All the motifs of rapidly rising Portland artist Chris Johanson's best work are on display here: men and women, in profile view, lined up like mindless proles; seedy street scenes in which menacing silhouettes occupy every window and thugs shoot the fingers off of peace-sign-flashing hippies; and sprawling texts that swarm around the dialogue bubbles that dare to contain them. At first, Johanson's work seems to embody a kind of hippie optimism or New Age spirituality: the visual equivalent of "no worries, man." But just beneath the surface is a sense of profound dread. In seeming contrast to his cityscapes of prostitutes and vagrants, one print shows two people leisurely reclining in a serene pastoral setting, framed by towering trees. But the intimate chatter the two subjects share revolves around a new, more effective anti-depressant, as one confesses, insistently, "I feel really good now." JM Reading Frenzy, 921 SW Oak, 274-1449, Through Aug. 29

Elvis or Astronaut
Our favorite lil' coffee shop, Random Order, presents a pretty impressive group show in celebration of its one-year anniversary: Chris Bennett, Zak Margolis, Cynthia Star, and about a dozen more. That's a lot of good art for such a small space. Random Order Coffeehouse, 1800 NE Alberta, Through Oct. 26

A friend recently described Dan Gilsdorf's conceptual analysis of industry and humanity as "the best thing Gallery 500 has ever shown. Ever." Said "best thing ever" features, among other things, human appendages cast in chalk and rigged up to small electric motors, bobbing, rotating, and grinding with unnatural creepiness. Gallery 500, 420 SW Washington, Suite 500, 223-3951, Through Aug. 27

Painted Aluminum Sculpture
Mel Katz, arguably Portland's most exciting elder statesman, returns with another fine show of his painted sculptures, which look to draw their cues from Mickey Mouse, Piet Mondrian, and the sculptures of Roy Lichtenstein. Laura Russo Gallery, 805 NW 21st, 226-2754, Through Aug. 27

Michael Alago
Portraits of Alago's new book, Rough Gods, are on display this month, featuring muscular, tattooed, buff, and angry gay men, as well as delicate shots of crucifixes, discarded underwear, and American flags. Brian Marki Fine Art, 2236 NE Broadway, 249-5659, Aug. 5-31

Paul Seawright
Masterful Irish photographer Paul Seawright was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum to travel to Afghanistan with the intent of documenting the war. Seawright's strengths lie in his color photographs of spare, unpopulated landscapes, which a bombed-to-shit Afghanistan provided plenty of. Blue Sky Photography Gallery, 1231 NW Hoyt, 225-0210, Through Aug. 27

Summer Group Exhibition
Say goodbye to the Pearl's best carpeted gallery space as Pulliam Deffenbaugh prepares to move a few blocks east with this show of gallery artists, including Brian Borello, James Boulton, Anna Fidler, Ken Kelly, and Jeffrey Mitchell. Pulliam Deffenbaugh, 522 NW 12th, 228-6665, Through Aug. 27

When the first Spider-Man movie premiered shortly after 9/11, writers began postulating about society's need for heroes at that point in history, acting as if the sight of Kirsten Dunst in a wet T-shirt wouldn't have been a box office draw in the summer of 2001. In the ensuing four years, however, superhero art has proliferated greatly in the realms of the visual arts, film, and literature. Compound presents an exhibition of artists working within that theme from Hong Kong, Japan, and the US. Compound, 107 NW 5th, Through Aug. 31

The Future Remnants of Dreamvilles
The first in a series of three installations, artists Jessie Rose Vala and Emily Counts have transformed Motel Gallery into a baroque living room, complete with carpeting, hand-painted wallpaper, streamers, and fairytale-inspired drawings. Motel, NW Couch between 5th & 6th, Through Aug. 27