Art, Meet Commerce

A new gallery in Oakland Park finds the fine balance between bucks and beauty

With the exception of photography, which I'll return to, the gallery's more representational art is less interesting. It's hard to believe that the thick, blocky busts on pedestals are the work of the same Mark Forman who painted those ethereal canvases. And the sculptures of Sally Cooper, who paints gourds in bright colors and decorates them to create exotic birds, are initially amusing -- until the novelty wears off.

Steve Legg's photos are another matter. Two black-and-white shots -- Bridge with Sign and Bridge with Light Line -- approach highway overpasses in Palm Beach County from their underbellies, so that they became explorations of lines and shapes. Another black-and-white, Brooke, looks like a swan or other large, white bird so wrapped into itself that it suggests one of Edward Weston's elegant studies in form. A color piece called Tree captures the trunk of the title object as it seems to spill down an autumn-hued backdrop.

There are also standout color photos by Alice Greko, who has an uncanny way of capturing waterfalls so that they look as if they've been transformed into big, frozen cascades. Elyn Zerfas moves in extremely close for an untagged shot of a coral-colored flower blossom and for the sunny-side-up fried egg, coffee beans, and oranges that make up Florida Breakfast. She's equally at ease with a pair of distance shots called Crescent Moon and Downtown, the latter providing a fresh-eyed take on the Fort Lauderdale skyline at sunset. For both, she reinvigorates the imagery by pressing the horizon to the far bottom edge of the picture.

This quick survey only scratches the surface of Art on the Edge's inventory, which can run up to 350 or so pieces, according to the owners. And I haven't really touched on how some of the gallery's other services are folded into the mix.

Sometimes, I worry, the art itself may end up suffering in such an environment: Artists share wall space not because of their aesthetic affinities but because of what they can afford out of what's available. Then again, when has one commercial gallery given us such a cornucopia of art? It's completely understandable that Konstantin and Ramirez want financial success for Art on the Edge. I want that too. I also hope that they never lose sight of artistic excellence -- that their unusual blend of marketing savvy and artistic know-how will enable them to pull off this high-wire balancing act.

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