Ryan Molenkamp’s work is instantly captivating, but not always immediately clear. His large-scale oil and graphite paintings beckon viewers to look closer. Is that a desert? Or a city? Are those buildings or boxcars? Is this a place that’s cracking open, or healing itself? In the case of his new series, The Flood, it’s essentially both. Molenkamp—known for his abstracted portraits of regional landscapes—is currently exploring floods, and in particular how they affect the Northwest terrain. “Over the last few years, I noticed that watching the local news can be like watching an apocalyptic sci-fi movie about a disastrous weather event,” he says. There is a bit of that doomsday feeling in this work, which captures floodplains, repeated river surges and lasting damage to man-made structures, all trapped within our mountainous confines. But at the same time, the paintings reveal the beauty that keeps us all here. 12/2–12/30. Times vary. Free. Gallery4Culture, 101 Prefontaine Place S; 206.296.8674; 4culture.org/publicart/gallery.