Art to the Max

The iconography of an icon

THU 3/10

The Wentworth is Maxed out this week.
The Wentworth is Maxed out this week.
Learn about capitalist casualties.
Mike Gorman
Learn about capitalist casualties.
Calcutta's kids need more than slot machines.
Calcutta's kids need more than slot machines.
What came first -- the canvas or the frame?
What came first -- the canvas or the frame?

Picture yourself in a boat on a river with tangerine trees and marmalade skies. Another acid flashback? Not quite. It's the art of Peter Max, which has come to define the generation of free love, flower power, and psychedelic expression. Though he might not have created the '60s, Max mass-produced them, with an artistic influence that's been compared to the Beatles. His style is distinct, with bright colors, transcendental themes, and recognizable images.

"I had all this amazing iconography I created, and it kind of represented itself and became symbolic of the era to the '60s and '70s baby boomers," Max says from his home in New York. "That became their art style -- they loved it. It expressed their generation of love and peace." But to Max, the art was just a product of a larger wave of creativity that was happening at the time. "The whole generation was happening, vibrating. Me and art, the Beatles and their lyrics and music, and Jimi Hendrix with his stuff and his specific thing, the Grateful Dead, and they all influenced each other," Max says. "We were all in a large community expressing the here and now of that day."

Over the years, Max has served as the official artist of six Grammy Award broadcasts, three World Fairs, and six Super Bowls. He's also painted the last six U.S. presidents, the Dalai Lama, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Now 67, Max has taken a step back from his "Cosmic '60's" style in favor of an expressionistic approach with more symbolism and a greater emphasis on self-expression -- but with a look that is still distinctly Peter Max. "There are more free-flowing brush strokes and letting the image occur as you're painting," the artist says. "Now when I paint, I don't even want to know what I'm going to do. I want to surprise me."

Max appears in person at the Wentworth Gallery in the Gardens mall (3101 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens) from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and at the Wentworth Gallery in the Town Center Mall (6000 Glades Rd., Boca Raton) from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Call 561-624-0656, or visit www.wentworthgallery.com. -- Paul A. Leone

On A Mission

For Human Rights

THU 3/10

When four American missionary women were killed in El Salvador in the late 1980s, a landmark case for human rights started to unravel. At the time, the U.S. was funding billions in aid to Salvador's military while the Soviet Union and Cuba were reportedly supporting the leftist guerrillas. In the midst of the war-torn region, four women were murdered for aiding the poor. While the murders were believed to be ordered by higher-ups in the Salvadoran military, Uncle Sam did little to aid in the search for the killers. After 20 years, the case grabbed the attention of Congress; two Salvador generals living as retirees in Florida eventually met the victims' families in a West Palm Beach courtroom. The swept-up story of the women can be viewed in the documentary Justice and the Generals, showing Thursday at Southwest Regional Library (16835 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines). As part of a grant from the National Video Resources, the library's Human Rights Video Workshop takes place every Thursday. Because March is Women's History Month, all featured films have a femme focus on the human struggle. Justice and the Generals begins at 7 p.m. Call 954-538-9165. -- Terra Sullivan Scene Stealers

Cute kids distract from their hooker moms

FRI 3/11

British photographer Zana Briski went to Calcutta to document the prostitutes in the red-light district. But she got distracted by something: their children. To get the kids' minds off of the AIDS, adultery, and poverty surrounding them, Briski did what she could: She taught them to use her cameras. Suddenly, the focus of her project shifted, and the kids ran through the streets documenting their own realities while Briski tackled mountains of paperwork to get them into boarding schools. Briski and her partner, Ross Kauffman, documented their travels on video and the result, Born into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary this year. Briski also started a nonprofit organization called Kids with Cameras. At www.kids-with-cameras.org, you can browse -- and buy -- her students' artwork; 100 percent of proceeds go toward their education. On Friday, March 11, Born Into Brothels screens at Sunrise Cinemas at Sunrise 11 (4321 Pine Island Rd., Sunrise). Tickets cost $7.50. Call 954-748-0333 for showtimes. -- Deirdra Funcheon

You Otte Check This Out

SAT 3/12

Fort Lauderdale's Art Expressions gallery turns a year old this week, and to help celebrate its anniversary Saturday night, the gallery chose local artist Tim Otte -- an artist almost as new to the area but similarly well-established. Otte's minimal use of color adds even more of a pop-art touch to the pop-culture icons he paints. The paintings range from standard profiles (Barbra Streisand's prominent schnoz) to quirky touch-ups (Lucille Ball with "D + L" tattooed on her arm) to straight-up caricatures (Bette Midler). While the anniversary party features Otte and other local artists, the shindig is more than just a pat on the back; a silent auction and raffle prizes benefit the Pet Project. The night starts at 7 at Art Expressions (1212 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Otte's exhibit runs through April 1. Call 954-527-7700. -- Jason Budjinski

 
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