Robert Minervini, "A Necessary Ruin," acrylic on canvas, 50 x 60"

Imagined, futuristic landscapes are the common theme that runs through the work of artists Tadashi Moriyama and Robert Minervini. But that is where the commonalities end, providing an opportunity to delight in very different, but equally engaging views of the world we’re headed toward. (It’s a theme that’s been featured prominently in other recent shows in the Bay Area, specifically those of Amy Casey and also of Alex Lukas.)

Minervini’s world is post-apocalyptic: shells of finely rendered, multi-story buildings hold court over an otherwise structure-less landscape that is filled only with shrubs, grasses and marshland. Trees are noticeably and suspiciously absent. Luminous multihued skies — oranges and pinks, blues and yellows — place the scenes at the beginning or end of the day, a visual metaphor for the larger “end of days” message. But these works are more hopeful than full of doom; they are very sparsely populated with humanity, small flowers are in bloom. The tone is of rebuilding and regeneration. These structures are new, as indicated by the presence of a crane in one work, placed far in the distance, and the fact that they are whole and show no signs of wear.

Moriyama’s world, comparatively cartoon-like, primary-color bright, and fantastical, features intricately networked communities or cities that appear to be controlled by a single or just a few, central figure-head(s). The big brother/government-oversight message is clear. Nature and technology appear as if enmeshed, equally holding things together and pulling them apart.

If Minervini is reflecting on what a recovering world will look like after a catastrophe and Moriyama is providing us a view of a future without one, neither world is exactly a view of paradise. The elements and themes here actually don’t veer far from today’s world: the future may be closer than we think.

"A Girl Named Peaches" by Jill Gallenstein

Linear and organic structures complement each other in this two-person show of sculpture and works on paper (on view through September 11, 2010, at Johansson Projects in Oakland). There is a shared lightness to the works, giving the exhibition an overall ethereal, meditative feel. The exhibition comprises two sculptures by Jana Flynn — one wall mounted and the other a site-specific, floor-to-ceiling work that spans the back of the gallery — and several ink-on-paper works of various sizes by Jill Gallenstein.

Flynn’s creations come out of the craft of string art (think geometry class projects, gone huge, complex, and elaborate). She arranges arrays of strings, each their own color: Each same-length piece of string is fixed at either end; termination points are at equal intervals. Each array of strings, then, effectively creates a plane.  Flynn interweaves these planes, shaping and bending space. The works are at once delicate in their transparency while also being formidable — the taut lines make firm boundaries. (Of note is that these very precise, measured works are created improvisationally; they are not preplanned.)

Juxtaposed next to these are highly detailed and gorgeously colored works by Gallenstein. Rounded objects, starbursts, and other creations from the artist’s imagination group together, string out, and sometimes regroup across or down the paper; the backgrounds often feature subtle washes of color which enhance the atmosphere. The intricacy of these works cannot be overemphasized; they are stunningly rendered, each shape decorated with dots and lines to the tiniest degree. Up close, they are a wonder of obsessive attention; far away, they present beautiful, fluid compositions in bright, dramatic palettes.

Considering these two artists together, Flynn’s sculptures bring out the taut structure in Gallenstein’s work; Gallenstein’s seemingly amorphous works highlight the lyric aspects of the three-dimensional pieces. If these works hold their own individually, seeing them side-by-side mutually enhances their impact — a reminder of how the experience of an artwork is profoundly affected by its surroundings.