KATIE KURTZ PICKS
•"The Wizard of Oz" Not much has changed since L. Frank Baum's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz debuted over a century ago and gave Americans something we still crave: escape to a fantastical land free of wicked witches. These days it's not the Emerald City that Dorothys everywhere are tripping toward but a place called "hope." The works in this group show curated by Jens Hoffmann, including more than 20 artists (Clare Rojas, Raymond Pettibon, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, et al.), were made either in response to the classic tale or relate to the story's many layered meanings.
Sept. 2Dec. 13. Reception Sept. 2. CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, 1111 Eighth St., SF. (415) 551-9210, www.wattis.org
•"Vocabularies of Metaphor: More Stories" In this group show of works on paper highlighting deconstructed narratives, all but two of the 16 artists included are women one of Henry Darger's Vivian Girls drawings makes an appearance. "Vocabularies" is a chance to see how women are considering the figure female, male, and animal in a postnatural world, though this idea is not the exhibit's emphasis. Of note are Rachelle Sumpter's gauzy gouaches, Canadian Yuka Yamaguchi's dismembered turtles, and Pakistani Shahzia Sikander's nature-inspired pattern-making.
Sept. 6Oct. 18. Reception Sept. 6. Hosfelt Gallery, 430 Clementina, SF. (415) 495-5454, www.hosfeltgallery.com
•California Academy of Sciences The mothership of scientific and sustainable nerdiness finally opens! This Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified facility includes a planetarium, swamp, rainforest, and a living roof. If you prefer your nature virtual, you can always hang out with the PenguinCam.
Big Bang opening gala Sept. 25; free to the public all day Sept. 27. 55 Music Concourse, Golden Gate Park, SF. (415) 379-8000, www.calacademy.org
•"Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900" Scientific photography of yesteryear is a healthy reminder of just how long we've been trying to discover everything that can possibly be discovered and recording it for posterity. More than 200 photographs, American and European, scientific and pseudoscientific.
Oct. 11Jan. 4, 2009. SFMOMA, 151 Third St., SF. (415) 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org
•"The Gatherers: Greening Our Urban Spheres" Co-curated by Berin Golonu and independent curator Veronica Wiman of Sweden, this activist exhibition is intended to further the green dialogue through collaborations between artists and organizations, conversations with the public, and urban interventions.
Oct. 31Jan. 11, 2009. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF. (415) 978-ARTS, www.ybca.org
KIMBERLY CHUN PICKS
•"Barbara Holmes and Casey Logan" What a dump! The two artists' four-month residency climaxes with 3-D work inspired by and composed of salvaged material. Sculptor Holmes worked with wooden lattice to create a series of kaleidoscopic forms in assorted states of weatheredness, while Logan morphed musical gear and other detritus into pieces that meld with his fascination with science and fiction.
Sept. 2627. SF Recycling Art Studio, 503 Tunnel, SF. www.sfrecycling.com/AIR
•"Nikki McClure" The graphic rep of Olympia, Wash.'s riot grrrl scene is undoubtedly best known for her bold, iconic paper cuts revolving around nature, motherhood, activism, and community.