No Piss Christ here

Too few of the entries in the Broward Art Guild's "Controversy" are worthy of the label

There are a few samples of hit-you-over-the-head art. Mimi Shapiro's Politic Darts is a dartboard collaged with words and images of conservative political figures, including George W. Bush as the bull's-eye and a dart through the word dissent. A mixed-media installation by Anthony Lamorte called The Manger of Greed features a sort of deranged miniature Nativity scene that looks promising at first glance but doesn't really add up to much.

Feminism is politicized in a quartet of works, to varying degrees of success. A decidedly unsubtle, untitled oil by Joann Russell shows a trio of men's urinals with spread-legged women built into them and a man relieving himself into one. A lackluster oil, Victor del Grosso's Today's Feminist, seems to equate feminism with terrorism by portraying a defiant-looking woman with a shawl on her head, clutching a bundle of sticks of dynamite with the fuse ignited.

Two works, however, deliver on a number of levels (and received two of four special Judge's Recognition awards). Nancy Edelstein's ETC. is a small, mixed-media work, a plexiglass box containing stones stained red, along with a news clipping about an unfaithful Nigerian woman whose stoning was postponed by an Islamic court until her child was weaned.

Pretty in pink: Jeff Gaynor's Rocky
Pretty in pink: Jeff Gaynor's Rocky

Details

On display through July 5. Call 954-523-4824.
Broward Art Guild Gallery, 530 NE 13th St., Fort Lauderdale

But the piece that shocks, repulses, and provokes most effectively is The Sower & the Reaper, a masterly, highly detailed pencil-and-ink drawing by Pat Roberts that provides a gynecologist's-eye view of a woman's genitalia. A small scythe seems poised to perform a clitorectomy, while a needle and some thread suggest that the woman is also on the verge of being sewn shut. A few drops of blood have been added in red ink. To the left is a ghostly image of a Muslim woman in the head-to-toe burqa with which we've become all too familiar.

Political art of this sort is particularly tricky, but I think Roberts and, to a lesser extent, Edelstein have succeeded here. This is shock art that achieves its goals, even at the expense of verging on exploitation. It's also art that, unlike most of the work surrounding it, comes closest to evoking the exhibition's stated theme.

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