It was the early ’50s, and abstract expressionism was holding court in the art world. That is, until artists in San Francisco started incorporating figures in their work again, and the Bay Area figurative movement was born. With that first wave of figurative work came another, and another, and it’s still strong today. The movement is spotlighted in Bay Area Figuration, displayed at the John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 First Street in Davis, through March 26. David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Manuel Neri, Joan Brown and newer figurative artists like James Chafee all paid homage to the freedom of abstraction. These artists also looked to establish a rapport with a definitive image and with large abstract areas. In one of Theophilus Brown’s pictures, for instance, a swimmer’s skin contrasts mightily with the broad, undulating expanse of sea and sky behind him—so much so that it’s hard to connect the two, save for the blue reflection of water on his face. But it makes for a riveting contrast. For more information, call (530) 756-3938.