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Gold From Straw 

A photographer's unusual eye

FRI 7/30

Roadside weeds are unlikely subjects for great photography. Even weirder are weeds decimated by paint from nearby graffiti. But photographer Laura Plageman makes both into serene, beautiful semiabstractions. Her careful compositions show exactly the value of an artist's eye: meaning and grace where everyone else sees crap. Plageman's pictures of the lives and belongings of Alzheimer's patients perform a similar magic, using intense colors to bring alive images of a world some would rather not see at all.

So when this particular artist announces a show called "Low-Lying," a collection of works on the theme of wetlands, we're guessing it won't be a sentimental, rule-following bunch of landscapes. Research indicates that viewers can expect creepy overgrown areas infested with barbed wire -- yet still, somehow, gorgeous. This woman not only has a sensitive optic nerve, but she also seems to have something to say about what we see and how we see it. The fact that the exhibition's title recalls Dorothy Parker's famous story collection Here Lies is just the cherry on top. The opening reception begins at 6 p.m. (the exhibition continues through Sept. 30) at Space, 1141 Polk (at Hemlock), S.F. Admission is free; call 674-1997 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Not a Crime
Skater boys write

SAT 7/31

The sport of skateboarding is finally getting some widespread appreciation, mostly through the release of Dogtown and Z-Boys (a movie so beautiful that ballet dancers everywhere hung their heads in shame) but also helped along by the charismatic superstardom of Tony Hawk and his flotilla of purchasable tie-ins. Yet the culture of shredding, with its goofy, reckless, punk rock mix of hyperactivity and sheer genius, has managed to remain unrepresented in spite of some schlocky B-movies like Gleaming the Cube. Life and Limb: Skateboarders Write From the Deep End brings skaters-turned-writers together to examine and analyze (but not sell out) their chosen culture. The book isn't an anthology of literary snapshots, its publisher says, but rather a look at the real pavement-battling people and the antics that have become part and parcel of riding around on a wheeled slab. Some of the authors read at 9 p.m. at the Canvas Gallery, 1200 Ninth Ave. (at Lincoln), S.F. Admission is free; call 504-0060 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser

Who Needs a Laugh Track?
Pithy flicks to crack you up from "Independent Exposure"

THURS 7/29

Attention, passengers: Your seat belt must remain fastened at all times. No smoking is allowed on board. And please refrain from giggling at Air Square, filmmaker Marcus Carney's preflight safety-lecture satire, screening at "Independent Exposure: Comedy Edition," a themed version of Microcinema International's regular abbreviated short film festivals. Along for the ride are Dance Machine (a portrait of one man's pursuit of boogie fever), Dacari and Donnell's Demo Tape (hip hop stylings from 6-year-old twin rappers), and Jon Wolanske's Party Stories (a look at the painful fallout from a miserable cocktail party guest's poor-me tales) starting at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St. (at Broadway), Oakland. Admission is $5-10; call (510) 444-7263 or visit
-- Joyce Slaton

Red Alert

SAT 7/31

First it was a home for San Francisco's labor movement. Then it housed artsy nonprofits that united against developers in 1999. Now local lefties celebrate its new status at the "Landmark Ceremony for the Redstone Labor Temple," a party with performances from the Rabbles, Jaime Cortez, and the Labor Temple Chorus starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is $10-100; visit
-- Joyce Slaton


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