Art writers love chewing on big ideas probably as much as self-indulgent actors enjoy masticating scenery. Remember the 19th-century Fletcherizing fad, the mandatory chewing of food 32 times before swallowing? Big thinkers love those aesthetic/theoretical enzymes, and consequently approach big group shows, with their smorgasbords of miscellaneous offerings, with the trepidation of a gourmet in a mall food court. That's a poor analogy, of course (even discounting the occasional critical pig-out on mere spectacle): The artworks in group shows are or can be as piquant and tasty as the designer delicacies at any gallery or museum. Kala Gallery is hosting Fresh Work, a large show featuring 101 works in all media made by 97 affiliated artists, i.e., members, residents, and staffers, that sprawls across the main gallery into two hallways, an office/storage room, and a conference room. With so many participants it's impossible to list all the names, but art mavens will recognize many names here and discover new ones.
Scan the buffet. Pieces that may tickle your eye-brain palate include: Alex Benedict's digital monoprint abstraction on canvas, "Swarm"; Jamie Brunson's minimalist oil-alkyd painting, "Dome Stupa"; Jessica Dunne's text-and-image book on making surfboards, Craft; Angie Garberina's wood/bronze castor sculpture, "Head Examining Apparatus #2"; Ewa Gavrielov's semi-abstract digital print, "Absent and Present"; Stephen Holloway's mysterious lithograph, "The Third Body"; Josefina Jacquin's bold Pop silkscreen, "La Reina"; Theodora Varnay Jones' lyrical abstraction, "Indistinction #6"; Ellen Lake's witty breakup video, "Seaworthy," featuring a trio of Oakland's steel horses and "old good-timey country music"; Lisa Levine's digital print of natatory sine waves, "Swim #3"; Stephanie Metz's altered found object, "Pink Checkered Dress"; Gary Nakamoto's wry double-ringed sculpture about clogged beltways (?), "Geta 12C"; Francesca Pastine's art-magazine carving, "Artforum 21"; Joanna Poethig's serpentine acrylic landscape, "Slither"; Jenny Robinson's monumental industrial-site drypoint, "Gasometer #2"; Anne Ross' evocative black and white photo, "Shadow"; Ron Moultrie Saunders' digital print, "Dragonfly Wings"; Dickson Schneider's digital print, "Pink"; Maryly Snow's collaged landscape digital photo, "Oh, My California (Before) #3"; Inez Storer's mixed-media painting, "Patriotism"; Youngsuk Suh's wildfire series digital photo, "Bather at Sunset"; Elizabeth Tagliabue's photo diptych, "Pink Series #1"; Othmar Tobisch's surreal sumi ink landscape, "Sentry with Sleeping Woman"; and Mark Zaffron's etching/photo-etching, "Laws of Variation," with its legal-document background.
That's only 23 courses, and everything looks good. Fresh Work runs through February 19 at Kala Gallery (2990 San Pablo Ave., Oakland). 510-841-7000 or Kala.org
The WorksAll you can consume and digest at Kala Gallery's group show.
Kala Gallery [note to ellen: new location needs to be created for gallery at 2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 94702, 510-841-7000, Kala.org]