Hollywood and Vine

The exhibition culminates in an especially imposing piece by Toshiko Takaezu called Homage to Devastation Forest, which sits in the center of the main gallery. It consists of half a dozen glazed stoneware obelisks, each roughly five and a half feet tall and a foot or so in diameter, standing in a sea of small, pale pebbles. All but one taper off into nipplelike tips; the other ends abruptly, as if the top has been lopped off to reveal its hollow center.

These strange objects, with their streaks of earth-toned glaze, are enormously evocative in their stark simplicity. They could be big shoots of bamboo or asparagus, and from certain angles they even suggest cigars. More likely, given the exhibition's theme and the piece's title, they're denuded trees, raising the question of what brought about this small forest's devastation.

One possible answer, of course, is nuclear devastation, although it's equally plausible that these "tree trunks" have been scarred by pollution or some other catastrophe. At any rate the likely culprits are humans, forever encroaching on nature.

A clearly articulated statement from the show's curator would go a long way toward fitting Takaezu's work, as well as the works of the other artists, into the show's stated theme. But no statement is offered, and a curator is not identified. This is yet another South Florida exhibit that plunges viewers into the art with far too little context. Small catalogs on some of the artists are available in the museum's gift shop, but no one catalog, brochure, or other handout is offered to tie everything together. Aside from this minor irritation, the exhibition is one of the most provocative of the season.

"The Symphony of Trees: Contemplations of Nature in the Abstract" is on display through January 31 at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood, 954-921-3274.

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