More than two years ago, Israeli native and former combat soldier Gadi Zamir started scouring local construction sites and abandoned buildings to reclaim their dead wood. The scraps serve as the canvas for his often disturbing visions of violence and hope, which are burned, stained, or painted onto the surfaces. Zamir emerged from his basement studio in August to launch Negative Space Gallery & Studio in Asian Town Center, with the dual missions of making art and raising political awareness. More than 150 abstract, haunting pieces are on display, with names like "Shattered Dreams," "Between Life and Death," and "Song of the Immigrants." Zamir allows the grain and texture of the wood to dictate the ultimate composition, making every piece a unique if unsettling statement. See them at 3820 Superior Ave. Learn more by calling 216-470-6092 or go to thinknegativespace.com. — Chrissy Niehaus
On view now at area
galleries and museums:
Akron Art Museum: Who Shot Rock & Roll: The Brooklyn Museum of Art's groundbreaking show is a dizzying tour of the images that helped shape how we hear the music. Its 174 photos capture everyone from Chuck Berry to Amy Winehouse — artists whose self-presentation is as iconic as their sound. Through January 23 at 1 South High St. in Akron. Museum admission is $7; go to akronartmuseum.org for more information.
Brandt Gallery: Winners and Losers: Michelle Marie Murphy gravitates toward themes of comedy and tragedy in her efforts to memorialize people at formative points in their lives, such as a poor man who won the lottery. Open Saturdays and by appointment through January 15 at 1028 Kenilworth Ave. in Tremont. Call 216-621-1610 or go to brandtgallery.org.
Cleveland Artists Foundation: Abel G. Warshawsky in France 1908-1931: Born in America to Jewish Polish immigrants, Warshawsky spent years studying at the Cleveland School of Art. In 1908 he traveled to Paris and spent the next two decades painting impressionistic scenes of the landscape and its inhabitants, while making regular trips back to Cleveland to exhibit his works. In his paintings of the French countryside, he depicted an idyllic place that most locals never had the opportunity to experience. He left France at the onset of World War II and settled in California, where he continued to paint until his death. Through January 8 at Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood. Call 216-227-9507 or visit clevelandartists.org.
Cleveland Museum of Art:
Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe: In the medieval era, dazzling illuminated manuscripts, paintings, sculptures, relics, and reliquaries were seen as mediators between heaven and earth. This collection of artifacts from churches and monasteries from throughout the world was organized in cooperation with the Walters Museum in Baltimore and the British Museum in London. Through January 17. Also: Objects Being Taught They Are Nothing But Tools: South Korean artist Kim Beom endows his creations — sculpture, drawings, painting, videos, and mixed media projects — with absurd traits and abilities. Through March 6 at 11150 East Blvd. in University Circle; call 216-421-7340 or visit clevelandart.org. Museum admission is free; tickets for the special exhibit are $6 to $12, free for kids age 5 and under.
Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery: Cinema 01: Group show featuring 18 artists from Cleveland, Chicago, London, and elsewhere who use movies as source material. Through January 7 at 1305 West 80th St. Visit kennethpaullesko.com or call 216-631-6719.
Museum of Contemporary Art: An Invitation to Lubber-Land: Duke Riley brings his interest in people living in the margins of society to Cleveland's famed "Torso Murders." This installation incorporates video, mosaic, drawing, found objects, and sculpture to reenvision Elliot Ness' historic purge of the so-called hobo jungle. Through January 9 at 8501 Carnegie Ave. Call 216-421-8671 or visit mocacleveland.org.
Solon Center for the Arts: Impressions: "I am much more interested in how the subject feels to me, rather than how it looks," says painter Janis Schilling. Her impressionistic landscapes, still lifes, and scenes bear that out with their use of dreamy light that makes everything look just a little bit better than real. The Twinsburg resident works in watercolor, but achieves more intense shades than you would commonly associate with the medium by using honey-based paints. Through January 20 at 6315 SOM Center Rd., Solon. Call 440-337-1400 or go to solonarts.org.
SPACES: Chris Kulcsar, the lead singer for This Moment in Black History, invites visitors into a collaborative soundscape for his SPACELab project. Stepping off from his own inclinations toward processed, layered sounds, he invites the public to add their own sound play to a continuously running cassette loop. Also: The gallery's World Artists Program welcomes its first African contributor, Nandipha Mntambo of Cape Town. Mntambo has frequently dealt with tensions and contrasts — life and death, powerlessness and empowerment, and man vs. nature. Both shows are on display through January 21 at 2220 Superior Viaduct. Call 216-621-2314 or go to spacesgallery.org.