1, 2007. "Between Art and Life: The Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Collection": The ongoing exhibition presents works from SFMOMA's own collections, with special installations on artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Sherrie Levine, Brice Marden, Gordon Matta-Clark, Barry McGee, Bruce Nauman, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kara Walker. Daily. "Imposing Order: Contemporary Photography and the Archive": This exhibition highlights contemporary critiques of the notion of the archive, presenting artworks that explore the documentary nature of photography as well as the human compulsion to create order. Through Jan. 2, 2007. "Picturing Modernity: Selections From the SFMOMA Collection": An exhibition of photographs from SFMOMA's own collection that illustrate a wide range of photographic styles. Daily. Tina in Mexico: A film by Brenda Longfellow. Through Jan. 2, 2007. Documentaries on Frida Kahlo: Films about the artist. Through Oct. 20. free with museum admission. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. Daily. "Mexico as Muse: Tina Modotti and Edward Weston": An exhibit of the most significant photographs that Tina Modotti and Edward Weston, two of the major figures in 20th-century photography, made during their time in Mexico. Through Jan. 2, 2007. "SFMOMA Collection Highlights": In addition to spotlighting photographs, paintings, and sculptures in the SFMOMA collection, this audio guide includes a musical tour. Daily. $3. Daily Tours: Topics change daily for these free tours led by SFMOMA docents. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays, 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 & 2:30 p.m. Spotlight Tours: These innovative tours bring artists' voices directly to visitors, beginning with a short video clip of a featured artist, then moving into the galleries for viewing and discussion. Fridays-Sundays, noon. "Artistic Freedom and Meaning": A talk by Terri Cohn, writer, curator, and visiting faculty from the San Francisco Art Institute, in conjunction with "Matisse and Beyond." Fri., Sept. 29, noon. free with museum admission. Art Scavengers: A Stanford Symposium on Found Objects: A symposium on the exhibit and activity with Pamela Lee, associate professor of art and art history, Stanford University; Chris Chafe, professor of music, Stanford University; Michael Shanks, professor of archeology, Stanford University; and Juliana Spahr, poet. Sun., Oct. 1, 2 p.m. free with museum admission. SFMOMA Scavengers: An Urban Adventure: Join participants from the daylong event as they reunite with artist Joshua Sofaer to share tales of their adventures and reflect upon the exhibition he created using their eclectic quarry. Tue., Oct. 3, noon. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.

The Society of California Pioneers. "Shake, Bake and Spin: Media in the Aftermath of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire": An exhibition using retrieved relics, photographs, newspapers, and and film to trace how media spin was used to redefine and profit from the 1906 quake. Through Dec. 8. 300 Fourth St. (at Folsom), 957-1849, www.californiapioneers.org.

California Academy of Sciences. "Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries": An exhibition that shatters many preconceived notions by presenting some of the most recent dino discoveries in the fields of paleontology, biomechanical engineering, and paleobotany. Daily. Docent Highlight Tours: Tours given by Academy docents highlight the HOTSPOT exhibit and Steinhart Aquarium. Ask the Information Desk for meeting place and times. Wednesdays-Fridays. "Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme": A permanent exhibition that explores the types of environments in the universe that could support life. Daily. "Illustrating the Sierra's Wildlife: The Artist's Studio Live": See first-hand the process of creating a field guide to more than 1,200 species of plants, fungi, and animals of the Sierra Nevada. Naturalist Jack Laws creates scientific illustrations inside a specially designed studio within the HOTSPOT exhibit. Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:30 a.m. African Penguin Feedings: Watch an Academy biologist enter the penguin tank to toss vitamin-stuffed fish to the African penguins. Visitors can ask questions and talk to the birds' caretakers during the feeding shows. Daily, 11 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. Snake Feeding: Watch whip snakes feed on fish. Fridays, 2 p.m. free with museum admission. Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day: Participating museums nationwide will open their doors free of charge to the magazine's 7.1 million readers and their friends. Sat., Sept. 30, 10 a.m. free. "Hands-on Science": Visitors of all ages can examine microscopic aquatic life or study adaptations of marine animals with Academy docents and interns. Wednesdays-Fridays, 4 p.m. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org. California Academy of Sciences. "Xtreme Life": Learn how scientists search for life in some of Earth's most extreme environments. Daily. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. "Sampling Oakland": Through Oct. 8. 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787, www.ybca.org.

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Galleries. "Cosmic Wonder": The infinite, the transcendental, the unseen — these are the artistic quests of "Cosmic Wonder," an exhibition of metaphysical art that gives colorful expression to the mystical yearnings of a new generation. Through Nov. 5. 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787.

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