Peep Show 

Landscapes @ Page Bond

At Page Bond Gallery, in an exhibit titled "Topography," painters Katherine Kadish and Karen Blair paint landscapes with particular attention to light and color. Blair combines a realistic style of representing form with an exaggerated color palette. Intense hues applied with short, angular brush strokes describe an optical phenomenon in which every element of the scene seems to twitch with nervous energy. Kadish's loose brushwork and brilliant reds and oranges channel Emil Nolde in fresh abstractions suggestive of landscape. Here she shows work on canvas, but it's her oil and wax monotypes on paper that explode with organic vitality. The show runs through April 30. 1625 W. Main St. 359-3633.

Art Auction @ 1708

To promote its annual art auction, 1708 Gallery is exhibiting the 50-plus works contributed by regional artists. Rob Tarbell's vibrant and graphic "Loomis Elephant Ring" (above) represents a circus act of elephants connected tail-to-trunk. Tarbell mysteriously executes his black elephant figures against an intense red background with, as the gallery label explains, "smoke on painted paper." Indeed, the fluid nature of his wafting medium poses a curious contrast to the implied mass of his subject matter, sparking the possibility of a magical narrative. Other significant contributions are by Gregg Carbo, David Freed, Andras Bality, Richard Roth and Sally Bowring. The auction is April 19 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75. 319 W. Broad St. 643-1708.

Magnets and Rings @ Transmission

At Transmission Gallery, Claire Watkins, who taught herself how to program microchips while getting her M.F.A. in sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University four years ago, contributes intricate forms inspired by branching networks found in nature. Two installations involving magnets and LEDs exemplify Watkins' innovative and holistic vision. Mounted at the end of spidery stalks of wire, her LEDs move and flicker according to the varying magnetic force of a rotating magnet. An elegant counterpoint to Watkins' fragile constructions are Joe Deroche's dense resin wall panels articulated with embedded, jewel-like metal rings arranged in an arbitrary fashion. Like Watkins, Deroche is developing a distinctive body of work in which process and image are inextricably linked. Through April 26. 321 Brook Road. 200-9985.

Deconstruction @ ADA

At ADA Gallery, artist Bruce Wilhelm subjects his painted panels to the band-saw, removing random portions as if instructed by John Baldessari himself. Apparently conflicted between art as it was and art as it is now, Wilhelm literally deconstructs his own interpretation of Western painting canon to expose another painting -- the random gestures of thick and vibrant medium behind the completed work. Antagonistic and contradictory, Wilhelm's schizophrenic imagery effectively expresses what it's like to be an artist in the 21st century, but he has a way to go if his work is to be as visually seductive as it is intellectually astute. Daniel Davidson, who paints two-toned, layered images incorporating cartoonish figures (above), is also represented here. Davidson combines somewhat naive drawings rendered in black paint with complex and sophisticated compositions reminiscent of Philip Guston. Closing reception April 25 at 6 p.m. Through April 26. 228 W. Broad St. 644-0100.

Baldessari @ Reynolds

One of the 2008 Whitney Biennial artists, John Baldessari regularly challenges expectations of art by producing confounding visual and conceptual amalgams. Reynolds Gallery is currently featuring constructions in which the artist alters appropriated and enlarged photographs. Here he converts a normally flat photographic plain into bas-relief sculpture by recessing areas of the image and floating others. He also obscures areas of the photographs with flat color, producing absurd marriages of abstraction and realistic representation as in "Person with Guitar (Pink)," above. Making art about art or art criticism with deliberately dumb visual moves, Baldessari's imagery often reads like an (unintelligible) inside joke. Through May 3. Howard Risatti will discuss Baldessari's work April 30 at the gallery. 1514 W. Main St. 355-6553.

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