Take Shape -- thru Aug. 20
Entertaining Ideas

Ideas might make sense once they're put into words, but it's only when they take shape as they do in a new group show at Rena Bransten that ideas really get exciting. Margarita Cabrera's colorful, sewn vinyl versions of household appliances turn these ordinary tools into intriguing rhetorical devices: What ideas might a food processor process, or an iron iron out? In "Roundabout," Seth Koen has crocheted red and white yarn into simple circular shape that is strangely emblematic and somehow urgent, like a soft-sculpture street sign. There's something delightfully Dr. Seussian about Jared Pankin's sculptures, especially the teetering mountain of lumber capped with a lone redwood, and given the playfully repetitive title "Natural, Natural History (Beezlebub's Boney Boney Backbone)." This tall tale makes a certain warped ecological sense: Maybe if we put our trees far enough out of reach, we might be able to leave them alone. For his clever The Fantastic Interior sculpture series, Michael O'Malley seems to have ripped pages out of a very eclectic library. One sculpture appears to be a picnic bench so deconstructed it surely belongs in Derrida's backyard, and another could be an Ikea shelving unit assembled by Hunter S. Thompson on a bender.

- Alison Bing