Awkward juxtapositions

Patty Neal, <i>Cloud Support</i>, oil on linen on panel, 2000.

Patty Neal, Cloud Support, oil on linen on panel, 2000.

San Francisco artist Patty Neal breathtakingly evokes the peach and ochre hues swirling through cloud formations that grow to tower over the city when sea winds and inland heat meet at sunset. But the clouds are only half the story in these oils, assembled for her first Sacramento exhibition at the Exploding Head Gallery. Most are diptychs; one panel containing a dramatic skyscape is jammed, compositionally speaking, against another depicting man-made structures. Drawn in by the soft, mellowly lit clouds, the viewer is jolted by angular lines of rooftops, skylights and telephone poles awkwardly juxtaposed like weapons. The built landscape, Neal seems to be saying, is imposed painfully on the natural surroundings she so carefully observes. 924 12th St., 442-8424 Gallery hours: 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday. Through Jan. 12.