* Handjob
To this point, the relatively new Gallery 500 has served as a haven for wild parties more than anything else, though it certainly has the potential to be something much, much more. Located on the fifth floor of a downtown skyscraper, the 500 space is a sprawling, immaculate space that overlooks the city. It has an exhilaratingly urban flair, a big-city loft motif unparalleled in our little berg to this point. Its exhibit this month includes paintings by Lewis & Clark grad Kat Mannock, mixed-media and wall sculptures from New York artist Karen Christie, a ceramic installation from Jacob Tseitze, and plenty more. Whether or not these works have the quality to help Gallery 500 realize its huge potential remains to be seen, but even if they don't the space alone is well worth investigating. Gallery 500, 420 SW Washington, Suite 500, 223-3951, Mon-Fri 10-3, through Aug 3

Bang Comics!
To what do we owe the total onslaught of superhero-oriented artwork flooding our galleries? Can somebody answer the question without using the words 9/11? Just in Portland, we have two established artists trafficking in superhero imagery (MK Guth and John Ryczek) and now it looks like we have another to add to the list. Expanding on his small selection shown in the Oregon Biennial, Erik Palmer presents his series of Superhero portraits at Soundvision this month. Soundvision, 625 NW Everett #108, 238-7007, Through July 26

Recent Grads 2003
This one is pretty self explanatory--freshly graduated artists from twelve local colleges. While these shows usually lack any cohesive unity, they are primo chances to spot new talent and fresh faces. Blackfish Gallery, 420 NW 9th Ave, 224-2634, Through August 2

* The Registry of Existence
Here's one that probably needs to be experienced to be completely understood. Within the public service office space of the Portland Building, three University of Oregon students have concocted an interactive art installation resembling a... public service office space. The public service offered is a registry that "provides self-service existence testing and verification." Applicants will fill out forms and endure tests that measure, evaluate and categorize their existence. I can only imagine what these categories of existence might be. "Is" and "Is not," perhaps? Portland Building Lobby, 1120 SW 5th, Through July 18

Jacob Pander
Jacob makes up one half of the two Pander brothers showing at Woolley Gallery this month. Together, the bros write and illustrate Batman comics for DC, direct videos for Howie B. and write screenplays in their free time. At Woolley, Jacob is showing these digital photo-narrative grids that look like vidcaps, although there are no videos involved. Mark Woolley East, 120 NW 9th Suite 210, 224-5475, Through August 2

* Laurie Reid
This should be a good one: Reid, a Bay area artist, was featured in the 2000 Whitney Biennial and makes her Portland debut here. Her work features delicate but vibrant dots of watercolor with an unusual attention to the physical properties of the paper they are painted on. This has all the makings of an unusually strong gallery exhibition. Pulliam Deffenbaugh, 522 NW 12th Ave, 228-6665, Through August 2

* Modern Zoo
The question on everybody's mind this summer is, of course, how is David Eckard holding up at the Modern Zoo? As you probably recall, Eckard was caged up by artist Pete McCracken, confined to a small chamber all summer as part of an extreme performance installation. We assume that by now, Eckard is emaciated, curled up in the fetal position, and regretting the whole affair. Go tease him through the glass window and see some good art at the Modern Zoo all summer long. Portland Center for the Advancement of Culture, 6635 N Baltimore, 503-481-7450, Noon-8 pm, Fri - Sun, through August