Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

For those who like both Tiffany's and telescopes, New York sculptor/painter John Torreano has got just the thing -- a collection of hangable galaxies, studded with acrylic gemstones. Of course, that wasn't really his plan. Yes, the exhibit, "Every Gem Is a Handheld Star," which just opened at the Amory Art Center, has an outer-space theme. Wood slabs and blocks, painted in shades of black or white, are peppered with plastic balls and gemstones, anchored in wood cutouts or globs of paint. Torreano admires Cezanne and Rembrandt, but his art has more of an abstract/expressionist feel. Where Jackson Pollock and his contemporaries layered paint in an effort to occupy space on the canvas and in the third dimension, though, Torreano uses physical objects. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Take the superb Solare, which looks like an exploding pulsar, red, spiraling, encrusted with dark gemstones. The artist says its supposed to recall Icarus getting too close to the sun, and sure enough, the gems implanted in the swirl of red emanate from a central red circle, like the dots that appear in your eyes when you look too long at the sun. Less successful is Space Edge 1. White balls appear egg-like and vibrate with the black border, thrusting the objects too far into space. Torreano might have been better off sticking with gems and thick textured paint, trusting his audience to get it without being hit over the head. The balls cast shadows onto the canvas, which of course could be a bad trick of lighting but detract from the sculpture either way. (On display through February 5 at the Amory Art Center, 1700 Parker Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-1776.)

Now Showing

When the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach opened its new wing two years ago, it added 14 galleries with more than 12,000 square feet of exhibition space. Much of it is devoted to the museum's justly acclaimed collections of Chinese art and pre-1870 European art, as well as a splashy ceiling installation by glass master Dale Chihuly. What often goes unmentioned is that the expansion also lets the Norton showcase more of its contemporary collection. The wing's first-floor galleries feature nearly a dozen pieces worth viewing. But it's the wing's largest gallery that features the most imposing works: a pair of mixed-media pieces by Richard Long. In August 2004, the artist worked directly on an expanse of blackened wall using clay and water to create the abstract Seminole. For the 2002 piece Mohawk, Long challenges our notions of what constitutes a landscape by covering most of the gallery's floor space with a vast oval-shaped installation that suggests a stream of smooth gray Mexican river rocks flowing through chunks of white marble. (On display through fall 2005 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196.)

Although only three dozen or so pieces make up "Louise Nevelson: Selections from the Farnsworth Art Museum," this relatively lean exhibition at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood is an excellent overview of the great Russian-born American sculptor's career. There are few examples of the boxy (in a good way) wood assemblages that made Nevelson famous in her later years -- she died in 1988, at age 89 -- but there's a fascinating selection of works charting the evolution of her unmistakable style, including surprising oils from the 1920s and '30s and transitional sculptures in bronze, terra cotta, and stone from the '40s and '50s. The show could use more from her final decades, but as historical documentation, it's a smashing success. (Through February 13 at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood, 954-921-3274.)

 
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