'Light of the Landscape," an exhibit of paintings by Steve Curl, opens Sunday at Portola Art Gallery in Menlo Park. The colorful watercolors capture Curl's experience of the High Sierras, the Rockies and Mexico as well as locations in the Bay Area.

Curl appreciates watercolor as a medium because it "behaves like nature — fresh, spontaneous and elemental in its simplicity," he says. A cartoonist and illustrator as well as a painter, Curl is the editorial cartoonist for the Palo Alto Daily News.

He teaches at the Pacific Art League, Palo Alto Art Center, at La Entrada and Oak Knoll schools in Menlo Park and at the Odyssey School in San Mateo. Curl also gives on-location painting classes in Mexico through the International Elderhostel Organization.

After earning his bachelor's degree in psychology from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, Curl studied at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco, Atlin Art Center in British Columbia, Taos Institute for the Arts in New Mexico and the Ah Haa School in Telluride, Colo.

You can meet the artist and enjoy live music at a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 21. His show will continue through Feb. 28 in the gallery at Allied Arts, 75 Arbor Road. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Call 650-321-0220 or visit www.portolaartgallery.com.

Painted poems

An exhibition of work by Joyce Savre opens Sunday at Gallery 9 in Los Altos. "Different Kinds of Love — Painted Poems" includes collages, water media and pastels.

Savre, a poet as well as a visual artist, incorporates writing or some form of script in her paintings. Recently, the writing itself, often indecipherable, has become the subject.

You can meet the artist at a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 6. "Different Kinds of Love — Painted Poems" will be on view through Feb. 28. The gallery is at 143 Main St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Call 650-941-7060 or visit www.gallery9losaltos.com.

New abstracts

"Elements of Nature," a show of new abstract watercolors by Cheryl Kampe, opens with a reception from 3 to 6 p.m. at Viewpoints Gallery.

Kampe, who lives in Pacific Grove, was inspired for this series by the natural designs of the coastal landscape.

Her work will be on display through Feb. 27 at the gallery, 315 State St., Los Altos. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Call 650-941-5789 or visit www.viewpointsgallery.com.

Call for entries

Artists interested in entering the Sanchez Art Center's "Arts on Fire XIII" exhibition have until 5 p.m. Feb. 13 to submit JPEG images on slides and/or CDs. This year's juror is Jacquelin Pilar, curator of the Fresno Art Museum.

The competition is open to all California artists. All artistic media will be considered. Maximum size is 80 by 36 inches (to fit through a standard-size door). Fee is $15 for each piece entered.

Accepted artists will be notified by March 14. The "Arts on Fire" show will be from April 17 to May 30.

For more details, call 650-355-1894 or visit www.sanchezartcenter.org. The center is at 1220-B Linda Mar Blvd., Pacifica.

Darwin anniversary

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of naturalist Charles Darwin, the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University presents two exhibitions showcasing the relationship between art and the natural world: "Natural Blunders" and "Flora and Fauna from the Permanent Collection."

Works by 17 artists are included in "Natural Blunders." Exhibition curator Karen Kienzle states the pieces "can be viewed as an artistic rebellion against what is essentially a world out of balance."

Among the works is an installation by Alastair Bolton that includes living plants. Lauren Davies has created dog-hair sculptures, while Cheryl Coon has designed an installation of cicada exoskeletons.

"Flora and Fauna from the Permanent Collection" is curated by faculty in the SCU biology department. The labels accompanying the selected artworks offer the faculty members' unique perspectives.

Both exhibits will be on view through March 20 at the museum, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays. Admission is free. Call 408-554-4528 or visit www.scu.edu/desaisset.

Imaginary

The Palo Alto Art Center presents the free family film series "More Imaginary Beings" in conjunction with the exhibit "Tales from an Imaginary Menagerie."

"The Cat Returns," which tells what happens when young Haru rescues the Prince of Cats from being run over, kicks off the series. The film begins at 3 p.m. March 15.

The March 22 movie is "The Last Unicorn," based on the novel by Peter Beagle. "The Secret of Roan Inish," a fairy tale steeped in Irish history and legend, ends the series April 12.

Space is limited, so reservations are advised. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Call 650-329-2366 or e-mail artcenter@cityofpaloalto.org.

The "Tales from an Imaginary Menagerie" show includes drawings, sculpture, photography, tapestry and video by artists such as Randy Bolton, Adam Chapman, Julie Heffernan, Laurel Roth, Margot Quan, and Yuka Yamaguchi. It is on view through April 26.

Concurrently, the center is showing "Joe Brubaker: Somnambulists," polychrome figures made of reclaimed wood, aged metal and peeling paint.

The center is at 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays, with evening hours from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. Visit www.cityofpaloalto.org/artcenter.

Information on visual and literary arts can be sent to Bonny Zanardi, San Mateo County Times, 477 Ninth Ave., Suite 110, San Mateo, CA 94402, faxed to 650-348-4446 or e-mailed to Bzanardi@aol.com.