Now on Display

"Othoniel: Crystal Palace"

"Othoniel: Crystal Palace" -- Despite a name shimmering with possibilities, this exhibition of 30 or so glass-based pieces by celebrated young French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel is a mixed bag. It's essentially a museum-sized installation that takes up almost all of North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art, and it has been put together with such attention to detail that it's easy to be tricked into believing the emperor is fully clothed. But most of Othoniel's work looks better from afar than it does up close, and there's a garishness to it that prompted a fellow artist to liken it to Christmas décor with artistic pretensions. Ultimately, the show is notable more for the ingenuity of its installation than for its content. (Through August 31 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Joan Lehman Bldg., 770 NE 125th St., North Miami, 305-893-6211.)

"Highwaymen" --The famed group of 26 African-American artists' subject matter consists solely of old-Florida landscapes -- mainly swamplands and beaches -- with seldom a human figure to be found in the nearly 200-piece exhibit. While formally trained painters normally draw up rough sketches before committing to paint, these guys often painted entirely from memory, with a little imagination thrown in to fill in the cognitive gaps. But you'd be hard-pressed to tell that the scenes are largely fictional. Painter Roy McLendon's attention to detail and deep understanding of Florida's natural scenery makes you think you're right there looking at it -- or at least that McLendon was. The remainder of the exhibit -- which includes works by Sam Newton, Ellis Buckner, Johnny Daniels, James Gibson, and others -- is more of the same. Some are more precisely painted than others, with hints of impressionism in the brush strokes and occasional Baroque highlights shimmering in the trees. Taken as a whole, the exhibit is a nostalgic glimpse at our Land of Flowers that can never be recaptured. (Through July 31 at Art Link International, 809 Lucerne Ave., Lake Worth, 561-493-1162.)

 
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