Artbeat

American Seascapes: Artists at the Shore

There¹s typically so much going on at any given time at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach that it¹s easy to get swallowed up by the sprawling facility, which, after many expansions over the years, is now Florida¹s largest art museum. You can literally spend the better part of an afternoon taking in the current big shows, then wandering through the permanent collections, and still not see everything there is to see. All the more reason, then, to seek out such small pleasures as "American Seascapes: Artists at the Shore," a tiny summer show tucked away in the Marcia and Alan Docter Gallery. A baker¹s dozen pieces are on display, culled from the thousand or so works that make up the museum¹s American collection. Seven are watercolors, with the remainder evenly split among oils, etchings, and gouaches. There are some well-known names here. The American impressionist Childe Hassam, currently the subject of a major retrospective at New York¹s Metropolitan Museum of Art, puts a 20th-century spin on a 15th-century Botticelli masterpiece with an etching called The Birth of Venus, Montauk (1922). And Cape Split, Maine(1941), a watercolor by Hassam¹s contemporary John Marin, is a turbulent interpretation of a rugged coastline that was one of Marin¹s frequent inspirations. Also especially noteworthy are two gouache paintings on paper by Jane Peterson: By the Water, an undated study in atmosphere featuring palm trees and a few figures, and Florida Landscape, a circa 1930s image using colors so bright they take on an almost hallucinogenic intensity. Both were painted along a stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway in the Palm Beach area, and both capture distinctly South Floridian moods. (Through August 31 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196) -- Michael Mills

 
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