Dolls are simply toys to folks in most of the Western Hemisphere, but in Japan they're an art form. The Japanese take dolls so seriously that doll makers are included in the list of artisans recognized as Living National Treasures. The doll makers are serious too, investing their dolls with intricate facial expressions that convey a range of emotions from humor to pathos. Fifty dolls made by the members of an award-winning Japanese doll association are on view at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (4000 Morikami Park Rd., Delray Beach) in "Cultural Tales: The Art of Japanese Handmade Dolls by Group Kaze," which runs through September 26. Admission prices are $2 for kids, $3.75 for seniors, and $4.25 for adults. Call 561-495-0233 for more information.
There were quite a few complaints about the recent Renoir exhibition at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. It seems some patrons didn't appreciate shelling out $9 in order to see only eight minor works by the painter. Still, some 26,000 art enthusiasts attended, and the museum made $103,000 in profits above the $250,000 it cost to present the show. Arts patrons also profited over the long term: In preparation for the show, the City of Boca Raton Beautification Committee paid to upgrade the museum's sculpture garden, where 25 statues dot the shady landscape. Plants, flowers, and grass were added, and a few picnic benches were placed near the patio area, where bands play classical, blues, and jazz one Wednesday every month at the free Sounds of Music Noontime Concert Series. But most folks kick back in lawn chairs or on blankets, enjoying the music and their lunches while children climb on the sturdy sculptures. (Believe it or not, the museum actually encourages this.) Ray Ray Jazz Mix performs jazz standards at the final series concert today. After the show, admission is free to the museum (801 W. Palmetto Park Rd.), but kids have to knock off the horseplay inside. Call 561-392-2500.