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Wednesday, Aug 19 2009

Progress waits for no gallery. For the past seven years, Varnish Fine Art has occupied a retrofitted brewery building in SOMA, a space it transformed into a sophisticated showcase for exhibits — most often by local artists — happily cohabiting with a wine bar. Now, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority owns the property, and is evicting Varnish and many of its neighbors in anticipation of building the new Transbay Terminal. Michael Page, whose early work was championed by Varnish, offers a farewell solo show that highlights the ambiguity of change. His vigorous oil paintings teem with anthropomorphized plants and strangely evolved animals, organic forms in radioactive hues. Imagining a post–global-warming world abandoned by humans, Page creates colonies of creatures that become nearly abstract shapes, swirling like hurricanes or floating like clouds. Cartoony and futuristic, the images transport to a world way beyond eminent domain.

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Traci Vogel


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