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Maps and Legends 

Wednesday, Nov 4 1998
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In his gargantuan installation "Dhghmunculus," Scott MacLeod invites viewers to consider the notion of transformation in art via the trappings of an alchemical laboratory. MacLeod spent several years collecting furniture, medical and construction tools, old phonographs, bugs, rusty springs, and broken computer parts in order to compose them into the several loose sets of experiments that seem to be under way in the installation. The results emphasize an artist's (and consequently a viewer's) need to see, record, and reorder to produce an epiphany.

In one small piece on a shelf in the lab, MacLeod places a magnifying glass in front of an insect. Its stunning forest green, brown, and golden-tinged wings are radiantly enlarged. But the artist doesn't let us get away with a pretty moment -- when our eyes tire of this spectacle, they continue downward to the fecal matter the insect is resting on. As it dawns on us we've been taken, we realize we've fallen for the tricks of a clever cultural conjurer. "Dhghmunculus" is on view through Nov. 21 at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is free; call 864-8855.

Moving to the suburbs has long been one answer to the city dweller's woes. There's less congestion, the air is cleaner, the lawns are greener and bigger, and, most importantly, there's privacy. Laugh, talk, and play music as loud as you like and no downstairs neighbor is going to pound on your ceiling with a broomstick and tell you to keep it down.

But along with this autonomy, a different set of problems arise. In a suburb not far from our fair city, Harrell Fletcher and Jon Rubin address some of these issues in their show "Wanderings and Observations in Walnut Creek." Because most suburbs have become heterogeneous and lacking in mystery, Fletcher and Rubin have created a poetic navigation through a space whose rigid order seems to be ruled by its overzealous parking enforcement. In Garage Sale Map Paintings the pair spend a day getting to know the locals by visiting them at their homes, buying their possessions, and then making a series of six optically rich, black-and-white oil paintings visually describing directions given to them by people throughout the day.

Fletcher and Rubin show off their art-making and gallery-presenting savvy in 11 other pieces that explore everything from high art to the seemingly mundane nature of weeds. The exhibit continues through Nov. 8 at the Bedford Gallery, Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. Admission is free; call (925) 295-1417.

-- Marcy Freedman

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Marcy Freedman

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