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Eight Gallery Shows to Catch Before the Art Fairs Hit

Michael Jang; "At Home with the Jangs," 1973

Michael Jang; "At Home with the Jangs," 1973; gelatin silver print; 11 x 14 inches

As though to prepare us for the upcoming art onslaught that is ArtPad SF and ArtMRKT, an unusually great number of galleries open their doors this week with new shows. As always, the work is as diverse as it is intriguing. We've sifted through the lot; here are our top eight recommendations.

Michael Jang: The Jangs, at Stephen Wirtz Gallery

The Jangs, a collection of photographs that has not been exhibited in over forty years, offers a unique take on 1970s suburbia. In the series, the artist trains his camera on his own relatives – Chinese-Americans who embraced the American mainstream with joyful enthusiasm. They butt against the typically disillusioned images of the era, presenting a buoyant and often humorous view of cultural assimilation.

May 2 - July 13; 49 Geary Street, 3rd floor. Opening Reception: Thursday, May 2, 5:30 - 7:30 pm 

Kelly Barrie: Parallel Play, at Gallery Wendi Norris

In a unique floor drawing process, Barrie moves photo-luminescent powder across black paper using his feet and blackroom utensils, then photographs and reconstructs the result. Each of the works, in fact, recreates a forgotten historical site – this time, the country's last remaining adventure playground, which happens to be located in Berkeley. 

May 2 - June 29; 161 Jessie Street. Opening Reception: Thursday, May 2, 6 - 8 pm 

Jock McDonald, "Malacon"

Jock McDonald, "Malacon"

Jock McDonald: Havana: The Longview, at Gallery 16

In 288 photographs taken over the course of three years, Jock McDonald captures all eight kilometers of Havana's famed Malecon, the seaside boulevard that has been the site of countless cultural and political happenings over the course of Cuba's turbulent history. Beauty and contradictions abound.

May 3 - June 1; 501 Third Street. Opening reception: Friday, May 3, 6 - 9 pm 

Mayhem: National Juried Exhibition, at Arc Galleries

This massive exhibition, juried by Artbusiness.com's Alan Bamberger, asked artists from across the country to submit work on the broad and enticing theme of "mayhem." The results span media, but all have a taste for pandemonium, chaos and discord.

May 4 - May 25; 1246 Folsom Street. Opening Reception: Saturday, May 4, 7 - 10 pm 

Mark MulroneyMark Mulroney

Mark Mulroney: A Fertile Menace, at Ever Gold

From the artist's blurb on Ever Gold's website: "When he is not running from people he failed to punch in the face, he sits alone drawing, mostly naked ladies but sometimes naked men as well." Expect a raucous series of drawings imbued with all the off-beat humor and adolescent sexuality that the quote suggests. 

May 4 - June 8; 441 O'Farrell Street. Opening Reception: Saturday, May 4

Barbara Vaughn, at Dolby Chadwick 

Barbara Vaughn's stunning, large scale photographs capture the rippling, reflective surfaces of Aegean, Adriatic and East Coast harbors in a way that renders her camera an instrument of abstraction. The fragmented, reflected objects disappear into sinuous streaks poolings of color.

May 2 - June 1; 210 Post Street, Suite 205. Opening Reception: Thursday, May 2, 5:30 - 7:30 pm 

Alison Blickle; "Blue Room," 2013; oil on canvas

Alison Blickle; "Blue Room," 2013; oil on canvas

History of Magic Part 1 … The Hermitage, at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

Through the device of an adventuress alter ego, Alison Bickle creates fanciful and surreal works that each in some way invoke the spiritual. This set consists of a number of paintings whose scenes spill into real space with accompanying installations, giving the visually delectable, inscrutably ritualistic scenes all the more room to unfold.

May 3 - June 15; 1295 Alabama Street

Surrender: Jeffrey Paladini, at Sandra Lee Gallery

Paladini's paintings expose the viewer to snippets from narratives unknown. His figures are as much subject to natural forces –gravity, time, chemistry– as they are to emotion. The artist allows his materials, which include oil, charcoal and unprimed wood, to accentuate moments of fear, lust, pain and anger.

May 1 - May 31; 251 Post Street, Suite 310. Opening Reception: Thursday, May 2 from 5:30 - 7:30 pm