"Contained," at Kirkland Arts Center, delves into the vessels, "forts" and blueprints we make to hold the essence of our lives. Works by Zack Bent, Mark Bennet, Karen Hackenberg are included.

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What do we say about ourselves with the vessels we build to hold our belongings, our dreams, our plans, our nightmares?

“Contained,” a group show at Kirkland Arts Center, tries to find out.

Local photographer Zack Bent’s lens captures two children’s “forts” built with whatever comes to hand: blankets, tarps, bedspreads … anything that, in a make-believe world, can serve as a shelter. Karen Hackenberg’s photorealist painting “Amphorae c. 2010” depicts six plastic bottles against a shore-side landscape as though they were priceless archaeological finds. Mark Bennet’s droll lithograph “Home of Jed ‘JD’ Clampett (The Beverly Hillbillies)” mimics a blueprint for the sitcom cast’s mansion, with specifics on their tennis court, croquet lawn and ballroom, as well as “Jed’s Whittlin’ Bench,” “Granny’s Moonshine Still” and Elly May’s “hangout” for herself and her “critters.”

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The exhibit is decidedly uneven, with some artists overrepresented and others underrepresented. But at its best, it’s revealing in what it says about the link between our containers and our inmost selves.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, through March 22. Kirkland Arts Center, 620 Market St., Kirkland; free (425-822-7161 or www.kirklandartscenter.org). “Casual Coffee Talk” with artists Hackenberg, Bent and Joshua Bloch and curator Katie Phelps, 11 a.m. Sunday. $5 suggested donation.

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times arts writer

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