To the Manors Born

Most of the Hulsey pieces are from "The Orb Series," and together they form a little science fiction saga or an obscure allegory. In the first image, Orb Shaman, a fleshy male nude who's as skinless as one of the characters in Clive Barker's Hellraiser films, appears to be ingesting a long, blue, snakelike creature. In the next (and best) canvas, Sowing the Seeds, shimmering white orbs emerge from an aqua-tone tube of some sort that reappears in the other pictures, which convey the vaguely unsettling feeling that we're peering inside someone's body.

"These surrealistic paintings depict a journey from the Orb's introduction into the Shaman, [and] each internal landscape shows a different environment," reads an unsigned explanation posted nearby. "The Orb's appearance is suggestive of an egg, which reinforces the idea of reproduction. In the final scene, their release into an astral world represents birth." Mumbo jumbo notwithstanding, I have to admit that Hulsey's bizarre images, for all their garishness, exert an odd pull.

The same can't be said for the fired-ceramic sculptures of Virginia Howard, who's identified by a stack of business cards as a Fort Lauderdale psychotherapist. As soon as I'd passed a couple of clunky Howard pieces, Male and Female Torsos and Menage à Trois, I assumed I was safe, but no such luck. Almost everywhere I turned in the small gallery, I was confronted with more of the sculptor's graceless hunks of clay, which appear to have been dragged from her studio long before they were ready for public consumption.

Another local artist, Elaine Cohen, has a handful of canvases on display at Moore-Lin. Most are competently executed but not very exciting floral still lifes. A couple pair Cuni Indians with parrots. Cohen's Pelicans gives these usually comical creatures an almost ominous edge by zooming in on nearly a dozen of them, and her Snowy Egret rises a notch or two above the typical tropical bird painting by virtue of Cohen's attention to the delicate details of the preening bird's feathers, as well as a saturated-blue sky that's vibrant in its intensity.

Moore-Lin rounds out its fledgling collection with a handful of signed, limited-edition lithographs by brand-name artists. There are a trio of passable Dalis, a Chagall, a wittily tasteless Alexander Calder, and a surprisingly easy-on-the-eyes Leroy Neiman titled Polo Lounge, a 1988 print that provides the parlor-game appeal of trying to pick out the Hollywood celebrities.

The owners of Moore-Lin still have considerable work to do if they want a reputation as a first-rate gallery. More attention needs to be paid to the placement of the art so that there's a greater sense of flow among the works of several artists. But the operation is still young -- it opened less than six months ago -- and any gallery that can turn up an artist as provocative and promising as Dorran Ruben Russell deserves patience.

Moore-Lin Galleries is located at 2161 Wilton Dr., Wilton Manors. For more information call 954-566-7484.

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