Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

How Pocock Fine Art & Antiquesescaped Artbeat's notice for so long is a mystery. Maybe it's because this lovely gallery, which is nearing its 24th anniversary, just reopened in its third location on Las Olas Boulevard, in the new Himmarshee Landing complex. More likely, it's because the fine-art component of the operation -- oil paintings, mostly -- can get swallowed up among the abundant antiques. Not that the art is just window dressing. Far from it. Pocock, named for mother-and-son owners Pauline and Stuart Pocock, not only maintains an inventory of roughly 150 works by more than three dozen artists but also keeps a healthy percentage of it on display. There are paintings tucked into almost every available space. According to Stuart, the gallery specializes in early- to mid-20th-century American impressionism, that often-overlooked offspring of the better-known French version, although that's something of a generalization. There's indeed a wealth of work by New England-based impressionist Emile Gruppé (1896-1978), including some fine examples of landscapes and the harbor scenes from Gloucester, Massachusetts, for which he's known. But there are also outstanding pieces by Danish painter Knud Edsberg, justly acclaimed for his bucolic images of farm life; fellow but lesser-known Dane Lauritz Holst Srensen, who excels at serene marine scenes; and Danish-born American Johann Berthelsen (1883-1969), whose specialty was wonderfully atmospheric, snowy New York cityscapes. Stuart can come across as overly absorbed in the intricacies of the market -- he's like an art-world equivalent of a stockbroker. He seems unduly impressed, for example, by the market value of a pricey portrait by William McGregor Paxton (1869-1941) and its even pricier hand-carved frame by Wilfred Thulin. But he's also highly knowledgeable and willing to share his knowledge and enthusiasm. In an especially nice touch, each painting comes with a custom-assembled portfolio of sorts, with information on the artist and his or her work and, of course, documentation to support the gallery's asking price. (Pocock Fine Art & Antiques is at Himmarshee Landing, 1200 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-3400.) Now on Display

At the north end of NE Second Street in Delray Beach, in the part of Pineapple Grove that has barely been touched by the area's cultural makeover, waits the Women in the Visual Arts Gallery. The gallery showcases art that breeds excitement both from the quality of the work and the thrill of discovering the unexpected -- a professional gallery existing in what amounts to a strip mall. As with most juried shows, "Found Objects," judged by several of the collective's 400-plus members, contains some real jewels and some near-misses. The misses are easy to skip. Most of the weaker pieces took the show's theme to its most literal interpretation, collecting extra stuff lying around to create pleasant but obvious and somewhat frivolous pieces. One exception is Norma Malerich's amazing Beaded Treasures, an amalgam of leftover bits from a sewing table. Its beauty is compelling to anybody who has ever parlayed the beauty of scraps at the bottom of a junk drawer into art. Malerich, who works in fabrics, also has several embellished fabric purses on display. A less literal and impressive piece is Sharon Kurlycheck's tribute to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, a diorama called Yo Pinto Mi Realidad. Part shrine, part collage, the little box that sits in the corner of the studio snags the eye as soon as you walk in the door. Also worth a good, long look is Lola Lichman's Prison of Love, a mixed-media feast for the imagination, hinting at the darkness of fairy tales we try to ignore. If you hate collage, there's sculpture, jewelry, painting, and photography to peruse. (Through March 21 at the Women in the Visual Arts Gallery, 330 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 561-276-5579, www.witva.org.)

For out-of-the-way art, you still have a few days to check out "Dimensions & Discoveries: The Artwork of Elizabeth Chapman and Sid Walesh," now at the Sunrise Civic Center Gallery in the far-west reaches of Broward. Walesh is clearly a talented sculptor whose work here is wildly erratic, although at its best, it enhances the mixed-media paintings by Chapman, whose earthy, elemental abstracts are glorious studies in color, texture, and form. She errs when she succumbs to the pull of the representational, but she has a knack for striking an enormously appealing balance between gestural spontaneity and careful deliberation. (Through March 19 at Sunrise Civic Center Gallery, 10610 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise, 954-747-4641.)

"Todd Goldman: Stupid Factory,"now at Jack Gallery in the new Seminole Paradise complex, features lithographs and paintings by the young artist, who has struck gold with a childlike style that combines cartoonish characters with such smart-alecky verbiage as BOYS ARE STUPID THROW ROCKS AT THEM and SMOKING KILLS... BUT AT LEAST YOU LOOK COOL. Goldman's improbably swift rise to fame and fortune started with a line of merchandise sold via a website; now he re-creates his commercial designs on canvases that sell for thousands and finds himself being likened to Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf. Fortunately, he's disarmingly self-effacing about it all, and most of his output is irresistibly funny. (Through March 28 at Jack Gallery, Seminole Paradise at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 5919 Seminole Way, Fort Lauderdale, 954-792-4949.)

Sometimes exhibitions at the little Mark K. Wheeler Gallery at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale seem almost like an afterthought, as if somebody suddenly remembered, "Oh, we have a gallery to fill!" and then hastily threw something together. The current show, "Marginal Terrain: New Work by Trina Renee Nicklas and Steven Bleicher,"has that feel. The 40-odd pieces on display deserve better. Artbeat knows that Nicklas teaches at the Art Institute because her work was included in (indeed, was the highlight of) a faculty show last year. Bleicher is one of her colleagues, presumably -- there's nothing to identify the artists or, for that matter, to characterize their work, which goes completely unlabeled. Bleicher's identically framed mixed-media works here constitute a series, in which he combines bits of maps, grainy reproductions of vintage black-and-white photographs, and objects that play off the photos. A shot of a Mexican-American café on Route 66 in the Southwest desert, for instance, includes a large, dried chili pepper, complete with a few seeds in the bottom of the case, a nice touch. The images form a skewed travelogue of sorts that also covers Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Florida. Some of them prominently feature nautical items, handily linking them to the charcoal-and-acrylic paintings by Nicklas, who gets amazing mileage out of her chiaroscuro palette. Her subjects here, to the exclusion of virtually everything else, are boats and ships, especially what appear to be commercial and military vessels. She captures them at night or under turbulent skies, for the most part, and in most of the larger works she toys with mirror-like symmetry that radiates from the center of the image. The Art Institute is lucky to have such a talent on board. (Through March 31 at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Mark K. Wheeler Gallery, 1799 SE 17th St. Cswy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-463-3000.)

When the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach opened its new wing almost two years ago, it added 14 galleries with more than 12,000 square feet of exhibition space. Much of that space 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. (Through fall 2005 at the Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-832-5196.)

"Andrew Wyeth: American Master," a small but fairly comprehensive retrospective of more than 50 works from a career that spans an astonishing 70 years, is one of four exhibitions now at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. If the crowd checking it out opening weekend is any indication, Wyeth's standing as the most popular living American artist remains unchallenged. Wyeth is celebrated for his portraits and his sentiment-soaked rustic scenes, but the strength of this show is in his landscapes, many of which are set in his native Pennsylvania and in Maine, where he spends his summers. Wyeth invigorates landscape by pushing it toward abstraction. This show's masterpiece is a large tempera from 1947 called Hoffman's Slough. Again, there is a landscape of sorts, a sweeping expanse of swampy countryside painted in rich, varied earth tones with black-and-white highlights. Look closely and you'll pick up on the two tiny buildings in the distance at the top of the image, the wispy dirt road in the upper left corner, a few blades of grass in the foreground. The representational details seem added almost as an afterthought. But there's no question that Wyeth knew what he was after -- and that he got it. (Through April 17 at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton, 561-392-2500.)

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