Artbeat

Capsule reviews of current area art exhibitions.

Just how cool is photographer Jim Marshall? He calls Bob Dylan "Bobby." He was the only photographer accompanying the Beatles at their last concert, in Candlestick Park in 1966. He went to San Quentin Prison with Johnny Cash -- for a concert, that is, not for a sentence. Marshall's "Famous Musicians," now on display at the Palm Beach Photographic Center, is not for the faint of heart. Anyone who loves music or photography will be dazzled by the legendary status of the subject matter and by Marshall's technical skill. He has captured famous musicians from Dylan to the Who. But the exhibit should carry a warning to the lover of both photography and music: Viewing may cause extreme excitement marked by heart palpitations, sweating, and audible gasping. It's a visual history of the very pinnacle of rock 'n' roll. Take Marshall's famous photo of a very young Dylan kicking a tire down a New York street. According to Marshall, it took two frames and was "no big deal." The most striking thing about it is the astounding intimacy Marshall shares with his subjects. It's clear musicians trusted and respected him as much as he respected them. The pictures are not just of the musicians but of their talent, their pain, and their joy. There can be an almost tangible sensitivity in the shots, as in Marshall's much-criticized portrait of a slumped and saddened Janis Joplin, grasping a Southern Comfort bottle like a baby holds a blanket. It showed how Joplin was lost until the moment she stepped onto stage. A well-known shot of Jimi Hendrix rocking out to an empty auditorium before the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and a candid shot of Allen Ginsberg's face as he watches Thelonius Monk walk could be representations of what a man's face does when he sees God. The only problem: The exhibit may deter any amateur photographer from taking pictures. Marshall has already taken all the best ones. (Through April 2 at the Palm Beach Photographic Center, 55 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach, 561-276-9767.)

Now on Display

"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.)

"Famous Musicians" at the Palm Beach Photographic Center.
"Famous Musicians" at the Palm Beach Photographic Center.
Last week to see the "Todd Goldman: Stupid Factory" show at Jack Gallery.
Last week to see the "Todd Goldman: Stupid Factory" show at Jack Gallery.

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.)

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