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'You Ought'a Be in Pictures'
Through Feb. 2, Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery

STEVE DEFRANK, Jason Mecier, and Rob Conger are all portraitists, but definitely not the conventional, paint-and-canvas kind. DeFrank specializes in Lite-Brite art and has developed a unique process for dyeing the little plastic Hasbro pegs, creating thousands of custom shades. Each of his electric portraits, which he's showing in the Bay Area for the first time, uses between 60,000 and 80,000 pegs. His pictures are often funny, often embarrassing, and sometimes both at the same time, like the huge portrait of his parents wearing nothing but their tan lines, wristwatches, and '70s-style hairdos. San Francisco artist Jason Mecier, well known locally for his macaroni portraits of TV celebrities, here branches out beyond noodles, contributing mixed-media portraits of Rod Serling, the Rock, and Linda Blair. Each collage is a collection of objects specially chosen for the subject's personality. Up close it's almost impossible to tell they're portraits – The Rock is just a jumble of WWF merchandise, and Rod Serling is nothing more than a bunch of old keys and office supplies – but as you back away, they resolve into images that are almost photo-realistic. The resemblance of Rod Serling to the real man is particularly uncanny. Mecier perfectly captures him in the midst of delivering the familiar Twilight Zone introduction, right down to the particular curl of his lip over his teeth and the piercing look in his eye. The third artist in the show, Rob Conger, rounds out this group of unconventional portraitists with his three old-fashioned hooked rugs: Alan Greenspan, Greenspan Praying, and Greenspan Attentive. Now you too can have the Federal Reserve Board chair warming your toes in the privacy of your own home. Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 942 Clay, Oakl. (510) 625-1350. (Lindsey Westbrook)