"Pacemakers" at Beatnik Studios is a show of works by Sacramento gallerists and curators. A gallerist is a person who owns or directs a gallery; not to be confused with a "gallerina," one of those beautiful young women who assist gallery directors.
Pacemakers, of course, are exemplary beings who set the pace for others, and it aptly describes the artists in this show, many of whom have served as guest curators at local galleries. Among these are Kim Scott and Chris Botta, who offer two of the strongest works in the show.
Scott has curated shows for The Toy Room, Short Center North and the long-gone but legendary Michael Himovitz Gallery. She opens the show with "Widows Walk," an oval canvas in an elaborate frame that offers a surreal scene in which a piece of raw meat with eyes and a hair bow floats above the sea surrounded by butterflies. It's vintage Scott, strange and beautiful and unsettling.
Botta has worked at many galleries including Skinner Howard Fine Art, Solomon Dubnick, the Crocker Art Museum and now the Adamson Gallery in The Building at 10th and R streets. He shows a wonderfully lively painting that blends gestural abstraction with quirky figuration titled "Scratching Birthday Party."
There are many fine works in the show, including a series of small modernist paintings by Robert Jean Ray, who has worked at so many local galleries it would make your head spin. These matchbook-size works, which he calls "Urban Portraits," pack a powerful punch.
Punchy, too, is "Remote Controlled Tank Creates the Ketchup Disaster" by Mick Sheldon, who is the director of the Kaneko Gallery at American River College. This lowbrow masterpiece depicts a calamitous scene on the tabletop of a fast- food eatery with graphic vigor and Sheldon's distinctive blend of comedy and menace.
Humor is the hallmark of Tony Natsoulas' "Study for Crumb," a cartoonlike ceramic head based on the legendary Zap Comix artist R. Crumb. Natsoulas is the curator of the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville and the Shimo Center for the Arts in midtown.
Chris Daubert, who was director of the Kondos Gallery at Sacramento City College for many years and now is a guest curator for the Center for Contemporary Art, Sacramento, offers a pair of light boxes with images derived from a ruined temple in Mesoamerica.
Dean Moniz, once the owner of an eponymous gallery in midtown, shows a large sculpture, mainly made of recycled wires, that was a standout at a recent State Fair art show. Roy Tatman, formerly of CCAS, gives us a lovely and lyrical steel sculpture influenced by Constructivism, and Ron Peetz, who is associated with the Axis Gallery, offers a witty stone sculpture, broken and etched with the words "Breaking the Rules," which he has titled "Headstone for Marcel," a reference to Marcel Duchamp.
Alan Dismuke, who has run many local galleries and is now the curator at Beatnik Studios, offers one of his gender-bending self-portraits as a blond woman bathing in a sink.
His fine show "Personae: Theatrical Self-Portraits" is up in Beatnik's back room. With Dismuke posing as a wide variety of types both male and female in these humorous and sometimes disturbing photos, he claims his territory as the Cindy Sherman of Sacramento.
Especially surprising and well done is a scene at a French railroad station in which he appears as five people a derelict, a couple of travelers, a prostitute and a student reading a book. It's a tour de force.
What: Works by Sacramento gallerists and curators
Where: Beatnik Studios, 2421 17th St. (just off Broadway)
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday through Feb. 14. Closed for private events Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Information: (916) 443-5808; www.beatnik-studios.com