Curiosity at the Shoppes

When rummaging through a gallery, one never knows what will be revealed

The Bock Gallery in Plantation doesn't really lend itself to a typical exhibition. It's a relatively small display space with not much chance of establishing any sort of flow to a show. And besides, because it's a commercial gallery, that limited space is also crammed with all sorts of other items: framed and unframed prints, restorations, imitations (including some surprisingly good faux Boteros), and even a few pieces that might be generously characterized as knickknacks.But none of this has stopped artist-owner William Bock from taking a stab at a themed show. "Transcendency -- Art Which Elevates and Soothes Your Mind" includes some of Bock's more recent work, along with not quite two dozen pieces by an artist named Flo Lowe and the prints of two Japanese artists Bock has long championed, Susumo Endo and Tamekane.

Bock has recently taken to working with gold, silver, and copper leaf, and several good examples of the effects he achieves with them are on display. The aptly titled Shimmering Sea and Sky, for instance, is a roughly four-foot-by-five-foot canvas that has been divided into a grid of 48 panels. What would otherwise be just another South Florida beachscape -- sand, sea, clouds, sky, grasses and sea grape leaves, a bit of boardwalk railing -- takes on the shimmering quality of the title, thanks to the overlay of leaf that has been applied to some of the acrylic panels.

Two smaller pieces, Palm Eastand Palm West, are similar compositions, each with a central panel featuring a palm tree surrounded by eight panels of gold, silver, and copper. Elsewhere there's a pair of pieces called Golden Floral No. 1 and Golden Floral No. 2, in which Bock centers a single flower against a stark acrylic and leaf background.

Golden Floral #2 is one of the many Bocks scattered throughout the gallery
Golden Floral #2 is one of the many Bocks scattered throughout the gallery

Details

On display through September 1
Bock Gallery at the Fountains Shoppes of Distinction, 801 S. University Dr., #C-109, Plantation, 954-915-8887

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Another two Bocks are variations on a theme. The smaller one is an untitled image of a seashell hovering in the center of a lush border of sea grape leaves and other foliage; it's apparently in pastels. (The gallery rarely provides much information on the pieces on display.) The other is a slightly larger painting of the same subject matter.

Other Bocks on display may or may not be considered part of the "Transcendency" show. In general the artist is less effective when he turns from flora to fauna, as in two so-so images of tropical fish, although there's a nice little color print of two Florida panthers at water's edge, one sipping, the other warily approaching.

Unlike the Bocks, which are scattered throughout the gallery, the works of Flo Lowe have been grouped together in one small area. A dozen pieces are framed and mounted on the wall, and another nine are sheathed in plastic sleeves in a nearby rack.

Four of the Lowe pieces are from what could be dubbed the "Tulip Series." The two smaller ones are labeled "mixed media," although they look more like charcoal, and the flowers are suggested by wispy shapes that are reminiscent of a plume of smoke or a tornado's funnel.

The other two pieces, Tulip -- Purpleand Tulip -- Blue, are also identified as "mixed media," although they come across as watercolors. The sketchy flowers have more substance than those in the two previously mentioned pieces, and they seem to hover on the surfaces of their muted-color backgrounds.

The rest of the Lowes in the show are landscapes in more or less the same vein, some in acrylic on paper, others in acrylic on canvas. The artist typically establishes a varied field of dark color, then accents it with pale daubs of, say, yellow that are suggestive of stars in a hazy night sky. These pieces are all about mood, and it's too bad Lowe doesn't make more than a halfhearted attempt to give them more evocative titles: Such clunky monikers as Scape 4.0 and Nite Scape 5.4sound like versions of computer software rather than the dreamy images to which they're attached.

It's also unfortunate that Bock didn't make room to display more of Lowe's work on the wall, because seen side by side, her pieces summon up the calm that's the show's stated aim. To see one of her loveliest pieces, an untitled one with an impressionist feel that recalls Monet's water lily paintings, you have to rummage through the nearby rack of plastic sleeves. Even so, it's good to see that Bock is still in the business of showcasing other lesser-known artists.

The publicity materials for the show indicate that prints by the Japanese artists Susumu Endo, whose lithographs are based on digitally altered photographs, and Tamekane, who does woodblock and calligraphic prints on handmade paper, are part of "Transcendency." But since Endo's work, in particular, has been a mainstay at the Bock Gallery for the past couple of years, that claim is a bit of a stretch. Still, these light, airy compositions fit the bill as art that "elevates and soothes your mind."

Although overall the show seems patchy, part of the pleasure of rummaging through the Bock Gallery is its eclectic mix of works in highly varied styles. On this visit I stumbled across a real find: a 14-inch-by-19-inch print from the 1960s by the op art pioneer Victor Vasarely. It's a simple composition of two 3-D cubes hovering in space, each made up of 16 brightly colored squares, and it's a perfect example of the way op plays tricks with your vision.

Also currently on display is a "mixed-media print" by an artist identified only as Lebedang. This stark, striking piece juxtaposes a small, highly textured panel in pink, blue, white, and black above another panel that appears to be made of white paper embossed with an abstract design.

The racks holding unframed items in plastic sleeves also yield pleasant surprises. There are several prints by Margaret Kennard Johnson, another Bock regular who works with runelike patterns. And there's a lovely Bock seascape from one of his earlier styles that emphasizes the parallel horizontal lines of a cloud-filled sky and the surf lapping at the beach below.

The unevenness of "Transcendency" suggests that Bock may have spread himself a little too thin. In addition to painting and running the gallery with wife Christy, he also does commission work, including murals, and a portion of the gallery doubles as a custom framery. Fortunately that doesn't detract from the Bock Gallery's charm as a sort of latter-day curiosity shop where you're never sure what you might find.

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