Thirty-one California artists are featured in "Figures and Faces," which opens with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Pacific Art League. At the reception, juror Ric Ambrose, Executive Director of the Richmond Art Center, will comment upon his selections for the show's awards.

The exhibition includes 40 works, including photographs, paintings, drawings, etchings and sculptures, selected from 198 entries. It is presented in the center's Main Gallery.

One of the artists in the exhibit is Irene Schlesinger of Belmont, who has studied at College of San Mateo, the California College of Arts and San Francisco State University.

Among the other artists are Christopher Swetlin of San Mateo, Bill Jackson of Belmont, Fred Holle and Sean Hyland of San Carlos, Dan Woodard of Redwood City Karen Olsen of Portola Valley and Dana Pitchon of La Honda.

"Faces and Figures" will be on view through Aug. 29.

Concurrently, in the league's Glass Gallery is a show of "Abstractions and Realities," featuring bold abstract paintings by Diana Diamond and etched leaf arrangements by her husband, Booker Morey.

The Pacific Art League is at 227 Forest Ave., Palo Alto. Normal gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Admission is free. Call 650-321-3891 or visit www.pacificartleague.org.

Sculpture and watercolors

A reception from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday celebrates the opening of the exhibitions "Sculpture by Helen Morrison" and "Meditations -- Watercolors by Sim Van der Ryn" at the Peninsula Museum of Art.

Helen Morrison has been an important sculptor in the Bay Area for more than 40 years. Keen observation is a hallmark of her style. She creates works in clay, in which she creates surface interest with lines and color, and in wood, which she carves on a single block or log.

The show includes a selection of her works in hardwoods and ceramics as well as three newer ceramic works which she calls "ships." The show also includes the clay sculpture "Mexicana," which recently was donated to the Museum by collector Susan Blake.

Morrison was trained at the San Francisco Art Institute and Chicago Art Institute and the Royal Canadian College of Art in Toronto. She taught sculpture on the Peninsula from the early 1970s until May of 2012.

The Van der Ryn exhibit includes a variety of watercolors created by the painter and architect at a conference at the Rockefeller Foundation estate Bellagio on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.

He was born in the Netherlands but has been a longtime resident of California. Considered one of the fathers of sustainable architecture, he is internationally distinguished for his pioneering work in ecological design. He is now retired from the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley.

Both exhibits will be on view through Oct. 6. The museum is at 1777 California Drive, Burlingame. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is free. Call 650-692-2101 or visit www.peninsulamuseum.org.

Curious and impossible

Adjacent to the Peninsula Museum of Art is the Peninsula Art Institute, which is showing an exhibit of abstract paintings and prints by Neil Murphy through Sept. 15. It, too, will hold a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Murphy's exhibition is titled "Curious Maps of Impossible Places." He says it is a "collection of abstract maps with trails and paths through the terrain of the absurd and wondrous."

His paintings are noted for offbeat subjects and a rich sense of color. He also has an unusual creative process which spans space between the digital realm and traditional media.

Hours for the Peninsula Art Institute are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, or for an appointment call the artist at 650-533-2015.

Information on visual and literary arts can be sent to Bonny Zanardi at Bzanardi@aol.com.